GCSE Media Television Quiz Shows

Go here for notes on the television quiz shows controlled exam: http://www.gcsemediaquizshows.info

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Representation of Women In Sitcom

Here is an excellent article on the representation of women in Tv Sitcoms.

http://www.itpmag.demon.co.uk/Downloads/SitcomAbstracta.pdf

Useful Vocabulary

Here’s some useful vocabulary you can include in your exam!

  • Aerial Shot: shot filmed from aircraft or helicopter, extreme high angle.
  • Ambient Sound: natural background noise on television or film such as the sound of birds in a wood.
  • Ambient Light: natural, available light that is not enhanced in any way.
  • Audience: All those who receive or consume any media product.
  • Camera Angle: the position of the camera in relation to the main subject. High, low, canted, etc.
  • Cinematography: Camera Shots, Angles, Lighting
  • Connotation: Suggestive meaning of something, such as red connotates danger, blood.
  • Crane Shot: High angle shot filmed with a crane
  • Continuity editing: Referred to as invisible editing, so that the whole sequence looks natural.
  • Demographics: refers to social characteristics of and audience, described according to groupings such as social class, regional location, gender and age.
  • Denotation: literal meaning/ simple description of what an be seen or heard.
  • Diagetic sound: sound which the characters can hear.
  • Non-Diagetic sound: sound the actors cant hear, e.g.: music played other the scene.
  • Enigma: a question or puzzle being raised from a text.

More to come soon!

Predicted Sitcom Exam Questions

Here are a few predicted exam questions. Get cracking on them as they are likely to come up in the exam!

  • “It would help us to plan a new show if we could be clear about how sitcoms have developed since they first broadcasted. Give us your thoughts and discuss the significant changes”

  • “We need to consider our rivals. What are the key factors of the sitcoms you think are likely to be our biggest competitors? However, we want to move things on. How can we make our sitcom different and appeal to today’s audience?”
  • “We want to see how your ideas would look. Suggest a title for the new sitcom, devise new characters and give an outline of a sample story line. Feel free to include any sketches if you think they might be helpful. Explain how your suggestions are in line with the brief. “

  • “Come up with a design for the pilot episode of the sitcoms featuring your characters in the story line you have suggested you should produce:

    EITHER: a full story board and a script for a 3 to 5 minute sketch in the pilot episode.

    OR: create a design for each character including clothing etc with a list of key personality traits and a design for one main production area (ie Living Room).

    Remember to apply the usual conventions. Use the storyboards and A3 sheets provided. “

  • Choose a sitcom which you think will be one of our competitors and explain its appeal to the audience.
  • Outline your ideas for a new sitcom, remembering that any new programme must conform to Denham Productions* core values.
  • Produce a storyboard for the opening two minutes (approximately) of your sitcom, making sure you provide details of: shot, camera movement, transitions, length of take, sound effects, dialogue and music. The use of colour is strongly suggested.
  • Where did you find inspiration for your situation comedy? Refer to the other sitcoms / TV programmes / films that have inspired your decisions.
  • Why would your intended audience find this to be a suitable opening for a TV situation comedy programme?

* You will be given a letter from a fictitious company in the exam who explains what kind of sitcom they want: audience profile, family/workplace … etc. You will then have to remember to link your ideas to the specifications.

Cultural Diversity

Humour is essential to any sitcom but what is funny can vary from place to place, country to country and person to person. In American TV Sitcoms such as Malcolm in the Middle or Will and Grace etc the humour tends to be more obvious with a lot of farce or slapstick and exaggeration. British humour, it can be argued, is a lot more satirical and wordier. American TV Sitcoms tend to be for specific audiences rather than generalised family audiences. Friends is aimed at older teens and twenties and grew up with that audience into their thirties. Malcolm in the Middle is aimed at the younger teen audience. American humour tends to be for a specific audience.

A criticism of both American and British Sitcoms is that they fail to properly represent black people or any other ethnic minority group. There was The Cosby Show in 1984, made in the US, was about a black middle class family rather than a white middle class family. No racial or cultural issues were covered in the series. In Britain Love Thy Neighbour first shown in 1972 seems cringe-makingly racist and crude if watched today. In the 1970’s when it was first broadcast it was meant to be a real attempt to represent ethnic minorities.

In Till Death Do Us Part, a biting satire by Johnny Speight first shown in 1965, people’s racist attitudes were challenged. However, Alf Garnett became the darling of the more racist West Ham supporters and some racist chants could be directly traced back to that character.

All About Me, in 2002-2003 was the first TV Sitcom to actually include a variety of different cultures and disabilities. There was an Indian mother and children, a Brummie father and children with one son in a wheelchair.

Ageism is dealt with in One Foot in the Grave, first shown in 1990, but includes a rather stereotypical view of the ‘grumpy old man’ that developed into an institution with Victor Meldrew. Waiting For God, which also appeared in 1990, was full of witty dialogue and attempted to dispel the view that old people were “past it”.

Representation of Sitcom

TV Sitcoms have spread into alternative comedy. Not only does The Royle Family have “real life” situations (pauses and all) but it is a good example of how the boundaries are always changing and being pushed. The Office is a Sitcom disguised as a documentary and is another example of how ‘reality’ is playing a bigger part in the Sitcom genre. Phoenix Nights is another TV Sitcom that stretches boundaries. The representation of family life can be compared and contrasted between My Family and The Royle Family.

Lads’ are represented in Men Behaving Badly and Two Pints of Lager and Red Dwarf’ whereas the ‘hapless hero’ figure features in Father Ted and the stereotype controlling wife in Fawlty Towers. Each successful Sitcom has at least one character that creates empathy or at least a strong recognition.