Sitcoms: a changing medium adapts to a changing audience

Change: It’s a good thing, right? So how come everybody in the TV biz is so dang worried about it?

pic by Gustavo Morales
pic by Gustavo Morales

by Stephanie Kocer

NBC canceled a sitcom in 1989 due to low ratings. A year later network executive Rick Ludwin ordered four episodes of that same show. He liked the young comedian it starred. Those four episodes were shown during the summer season on NBC. It then scored a few viewers. Those new viewers, mostly young men, prompted the network to pick up the show for a second season. That struggling sitcom: Seinfeld.

It’s hard to tell whether a sitcom will be a smash hit or a giant flop. Seinfeld had everything working against it: scheduling, ratings and an unknown star. Today it is considered the greatest sitcom of all time. Many shows don’t get that lucky, though. There’s no secret formula for making a great comedy. Whether a show makes it or not depends on more than just being funny. read article