The Book

The Sitcom (A Routledge Television Guidebook) will analyze the genre’s position as a major media artefact within American culture and will provide a historical overview of the genre as it has evolved in the US. The Sitcom will examine discourses of gender, race, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation that are ever always at the core of humor in our culture and it will interpret how those discourses are embedded in television’s relatively rigid narrative structures.

The Sitcom will be principally organized around roughly chronological sub-genres through which the sitcom has cycled: for example, the rural sitcom, the workplace sitcom, the family sitcom, the “ethnic” sitcom, and so on. However, full understanding of the sitcom goes beyond its discourses and narratives. A comprehensive consideration of the genre must also address the style of its sound and image—especially in programs that derive their humor from intertextual or self-referential play. The Sitcom will thus cover the mockumentary and what, after John Caldwell, might be called the “televisual” sitcom—programs that encourage the viewer to find humor in self-reflexive and intertextual gags.

The Sitcom is currently under contract with Routledge.

Tentative table of contents:

  • Introduction: Taking Comedy Seriously: An Argument for the Study of the Sitcom
  • Chapter 1. A TV Genre Is Born: Comedy in the Golden Age of Broadcasting
  • Chapter 2. Comedy, Family, and Small Towns
  • Chapter 3. Comedy, Work, and Class
  • Chapter 4. Comedy, Sex, and Gender Identity
  • Chapter 5. Comedy, Race, Ethnicity, and Religion
  • Chapter 6. Comedy, Televisuality, and Genre Mixing
  • Conclusion: TV Comedy in Convergence Culture