The Sitcom Reader, Second Edition

America Re-viewed, Still Skewed

Edited by Mary M. Dalton & Laura R. Linder

Subjects: Popular Culture, Film Studies, American Studies, American Culture, Communication
Paperback : 9781438461304, 412 pages, June 2016
Hardcover : 9781438461311, 412 pages, June 2016

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
1. Origins of the Genre: In Search of the Radio Sitcom
David Marc
THE 1950s

2. Who Rules the Roost?: Sitcom Family Dynamics from the Cleavers to Modern Family
Judy Kutulas
3. I Love Lucy: Television and Gender in Postwar Domestic Ideology
Lori Landay
4. To the Moon! Working-Class Masculinity in The Honeymooners
Steven T. Sheehan
THE 1960s

5. The Rural Sitcom from The Real McCoys to Relevance
Rick Worland and John O’Leary
6. The 1960s Magicoms: Safety in Numb-ers
Gary Kenton
7. Negotiated Boundaries: Production Practices and the Making of Representation in Julia
Demetria Rougeaux Shabazz
THE 1970s

8. The Norman Lear Sitcoms and the 1970s
Gerard Jones
9. Liberated Women and New Sensitive Men: Reconstructing Gender in 1970s Workplace Comedies
Judy Kutulas
10. “Who’s in Charge Here?” Views of Media Ownership in Situation Comedies
Paul R. Kohl
THE 1980s

11. The Cosby Show: Recoding Ethnicity and Masculinity within the Television Text
Michael Real and Lauren Bratslavsky
12. Roseanne, Roseanne, Reality, and Domestic Comedy
Susan McLeland
13. Cheers: Searching for the Ideal Public Sphere in the Ideal Public House
Robert S. Brown
THE 1990s

14. Seinfeld: The Transcendence of the Quotidian
Albert Auster

15. Cybill: Privileging Liberal Feminism in Daily Sitcom Life
Laura R. Linder and Mary M. Dalton

16. Talking Sex: Comparison Shopping through Female Conversation in HBO’s Sex and the City
Sharon Marie Ross
THE 2000s
17. “It’s Just a Bunch of Stuff that Happened”: The Simpsons and the Possibility of Postmodern Comedy
H. Peter Steeves
18. Breaking and Entering: Transgressive Comedy on Television
Michael V. Tueth
19. Sealed with a Kiss: Heteronormative Narrative Strategies in NBC’s Will & Grace
Denis M. Provencher
THE 2010s
20. The Hidden Truths in Contemporary Black Sitcoms
Robin R. Means Coleman, Charlton D. McIlwain, andJessica Moore Matthews
21. Disability and Sitcoms: A Legit Analysis
James Schultz
22. Transparent Family Values: Unmasking Sitcom Myths of Gender, Sex(uality), and Money
Maria San Filippo
Conclusion: The Evolving, Resilient Sitcom: Sitcoms are Not Dead!
List of Contributors

Updated version of an engaging overview of the television situation comedy.


This updated and expanded anthology offers an engaging overview of one of the oldest and most ubiquitous forms of television programming: the sitcom. Through an analysis of formulaic conventions, the contributors address critical identities such as race, gender, and sexuality, and overarching structures such as class and family. Organized by decade, chapters explore postwar domestic ideology and working-class masculinity in the 1950s, the competing messages of power and subordination in 1960s magicoms, liberated women and gender in 1970s workplace comedies and 1980s domestic comedies, liberal feminism in the 1990s, heteronormative narrative strategies in the 2000s, and unmasking myths of gender in the 2010s. From I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners to Roseanne, Cybill, and Will & Grace to Transparent and many others in between, The Sitcom Reader provides a comprehensive examination of this popular genre that will help readers think about the shows and themselves in new contexts.

For access to an online resource created by Mary Dalton, which includes interviews with contributors and course lectures, visit: The Sitcom Reader: A Companion Website @

Mary M. Dalton is Professor of Communication and Film Studies at Wake Forest University and author of The Hollywood Curriculum: Teachers in the Movies, Second Revised Edition. Laura R. Linder, a retired Associate Professor of Media Studies, is the author of Public Access Television: America's Electronic Soapbox. Together they coauthored Teacher TV: Sixty Years of Teachers on Television.