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The Types of Television Comedies Essay

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Updated: Jan 26th, 2022

The growing popularity of television as a form of mass media has resulted in the development of many comedy genres. They can appeal to people who may differ in terms of their educational level, political views, age, family status, employment, and so forth. In many cases, it is difficult to classify television comedies because film-makers may combine the elements of different genres. For instance, one can refer to animated sitcoms that may include some components that are typical of drama (Stabile 9). Overall, television comedies can differ considerably in terms of such criteria as the setting of the movie, the number of actors involved in the film, the themes explored by the authors, and the use of cinematographic techniques; in turn, this paper is aimed at examining the key attributes of sitcoms, television comedies, tragicomedies, and animated comedies because these types are of great interest to many viewers.

It is possible to argue that TV comedies have a rather long history, and they were produced even at the time when television was only beginning to grow in popularity. In particular, they were released in the late thirties. For instance, one can mention Starlight that was produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1936 (Newton 27). In addition to that, it is possible to mention Pinwright’s Progress that is viewed as one of the earliest sitcoms. This television series was released right after the end of World War II. Since that time, there have been many movies that can be described as comedies, and much attention should be paid to their primary attributes and distinguishing traits.

At first, one should discuss situational comedies or sitcoms that represent recurrent characters; moreover, their action usually takes place in the same setting (Mills 28). For instance, the characters can work in the same organization. In this case, one can refer to the television series named The Office. Apart from that, sitcoms can explore the experiences of people who know each other for a long time; in many cases, they have similar lifestyles. For instance, it is possible to consider the famous sitcom Friends. Apart from that, such movies can portray the life of family members; in this case, one can refer to such a sitcom as The Middle. It depicts the life of a middle-class American family (Spangler 472). A single episode of such television comedies usually lasts for approximately 30 minutes (Mills 28). The chief peculiarities of this genre are examined by Brett Mills, who discusses the reasons why the production of such films has become an important part of the show business (10). It is probably the most widespread format. Such movies enjoy popularity among various social and age groups.

Apart from that, one should consider the so-called sketch comedies that consist of short and unrelated vignettes (Harrison 13). In particular, these narratives are not the parts of a larger plot. They can explore various themes such as relations between family members, co-workers, friends, and so forth. Additionally, they depict people, who represent social or age groups such as teenagers, students, police officers, journalists, and so forth (Harrison 13). Among the most famous sketch comedies, one can distinguish Little Britain that presents a satirical description of the British lifestyles or values (Harrison 13). In addition to that, it is possible to mention Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Overall, this type of television comedies can be useful for exploring for various issues such as social or economic problems, people’s values, conflicts within families, and many other topics. In this case, film-makers are not limited by the necessity to follow the plot line. However, one should remember that sketch comedies often reflect the issues that are familiar to the representatives of a particular culture. For instance, Charles Harrison argues that it is often difficult to adapt such shows to the needs of foreign viewers (Harrison 13). Apart from that, the elements of sketch comedies can be observed in various television shows. These shows often feature two or more comedians who perform on stage.

It is important to remember that film-makers can incorporate the elements of different genres such as comedy and drama. Therefore, they can explore various themes such as the role of mass media in the life of individuals, healthcare organizations, crime and so forth (Britton 94). This type of movies can be called comedy-dramas. They may even highlight the experiences of individuals who may struggle with some psychological problems. In this case, it is possible to mention such television series as Psych or Moonlighting that depicting the work of detectives and police officers (Britton 94). One should bear in mind that such television comedies can take place in different settings as such healthcare organizations, law firms, police departments, and so forth. Apart from that, many sitcoms have the elements of comedy-dramas. For instance, the television series named The Middle highlights the experiences of a family struggling through the recession that began in 2008 (Spangler 472). It is possible to refer to the scholarly article written by Lynn Spangler who notes that the characters of many sitcoms may “live from paycheck to paycheck” (Spangler 479). Thus, these fictional individuals are not isolated from the trends affecting the entire American society. These examples are important for showing that the boundaries between different types of comedies often can be blurred. Furthermore, such television series can be useful for understanding the social and economic problems faced by the community.

Additionally, the production of television comedies may involve the use of different cinematographic techniques. For instance, some cartoons can also be regarded as television comedies. As a rule, their plot and setting are typical of sitcoms and comedy-dramas. In particular, one should consider such comedies as Simpsons, Futurama, or South Park. They usually explore the experiences of some recurrent characters such as family members or close friends. At the same time, they can explore such themes as the role of religion, domestic violence, unemployment, psychological problems of children or adolescents, and so forth. Thus, one can say that television comedies can combine different formats. It is one of the trends that can be distinguished.

Overall, these details are important for showing that television comedies have evolved considerably during the last 70 years. They can serve the needs of viewers who may have various values and attitudes. The main trend is that film-makers can apply the elements of different cinematographic genres. For instance, they prefer to use the elements of comedy and drama since this approach is useful for exploring a broad range of topics. It is important to consider such types as sitcoms, animated comedies, comedy-dramas, and sketch comedies because they are the most popular formats.

Works Cited

Britton, Piers. Reading between Designs: Visual Imagery and the Generation of Meaning in The Avengers, The Prisoner, and Doctor Who. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010. Print.

Harrison, Charles. Difficulties of translating humour: From English into Spanish using the subtitled British comedy sketch show “Little Britain” as a case study. New York: Anchor Academic Publishing, 2013. Print.

Mills, Brett. The Sitcom. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009. Print.

Newton, Darrell. Paving the Empire Road: BBC Television and West Indian Immigration. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011. Print.

Spangler, Lynn. “Class On Television: Stuck In The Middle.” Journal Of Popular Culture 47.3 (2014): 470-488. Print.

Stabile, Carol. Prime Time Animation: Television Animation and American Culture. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.

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