By Janet Staiger
Archie Bunker. Jed. Laverne and Shirley. Cliff Huxtable. in the course of the complete historical past of yank prime-time tv in simple terms 4 sitcoms were precise blockbusters, with Nielsen scores a long way above the second one- and third-rated courses. Weekly, hundreds of thousands of american citizens of all ages have been creating a specified attempt to show at the set to work out what Archie, Jed, Laverne, and Cliff have been doing that week. The wild approval for those shows--All within the Family, The Beverly Hillbillies, Laverne & Shirley (and its accomplice Happy Days), and The Cosby Show--left commentators bewildered by way of the tastes and personal tastes of the yankee public. How can we account for the massive attraction of those sitcoms, and the way does it determine into the heritage of community prime-time television?
Janet Staiger solutions those questions by means of detailing the myriad components that cross into the development of mass audiences. Treating the 4 indicates as case stories, she deftly balances genuine factors (for example, the impression of VCRs and cable on community domination of television) with extra interpretative ones (for instance, the transformation of The Beverly Hillbillies from a favored convey detested by way of the critics, to a blockbuster after its elevation because the critics' darling), and juxtaposes industry-based purposes (for instance, the ways that television exhibits derive luck from placement within the weekly programming agenda) with stylistic motives (how, for example, sure indicates create excitement from a repetition and version of a formula).
Staiger concludes that due to alterations within the undefined, those indicates have been a phenomenon which may by no means be repeated. And whereas the western or the night-time cleaning soap has now and then captured public realization, Blockbuster TV continues that the sitcom has been THE style to draw humans to the tube, and that with no figuring out the sitcom, we will not thoroughly comprehend the function of tv in our culture.
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Extra resources for Blockbuster TV: Must-See Sitcoms in the Network Era
Commercial sitcom has a strong melodramatic and feminist slant: “If, as Joyrich argues, melodrama is the preferred television aesthetic Introduction / 41 form and the ‘feminine’ its pervasive spectatorial address, then the sitcom as TV’s dominant ﬁctional category becomes an especially plentiful site for such address” (p. 5). S. sit coms are not “classiﬁably ‘comic’”; they are character and re lation oriented. S. 22 Rabinovitz’s thesis is based on very historical factors, moving it away from the more ahistorical theses of Curtis and Marc.
This is a third expla nation for their success. TV sitcoms as a type of comedy, humor, or joking process certainly yield experiences that both sociological and psychological theories attempt to understand. 29 Instead I will focus on a couple of more speciﬁc applications to television sitcoms. One such application is Curtis’s thesis that the structure of these programs provides a central position for an audi ence to consider transgressive opinions while still remaining in a safe location. This does not mean, according to Curtis, that individuals do not temporarily or even permanently align with the transgressive or status quo; rather, the texts themselves offer a wide range of opinions for possible agreement without ultimately requiring a viewer to line up with one side.
Prime-time broadcasting has not gone unno ticed. Numerous observations to account for this have been offered, and four types of explanations contribute to an overall explanation. As I will suggest, however, none of these tra ditional hypotheses explains the blockbuster phenomenon. 17 One of the most obvious possible explanations for the suc cess of the situation comedy is that the genre ﬁts the medium. This is a classic “media speciﬁcity” claim in which the thesis is that a medium has a particular ontological nature and that that ontology coincides with a particular content.
Blockbuster TV: Must-See Sitcoms in the Network Era by Janet Staiger