American Sitcoms -The New Face of Television

At a time when the all of India was going bonkers over the new and never ending saga of Indian daily soaps, emerged a pack of sitcoms, that created a frenzy in the International market.

American sitcoms have been a rage in the US and other parts of the world, and with time they have managed to make their mark with Indian audiences as well. Starting from comedy, to hard core drama, and even cartoon series, these sitcoms have become a rage in all the genres. Starting from the era of ‘Friends’, American sitcoms have been widely accepted by Indian audiences especially with the age group of 15-30 yrs.

The Indian youth was never a fond follower of the so called ‘K’ series of Indian melodrama. This pushed the youngsters to look for more options. These options were somehow not available in abundance on Indian Telly. Then finally, they hit a jackpot! Everything that was missing in the Indian tele-series was there in the American TV shows. They were funny, had diverse concepts, and managed to grab the attention of the Indian audience. These shows were already top grossers in the American market, and years later they began topping the charts in India as well.

Some of the best and the most popular American sitcoms are:

  • The Simpsons –  Rated as the 2nd best show of all times, this animated series became the longest running American sitcom. The show has Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie as the central characters and is based in a town called Springfield. The Simpsons is a satire on the lives of normal middle class American families. The show has managed to conquer criticisms based on religion, political inclination, etc. ‘The Simpsons Movie’ was made looking at the growing success of the show, and turned out to be a chart topper worldwide. The Simpsons currently is running its 22nd season.
  • Friends– This revolutionary sitcom started in 1994; Friends became the top slotter and is now named as one of the best TV shows ever made. Rachel, Ross, Joey, Monica, Chandler and Phoebe became household names. Every viewer started relating to one of the six characters, and this is what made the show even more popular. ‘Central Perk’ became the hypothetical best hang out joint! Friends did that no other sitcom had ever done, it started dissolving the gap between fiction and actuality. The show covered an entire decade and was the most watched show of its time.
  • Seinfeld– Started in 1989 in the US, Seinfeld was a commercial blockbuster. The show revolves around Jerry Seinfeld who is a stand-up comedian, and his friends. The characters of Jerry, George, Elaine and Cosmo became the faces of Seinfeld. Seinfeld broke the boundaries of the mainstream commercial television sitcoms. The show was said to be about ‘nothing’; as none of the characters were made to learn from their mistakes, throughout they tended to fall into disastrous situations. The show was rated as the 3rd best show of the past 25 years by the American magazine, Entertainment Weekly.
  • How I Met Your Mother– This is a mainstream comedy and is based on the life of Ted Mosby. The plot is year 2030, and Ted is narrating to his son and daughter how he met their mother (so the name!). The concept is very catchy and so far Ted has not revealed who exactly the mother is (even after 5 seasons! PUN intended!) The other characters of the show are Marshall and Lily (happy in love couple), Robin (Ted’s on and off girl friend) and Barney (Ted’s crazy friend!). The show is still going on with the start of Season-6 in September 2010.
  • South Park– South Park is an American animated sitcom which revolves around four kids Stan, Kyle, Eric and Kenny, and their adventures in a town called Colorado. The show is not meant for children, but aims at a mature audience. It is a satire and has dark humor added to it, and covers a vast variety of topics. The crude humor has become the USP of the show. The show is currently running its fourteenth season. The show turned out to be a huge success for the channel Comedy Central and is undoubtedly one of the most watched American sitcoms.

Apart from these, there are other shows such as Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl, Family Guy, Heroes, The O.C., Full House, and so on; that have become the chart toppers in viewership.

So if you think that this is the end of ‘television’, think again, as American sitcoms open a new array of shows which are becoming a rage with the youth of today. So sit back, relax, pop those popcorns, as these series are sure to hook you up for a long time!

Aditi Ananthanarayanan

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