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For the satirical film by François Ozon, see Sitcom (film).
"Situation Comedy" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Situation Comedy (album).

A situation comedy, often shortened to the portmanteau sitcom, is a genre of comedy that features characters sharing the same common environment, such as a home or workplace, with often humorous dialogue. Such programs originated in radio, but today, sitcoms are found mostly on television as one of its dominant narrative forms. This form also includes mockumentaries such as The Office and Parks and Recreation.

A situation comedy television program may be recorded in front of a studio audience, depending on the program's production format. The effect of a live studio audience can be imitated by the use of a laugh track.



The terms "situational comedy" or "sitcom" weren't commonly used until 1950s.[1] Some of the characters, pratfalls, routines and situations as preserved in eyewitness accounts and in the texts of the plays themselves, are remarkably similar to those in earlier modern sitcoms such as I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners. The first television sitcom is said to be Pinwright's Progress, ten episodes being broadcast on the BBC in the United Kingdom between 1948 and 1947.[2][3] In the United States, director and producer William Asher has been credited with being the "man who invented the sitcom,"[4] having directed over two dozen of the leading sitcoms, including I Love Lucy, from the 1950s through the 1970s.

By country[edit]


There have been few long-running Australian-made sitcoms, but many U.S. and UK sitcoms have been successful there. UK sitcoms are a staple of government broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC); in the 1970s and 1980s many UK sitcoms also screened on the Seven Network. By 1986, UK comedies Bless This House and Are You Being Served? had been repeated by ABC Television several times, and were then acquired and screened by the Seven Network, in prime time.[5]

In 1981, Daily at Dawn was the first Australian comedy series to feature a regular gay character (Terry Bader as journalist Leslie).[6]

In 1987, Mother and Son was winner of the Television Drama Award presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission.[7][8]

In 2007, Kath & Kim The first episode of series four attracted an Australian audience of 2.521 million nationally,[9] the highest rating ever for a first episode in the history of Australian television,[9] until the series premiere of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities in 2009 with 2.58m viewers.[10]

In 2013, Please Like Me was prised by the critics,[11][12][13][14][15][16][17] receiving an invitation to screen at the Series Mania Television Festival in Paris.[18] and has garnered three awards and numerous nominations.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26] Also in 2013, At Home With Julia was criticised by several social commentators as inappropriately disrespectful to the office of Prime Minister,[27] the show nevertheless proved very popular both with television audiences — becoming the most watched Australian scripted comedy series of 2011[28] — and with television critics.[29] Nominated to the 2012 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards for Best Television Comedy Series.[30]


The popular show King of Kensington, aired from 1975 to 1980, prior to the start of the fourth season drew 1.5 to 1.8 million viewers weekly.[31]

Corner Gas, which ran for six seasons from 2004 to 2009, became an instant hit, averaging a million viewers per episode.[32] 1.5 million viewers in its first episode on January 22, 2004. And has been the recipient of six Gemini Awards, and has been nominated almost 70 times for various awards.[33]

Between 2007 and 2012, the Little Mosque on the Prairie premiere drew an audience of 2.1 million,[34] but declined in its fourth season drawing 420,000 viewers a week, or twenty percent of its original audience.[35]


Czech Republic[edit]




Sitcoms started appearing on Indian television in the 1980s, with serials like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (1984) and Wagle Ki Duniya (1988) on the state-run Doordarshan channel. Gradually, as private channels were allowed, many more sitcoms followed in the 1990s, such as Zabaan Sambhalke (1993), Shrimaan Shrimati (1995), Office Office (2001), Khichdi (2002), Sarabhai vs Sarabhai (2005) to F.I.R. (2006- 2015) & Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah (2008–present).[36][37]


El Chavo del Ocho, who ran from 1971 to 1980, was the most watched show in the Mexican television and had a Latin American audience of 350 million viewers per episode at its peak of popularity during the mid-1970s.[38] The show continues to be popular in Hispanic America as well as in Brazil, Spain, United States and other countries, with syndicated episodes averaging 91 million daily viewers in all of the markets where it is distributed in the Americas.[39][40] Since it ceased production in 1992, the show has earned an estimated US$1.7 billion in syndication fees alone for Televisa.[40]

New Zealand[edit]

Gliding On, a popular sit-com in New Zealand in the early 1980s, won multiple awards over the course of its run, including Best Comedy, Best Drama and Best Direction at the Feltex Awards.[41]



