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February 1997, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Dan Carroll <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 19:47:06 -0500
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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I'm writing a paper on the differences between English and American situation
comedies, and would be interested in opinions that anyone on the list might
have about the following (or anything related). I perceive the principal
differences to be that:-
(i) English sitcoms are more likely to opt for a slapstick-influenced laugh
(eg: the comic violence in "Fawlty Towers", or the tooth-extraction scene of
"Men Behaving Badly (GB)", whereas American shows like "Friends" and "Cheers"
have much less of this; their humour is in the main verbal or visual, and
almost exclusively non-violent.
(ii) American sitcoms have more emotional resolution at the end - in the
style of "I guess I never realised how much I hurt you, Frasier"  - whereas
the English situation comedies are much less concerned with the emotional
well-being of their characters (imagine Blackadder apologising for belittling
Baldrick's feelings, for example). This might be due to US sitcoms being more
"real-life", and hence their makers having a greater responsibility towards
the audience; or perhaps British humour is less politically correct, and can
be more offensive and irresponsible. Any opinions?
Thanks in advance,
Dan Carroll
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