Sitcoms

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14 October 2013
Sitcom Internet Assignment
Sitcoms have essentially been around since the beginning of television in the 1940’s. One of the first sitcoms was “The Goldbergs,” which moved from radio to television in 1949 (Fordham Metz). This show was centered on a family living in the Bronx made up of Molly and Jake Goldberg and their two children. The Goldbergs were Jewish immigrants and dealt with the everyday family-related problems of the time. Molly was a good housewife and mother to her children. While sitcoms have been on a steady incline since the days of “The Goldbergs,” some critics say that in the past couple years the sitcom has been slowly killed off in the name of reality TV. According to Senior Writer for BuddyTV, John Kubicek, 2012-2013 is the year the sitcom died. He comments on the fact that while shows like “Modern Family” and “The Big Bang Theory” have experienced great success, many others have failed. Shows that have lasted years such as “The Office” and “30 Rock” have completed their final seasons and others are soon to follow. In the light of so many failures, networks are unlikely to order more (Kubicek).

People are no longer drawn to the scripted comedies. They are leaning more, now, towards the idea of the “real-life” comedies of reality TV. These shows give the viewer some nostalgia and a sense of believability that sitcoms do not allow. According t the Neilsen ratings, this change is slow but nonetheless visible. Most of the top watched shows are either reality TV shows, such as “Duck Dynasty” and “The Voice, or they are shows like “NCIS” and “The Walking Dead” (Nielsen). Shows like “The Voice” and “Dancing with the Stars” are a fast approaching genre of reality competition TV. These types of shows far outrank the sitcoms. Unfortunately, sitcoms are appearing to be on a downward spiral. They are being taken over by reality TV shows and competition shows. Maybe the writers need to change their themes, or maybe we, the audience, are simply uninterested in the scripted comedy anymore when we can be entertained by “real” events. Another critic of sitcoms is their predictability. Reality TV shows give viewers a sense of suspense that is no longer present in sitcoms. Sitcoms rose in popularity in the aftermath of World War II because Americans wanted to watch shows that would make them laugh in light of the seriousness around them. Drama TV shows, reality, and competition TV shows give the audience the suspense and unpredictability that we are now eager for in the TV entertainment. The audience no longer wants “lame sitcoms” over drama and action (DaVulture).

The new sitcom family has definitely incorporated more diversity than in previous years. Previously sitcoms only showed the nuclear family of the white mom, dad and children. Sitcoms do try to represent society at the current moment (Garrison). However, do they achieve this? In an article by Mike Duffy for the Chicago Tribune, he quotes Montel Willams saying, “"When I sit in a restaurant in New York or other cities, there's black people, white people, Asians, Hispanics," Williams says. "Why can't we see that America on TV?" Williams is right, since the Cosby show we haven’t had a top ranked show based around the life of an all African-American family, and we certainly have never had a representation of al all Asian family that reached the top watched list. I do think that sitcoms are trying to represent diversity with shows like “Modern Family” and “The New Normal,” however; they are till playing it safe. In the representations of diversity in the “Modern Family” we see stereotypical portrayals of the new ideas of family. Gloria’s role as the Latina mother who has a child and marries an older white male is a stereotype of this new type of family. She is highly sexualized and overly emotional, which is the stereotypical Latina woman. Both she and Claire are stay-at-home mothers. Even in the representation of the gay couple, Cameron and...
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