The Year Of The Comedy

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For those who appreciate the funnier things in life, TV’s so-called “renaissance of comedy” is certainly a reason to rejoice.

According to Forbes Magazine, 7 out of the top 10 non-sports shows are sitcoms this fall.

Moreover, with buzz-worthy new shows like New Girl and the continued success of shows such as Glee and Modern Family, 2011-2012 is certainly shaping up to be the year that comedies reign supreme.

However, a look at the last decade of television begs the question: Why?

In the past, dramas have greatly surpassed comedies on all fronts. TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Lost and 24 monopolized their niches. For whatever reason, these shock-inducing dramas struck well with audiences and made a great deal of money for their respective networks.

The consequences of this were evident: big cable networks like ABC became much more willing to take on heavy-handed dramas than ambitious comedies. Therefore, dramas received the better time slots, more publicity and, subsequently, more views.

Now this isn’t to say that comedies weren’t successful in their own right, but the numbers don’t lie. As compared to today, in 2006 there were no comedies ranked in the top 10.

So why the sudden shift in trend?

One explanation is that the fall TV lineup hasn’t seen this many creative comedies produced since Friends was in syndication. Comedies today are undoubtedly clever and, as such, have attracted big-name celebrities like Ashton Kutcher back to the small screen.

Moreover, shows like Modern Family have simultaneously been able to address serious social issues comically as well as tastefully, thereby gaining the respect of viewers and Emmy voters alike.

Others have speculated that people are no longer enamored by dramas due to the world’s financial status. In poor economic times, people generally seek out laughs as a means of escape from their more unpleasant realities.

“People these days prefer to have a nice laugh every once in a while rather than watching something that adds more tension to their environment,” Dmitry Suvie, a freshman at Rutgers University, said.

While comedies have clearly been edging out dramas this season, Emily Weiss, a freshman at Ithaca College, explains why she thinks dramas can still be prevalent means of entertainment in the future.

“I’ve always liked dramas. Watching relationships and love stories play out like a movie makes them feel more relatable. Comedies take these subjects and make them funny, but dramas make them seem real.”

In the end, it all comes down to taste and so far the current flavor of the month seems pretty clear.

This season’s knack for humor has entirely rejuvenated a very sickly market, proving that perhaps laughter is the best medicine after all.

Freshman > Journalism > University of Maryland

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