All in the Seventies. The sitcom chronotope and the representation of American contemporary society

Cinzia Scarpino


As a Tv genre the sitcom – or situation comedy – belongs to the traditional episodic series based on stand-alone episodes, a small group of characters, fixed and unvarying environment (home, workplace), and a “formula” narrative defined by the same setting. A long-lasting genre in Tv history, the sitcom flourished in the 1970s thanks to Norman Lear’s All in the Family and its many spinoffs which reconfigured the genre in terms of social “relevance”: while sustaining excellent ratings, Lear’s creations addressed some of the most controversial issues of the decade (such as women’s and gay rights, and divorce and abortion laws). This paper intends to examine how 1970s sitcoms managed to talk about and to their times by relying on their very time-space category (or chronotope) of everyday middle- and lower-middle-class life.


Sitcom, Seventies, Norman Lear, chronotopoe, All in the Family, Maude

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