Are Sitcoms All the Same?

If you know me well then you know I love a good sitcom. Well, actually depending on your view I could love a bad sitcom – its all subjective I guess.

This is something that really interests me; learning about the specific sitcoms people like and don’t like (I know, I’m pretty odd), despite the shows following the same general formula. Whilst there are distinct differences between British and American humour, with the sitcoms originating from each respective country mirroring this, there is a standard setting from which each one is made. It usually involves a group of friends, each with their own charming, loveable, or plain annoying personalities, who seem to spend every day of their lives in each other’s company. 6 is a popular number, with 3 guys and 3 girls – dating within the group is likely, as are short-lived arguments.

You can fit this profile to a lot of sitcoms, but I have to say in my opinion it doesn’t get boring. Sure, like most rom-com films (again, I’m a fan) you can guess the plot line and how the film will end just from the opening scene, but the plotline itself isn’t the important part. Yeah its always nice to keep you on the edge of your seat, not knowing what’s going to happen with your favourite characters, but for me the best part of sitcoms are the little jokes along the way – the sort of things you quote and laugh about with your friends afterwards.

Most of my favourite TV shows are American, and when it comes to sit-coms this is no different. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great British ones, and as a Brit I feel as though I owe some sort of loyalty to this style of humour, but I can’t resist the Hollywood-esque shows with their perfect looking actors. Maybe its the over-the-top nature of them that keeps me engrossed; the off the charts eventfulness and hilarity of the characters’ lives that makes you wish you were the 7th member of the group… But alas, it’s all make-believe.

Where was I? Ah yes, I remember. Its interesting to hear when your friends who share the love of one sitcom with you may not be so keen on another similar show that you love. There are very subtle differences, whether that be in script-writing, or casting or whatever that can sway your vote, despite the general plotline being almost identical.

For instance, I am a big fan of Happy Endings, from which the above clip was taken. The show was recently cancelled, so I felt the need to put a funny clip in to sort of honour its memory. The show consists of 6 friends; 3 guys and 3 girls, who spend every day hanging out together in a few select regular locations, such as their apartments and local bar, with the odd additional scene thrown in for good measure. However I know those who aren’t so keen on the show, but adore How I Met Your Mother, which it has to be said has a very similar feel. The only real difference in plot being that one is set in Chicago and the other in New York. Just in case you were wondering, I’m a fan of both.

Likewise there is a very similar show called Perfect Couples, which follows a similar pattern to the two aforementioned shows – the only major differences being that all 6 main characters are consistently dating another of the 6 main characters, and instead of being set in the middle of the busy city, its set in the suburbs. Somehow Perfect Couples doesn’t quite match up quality wise with Happy Endings or How I Met Your Mother, despite the clear similarities in style. Maybe the script-writing isn’t the best, perhaps the casting isn’t as great. The point is there are those who will love the show, and won’t be keen on the others, for very subtle reasons.

Perhaps its the ‘more of the same’ attitude that’s been both good and bad for sitcoms. Happy Endings and How I Met Your Mother have both echoed the successful theme made famous by Friends, however this may not work out if the audience wants something a little different. That could be why The Big Bang Theory has become so popular.

So like I said at the start of this post, sitcoms have a very sensitive and subjective nature about them, in terms of how their audience react to them. So sensitive and subjective that whilst there may be a pocket of fans who adore a show, if the ratings aren’t high enough it will be axed, simple as that. With the height of social media, online viewing and other outlets for measuring the reaction of a particular TV show from its audience, I wonder whether the current ratings measurement system (i.e. the Nielsen method) is still effective and representative in this day and age. Still, it’s easy for me to complain when my favourite show is cancelled.



  1. In our experience, the more we like a show (any show), the more likely it is to get cancelled — usually as soon as we realize how much we like it. Maybe it’s us and we are some kind of jinx.

    1. Joe Topliffe · · Reply

      Always the way! I think Firefly is another good example. I’ve not seen it, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, and just goes to show that a strong following of passionate fans isn’t enough – it’s a shame.

  2. Ep 1 of the last season of Happy Endings just aired here yesterday. I am wishing the next 20 weeks go really slowly. By the way I’m devastated I really hate seeing it go. I’m really glad someone else out there is as sad about it as me, or maybe you are less sad then me i don’t know.

    1. Joe Topliffe · · Reply

      Here we just had episode 3, and I’m cherishing every moment of this last series. I can’t wait for them all to be out in DVD! I have series 1 and watching it never gets boring! Still waiting on 2 to be available in region 2 though

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: