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A comparison of British and American sitcoms based on an episode of "Fawlty Towers" and "Friends"

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A comparison of British and American sitcoms based on an episode of "Fawlty Towers" and "Friends" During the mid 50s rivalry developed between the BBC and the fairly recently launched ITV. ITV was broadcasting the popular American sitcom called "I Love Lucy", the BBC soon found that it was loosing viewers to ITV and therefore boosted production of sitcoms that include: "Hancock's Half Hour", "Dads army", "Fawlty Towers", "Porridge" and many more which are still popular today. "I love Lucy" sparked off the production off these British sitcoms and maybe if it hadn't been broadcasted here in Britain then probably none of these famous British sitcoms would have been made. These sitcoms, however, differ quite significantly due to the country, which they originate from. The difference is due to the country's culture and social background; we can explore this by viewing an American sitcom, Friends, and a British sitcom, Fawlty Towers. Fawlty Towers and Friends are two very successful sitcoms but if we investigate further into the two we find that they both have different impacts on the audience as some methods of creating humour differ. One of the main differences of the two, outside of creating humour, is that they are both based in different countries and different times. Friends is based on the youthful, vibrant city of New York, USA based in the late 90s, whereas Fawlty Towers is based in the retired, quiet town of Torquay based in the mid 70s, at the time it was made. An episode from both sitcoms were viewed these are, Friends: The One With The Breast Milk and Fawlty Towers: Gourmet Night. We can investigate both sitcoms by analysing each episode using characterisation, types of humour used, plot and mis-en-sc�ne. Mis-en-sc�ne is looking at how the sitcom is constructed, by setting, props, non-verbal communication and dress codes. Fawlty Towers is based in Torquay, as mentioned earlier, and is a hotel run by "Basil Fawlty" and his wife "Sybil Fawlty" also two other main characters are "Polly" and "Manual" who work at the hotel. ...read more.


But however he drops the duck by mistake, which adds humour, then using ludicrous humour, Manuel walks in and steps onto the duck showing that not only has he got ill communication skills but also is not bright at all which gives him an image of being a comic character and relates him to Joey from friends as he often creates humour without meaning to. Basil then picks up the duck and throws it aggressively at Kurt who is responsible for the whole thing going wrong. Basil again using physical humour runs even more anxiously into the small car and drives off. He arrives at Andres and almost picks up the duck when he is distracted meanwhile another identical dish with a lid is laid next to the duck. Basil then unknowingly picks up the wrong dish then runs off. This is an example of dramatic irony when the audience knows soothing which the characters do not. Meanwhile at the hotel, Manuel and Polly make a vain attempt to entertain the guests by singing to them; this is an example of ludicrous humour as it is totally un-expected. Basil is now on his way home when the car breaks down. Basil's anger then soars; he leaves the car, still with the camera focused on the car, and Basil then repeatedly hits with a tree branch as if the car can feel pain, which creates humour. Yet again more physical humour as Basil runs all the way back to Fawlty Towers with the dish and the lid on. Basil eventually arrives at Fawlty Towers and presents the duck, still with the lid on, into the dining hall; there is a sigh of relief. Basil then sharpens the knives in anticipation of lifting the lid. When he eventually does there is trifle, not duck. Everyone is horrified especially Basil but he tries to keep cool by adding, "Trifle anyone?" ...read more.


Monica is dressed in black, Rachel is dressed in white, they start talking and eventually Rachel forgives Monica and they make up by hugging and being very emotional. Phoebe then joins in as she didn't want to feel left out but had no part in it at all and it was completely unexpected, this creates humour. They then all agree that Rachel should give Julie a chance. We then switch back to the apartment store where Joey is now in a white cowboy suite showing that he is challenging Hombre man. Hombre man is dressed in black. Western/Mexican music starts playing giving a Western Parody. The first customer comes in; it's a race to see who can sell the product first. Joey is delayed as there is something wrong with the spray mechanism but in anticipation, Hombre man sprays the customer in the eyes. The customer is very angry and says that he'll sue, the boss then turns to Hombre man and shouts "Todd!" angrily. It is now revealed that Hombre man is not so big and threatening to Joey especially as Todd adds in a high voice "I'm' sorry, I'm so clumsy" showing a lack of confidence. Annabel then walks in and realises what happens and instead walks off with Joey into a simulated sunset which again explores the western parody. Now we are in Central Perk again and Rachel and Julie are talking and it looks like they get one well but when Julie leaves Rachel says to herself "What a manipulative bitch" again creating invective humour and it shows that everything is back to normal. Now the ending credits role up, Ross, Chandler and Joey are sitting at the table in the kitchen with a sample of breast milk and some cookies. Western music is playing in the background; Ross reluctantly tastes the sample and then immediately puts a pile of cookies into his mouth whilst adding "not bad". Ross is no longer the sensible and grown up one that he shows himself to be at the beginning of the episode. Tom Hutchinson 10L ...read more.

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