The Last Laugh: The Decline of Sitcoms in Modern Entertainment

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In the wide variety of shows that modern entertainment provides, sitcoms like “Friends,” “Modern Family,” and “The Office” are becoming forgotten, with laughter fading into the echoes of memory. Due to the recent rise of digital media, sitcoms are struggling to maintain relevance in today’s society. With the use of streaming platforms rising and attention spans shrinking, the decline of sitcoms marks the end of an era. 

The entertainment industry conforms to the audience’s fixations and according to Sneha Kamboj, a junior, “This society wants drama that is relatable, and the characters’ actions in sitcoms are not very relatable. They mostly have plots that children find intriguing and do not have enough attention-drawing content for an adult to enjoy.” Recently writers and producers have been preferring the 8-10 episode dramas compared to the comedic fluff that classic sitcoms contain; with the long form of sitcoms, people in today’s society would lose interest easily since they want the content to be concise. People used to be eagerly waiting for the next episode during year-long seasons, which acted as an incentive to some people to make it through the day, month, or even year. However, in the age of instant gratification, traditional sitcoms struggle to compete for attention amidst a wide range of options vying for audiences’ time and engagement. 

A primary factor contributing to the decline of sitcoms is the changing viewing habits of audiences. With streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Netflix, and Hulu, viewers are able to access binge-worthy content at their fingertips rather than having to wait weeks on end for an episodic show to release. Sienna Gomez, a junior, believes that “the way we view sitcom characters is definitely affected by the advancements in technology and changes in viewing habits. Binge-watching is something that lets us look deeper into the characters and actually understand their stories.” In the present day, people are more intrigued by high-concept dramas and serialized narratives. The traditionally elongated format of sitcoms is outdated as recent shows usually contain fewer than 10 episodes. Audiences crave immersive storytelling and complex characters, leaving no room for the cliche, predictable formulas and laugh tracks of traditional sitcoms. “There have been too many efforts to try and make the sitcoms ‘relatable’,” says Gomez. “However, making it relatable does not equate to making it fun to watch in the present day.” 

Sitcoms are a genre of comedic entertainment that revolves around a set of characters, and the viewers get to watch their daily lives unfold. Many people find themselves rewatching the same sitcoms again and again for comfort, which is due to their heartwarming storylines, relatable characters, and funny instances that are nostalgic. As a result of the changes in audiences’ interests and attention spans, the decline of sitcoms has become tragically apparent. One should take the time to reminisce on the good times that sitcoms brought, and still bring. 

Isabella Shimizu is a junior at Washington High School. She was born and raised in Fremont, California. This is her first year with The Hatchet. She hopes to cover stories about the arts and important events in the Washington community. Isabella enjoys playing badminton and tennis for the school. In her free time she loves to bake, read, play with her shih tzu poodle, and listen to Wave to Earth. In the future she hopes to attend a UC and pursue a major in the STEM field.

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