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Comedy-drama, also called dramedy   or seriocomedy,[1] is a style of television, theatre and film in which there is an equal or nearly equal balance of humor and serious content.

Contents

History

Theatre

Traditional western theatre, beginning with the ancient Greeks, was divided into comedy and tragedy. A tragedy typically ended with the death or destruction of a fictional or historical hero, whereas a comedy focused on the lives of middle to lower class characters and ended with their success.[2] The term "drama" was used to describe all the action of a play. Beginning in the 19th century, authors such as Anton Chekhov, George Bernard Shaw and Henrik Ibsen[3][4] blurred the line between comedy and drama.

Early television

The advent of radio drama, cinema, and particularly television created greater pressure in marketing to clearly define a product as either comedy or drama. While in live theatre the difference became less and less significant, in mass media, comedy and drama were clearly divided. Comedies, especially, were expected to maintain a consistently light tone and not challenge the viewer by introducing more serious content.

By the early 1960s, television companies commonly presented half-hour long "comedy" series, or one hour long "dramas." Half-hour series were mostly restricted to situation comedy or family comedy, and were usually aired with either a live or artificial laugh track. One hour dramas included genre series such as police and detective series, westerns, science fiction, and, later, serialized prime time soap operas. Programs today still overwhelmingly conform to these half-hour and one hour guidelines.

While sitcoms would occasionally balance their humor with more dramatic and humanistic moments, these remained the exception to the rule as the 1960s progressed. Beginning around 1969 in the US, however, there was a brief spate of half-hour shows that purposely alternated between comedy and drama and aired without a laugh track. At the time, these were known as "comedy-dramas." These early experiments also influenced general TV comedy, and later series (especially family themed sitcoms) often included brief dramatic interludes and more serious subject matter.

Recent history

Comedy-dramas have had some strong success in recent years. House M.D., Charmed, Desperate Housewives, Psych, Ugly Betty, Scrubs, Glee and Californication are examples of this. However, some shows, such as Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, have failed to make it past the first season. The British science-fiction program, Doctor Who, has a number of jokes in it as well as drama.

Aspects of comedy-dramas

  • There is often an absence of a pre-recorded laugh track.
  • Storylines tend to be more serialized, with events taking place in earlier episodes being referred back to or having an effect in later episodes, as opposed to more traditional sitcoms which focus on telling one standalone story every week.
  • Continuity of character and storylines are more relevant than in traditional sitcoms.
  • Can be either half-hour or hour long episodes. However, shows which use a 30 minute format tend to be more comedic with dramatic elements that keep storylines going forward, while shows which use a 60 minute format tend to be more dramatically based with humour used throughout the show as either comic relief or to punctuate certain scenes.
  • Characters' backstories tend to have a greater overall effect on stories. Often something a character has done in the past will catch up with him or her, as opposed to more traditional sitcoms where a character's backstory is unlikely to be referenced by the story of the week.

See also

References

External links


Simple English

Comedy-drama, also called dramedy or crama, is a style of television and movies when there are equal amounts of both humor and seriousness.

Contents

History

Theatre

Traditional theatre was separated from its earliest days into comedy and tragedy. Authors such as Anton Chekov and George Bernard Shaw famously blurred the line between comedy and drama.. . . .

Early television

In live theatre the difference between comedy and tragedy became less and less significant, in mass media, comedy and drama were clearly separated. Comedies, especially, were meant to only have jokes and not any serious content.

By the early 1960s, television had started to present half-hour long "comedy" series, or one hour long "dramas." Half-hour series were mostly situation comedy or family comedy. One hour dramas could have detective series, westerns and science fiction.

Drama-comedy on television today

A drama-comedy today is usually an hour-long dramatic series with funny jokes such as Moonlighting, Northern Exposure, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Eureka, Life on Mars, House, Desperate Housewives, Charmed, Popular, Skins, Monk, Psych, Gilmore Girls, The O.C., Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Ally McBeal, Ugly Betty, Brothers & Sisters, Grey's Anatomy or Boston Legal".

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