Television is the major form of entertainment in the world today. The Museum of Broadcast Communications reported that by 1986 there were about 150,000,000 watchers in the United States, greater than the amount of cars, bathtubs, washing machines, or refrigerators. On average, people watch seven hours a day and over 50 hours a week.
American life has been shaped and transformed by television. While sitcoms originated in radio, they are found predominantly on television today. An estimate of 27,000 sitcom scripts have been written in just the last 50 years! It is clear that audiences love sitcoms for its reality of humor and wit. Television sitcoms have tackled themes of religion, ethnicity and social status. Let’s explore the format of a television series involving independent episodes of the adventures of characters.
Sitcoms: Sitting in Comfort with Family
The fast pace lifestyle today is making it increasingly difficult for families to spend time with each other. They are either busy at work or school and overlooking the importance and value in the term “family.” Nowadays it seems, that the only time they spend time together is when watching TV. Sitcoms allow families to share a moment of laughter and relaxation with each other at the end of a busy work day.
According to Daily Mail, both parents and children spend the majority of their time outside of home, leaving less time for bonding with their family. A survey by Freesat shows that more than half of the people surveyed believe that watching TV is the best way to bond with family. In addition, modern people are becoming more independent than before with loose family ties. However, sitcoms provide an opportunity for them to communicate and discuss their opinions on current issues and their day outside of home. Sitcoms such as the Modern Family, Friends and Seinfeld also teach viewers significant values in relationships. From watching these shows, family members are not only enjoying but also learning ways to talk to each other and thus build a strong relationship.
With fast lifestyles come stress and anxieties, at a time like this, sitcoms help ensure that a family has some time for chatting and fun. At the end of the day, spending time with family can help you relieve the stress from work and school.
Laughs from the Past
Sitcoms began in the 1950s, and the man who was said to have invented the sitcom was director William Asher, who lead I Love Lucy. In the 1980s, sitcoms were generally about family misadventures with lessons that are conveyed through catchphrases and laugh tracks. During this time, television revolved around the concept of a nuclear family, or two parents with two children. The portrayal of nuclear families reflected the reality of middle class families in real life, with economic booms and rising wages. Sitcoms gradually became inclusive, with females in the Golden Girls and The Cosby Show featuring successful black families.
The 1990s introduced the era of Friends, Seinfeld and The Simpsons with unique individuals trying to figure out their lives in the big city or dysfunctional working class families. Sitcoms then expanded to center on singles trying to find relationships and comedic families. The 2000s welcomed the bolder personalities in the workplace of How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men. The legacies of sitcoms combine the past formats with changing times; by doing so, sitcoms ensure that laughs will never end.
Changing Times, Changing Minds
Through modern sitcoms, people are more exposed to cultures and ideas that they might not have been otherwise. In fact, one of the great accomplishments of modern sitcoms is how they integrate changing times through satirical and comedic strategies.
For example, the television sitcom Modern Family is known for its diversity and reflects changes and ideas pertinent to the 21st century. The sitcom centers around a gay couple raising their child. a plethora of issues people do not often consider are brought to light.Modern Family successfully pulls attention away from the gay couple raising a child and focuses on their relationship as parents raising a child and does it in a way that shows the viewers that gay parents face the same struggles as everyday straight parents.
Another sitcom that reflects changing times is Fresh Off the Boat, a sitcom about a Chinese-American family trying to deal with the cultural differences in a community that does not have a large Asian population while pursuing the “American dream.” The sitcom challenges the notion of whether Americans truly prefer integration and celebration as opposed to cultural assimilation and shows the constant anxieties that Asian-Americans have to deal with today.
Times have changed, as well as the issues are at the center of concern. Sitcoms such as Modern Family and Fresh Off the Boat reveals and centers around those changes and the success of these television shows prove that people’s views and mindset on certain subjects have changed and become more open.
Friends: 94 votes
How I Met Your Mother: 59 votes
The Big Bang Theory: 39 votes
Fresh Prince of Bel Air: 35 votes
Modern Family: 28 votes
Total: 255 votes
Poll conducted by MIA TAKASAKI and LYNN ZHANG