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Teen sitcom, teen show or teen comedy is a television genre. Like teen dramas, this genre was also generally non-existent in the first 45 years of television. Teen sitcoms are often comedic television series targeted towards teenagers, but are also popular with young adults as well as preteens.

History

When sitcoms reached their peak in the 1950s and 1960s, they were supposed to be family-oriented. Sitcoms of the 1950s such as Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best were popular with teenagers. The teen movie genre was popular during the 1960s and lead the way towards the teen sitcom genre.

In the mid 1960s, the creation of sitcoms such as The Monkees and Gidget were primarily targeted towards the teenage audience. The 1969 sitcom The Brady Bunch was very popular with the younger audiences, as was its successor The Partridge Family which premiered in 1970. In the 1980s, television series such as Full House, Growing Pains, and Family Matters were extremely popular especially among the younger demographic.

The creation of MTV in 1981 had gathered a majority of the teenage audience with the airing of back-to-back music videos. MTV is now a lifestyle and pop culture channel that airs a limited amount of music videos, instead focusing on reality shows, soap operas, sports, documentaries, and music-related programs. MTV aired series targeted towards teenagers such as TRL, a daily music countdown show, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, a reality show focused around a group or rich teenagers living in California, its spinoff The Hills which is about former cast member Lauren Conrad and her internship at Teen Vogue. During the 1990s, MTV aired the controversial animated series Beavis and Butt-head, which focused on the antics of two idiotic teenage slackers and their unsuccessful attempts at scoring with chicks, though they often displayed gross, violent and crude behavior and a spinoff about their former classmate Daria aired in 1997 which focused around a cynical, sarcastic, intelligent yet monotone teenage girl and her stereotype-infested high school.

In 1989, the sitcom Saved by the Bell premiered on NBC. The series quickly became a viewers' favorite and one of the most highly rated and popular teen shows of all time. Saved by the Bell had the main characters go through typical teen issues and the drama of high school, though the series was very comical and the issues were often resolved before the end of the episode. Notably Saved by the Bell featured teenage archetypes and stereotypes. Saved by the Bell kept its Saturday morning slot until 1993, when it was canceled. Saved by the Bell spawned an ill-fated spin-off Saved by the Bell: The College Years which only lasted a season, while another spin-off, Saved by the Bell: The New Class, had lasted for 7 years. The series was responsible for the creation of NBC's TNBC Saturday morning block which was targeted towards teenagers.

In the 1990s, sitcoms such as Parker Lewis Can't Lose and Boy Meets World were created exclusively as teen-oriented shows. The children's channel Nickelodeon ("Nick") had begun their own trend of teen sitcoms such as the 1989 show Hey Dude which focused on a group of teenagers working at a dude ranch and later the 1991 show Clarissa Explains it All starring then-unknown actress Melissa Joan Hart which focused around a young girl Clarissa whom was a typical teenager who faced typical teen issues and an aggravating younger brother. The series was popular and had broke the restrictions of Nickelodeon with using profanity such as "hell" and using the word "sex". This was the only sitcom on Nickelodeon to do that and still maintain a TV-Y7 (formally TV-Y) rating. Hart would later star in the 1996 sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, based on the 1994 TV movie of the same name. Sabrina the Teenage Witch ran for seven years on ABC and later The WB. Sabrina focused around the eponymous main character who is a witch and tries to live a normal life as a teenager and later young adult. Nickelodeon later aired Kenan and Kel in 1996, a series that focused around the antics of 2 teenagers living in Chicago. This series was also popular and ran for 4 years and re-ran on Nick for a long time. Nick currently airs Drake and Josh, True Jackson, VP, Zoey 101 and iCarly which are all targeted towards teenagers. This led Nick to dissolve its long-running SNICK block and replace it with the TEENick block and later a separate channel, The N, which airs teen dramas and sitcoms.

During the late 1990s, the Disney Channel also tried to mimic the popularity of teen dramas by creating original series such as The Famous Jett Jackson and So Weird. Jett Jackson was about a TV star trying to live as a normal teenager and So Weird was a dramatic sci-fi series that focused around a teenage girl who attracts the paranormal/occult and often has to battle potential threats to humanity. So Weird was the first Disney Channel series to focus on dark and scary topics and thus opted Disney to air a much lighter 3rd season which was not as popular with fans. Disney Channel has aired the successful sitcoms Even Stevens, about the sibling rivalry between Ren and Louis Stevens, and Lizzie McGuire, which was about a junior high girl who has to battle puberty, popularity and other teen issues, both shows were very popular. The sitcom That's So Raven became Disney Channel's most popular sitcom to date outliving previous series by 4 years and 4 seasons. Today, Disney Channel airs Hannah Montana, The Suite Life on Deck, Wizards of Waverly Place, Sonny with a Chance and JONAS, which are all fairly popular with a teenage audience.

The networks Fox, The WB, and UPN became channels targeted towards youth. Fox aired teen dramas such as Beverly Hills, 90210 and Party of Five and sitcoms such as That '70s Show. That '70s Show was a hit success and was popular with teenage audiences and adults. It followed six teenagers living in Wisconsin between 1976 to 1979, despite the short time period it was set in, the sitcom aired for eight years on Fox.

The WB and UPN were popular destinations for teen sitcoms. The WB aired Sister, Sister a show about two teenage twins who were separated at birth and reunite in a clothing store and later get their single parents to let them all live in the same house, The WB also aired What I Like About You a sitcom about a spontaneous, wild 16-year-old girl Holly Tyler (portrayed by former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes) and her neurotic, uptight older sister Valerie (portrayed by former 90210 star Jennie Garth). The WB also aired dramas such as Dawson's Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and One Tree Hill. UPN airs mostly black sitcoms such as Moesha which was about a teenage African-American girl named Moesha (portrayed by singer Brandy) and her family and friends. The sitcom One on One was about a young African-American girl named Breanna (Kyla Pratt) who goes to live with her father who is a former basketball star. Both The WB and UPN were shut down in 2006 and were combined to make The CW.

See also








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