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Situation Comedy Genre

Rob Miller | Wednesday April 25, 2012

Categories: GCSE, OCR GCSE, Key Concepts, Genre, Hot Entries, Television, Situation Comedy, Television Comedy, Television Situation Comedy

History and Context

Distant ancestors of Punch and Judy shows, Situation Comedies originated, as with much TV Comedy in part on the radio in the 1920s and 1930s. Due however to the exclusive nature of ‘the situation’ and the concept of visual audience identification it remains fundamentally a successful audio-visual sub genre – Hancock’s Half Hour is a notable exception to this in the 1950s transferring successfully from radio to television.

Situation Comedies are a sub genre of TV Comedy because their primary intention is to entertain the audience the through humour but by utilising a set of recognisable codes and conventions that are explored and explained below. They are


to be confused with Sketch Shows, Stand-up Comedy, Chat Shows or Panel Shows or Game Shows as all these sub genres of TV Comedy have their own conventions.

Some Situation Comedies (although rarely because the historical formula has been so successful) cross over, on occasion into other comedy territory but more commonly can be hybridised with other genres – examples of this include Red Dwarf (Science Fiction) and The Simpsons / South Park / King of the Hill (Cartoon Animation). If, however these programmes are analysed they typically follow the codes and conventions below that identify them as Sitcoms.

William Asher, and American Director and Producer is generally credited with developing the term, Sitcom – he directed between the 1950s and 1970s over twenty different Situation Comedies including the iconic I Love Lucy which ran for two decades. British and American Situation Comedies developed simultaneously however but with key differences – US Sitcoms tend to have longer runs; for example the current sitcom Two and a Half Men has recently sacked its key actor Charlie Sheen but has retained its audiences and continues to broadcast in both the US and the UK. US Sitcoms also tend to be written by larger teams and arguably are less challenging,...

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