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Offers a variety of perspectives on the sitcom genre and its influence on American culture.
Despite the popularity of the sitcom, one of the oldest and most ubiquitous forms of television programming, The Sitcom Reader is the first book to offer critical essays devoted specifically to the form. The contributors address important topics in relation to sitcoms, such as conventions of the form, the family, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, work and social class, and ideology, and they do so from a variety of perspectives, including cultural studies, feminist theory, queer theory, and media studies.
“The beauty of … The Sitcom Reader is its versatility … Several of the essays provide significant research into a specific philosophy, social attitude, or genre of television sitcoms.” — Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media
“Because situation comedy is often a window into the culture of the day, as a genre it is important not only as entertainment but also for the view it offers of society and social classes … Those familiar with the programs discussed will profit most from this book, which is an important contribution to the literature, particularly since more and more academic courses include discussion of the culture and content of television.” — CHOICE
"As a field of study this topic is essential. Prime time television remains the most influential medium, helping formulate cultural sensibilities, attitudes, values, and assessments of the social world. As a genre, the situation comedy is one of the most prevalent formats on television, and this book builds on a strong foundation in media studies that seeks to understand and evaluate the social significance of these forms. The various approaches to this topic offer the widest range of intellectual rigor." Robin Andersen, author of Consumer Culture and TV Programming
"I like the scope of the book and the fact that the essays are written from a variety of perspectivestheoretical, historical, and industrial. The book raises an important central question: how has the genre historically constructed their subjects in relation to the dominant ideology?" Stephen Tropiano, author of The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on TV
Contributors include Karen Anijar, Robert S. Brown, Hsueh-hua Vivian Chen, Robin R. Means Coleman, Mary M. Dalton, Paul R. Kohl, Judy Kutulas, Lori Landay, Laura R. Linder, Amanda Dyanne Lotz, David Marc, Charlton D. McIlwain, John O'Leary, Valerie V. Peterson, David Pierson, Denis M. Provencher, Sharon Marie Ross, Christine Scodari, Demetria Rougeaux Shabazz, H. Peter Steeves, Michael V. Tueth, Thomas E. Walker, Rick Worland, and Phyllis Scrocco Zrzavy.
Mary M. Dalton is Assistant Professor of Communication at Wake Forest University and the author of The Hollywood Curriculum: Teachers in the Movies. Laura R. Linder is Associate Professor of Media Arts at Marist College and the author of Public Access Television: America's Electronic Soapbox.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
CONVENTIONS OF THE GENRE
1 Origins of the Genre: In Search of the Radio Sitcom David Marc
2 Breaking and Entering: Transgressive Comedy on Television Michael V. Tueth
3 American Situation Comedies and the Modern Comedy of Manners David Pierson
REFRAMING THE FAMILY
4 Who Rules the Roost?: Sitcom Family Dynamics from the Cleavers to the Osbournes Judy Kutulas
5 From Ozzie to Ozzy: The Reassuring Nonevolution of the Sitcom Family Laura R. Linder
6 Against the Organization Man: The Andy Griffith Show and the Small Town Family Ideal John O’Leary and Rick Worland
7 I Love Lucy: Television and Gender in Postwar Domestic Ideology Lori Landay
8 Our Miss Brooks: Situating Gender in Teacher Sitcoms Mary M. Dalton
9 Talking Sex: Comparison Shopping through Female Conversation in HBO’s Sex and the City Sharon Marie Ross
RACE AND ETHNICITY
10 The Hidden Truths in Black Sitcoms Robin R. Means Coleman and Charlton D. McIlwain
11 Segregated Sitcoms: Institutional Causes of Disparity among Black and White Comedy Images and Audiences Amanda Dyanne Lotz
12 Negotiated Boundaries: Production Practices and the Making of Representation in Julia Demetria Rougeaux Shabazz
SITUATING SEXUAL ORIENTATION
13 Ellen: Coming Out and Disappearing Valerie V. Peterson
14 Sealed with a Kiss: Heteronormative Narrative Strategies in NBC’s Will & Grace Denis M. Provencher
15 PoofsCheesy and Other: Identity Politics as Commodity in South Park Karen Anijar, Hsueh-hua Vivian Chen, and Thomas E. Walker
WORK AND SOCIAL CLASS
16 Women, Love, and Work: The Doris Day Show as Cultural Dialogue Phyllis Scrocco Zrzavy
17 Liberated Women and New Sensitive Men: Reconstructing Gender in the 1970s Workplace Comedies Judy Kutulas
18 “Who’s in Charge Here?”: Views of Media Ownership in Situation Comedies Paul R. Kohl
IMPLICATIONS OF IDEOLOGY
19 Sex and the Sitcom: Gender and Genre in Millennial Television Christine Scodari
20 Cheers: Searching for the Ideal Public Sphere in the Ideal Public House Robert S. Brown
21 “It’s Just a Bunch of Stuff That Happened”: The Simpsons and the Possibility of Postmodern Comedy H. Peter Steeves