Rise in sitcoms suggests economy's not fixed, after all
Want proof the economy’s still hurting? Turn to Hollywood.
According to the New York Times, one mustn’t look further than the slate of new comedies networks are ramming down viewers’ throats this season as a gauge of economic performance.
Since we chase laughter in times of financial peril, the thinking goes, the rash of New Girls and Up All Nights show one thing: we’re not all the way back yet.
Yes, at least by the estimation of Hollywood execs, creators and producers, there’s a genuine socio-economic measure lying within the recent success of TV sitcoms.
By ratings data, zero of the ten most watched entertainment shows were comedies in 2006, before the recession hit. As recently as 2008, just at the downturn’s outset, only two comedies had moved into the top 10.
But comedy is thriving this season, as seven of the top ten shows are comedies – among them already-popular shows like How I Met Your Mother , up 23 per cent in the ratings this season, and Modern Family , up 25 per cent.
“Comedy thrives during economic downturns,” Chuck Lorre, the Charlie Sheen enemy and producer behind Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory , told the NYT. “You know, if you’ve had a bad day, laughter is a better remedy than watching a coroner pick shrapnel out of some poor guy’s private parts.”
Adds an NBC exec: “You’re probably sitting around the table (at night) talking about how you’re going to afford the tuition, or you’re not going to have a vacation, or you can’t afford a divorce. You need an escape from that.”
Certainly, this is a polarizing opinion, in that for every person that looks to comedy as an escape from financial problems, there may be two that feel no urge to laugh while they’re looking for a job or staring at a vacated pension.
Still, even if we throw out the above ratings numbers, there’s one big historical precedent that shows the success of comedies in times of economic turmoil.
When was one of comedy’s largest booms? That would be during the Great Depression, when Chaplin and screwball movies were all the rage in between bread lines and stock market crashes.
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money