From 'Friends' to Foes: Are Sitcoms Losing Their Place in the Entertainment Landscape

The future of modern sitcoms continue to be in the blur and fans ask questions about whether they'd be catching up with shows like this in the future. Here is our opinion on the matter. READ.

Published on Apr 08, 2024  |  08:52 PM IST |  38.2K
Image Credit- IMDb
Young Sheldon [Image Credit- IMDb]

The Modern Family cast's reunion at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards this year was an event that brought back a lot of memories for the fans. The entirety of the show's actors took to the stage to present the award for the Ensemble in a Comedy Series. As a whole, the 2023 award circuit showcased some of the best works from around the world, the one genre that seemed to be criminally absent turned out to be sitcoms. 

While taking most of our watching time through our lifetime, how did we come to a position where modern sitcoms do not seem to be making as big of an impact as they used to do? In a place like this, one cannot help but ask the question - what is the future of sitcoms in the entertainment business? Here is our analysis of the current landscape. 

The Office [Image Credit- IMDb]

A Lookback

The Golden Age of the American Sitcom kicked off with the debut of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in September of 1970. Followed by classics like 'Friends,' 'Seinfeld,' and 'Cheers.' As much as we talk about this now, television is the reason why the industry is what it has managed to become today. Sure, not as powerful as the internet, but television has the power to deliver content like no other. Decision fatigue was a nonexistent concept and everything was relatively new upon first watch.

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Television as a platform demanded an episodic track of events from shows. Hence, long-running seasons and the declining quality of several shows can be understood from here. 

Sitcoms, perhaps more than any other genre, are tethered to their time. Unlike sketch comedies, which offer fleeting glimpses into various worlds, sitcoms provide a consistent backdrop akin to our daily lives. From 'I Love Lucy' to 'MASH,' these shows offer a comforting familiarity amidst the chaos of the world.

Seinfeld [Image Credit- IMDb]

Where Lies the Future?

A piece by Vice on the subject mentioned that 'The Future of Sitcoms is in the Past.' While the take on television's future is five years old, it continues to hold some truth even in the streaming landscape. Every year, before the announcements of the Fall slate of releases, there certainly is an expectation that a multi-camera setup show might get screentime as a sitcom.

But the same drill continues to play over and over, without giving the slight glimmer of hope that traditional sitcoms will ever make a comeback. Sure, comedies continue to dominate the landscape, but a show that sweeps that audience seems to be out of the picture. 

Modern Family [Image Credit- IMDb]

Change is the Constant

Nostalgia and change are often at loggerheads. While everyone wants to hold on to the 'good old days,' there is a lot that is forgotten and skipped out of our selective memories. Change remains to be the only constant. In the landscape of declining television viewerships, it makes much more sense for creators and producers to take the digital route. 

What seems to be working is the single-camera half-hourly setup with a reasonable number of episodes within a season. Anything above and beyond tends to look heavy and asks for a lot of commitment. 

Parks And Recreation [Image Credit- IMDb]

Bottom line, It's a Business

Not budging from the truth, entertainment is but a business. Neither creators nor studios churn shows for the sole purpose of making the world happy. Anything that promises the maximum return shall get an investment. Sitcoms seem to have lived their time and with pride.

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Not that people do not want more of the shows, but there is room for experimentation as the audiences are given a chance to bigger and better viewing experience. Be it the resurgence of saga-like shows, or the HBO-style storytelling, all genres have a peak and a downfall.

The trough is not because it is dying out of disinterest. It is only a fact that people move on to something different. The future of sitcoms continues to walk on blurred lines. Only time will tell if this style of storytelling can make a comeback anytime soon.

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About The Author

Anushka is a passionate and creative individual whose love for storytelling knows no bounds. A voracious reader from a

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Credits: Various
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