Constructing A Comecy In The 80s

Before discussing specific 80’s television shows, knowing what that generation considered
funny, or part of the comedy genre is important. According to Frazer the majority of comedy
shows revolve around families. Family issues are considered the “easiest” to overcome with
humor because networks want their viewers to continue watching their shows so they use
humor to help lift the mood and become more enjoyable to watch. Humor is also the fastest
way to solve the conflict within the short amount of time the program has and so they can
end positive. Also by using comedy to soften the tone of the TV show, viewers are shown
that they can also solve their family problems with humor.
The formula for a sitcom consists of first establishing a plot, adding complications
and problems. Then, with more confusion, the resolution of the problem eventually follows
and finishes with a happy ending. Throughout the decades, the depiction of families and their
problems change to fit the current years. Gender roles within the families have consistently
changed as well. In the 1980s, many family oriented shows were considered “traditional families,”
consisting of a mother, a father and their children. But on the other hand, networks also
reinforced the “non-traditional family” that does not consist of a mother, a father and/or
children of their own, lifestyle as well. With having the option of watching different forms
of families, informing viewers and subconsciously learning all the gender stereotypes because
they witness them. In all the scenarios, the families end up forgiving each other and living happily
ever after. Also according to Frazer, comedies in the 80’s had the highest rate of verbal aggression
between characters than any other primetime genre. This happened because the time period
revolved was dealing with the transition of women’s equality in society. As they continued to
demand to be treated the same as men, sitcoms began portraying the situations in their shows.
So they began talking out more, instead of letting the man have his way, thus causing more verbal
arguments within the home.

Frazer, June M., and Timothy C. Frazer. "Father Knows Best" and "The Cosby Show": Nostalgia and the Sitcom Tradition." Journal of Popular Culture 27.3 (1993): 163-172. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 7 Nov. 2010. <>

Stengel, Richard. "VERY JERRY." Time 160.19 (2002): 74. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 7 Nov. 2010. <>