Is the traditional family sitcom dead?

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Audiences are constantly changing and the viewing options are huge, is there a place for the mainstream family sitcom in the streaming future?

The traditional family sitcom format has been around since the 1940s, when radio star Gertrude Berg picked up her popular radio show about an immigrant Jewish family and their assimilated children, The Goldbergs, at CBS creating the model family sitcoms would follow for decades. Seventy years later, with a general audience seeking greater diversity and traditional family roles having evolved, the traditional family sitcom format is more often referred to as a stereotypical family sitcom. Shows such as Last man standing and Moody’s ending relatively early for the format, no similar show is expected to take its place and freshman comedy series Kevin can fuck himself gutting form to critical praise, is this the end of the traditional family sitcom?


The traditional or stereotypical family sitcom format is so ubiquitous that for a minute it was the genre. Societal and cultural changes have changed the expected format of a family sitcom, but the traditional old-fashioned family sitcom format has remained. A male husband and Type A wife, either the couple will discuss having children multiple times during the series (usually hot in a story arc about a fertility issue) or already have at least two children, one smart and a cool, sometimes with a joker third child.

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The pairings and characters in the show come in variations depending on the era in which they were created, but this shot created by The Goldbergs in 1948 (not to be confused with The Goldbergs still works on ABC) of “dad knows best” and “mom fixes it all” has been seen time and time again through time since Honeymooners in 1955 to Eight is enough in 1977 to 1981 To Home improvement of 1991 to 1999 to Everyone loves Raymond in 1996 to 2006 and even Modern family which ran from 2009 to 2020.


In the late 1980s there was a change of form in the sarcastic Married with children and the darling of the working class Roseanne as well as a long-standing animated family satire The simpsons. But it was about commentary, not subverting, a format that had outlived mainstream reality. The traditional family format dominated sitcoms due to continued familiarity and the television realm being much, much smaller.

With so few network slots to fill, a show was to be a guaranteed hit, and since a traditional family sitcom was welcome in the majority of American homes, there was no will to redraw the plan. The rise of streaming services, and an audience increasingly capable of creating their own content and hungry for more diverse characters, brought a sudden deluge of family comedies that were less Ozzie and Harriet and more Rainbow and Dre. Then Kevin can fuck himself dropped in 2021 on AMC and firmly turned the bird on the stereotypical family sitcom and the damage an underdeveloped format can do to an audience’s actual perception.


The deepest part of the conversation brought by Kevin can fuck himself is that these characters are not only broadly defined and repetitive, but reductive in portraying the women in the show as hilarious while attempting to gain control over the men who center their entire universe around them.

While observing this dynamic in family sitcoms isn’t a revelation, the subject has been commented on and written about repeatedly over the decades, Kevin can fuck himself By setting that dynamic in both the multi-camera sitcom with the laugh track and the desaturated single-camera play, it’s impossible to laugh or ignore that the stereotypical family sitcom isn’t just mean. It’s lazy.


To understand how lazy a traditional or stereotypical family sitcom format can be, look no further than Kevin can fuck himselfthe namesake, Kevin can wait. Kevin James fan might surmise after bringing his longtime traditional / stereotypical family sitcom King of queens in the end, he might pick a new direction when he inevitably returns to TV, not basically recreating the same show in Kevin can wait then kill his wife from the show, Erinn Hayes, between seasons and replace her with Leah Remini.

The show was already reductive, but making the character of the woman so insignificant that she could be killed and replaced by an entirely different woman to “shake things up” (as Kevin James explained was the reasoning) is almost Shakespearean. in its reductive laziness. But what’s more interesting are the people who take care of them. Kevin can wait did not last ten seasons of lukewarm reviews as has been history with other stereotypical family sitcoms. It was canceled after two seasons and now has another series functioning as a Burn Book for the show which is brimming with critical acclaim.

So this is it? Has the traditional or stereotypical family sitcom finally been overthrown? Absolutely not because what is traditional? Past television series presented “traditional” to audiences the majority of whom had not experienced the family dynamics presented on screen. And they knew it. The traditional family sitcom is still alive, just evolving with everyone. The stereotypical family sitcom, however, had better get its own house in order.

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