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Sitcoms evolved on the radio in the 1920s and developed on through the 1930s and 1940s. As with many media, the development of US and UK sitcom are closely related to one another. “Amos ‘n’ Andy” was one of the first sitcoms on the radio in the UK. Families used to structure their domestic arrangements because no one wanted to miss an episode. This was called “appointment programming”. They’d all pull up their chairs to sit next to the radio. Then the 50s came and so did TV. However, very few people had a TV, so people still relied on the radio.
In the 60s there were such sitcoms as “Lucille Ball” (US) and “Hancock’s Half Hour” (UK) which relied on the sitcom format that was popular on the radio. The usual time limit of a sitcom is about 30 minutes, which includes adverts. The name of the sitcom usually gives some idea of what it is about for example: “Friends”, signifies that it is about a group of friends. “The Office” signifies that it is set in an office. The formula for a sitcom is: “Make it funny in an ordinary everyday situation”. The forms and conventions of a sitcom are: Sitcoms tend to be contained within series.
They are usually studio-based. The setting is usually a familiar location, often an interior. They have conventional mise-en-scene. Sitcoms are based on a situation usually connected with working or domestic (family life). Characters play a very important part in a sitcom because they express what the sitcom is about. For example: “The Good Life”, has the middle-classes rebelling against the establishment, who were there as a contrast to there, narrow minded neighbors who need approval from the establishment. The sitcom “My Family” has a middle-class family type audience.
One theory as their beliefs and dismissed those that contradict established by the American researches Blumer and Katz in 1974 and substituted the “what do the media do to people” view point with the idea of “what do people do with media”? Scheduling of a sitcom depends on the content of it. For example: “Friends” is usually on at around 7pm. whereas ” Men Behaving Badly” would be scheduled to be on around 9 or 10pm. This is because of the 9 o’clock watershed, which assumes that most young children are in bed and not watching TV. However, it has become much harder to schedule because the market is saturated with programs.
The BBC, the first radio and television broadcaster in the UK, still relies on the licensing fee to fund their International Operation. However, commercial companies such as: ITV and Channel 4 use advertising as a form of revenue. Recently, product companies such as: “Appeltizer” pays Channel 4 to sponsor “Friends”. This is important revenue for the commercial TV companies. Also, because they are cheap to make and can attract a large audience, the revenue from advertisements on commercial channels is attracted. Part Two: Representation Section A: Representation of Class.
In this section I will be discussing the idea that sitcoms frequently represent prevailing trends in society. I will be doing this using the representation of class and gender. “Keeping Up Appearances” focuses on two sisters and their families. The two families are different classes and age groups. Hyacinth is one of the sisters, who has a husband called Richard. Hyacinth and Richard are upper class whereas Hyacinths sister, Violet is lower-class/common. Violet has a husband called Onslow. They have a daughter, Rose, who is in her late 20s and is still living at home.
Hyacinth dresses herself as if she was the Queen; where as Onslow and Violet wear scruffy clothing, which is too big or too small. Hyacinth believes that she is the best. She uses her best china and distinguishes between china and beakers/mugs for her neighbor called Elizabeth. While on the contrary Violet and Onslow are relaxed ‘slobs’. Onslow drinks beer all day from the bottle or can and he also gets Violet to open his beer for him and change the channel on the television because he is too lazy. When hyacinth answers the telephone she says “The Bucket residence, the lady of the house speaking.
” She emphasis’ the ‘u’ (to make her surname sound upper class and posh. In view of that fact, when Violet’s phone rings nobody will answer it, but eventually Rose comes down stairs to answer as Violet and Onslow are too indolent. When Rose finally gets to the telephone she checks her image (what she looks like) before answering the phone. The Bucket’s house and garden is very neat, tidy and spacious. Hyacinth dusts and trims her plants everyday. As well as that, she also dusts the phone before she answers or uses it, where as Onslow and Violets house and garden is the complete opposite.
It is cramped, dirty and they have very old and worn furniture. In their front garden there is an old damaged and out of order car wreck, in which a stray dog lives. Section B: Representation of Gender The representation of gender, in “Men Behaving Badly”, is signified by stereotypes. Tony and Gary are the two main male characters in the sitcom. They, love the pub, fart everywhere and make fools of themselves. Dorothy and Debs are the two main female characters. They both have good lives and jobs. This shows the differences in gender. Most guys are like Tony and Gary, while more women are similar to Dorothy and Debs.
These differences show the different stereotypes and when they clash, it turns into an amusing sitcom. The dress code is usually very distinctive when it comes to gender. You can generally tell what someone is like by the way they dress. Gary wears a lot of casual and dark coloured clothing. He also has scruffy hair. Tony also wears a lot of casual clothes, although he wears brighter colours and he also has messy hair. In view of that fact Dorothy and Debs wear more fashionable clothes, which look nice on them. They both make an effort on how they look.
Gary’s flat is dark, cluttered and dirty. He hasn’t got any pride in what his flat looks like. Where as Debs’ flat is bright, organized and clean and it has lots of feminine touches. She has lots of pride in what her flat looks like. The response you might get from an audience after watching an episode of “Men Behaving Badly” could be funny to one or a concerned one depending on what you thought of it. For example, in one episode Tony to trying to appeal to Debs by learning astrology which fails. For some people this could be funny and for others it would seem to be pretty foolish.
Part Three: Production Skills Section A: Analysis A storyboard is essential. If a sitcom doesn’t have a storyboard, all of the crew/cast wouldn’t have the information needed to shoot the sitcom. They wouldn’t know how long the shots would be, what angle and what effects and dialogue would be needed. All sitcoms use storyboards so that there is a clear picture of what the director wants for the sitcom. This way of explaining (showing what they want) is very effective. Section B: Outline of Sitcom For my sitcom I have decided to use the family situation comedy.
It is aimed at families and children of the age 10+, because they are able to relate to the characters in the sitcom. My sitcom will be scheduled before the watershed, at about 6-7:30pm or 6:30-7:00pm. This is because families might eat before or after the program. As well as that, children would have most likely finished their homework and it would before most children would be going to bed. I would filmed in a set of the cafi?? and it would be advertised on BBC1 before and after CBBC and a few other times through out the week at prime-time (a few hours before the watershed), before the first episode.
My sitcom is called “Gee Wizz” It is about a family who own a cafi??. There are four main characters, Emma (the mother), Phil (Phillip), Lily and Rebecca. 1 Emma is the single mother who wears too much make-up and dresses too young for her age. She thinks that she is really good at cooking although she isn’t, but Paul and Lily (her children) don’t tell her that her food is disgusting. She also flirts with a lot of Phil’s friends, which is increasingly embarrassing for Phil and his friends. 2 Phil is 16 years old. He is obsessed with girls, working out and cars. He always gets distracted while he is working in the cafi??
by pretty girls. He’s embarrassed by his mum’s dress sense. 3 Lily is the “normal” person in the family, but she uses it to her advantage. She finds Phil’s obsession for girls hilariously pathetic, as he usually can’t “win girls’ hearts” as he is too “purvey”. There is one girl who is fanatical about Phil who is called Rebecca. 4 Rebecca is a “nerd”. She isn’t very attractive and wears “geeks” glasses. She loves to eat Emma’s cakes and food, where as everyone else finds it revolting. Rebecca adores Phil and is always trying to see him, but he trying to hide from her.