A sitcom (a shortening of situation comedy, or situational comedy) is a genre of comedy centered on a fixed set of characters who mostly carry over from episode to episode. Sitcoms can be contrasted with sketch comedy, where a troupe may use new characters in each sketch, and stand-up comedy, where a comedian tells jokes and stories to an audience. Sitcoms originated in radio, but today are found mostly on television as one of its dominant narrative forms.
Critics disagree over the utility of the term "sitcom" in classifying shows that have come into existence since the turn of the 21st Century. Many contemporary American sitcoms use the single-camera setup and do not feature a laugh track, thus often resembling the dramedy shows of the 1980s and 1990s rather than the traditional sitcom.
The terms "situation comedy" or "sitcom" were not commonly used until the 1950s. There were prior examples on radio, but the first television sitcom is said to be Pinwright's Progress, ten episodes being broadcast on the BBC in the United Kingdom between 1946 and 1947. In the United States, director and producer William Asher has been credited with being the "man who invented the sitcom", having directed over two dozen of the leading sitcoms, including I Love Lucy, from the 1950s through the 1970s.
By country Edit
There have been few long-running Australian-made sitcoms, but many US and UK sitcoms have been successful there. Sitcoms are a staple of government broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC); in the 1970s and 1980s many UK sitcoms also screened on the Seven Network. By 1986, UK comedies Bless This House and Are You Being Served? had been repeated by ABC Television several times, and were then acquired and screened by the Seven Network, in prime time.
In 2007, Kath & Kim's first episode of series four attracted an Australian audience of 2.521 million nationally, the highest rating ever for a first episode in the history of Australian television, until the series premiere of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities in 2009 with 2.58 million viewers.
In 2013, Please Like Me received an invitation to screen at the Series Mania Television Festival in Paris, was praised by critics  and has garnered numerous awards and nominations. Also in 2013, At Home With Julia was criticised by several social commentators as inappropriately disrespectful to the office of Prime Minister, the show nevertheless proved very popular both with television audiences — becoming the most watched Australian scripted comedy series of 2011 — and with television critics. Nominated to the 2012 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards for Best Television Comedy Series.
Although there have been a number of notable exceptions, Canadian television networks have generally fared poorly with their sitcom offerings, with relatively few Canadian sitcoms attaining notable success in Canada or internationally. Canadian television has had much greater success with sketch comedy and dramedy series.
The popular show King of Kensington aired from 1975 to 1980, drawing an average of 1.5 to 1.8 million viewers weekly at its peak.
The Trailer Park Boys movie of 1999 was followed up by a television series that ran from 2001 to 2018, airing in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
Corner Gas, which ran for six seasons from 2004 to 2009, became an instant hit, averaging a million viewers per episode. It has been the recipient of six Gemini Awards, and has been nominated almost 70 times for various awards.
Other noteworthy recent sitcoms have included Call Me Fitz, Schitt's Creek, Letterkenny and Kim's Convenience, all of which have been winners of the Canadian Screen Award for Best Comedy Series.
Sitcoms started appearing on Indian television in the 1980s, with serials like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (1984), Nukkad (1986) and Wagle Ki Duniya (1988) on the state-run Doordarshan channel. Gradually, as private channels were allowed, many more sitcoms followed in the 1990s, such as Dekh Bhai Dekh (1993), Zabaan Sambhalke (1993), Shrimaan Shrimati (1995), Office Office (2001), Ramani Vs Ramani (2001), Amrutham (Telugu 2001–2007), Khichdi (2002), Sarabhai vs Sarabhai (2005) to F.I.R. (2006–2015), Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah (2008–present), Uppum Mulakum (Malayalam 2015–present), and Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain (2015–present). SAB TV is one of the leading channels of India dedicated entirely to Sitcoms.
On Tiptoes and Shabhaye Barareh were among the first and most important sitcoms that led to the growth of this type of comedy in Iran, the idea of making On Tiptoes was borrowed from the series Friends.
El Chavo del Ocho, which ran from 1971 to 1980, was the most watched show on Mexican television and had a Latin American audience of 350 million viewers per episode at its peak of popularity during the mid-1970s. The show continues to be popular in Hispanic America as well as in Brazil, Spain, the United States, and other countries, with syndicated episodes averaging 91 million daily viewers in all of the markets where it is distributed in the Americas. Since it ceased production in 1992, the show has earned an estimated billion in syndication fees alone for Televisa.
New Zealand Edit
The first Russian sitcom series was "Strawberry" (resembled "Duty Pharmacy" in Spanish format), which was aired in 1996–1997 on the RTR channel. However, the "boom" of Russian sitcoms began only in the 2000s — when in 2004, the STS started very successful sitcom "My Fair Nanny" (an adaptation of the American sitcom "The Nanny"). Since that time sitcoms in Russia were produced by the two largest entertainment channels of the country — STS and TNT. In 2007 the STS released the first original domestic sitcom — "Daddy's Daughters" (there were only adaptations before), and in 2010 TNT released "Interns" — the first sitcom, filmed as a comedy (unlike dominated "conveyor" sitcoms).
United Kingdom Edit
Although styles of sitcom have changed over the years they tend to be based on a family, workplace or other institution, where the same group of contrasting characters is brought together in each episode. British sitcoms are typically produced in one or more series of six episodes. Most such series are conceived and developed by one or two writers. The majority of British sitcoms are 30 minutes long and are recorded on studio sets in a multiple-camera setup. A subset of British comedy consciously avoids traditional situation comedy themes and storylines to branch out into more unusual topics or narrative methods. Blackadder (1983–1989) and Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister (1980–1988, 2013) moved what is often a domestic or workplace genre into the corridors of power. A later development was the mockumentary in such series as The Office (2001–2003, 2013). Also coming of age in such series as The Inbetweeners (2008-2010).
