Genres of Television Shows
The categorization of TV shows is a dynamic subject that hasexperienced several changes over the years. A show that falls under aparticular category in one area may be placed in different categoriesin subsequent classifications. However, cop and family shows areamong the oldest shows on TV, and the most recent additions arereality shows. It is also worthwhile to note that most TV shows donot fall neatly into one category some may have the features of upto three different kinds of shows. In this regard, a TV show is oftenplaced in the category of which it exhibits most features. Among themost popular genres of TV shows in modern television are familyshows, comedy, and drama. From all other genres, drama, family andcomedy stand out as popular and interesting television shows towatch.
As the name suggests, family shows revolve around the activities of atypical American family. Most shows under this genre have a father,mother, and two or three children. The setup is usually in a workingclass family and all the children are within the school-going age. Italso happens that most of these families have friendly neighbors withwhom they can interact with and pay each other visits. Withincreasing calls for diversity and tolerance among all TV shows,family shows have incorporated some aspects of diversity by includinggay characters and those from different cultural backgrounds.
However, the minority groups are yet to be given leading roles orform the core characters of the set. Under family, the two common subcategories are the dysfunctional family and the normal family. Thesetwo categories are commonly found in the most of the family showsthat are featured in television.
The normal family is the most popular category because it portraysthe issues that happen in most American families. Under thiscategory, all the parents are present and there are no cases ofdeadbeat parents. The parents love each other and they are not afraidto publicly show it. The children are divided into the smart one, thecool one, and the dork. Siblings love each other, although they keepfighting, which is characteristic of many families. Despite thesibling rivalry, they always make up towards the end after an episodeof unending conflict. However, the TV shows have to bring unusualfamily events in order not to make it too obvious. An example of sucha show is Modern Family.
The dysfunctional family TV show on the hand is a version of a brokenfamily. Quite often, one or both parents are engaging in substanceabuse and the children have to take care of themselves. In otherinstances, the father is a deadbeat and the mother is a drug addicthence leaving the children with no choice but to fend for them. Dueto the lack of parental guidance, the children often turn intodelinquents who engage in criminal activities such as selling drugsand truancy. The family also lacks unity and squabbles arecommonplace between siblings or children and their parent(s). Theseshows create appeal from the fact that they present to their audiencewhat they do not experience on a normal day in their usual lives. Anexample is the ‘Shameless’ series.
Comedy is among the oldest genres on TV because viewers have alwaysliked a good laugh perpetuated from real life experiences. Earlycomedy shows were based on stage setups or in other instancesrecorded plays. The growth of blackface in comedy also marked a majorstep in the development of the genre. Later on, producers adopted thesystem in which they used to record laughter to highlightpunch-lines. Some of the practices adopted in early TV comedy showshave persisted to this day, while others, such as blackface havebecome outdated and are considered highly offensive. Comedy shows areamong the most controversial with some having to make officialapologies for rubbing some groups of people the wrong way. The mostcommon categories of comedy shows are sitcoms and standup comedy.
Standup comedy shows involve a comedian performing in front of a liveaudience. The delivery of the comedy takes place in the form of funnystories, songs, or one-liners called monologues (Patron-Perez 5). Aperformer in a standup is called a comic. The most common arrangementof standup comedy shows involves an MC who welcomes the crowd, makesannouncements, and introduces several individual acts. The mostpopular of the comedians, also called the headliner, takes up thestage last and performs longer than his or her predecessors. Anothersetup involves that of a well-established comedian performing solo infront of an audience. These shows are often complimented by livemusic bands, funny videos, and guest artists, who keep the audienceentertained as the comedians shift from one to another.
A sitcom, also known as a situational comedy is made up of fixedcharacters, that have to deal with misunderstandings or fictionalsituations that are uncomfortable. Quite often, the subject insitcoms is light hearted humor created from fictional situations.Sitcoms gained their popularity in the 1950’s with the advent oflaugh tracks. Unlike stand-ups, sitcoms may be recorded in front of alive studio audience depending on the script format. However, theproducers use a laugh track to regulate the effect of the studioaudience depending on the desired outcome. Sitcoms are also known fortheir short duration, usually running for 20 minutes per episode, thecommercials not included. An example of a sitcom that has beenrunning for years is ‘The Big Bang Theory’.
Drama TV Shows
The traditional definition of drama shows was those that did notfall under comedy or tragedy. Drama shows are a film version ofnovels in that they use characters to advance a fictitious storyline.In this regard, all television shows that involve a form of afictional story are typically a form of drama only that they exhibitmore characteristics of shoes belonging to a different genre. In mostinstances, they are a series while in others they occur in a singleepisode. Drama shows often have main characters and guest charactersthat appear in one or a few shows before their role is terminated.Some drama shows, especially those involving crime have differentthemes for different episodes while others have a continuousstoryline to the end of the season. The two common types of drama arecrime drama and medical drama.
One of the drama shows that have been running on TV for a long timeinvolve crime drama. The usual setup involves detectives who detectcrime or prevent it. In most episodes, the main characters are thelaw enforcers while the guest characters are the antagonists. In thistype of drama continuity is not common. With each episode comes a newchallenge that the main characters need to solve. Usually, thecharacters end up solving the issue toward the end of the episode.Crime drama has other subgenres such as crime comedy, which is ahybrid of comedy and serious crime. A crime thriller is anothersubgenre in which the main characters are the criminals. Criminals incrime thrillers are often smart and they rarely get caught. Anexample of a crime drama is CSI Miami.
Events in a medical drama TV show are centered on a hospital,ambulance, or care institutions. However, the usual setup for thiscategory is in a hospital. Medical dramas often run for about fortyfive minutes or hour. However, some tend to be continuous or are madeto involve a new medical case for each episode. The usual plotinvolves an emergency patient presenting unusual symptoms that thedoctors end up diagnosing or treating towards the end of the episode.Modern medical dramas have also moved away from the traditionalpractice of depicting the characters only in the hospital setting.Nowadays, medical dramas also include the personal lives of thecharacters away from the hospital. In other setups, two doctors fallin love. A good example of such a show is ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.
The three most common genres of TV shows in modern television aredrama, comedy, and family. Family shows are based on real life eventsthat are commensurate with the typical American family. Comedy showsaim at tickling the funny bone of the members of the audience. Theycan fall under standup comedy or sitcoms. Drama shows are fictionstories that are neither comedy nor tragedy. Among the most commoncategories of drama are crime drama and medical drama.
Patron-Perez, Alonso, et al. "High Five: Recognising humaninteractions in TV shows." BMVC. Vol. 1, (110), 2010