My Fair Nanny, a Russian comedy television series based on the American television sitcom The Nanny, earned two TEFI awards and it was so popular in Russia that some of the original American writers of the show were commissioned to write new scripts after all original episodes were remade.[42][43]



United Kingdom[edit]

Main article: British sitcom

In 2004, Are You Being Served? was ranked 20th in the countdown of Britain's Best Sitcom.[44]

United States[edit]

Most American sitcoms generally include episodes of 20 to 30 minutes in length, where the story is written to run a total of 22 minutes in length, leaving eight minutes for commercials.[45]

Some popular British shows have been successfully adapted for the U.S.[46]

Sitcoms on U.S. radio[edit]

The sitcom format was born on January 1926 with the initial broadcast of Sam 'n' Henry on WGN radio in Chicago, Illinois.[47] The 15-minute daily program was revamped in 1928, moved to another station, renamed Amos 'n' Andy, and became one of the most successful sitcoms of the period. It was also one of the earliest examples of radio syndication. Like many radio programs of the time, the two programs continued the American entertainment traditions of vaudeville and the minstrel show.

The Jack Benny Program, a radio-TV comedy series that ran for more than three decades, is generally regarded as a high-water mark in 20th-century American comedy.[48]

Sitcoms on U.S. television[edit]


The series M*A*S*H, aired in the U.S. from 1972 to 1983, was honored with a Peabody Award in 1976 and was ranked number 25 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time in 2002.[49][50] In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the fifth-best written TV series ever[51] and TV Guide ranked it as the eighth-greatest show of all time.[52] The episodes "Abyssinia, Henry" and "The Interview" were ranked number 20 and number 80, respectively, on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time in 1997.[53] And the finale, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", became the most-watched and highest-rated single television episode in the U.S. television history at the time, with a record-breaking of 125 million viewers (60.2 rating and 77 share),[54] according to The New York Times.[55]

Sanford and Son, who ran from 1972 to 1977, was included on the Time magazine's list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time" in 2007.[56]


The Nanny, aired on CBS from 1993 to 1999, earned a Rose d'Or and one Emmy Award, out of a total of twelve nominations.[57][58] The sitcom was the first new show delivered to CBS for the 1993 season and the highest-tested pilot at the network in years.[59] The series was also hugely successful internationally, especially in Australia.[60]

2000s and 2010s[edit]

Definition of Sitcom in the 21st century[edit]

