Williamson, Lisa E.
Contentious comedy : negotiating issues of form, content, and representation in American sitcoms of the post-network era.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This thesis explores the way in which the institutional changes that have occurred within the post-network era of American television have impacted on the situation comedy in terms of form, content, and representation. This thesis argues that as one of television's most durable genres, the sitcom must be understood as a dynamic form that develops over time in response to changing social, cultural and institutional circumstances. By providing detailed case studies of the sitcom output of competing broadcast, pay-cable, and niche networks, this research provides an examination of the form that takes into account both the historical context in which it is situated as well as the processes and practices that are unique to television.
In addition to drawing on existing academic theory, the primary sources utilised within this thesis include journalistic articles, interviews, and critical reviews, as well as supplementary materials such as DVD commentaries and programme websites. This is presented in conjunction with a comprehensive analysis of the textual features of a number of individual programmes. By providing an examination of the various production and scheduling strategies that have been implemented within the post-network era, this research considers how differentiation has become key within the multichannel marketplace. With a number of channel providers competing for specific niche segments of the audience, it further demonstrates how sitcoms have become more distinctive, original, and contentious in the process.
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