One of the best stress relievers in the world is laughter. This is why it\’s so relaxing to watch a really funny comedy when you need to wind down after a day at work. There are many comedy shows on television and while they keep the laughs coming, classic TV sitcoms have also helped to change society\’s attitudes.
A sitcom, or situation comedy, basically involves a cast of characters whose interactions provide the humor. The television version of this genre has been around since the Forties and some shows have become so ingrained in popular culture that even people who\’ve never watched them will know some of the famous lines from those shows. One example is the line \’Don\’t mention the war\’, which originated in the hit British comedy of the Seventies, \’Fawlty Towers\’.
A recurring theme in the history of sitcoms is that of family life. Often that family consists of a man and woman as the parents to several children. This type of set-up was very popular in the Eighties, when the Reagan administration focused on family values such as those shown by the Keatons in \’Family Ties\’ and the Huxtables in \’The Cosby Show\’.
Some shows provided a different perspective on the idea of a family. They would feature non-traditional families, such as single-parent households. \’Kate and Allie\’ was about two single moms, for instance, while \’Full House\’ involved a widower who raised his daughters with the help of a male friend and a brother-in-law. Other shows focused on familial relationships between adults, such as the brothers and father Crane in \’Frasier\’.
As young people move to cities like New York, they leave behind their families and need to find a new support system that they can count on. The urban family that is made up of unmarried friends started featuring in shows such as \’Seinfeld\’ and the trend continued with \’Friends\’ and later with \’How I Met Your Mother\’. \’Will and Grace\’ broke new ground by making two of its main characters openly gay.
Back in the Seventies, the British had a show called \’Mind Your Language\’. It was about a hapless teacher trying to teach English to a class full of recent immigrants from countries as far afield as India, Pakistan, China and Spain. It helped expose audiences to different cultures and to be more understanding of immigrants. The USA has had some wonderful shows for creating cultural tolerance too, such as \’Aliens in America\’ with its Pakistani Muslim main character, which was aired when the fear of Islam was widespread.
The most unexpected settings can provide hit comedies. For example, nobody would have thought that war could provide as many laughs as it did in \’MASH\’. The interesting thing about this show set against the backdrop of a Korean War field hospital was that it\’s actually very common for doctors and nurses in a war situation to try and alleviate the stress through madcap antics.
There are different ways in which to watch those old classics again. Some TV channels will air reruns and even show back-to-back episodes. You can also get many series on DVD. Another option is to stream the episodes live via the internet.
Read more about How Classic TV Sitcoms Changed The World.