Front cover of THE SITCOM.


The Sitcom (A Routledge Television Guidebook) was released November 1, 2019.

In this new Routledge Television Guidebook, Jeremy Butler studies our love–hate relationship with the durable sitcom, analyzing the genre’s position as a major media artifact within American culture and providing a historical overview of its evolution in the USA. Everyone loves the sitcom genre; and yet, paradoxically, everyone hates the sitcom, too. This book examines themes of gender, race, ethnicity, and the family that are always at the core of humor in our culture, tracking how those discourses are embedded in the sitcom’s relatively rigid storytelling structures. Butler pays particular attention to the sitcom’s position in today’s post-network media landscape and sample analyses of Sex and the City, Black-ish, The Simpsons, and The Andy Griffith Show illuminate how the sitcom is infused with foundational American values.

At once contemporary and reflective, The Sitcom is a must-read for students and scholars of television, comedy, and broader media studies, and a great classroom text.

The Sitcom is available for purchase and course adaptation. Inspection copies are available for instructors:

Book Organization

The Sitcom is 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 thus covers 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.

Table of contents, including case studies:

  • Introduction: Comedy Genre, Humor Theory
  • Chapter 1. Understanding the Sitcom
  • Chapter 2. A Critical/Cultural History of the Sitcom
  • Chapter 3. Comedy, Family, and Small Towns: The Andy Griffith Show
  • Chapter 4. Comedy, Sex, and Gender Identity: Sex and the City
  • Chapter 5. Comedy, Race, Ethnicity, and Religion: Black-ish
  • Chapter 6. Comedy, Televisuality, and Convergence: The Simpsons
  • Questions for Discussion
  • A Select Sitcom Videography
  • A Select Sitcom Bibliography