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GCSE Media Studies. Characteristics of TV Sitcom. The term ‘Sitcom’ describes a narrative comedy series. 24 – 30 minutes long. With regular characters and settings. “The fundamental situation of the situation comedy is that things do not change.” (Grote, 1990). Characteristics of TV Sitcom.

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characteristics of tv sitcom
Characteristics of TV Sitcom
  • The term ‘Sitcom’ describes a narrative comedy series.
  • 24 – 30 minutes long.
  • With regular characters and settings.
  • “The fundamental situation of the situation comedy is that things do not change.” (Grote, 1990).
characteristics of tv sitcom1
Characteristics of TV Sitcom
  • “Nothing that has happened in the previous week must destroy or even complicate the way the situation is grounded.” (Eaton, 1981).
  • Unlike sketch shows, the sitcom has a clear beginning – middle – end. It is usually based around a problem, the complication of this problem and its resolution with in the half hour.
characteristics of tv sitcom2
Characteristics of TV Sitcom
  • Two basic situations of the sitcom are Home and Work. Situations most people can relate to.
  • At heart they are concerned with the collision of values, identities and life-styles of its characters. (E.g. Tim and Gareth in ‘The Office’).
characteristics of tv sitcom3
Characteristics of TV Sitcom
  • Sitcoms involve characters confined in their situation and in conflict with each other or society.
  • Most Sitcoms have a linear narrative but it must come to a closure at the end of each episode. Some American sitcoms may end on a cliffhanger – e.g. ‘Friends’
  • Some Sitcoms adopt multi-strand or open narratives similar to Soap Operas.
  • This occurs when there is more than one story (multi-strand) or where stories continue beyond the end of the show.
theme tunes
Theme Tunes
  • Often sung and invariably catchy and hummable.
  • Listen to examples from your 2/3 case study sitcoms
situation
Situation
  • Not always the location but here is a sense of being ‘trapped’ especially in British TV Sitcoms: ‘Porridge’ trapped in prison, ‘My Family’ trapped by the family, ‘Red Dwarf’ trapped in space, ‘Only Fools and Horses’ trapped by life in Peckham.
  • Think of 2 more examples – look at examples on screen
characters
Characters
  • There are 3 main types of character:
  • The main characters
  • The supporting characters
  • Transients – who appear only in that episode
  • Think about the names and roles of the characters in your 2/3 case study Sitcoms
slide9
If there are too many characters the audience may lose the closeness and rapport that develops.
  • The relationships between the characters creates the ideal narrative strand – e.g. father/son, husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, 2 lads together, mother/son, old couple, neighbours, boss/secretary.
  • Think of the relationships in your 2/3 episodes
slide10
The characters can be two-dimensional stereotypes or more complex and complicated but they do not change.
  • E.g’s from case studies
  • The audience can easily identify the characters even if they do not like them.
opening credits
Opening credits
  • Give the audience a flavour of the show to come by showing the characters and/or locations:
  • Look at some examples
actors
Actors
  • There does not need to be established stars in the lead roles but the actors must have a sense of comic timing that marks them out as successful TV sitcom stars (See ‘Steptoe and Son’)
  • Stars include:
  • Robert Lindsay, David Jason, Caroline Aherne, Ricky Gervais – add to the list
values
Values
  • Mainly Middle class values but there have been some very successful, Working class based TV sitcoms where maybe the working class hero is trying to better him/herself
  • Think of examples, look at one of each.
  • What values do they have?
humour
HUMOUR
  • Last but not least!
  • British humour is unique.
  • In the past we relied on slapstick – find examples (Dad’s Army’) and farce (Fawlty Towers)
  • Today there needs to be a steady flow of humour in action, situation and character
  • Use of pathos – bitter/sweet
  • Double entendres?