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Saturday, October 16, 2021

October 16-17, 2021: Crowd-sourced SitcomStudying

[October 15th marks the 70th anniversary of I Love Lucy’s debut. So this week I’ve AmericanStudied Lucyyyyyyyyyyyy and other sitcoms, leading up to this crowd-sourced laugh riot featuring fellow SitcomStudiers—add your howlers in comments!]

Responding to Monday’s post on sitcom dads, Glenna Matthews tweets a comparison between “Father Knows Best v. Happy Days with the Fonz knowing best. Great way to document the evolution of youth culture.”

Matthew Goguen analyzes Happy Days differently, calling it “manufactured nostalgia as entertainment.”

For a different kind of response to Monday’s post on sitcom Dads, Irene Martyniuk writes, “This summer there was an anti-sitcom called Kevin Can F**k Himself. In the show, the traditional sitcom scenes were in color and were typical—the husband was essentially a grown man-child who was constantly up to weird hi-jinks with his buddies. He was overweight and slobby but had a hot, helpful, tolerant wife--just like in most sitcoms. However, in this show, when the wife went off on her own, the show went to darker colors and we saw a real person--she has problems and drinks, etc. To be honest, I have not seen the show--I think it streamed on a service I don't get or I was just lazy or too into watching European detective shows with subtitles. But the show got a lot of press because it was both ground-breaking and well-done.”

Responding to Tuesday’s Friends post, Matthew Teutsch adds, “I just rewatched the last 3-4 seasons of Friends, and I agree with all of this. For me, Community was ahead of the curve in a lot of ways. I wonder about It’s Always Sunny, mostly because it’s easy for someone watching a show like that to buy into the crap they do.”


On Twitter, @policywanks shares, “I really enjoyed the first five seasons of Friends at the time, even knowing it was problematic in many ways. The criticism of its seemingly whites-only NYC was contemporary. After that, it started to wear on me and it has aged really poorly, IMHO.”


Diane Hotten writes, “I've tried to re-watch Friends many times, but I just can't get into it given the lack of diversity and sensitivity to culturally important ideas, like diverse representation in sitcoms, since the show ended. Think about Blackish and the hugely popular Ted Lasso.”

Other SitcomStudying responses:

Charlie Hensel nominates Third Rock from the Sun and its portrayal of “life in general from an alien perspective.”

My FSU colleague Kyle Moody nominates “Community, The PJs, Taxi, Martin, Fresh Off the Boat and Everything Sucks.”

Derek Tang highlights, “The Wonder Years—both versions. I think that'd provide some good juxtaposition in looking at how two kids who are so different yet so similar grew up during a turbulent period.” He adds, “For an Asian immigrant perspective, Kim’s Convenience and Fresh Off the Boat are good options, even though they’re pretty much the ONLY options.”

Tamara Verhyen writes, “I’m curious to see the demographics of those who like sitcoms filmed in front of a studio audience. I know for me I find it annoying, if it's funny I'll laugh, I don't like to be peer pressured into laughing at an unfunny joke. But I can understand how it might be nostalgic for people. To answer your actual question I loved Clarissa Explains it All and it think it's interesting that they had a live audience. Also Will and Grace would be an interesting study because of it being about modern gay relationships. It seems like that could have had some bad apples ready to protest, so I'm curious about if they vetted the audience.

Jeff Brenner tweets, “Looking forward to your discussion of ‘military’ type shows (McHale’s Navy, F Troop, Hogan’s Heroes, et al) and what they say about our military, other countries’ militaries, and, of course, America.” [ED: I didn’t post on those this week, but now Jeff has added them to the mix!]

Lauren Arrington tweets, “Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda! My read is that Rhoda undoes feminist interventions MTM tried to make. Rhoda: so much body negativity; it’s all about the husband, the mother-in-law stereotypes—really sets up the 80s for US TV.”

Finally, my Saturday Evening Post colleague Troy Brownfield shares a bunch of great SitcomStudying:

Everything Norman Lear did in the 1970s: Social aftermath of the 60s as it pertains to generation gap (All in the Family), race (Jeffersons, Good Times), social issues (Maude), single mothers raising kids (One Day at a Time), etc. Family Ties: Effect of 60s on 80s, rise of the young conservative, how the hippies became 80s parents. Friends: how did it manage to exist outside of almost every major issue of the 90s? (Carol and Susan being the exception). The Big Bang Theory: How did simply naming things (hyperlink NSFW) from subcultures become humor?

Next series starts Monday,


PS. What do you think? Other sitcoms you’d study?

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