Modern critics have disagreed over the utility of the term "sitcom" in classifying shows that have come into existence since the turn of the century.[61]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mary M. Dalton. Sitcom Reader, The: America Viewed and Skewed. SUNY Press. p. 15date=1 February 2012. ISBN 978-0-7914-8263-6. 
  2. ^ "Pinwright's Progress". 
  3. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (2003). "Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy". BBC Worldwide Ltd. 
  4. ^ "William Asher - The Man Who Invented the Sitcom", Palm Springs Life Dec. 1999
  5. ^ Collier, Shayne. Again and again and again. The Sydney Morning Herald - The Guide: 2 June 1986, p.1, 6. [1]
  6. ^ Howes, Keith. (1998, February). "Gays of Our Lives". Outrage, Number 177, 38-49.
  7. ^ "1987 Television Drama Award". Human Rights Medal and Awards. Australian Human Rights Commission. 1987. Retrieved 2007-08-11. 
  8. ^ Tynan, Jacinta (2008-09-13). "Weird how my rello won his fame". Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  9. ^ a b Seven Network (20 August 2007). "Seven – Daily Ratings Report". Archived from the original on 20 May 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2007. 
  10. ^ "2.58m: Underbelly sets new record". TV Tonight. 
  11. ^ Langford, Anthony D. (6 March 2013). "Langford on Soaps: Is It The End For Christian And Ollie on "Forbidden Love?"". (Logo TV). Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Langford, Anthony D. (27 March 2013). "Langford on Soaps: Brendan Goes Out With A Bang and A Whimper on "Hollyaoks"". (Logo TV). Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Mast, Andrew (6 March 2013). "The TV Set: It's Hard To Like Josh Thomas". (Street Press Australia Pty). Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Knox, David (25 February 2013). "Please Like Me". TV Tonight. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  15. ^ Vickery, Colin; Devlyn, Darren (27 February 2013). "Is Josh Thomas's show too gay for ABC1?". (News Limited). Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  16. ^ Hardie, Giles; Ellis, Scott (21 February 2013). "Please Like Me". The Age. (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  17. ^ Mathieson, Craig (21 February 2013). "Thomas the frank engine". The Age. (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  18. ^ Knox, David (22 February 2013). "Please Like Me, Puberty Blues selected for French TV festival". TV Tonight. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  19. ^ Knox, David (30 January 2014). "AACTA Awards 2014: winners". TV Tonight. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Please Like Me". GLAAD. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  21. ^ "Please Like Me". Australian Directors Guild. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  22. ^ Visentin, Lisa (18 June 2014). "Josh Thomas' show Please Like Me nominated for Rose d'Or". The Sydney Morning Herald. (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  23. ^ "Please Like Me". TV Tonight. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  24. ^ "Please Like Me". Australian Writers' Guild. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  25. ^ Bodey, Michael (14 October 2014). "ABC2 comedy Please Like Me nominated for Emmy". The Australian. News Corp Australia (News Corp). Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  26. ^ "Australian Editors Guild awards 2014: nominees". 
  27. ^ Craven, Peter (8 Sep 2011). "At Home With Julia: inane drivel of the most idiotic kind". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ Knox, David (Dec 1, 2011). "Critics’ Choice: The Best of 2011". TV Tonight. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  30. ^ "Inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Nominees" (PDF). Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. 
  31. ^ "King to be bachelor". Ottawa Citizen. 1978-01-25. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  32. ^ "Strong numbers mean replay of Corner Gas debut" (Press release). CTV Inc. 2004-01-23. Retrieved 2007-01-08. 
  33. ^ "'Corner Gas' gives thanks with premiere on Monday, Oct. 13". CTV Globemedia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  34. ^ "A whopping two million viewers tune into 'Little Mosque'". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. 2007-01-10. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  35. ^ Brioux, Bill " "Being Erica Means Being on the Bubble", 2009-12-10. Retrieved on 2009-12-15.
  36. ^ "The Sitcom diaries". New Indian Evpress. 5 May 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  37. ^ Patel, Nidhin (2011-10-13). "'Taarak Mehta' completes 700 episodes". Times of India. 
  38. ^ "Adiós al Chavo del 8: murió Roberto Gómez Bolaños". Forbes Mexico. Retrieved November 29, 2014. 
  39. ^ "El Chavo del 8 – Historia". Chespirito (in Spanish). Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  40. ^ a b "Meet El Chavo, The World's Most Famous (And Richest) Orphan". Forbes. Retrieved November 29, 2014. 
  41. ^ "Roger Hall Piece about Gliding On". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  42. ^ ТЭФИ :: Победители :: Победители «ТЭФИ-2005»
  43. ^ Levy, Clifford J. (September 10, 2007). "Still Married, With Children, But in Russian". The New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2008. 
  44. ^ "Britain's Best Sitcom – Top 11 to 100". BBC. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  45. ^ How Sitcoms Work, page 3.
  46. ^ When British TV flies across the pond., April 6, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  47. ^ Jim Cox (2007). The Great Radio Sitcoms. McFarlane. ISBN 9780786431465. 
  48. ^ Dunning, John. On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press, 1998.
  49. ^ "The Peabody Awards | An International Competition for Electronic Media, honoring achievement in Television, Radio, Cable and the Web | Administered by University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication". Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  50. ^ TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows
  51. ^ 101 Best Written TV Series List
  52. ^ Fretts, Bruce; Roush, Matt. "The Greatest Shows on Earth". TV Guide Magazine 61 (3194-3195): 16–19. 
  53. ^ "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28-July 4, 1997). 
  54. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (2012). Television's Top 100. US: McFarland. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-7864-4891-3. 
  55. ^ "Finale Of M*A*S*H Draws Record Number Of Viewers". The New York Times. March 3, 1983. 
  56. ^ "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". September 6, 2007. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  57. ^ "Rose d'Or: winners". The Guardian. May 2, 2006. Retrieved July 30, 2013. 
  58. ^ "The Nanny". Emmy Awards. Retrieved July 30, 2013. 
  59. ^ "Enter Winning". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 16, 2007. 
  60. ^ Abbott, Denise (May 21, 1997). "Enter Winning". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 30, 2013. 
  61. ^ "The Sitcom Reader: America Viewed and Skewed". 

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