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An Exploration into the Representation of Families in Sitcoms

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Introduction

´╗┐Exploration first draft The purpose of my exploration is to scrutinise whether family stereotypes within the media are merely exaggerations, or whether they are accurate observations. I have focused mainly on sitcoms as they are known for their absurd situations and characters, but they have a hint of truth to them at the same time. I narrowed this exploration down to three famous British sitcoms: Outnumbered, Only Fools and Horses and The Royle Family. I mainly wanted to challenge the viewpoint that all sitcom characters are created for humour, rather than for being similar to our own family members. Roy Stafford defined sitcoms as ?a setting and a group of characters providing the opportunity for a comic narrative? (Stafford, 2004). Most British sitcoms are based on the concept of families, and build on these characters throughout series and episodes. Typical family members might include a grumpy Grandad or boisterous brother for example. In Only Fools and Horses, they base the early episodes on two brothers and a Grandad, later becoming two brothers, their wives and their war veteran Uncle. ...read more.

Middle

These differences in character and their situations create a ?dysfunctional family redeemed by love? in the words of Ben Dowell (Dowell, 2008). Erving Goffman stated that ?life itself is a dramatically enacted thing? henceforth the dramatisations featured in the show are very similar to our own families and their attitudes and roles (Goffman, 2009). These characters are all very significant for audiences that are in, or have been in, similar situations within their families, with their parents being ?outnumbered? by their children and the hectic household getting the better of them. Ben Dowell said in an article in the Guardian: ?These are the kind of parental vignettes that are convincing many that British comedy has finally succeeded in telling the embarrassing, ridiculous and frustrating truth about modern, competitive child rearing? (Dowell, 2008). This quotation reiterates the point that British sitcoms are becoming increasingly accurate as time goes on, and the mundane, understated humour is effective in proving how spot-on comedies can be. ...read more.

Conclusion

This style of show may be most realistic to close families who watch television religiously and were brought up in a lower class background. In conclusion, I believe that the aforementioned sitcoms are very accurate in describing family life albeit in a comedic way. The dismissal of a laughter track in all three of the shows add to this realism, and the use of one setting in the majority of the episodes create the idea that modern families in fact spend most of their time together rather than out socialising. The simplicity of the three shows also adds to this, and connotes the idea that our idea of fun in modern times is being with one another watching television. The roles of the characters are also very accurate as I believe at least one of the roles is easily recognisable for the audience; i.e. the sarcastic manner of Jim from Royle Family or the argumentative but clever nature of Karen from Outnumbered. In one way or another, these sitcoms can be related to by their audience and is a very good, although occasionally exaggerated, way of showing just how unpretentious our lives are. ...read more.

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