Where are you on Thursday night? The likely answer is sitting in front of your television screen watching your favorite sitcom. If that is correct, then you are like the millions of other Americans that devote much of their time tuning into the craze of the situation comedy. The situation comedy has been apart of American culture for decades. Having its roots in radio, the situation comedy is "a narrative series comedy, generally between 24 and 30 minutes long, with regular characters and settings (McQueen 53)." Many radio sitcoms went directly to the small screen in the late 1940's and 1950's; this is how the genre got its start (McQueen 53). The classics that put sitcoms in the spot light were The Phil Silvers Show and I Love Lucy; these shows are still regarded as "televisions best-ever creations (Creeber 65)." The situation comedy is one of the main ingredients of broadcast television.
The situation comedy has many fundamental aspects that can vary from show to show. The principle situation is that things stay constant; they do not change (McQueen 56). The aspects of the show needs to be highly recognizable and returned to week after week, because of the repetition of the series and the demands of the time-slot. The narrative of the show must not be destroyed or complicated by the pervious week (McQueen 56). The return to the original situation is always constant. The key to a sitcom involves a disturbance of the stable situation and a conclusion within the episode. These various disruptions and wrongdoings are what the sitcom revolves around. The half hour program always consists of a beginning, middle and end (McQueen 57). The situation that occurs is usually a humorous problem or incident that is resolved by the end of the episode. The narrative of the sitcom is basically circular but that is not binding, some modifications to the characters or plot do take place. Such as "families may gain or lose children as they grow up, long-lost relatives are found, additional characters join series, old ones leave and background details change to keep the stories from becoming stale and repetitive (McQueen 57)." These shifts can sometimes cause the show not to survive, for instance if a main character leaves the show. If that main character was a big dynamic part of the show, it will fail without them. That is the risk that a sitcom makes when they change things, it can work but not always.
The sitcom has certain themes and experiences that are regularly used when developing a show. The themes of "family and home, work and authority" are the most common used in a sitcom (McQueen 57). The reason for these types of themes is because of how common they are, and many audiences can recognize the different situations. The "collision of values, identities, and lifestyles" is the major component in a comedy, the more collision the more laughter (McQueen 58). Sitcoms usually consist of a family or quasi-family structures, these are necessary to satisfy the needs of the viewer. The family structure can consist of whole families, single parents with children, step-families, even gay men and straight single women (Creeber 69). The combination does not matter, viewers just want to see some sort of nuclear family, conventional or not.
The situation comedy Will & Grace has all the consistent elements of a sitcom but with a slight difference from the rest. Will & Grace is the first sitcom to have a gay male as the lead on broadcast television. It was not the first sitcom to have gay characters but the first sitcom with gay characters to be a success (Battles 87). The show has won numerous awards in its six seasons on air, the sitcom's premise follows the lives of a man and his close relationship to a woman. The relationship they have resembles interactions between soul mates but that is a big misunderstanding because one is gay and the other is...