United States Edit
The sitcom format was born in January 1926 with the initial broadcast of Sam 'n' Henry on WGN radio in Chicago, Illinois. The 15-minute daily program was revamped in 1928, moved to another station, renamed Amos 'n' Andy, and became one of the most successful sitcoms of the period. It was also one of the earliest examples of radio syndication. In 1947, the first American television sitcom, Mary Kay and Johnny, debuted. Since that time, many of the most watched shows in the US have been sitcoms.
Some popular British shows have been successfully adapted for the US. Some of the most successful American sitcoms of the 1970s, including All in the Family, Three's Company, and Sanford and Son, were adapted from British productions.
See also Edit
- "The Evolution Of The Sitcom: The Age of the Single Camera" Archived 2016-10-09 at the Wayback Machine. New York Film Academy, September 24, 2014.
- Dalton, Mary M.; Linder, Laura R., eds. (2012). Sitcom Reader, The: America Viewed and Skewed. SUNY Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7914-8263-6.
- "Pinwright's Progress". comedy.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- Lewisohn, Mark (2003). "Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy". BBC Worldwide Ltd.
- "William Asher – The Man Who Invented the Sitcom" Archived 2016-04-09 at the Wayback Machine, Palm Springs Life Dec. 1999
- Collier, Shayne. Again and again and again. The Sydney Morning Herald – The Guide: 2 June 1986, p.1, 6.  Archived 2015-11-21 at the Wayback Machine
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- Seven Network (20 August 2007). "Seven – Daily Ratings Report". ebroadcast.com.au. Archived from the original on 20 May 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- Knox, David (2009-02-10). "2.58m: Underbelly sets new record". TV Tonight. Archived from the original on 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2015-10-02.
- Knox, David (22 February 2013). "Please Like Me, Puberty Blues selected for French TV festival". TV Tonight. Archived from the original on 14 April 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- "Please Like Me". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 6 May 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- "Please Like Me - Awards". IMDb. Archived from the original on 8 September 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- Craven, Peter (8 Sep 2011). "At Home With Julia: inane drivel of the most idiotic kind". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 2014-01-12. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
- "Packed to the Rafters and Underbelly are 2011's top local dramas – Mumbrella". Mumbrella. 2011-11-28. Archived from the original on 2017-09-03. Retrieved 2017-02-01.
- Knox, David (Dec 1, 2011). "Critics' Choice: The Best of 2011". TV Tonight. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
- "Inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Nominees" (PDF). Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-10-31.
- "Why do Canadian sitcoms suck?" Archived 2017-01-16 at the Wayback Machine. canada.com, March 21, 2014.
- "King to be bachelor". Ottawa Citizen. 1978-01-25. Archived from the original on 2022-03-19. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- "Strong numbers mean replay of Corner Gas debut" (Press release). CTV Inc. 2004-01-23. Archived from the original on 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2007-01-08.
- "'Corner Gas' gives thanks with premiere on Monday, Oct. 13". CTV Globemedia. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
- "The success of Schitt's Creek marks a turning point for the CBC" Archived 2017-04-07 at the Wayback Machine. The Globe and Mail, January 9, 2017.
- "CBC orders more Kim's Convenience" Archived 2017-01-13 at the Wayback Machine. Media in Canada, December 21, 2016.
- Patel, Nidhin (2011-10-13). "'Taarak Mehta' completes 700 episodes". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 2013-12-31.
- Panjari, Swagata (October 1, 2018). "TMKOC: The journey of India's longest running TV show". Television Post. Archived from the original on June 22, 2020. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
- "Adiós al Chavo del 8: murió Roberto Gómez Bolaños". Forbes Mexico. 2014-11-29. Archived from the original on 2014-12-05. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
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- "Roger Hall Piece about Gliding On". NZ On Screen. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
- How Sitcoms Work, page 3 Archived 2012-06-29 at the Wayback Machine.
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Further reading Edit
- Lewisohn, Mark (2003) Radio Times' Guide to TV Comedy. 2nd Ed. Revised – BBC Consumer Publishing. ISBN 0-563-48755-0, Provides details of every comedy show ever seen on British television, including imports.
- Padva, Gilad (2005) Desired Bodies and Queer Masculinities in Three Popular TV Sitcoms. In Lorek-Jezinska, Edyta and Wieckowska, Katarzyna (Eds.), Corporeal Inscriptions: Representations of the Body in Cultural and Homosexual Literature (pp. 127–138). Torun, Poland: Nicholas Copernicus University Press. ISBN 83-231-1812-4
- Asplin, Richard (2004) Gagged – A Thriller With Jokes – Arrow books. ISBN 0-09-941685-9 is a contemporary comic thriller set in London and Los Angeles that covers the financing, production, creation, ratings and marketing of a modern American network half-hour situation comedy
- Mary M. Dalton (1 February 2012). Sitcom Reader, The: America Viewed and Skewed. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-8263-6.
- Antonio Savorelli (13 April 2010). Beyond Sitcom: New Directions in American Television Comedy. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-5992-6.
- Joanne Morreale (2003). Critiquing the Sitcom: A Reader. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-2983-2.
- Brett Mills (12 January 2006). Television Sitcom. British Film Institute. ISBN 978-1-84457-087-4.
- Brett Mills (2009). The Sitcom. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-3752-2.
- Starman, Ray "The Sitcom Class Wars:20th Century". (2014) The Troy Bookmakers, Troy NY. History and analysis of 60 classic American sitcoms. Also includes glossary for easy access. Photos for every program.