British sitcoms tend to focus on characters from a social and/or sexual perspective.
Characters are more class concious with the upper class being portrayed as intelligent, civil or dotty. While the lower class are loud & shallow but nice and lovable.
Themes typically mimic the idea that everyone has their place in society.
US sitcoms focus on individual delevopment of character not place them within a class system.
They show the 'American dream' i.e. equality etc.
Most display dysfunctional relationships e.g. the big bang theory.
Narrative structure of Sitcoms
Themes are reoccuring e.g. family, relationships, love, work
Usually comic modes such as visual and verbal gags are present. Most make use of dramatic irony.
Typically follow the structure of - equilibruim, disequalibruim then leading onto a resolution to provide comfort to the audience.
Syncronising motifs e.g music is used.
Characters are clearly defined through stereotyping.
Circulation and modification is constant.
Key narrative ingredients
- Conflict and resolution
- collision of values and identies
- frustration of class/sexuality
- sexual attraction
Sitcoms have mostly basic & simplistic plots as they are reassuring.
Normally there is an overarching plot but also self contained one which begin and end within one episode.
Defining codes and conventions
Theme tunes are often sung and are invariably catchy and hummable.
Locations are usually identifiable and simple, so the audience builds a familiarity with them. Extra sets may be added on certain occasions.
There are often situations included which highlight the value of family.
There are 3 types of characters - main, supporting and transient characters.
If there are two many characters this can lead to a loss of rapport built with the audience e.g Husband/wife, father/son, boss/secretary.
Characters can be 2 dimensional or more complex but they don't change.
Dialogue is designed to be witty with good timing to get the most laughs.
A sense of rapport is often built through catch phrases for example Gavin and Stacy has 'What's occurrin'
Irony, puns, double entendres & reaction shots are common techniques.
Tone of voice and facial expressions are important when communicating meaning behind a piece of dialogue.
malapropism - using the wrong word in order to create a humourous effect.
Often a montage sequence to give the audience an insight into the show by introducing the characters and/or locations with one or two funny situations to get laughs.
There is stereotypically a steady flow of humour throughout sitcom episodes.
This can be created in a variety of different formats e.g.
The BBC is originally the home of British sitcoms. Digital media means sitcomes appear with a lack of scheduling.
This also means that as sitcoms are available online - production companies will be aiming to create a show that will be a success globally rather than just nationally.
Most sitcoms are designed for a family audience but some may be shown after watershed placing them for an adult audience.
Sitcoms aim to be culturally diverse.Audience models, profiles, readings, catharsis.
Studio audience/live/canned laughter.