Television Sitcoms: 1950's - Today

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Fifty Years in the Making A genre of entertainment programming was developed and became known as the situation comedy or 'sitcom'. Sitcoms have evolved in response to lifestyle trends and have changed drastically over the past fifty years. The sitcom format is based upon two main types: the element of family drama mixed with sibling rivalry and the element of sexual exploration. Family sitcoms specialized in family drama and focused on internal family roles of the parents, children and siblings. Sticking to the same basic formula, sitcoms show a problem solved and a lesson learned in a half -hour, usually with a strong foundation of laughable humor. Traditional family roles in 1950's sitcoms held the father as the head of the household and major breadwinner, and the wife as the classic domestic housekeeper. Sitcoms of the 1950's emphasized and exemplified good values and conveyed them throughout the half -hour, in which they aired. From the stay at home housewife, to the single or divorced parent, sitcoms have developed and established a part in every American family's living room over the past fifty years.

With their birth in the 1950's, situation comedies mean just what their name suggests. In the beginning, the basic recipe for the perfect sitcom was this: Take a domestic family, stir in the funny antics of the children or neighbors, and add in a minor problem, which usually could be solved within the half hour. Simmer between commercials, and voila! Comedy and a new lesson learned every week (Seplow). Wait another week and the characters are back to where they were the week before, only faced with a different, traditionally comical situation. The predictability of the sitcom was the basis for its humor. The audience knows the characters will always react and respond to situations the way they are expected to. To the audience, sitcoms were "the glue that stuck them to the television" (Johnson).

However, there are many different types of sitcoms that were...
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