How Sitcoms Work

The Future of Sitcoms

­Reality shows and strikes don't stop many writers from dreaming about creating Hollywood's next hit sitcom.
­Reality shows and strikes don't stop many writers from dreaming about creating Hollywood's next hit sitcom.
Ian Shive/Getty Images

While the sitcom's technical capabilities have advanced and its plots, jokes and performances have gotten more ribald and mature, the heart of the sitcom has remained the same. At its core, the sitcom is still a 30-minute show with a cast of characters thrown into entertaining and relatable situations. Vast similarities can be seen between sitcoms throughout television's history. It might be these similarities that keep the sitcom so popular.

But with the barrage of reality shows, the popularity of hour-long dramas and obstacles like writers' strikes, it seems like a good time to ask -- where will the sitcom be in the next five years? It will probably be alive and well, thanks in large part to re-runs and syndication. Syndication is achieved after a sitcom has aired 100 times. Cable and network channels continue to show episodes of "I Love Lucy" and "Seinfeld" every day.

The sitcom seems to be holding its own. Writers continue to journey to Hollywood in droves (although you can write from virtually anywhere in the world and get a sitcom script optioned, everyone in the business asserts you must live in Hollywood to ensure its success). Producers continue to option scripts and ideas. And production companies continue to make pilots.

The sitcom genre is also beginning to branch out to new venues. The proliferation of cameras -- hand-held, computer and even cell phone -- have created an explosion of vlogs, indie films, Web soaps and online shorts. The Internet-born sitcom or Web sitcom is a short situational comedy written, acted and produced for the Web. "Break a Leg" is an example of an Internet-born sitcom. Written and produced by two brothers, Vlad and Yuri Baranovsky through their San Francisco-based ­company Late Again Films, the show is about a man who gets a sitcom deal. In addition to this Web sitcom, there are several blogs and vlogs that chronicle the process, progression and success of hopeful Hollywood writers.

To learn more about sitcoms and other related topics, look over the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • ABC.
  • CBS.
  • Cook, Martie. "Write to TV: Out of Your Head and Onto the Screen."
  • Focal Press, 2007.
  • Entertainment Weekly.
  • Epstein, Alex. "Crafty TV Writing: Thinking Inside the Box." Owl Books, 2006.
  • Finer, Abby and Deborah Pearlman. "Starting your Television WritingCareer: The Warner Bros. Television Writers Workshop Guide." Syracuse University Press, 2004.
  • Mitz, Rick. "The great TV sitcom book." New York, NY: Perigee Books, 1988.
  • NBC.
  • New York Times.
  • Sandler, Ellen. "The TV Writer's Workbook: A Creative Approach to Television Scripts." Bantam Dell, 2007.
  • Wolff, Jurgen, and L.P. Ferrante. "Successful sitcom writing." New York : St. Martin's Press, 1996.