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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Situation Comedy Situations

Situation Comedy Situations


There’s nothing new under the sun, they say, and there’s very rarely anything new in the plot of a half hour sit com. And it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s something as old as the Dick Van Dyke Show or the newest Disney tweenie show, the stories are shockingly the same. Stuck home for several snowy and icy days during the past couple weeks, my daughters had the television tuned to everything from The Addams Family to Gilligan’s Island to Good Luck, Charlie – and it was astonishing how similar they all could be. I thought, for fun, I might try to list a few of the old stale story starters I saw –

1. A married couple discovers their marriage isn’t legal
2. A teenage character tries to juggle two unsuspecting dates on the same evening
3. Somebody scratches Dad’s car and tries to hide it
4. The shyest cast member gets a makeover, turns into a shallow snob, then goes back to old self
5. Eavesdropping leads to big misunderstanding
6. Match-making has disastrous results
7. A dream sequence is used to steal the plot of a better story (A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, etc.)
8. A school election causes rivalry between friends
9. An obnoxious visiting relative causes household mayhem
10. A silly spat drives a wedge between MC and best friend

Help me out here. What tired-old plots have you seen on the television lately? And if you’ve seen anything original out there, please do tell!

10 Responses to Situation Comedy Situations

  1. hahaha, yeah, I’ve pretty much seen all of those lately. In new shows, old shows… it’s all just regurgitated over and over and over!!!

  2. salarsenッ says:

    Great list. I recently watched a teen movie where the male MC dated as many girls as he could. He was a dog. The female MC decided to date him, get him to fall for her, and then dump him in retribution for all the girls this dumbbell had hurt. Yeah, she actually fell for the guy and he for her. lol

  3. Hopefully apropos towards the conversation, here is a link with an essay on cliches in genre fiction (see pg 38 in the PDF) from an editor’s point of view. You’re dead right about the state of sitcoms; there isn’t a one that I’ve watched more than once recently for several years. The last one I really enjoyed was Arrested Development, which was unfortunately killed far too early.

  4. Katie Mills says:

    The plots for the disney shows are just ridiculous. I’m forced to watch unfortunately because my 7 year old is obsessed with witches of waverly place and hannah montana. Wish she could have waited a few years. All sitcoms are pretty much the same. I just watched the friends episode where Joey and Chandler lose Ross’s baby on a bus and then couldn’t tell which was which when presented with two babies at the station. I remember a similar episode from Punky Brewster. And perhaps Saved By the Bell had the same thing happen once but it’s kinda fuzzy.

  5. Marisa, Sad to think that most TV is little more than puke.

    Sheri, I think I saw that movie … or several of them.

    Katie, I *know* I saw that plot on Good Luck Charlie.

    Dave(and it took me a minute to figure out it was you behind that moniker), that article was hilarious!

  6. Linda G. says:

    LOL! I’ve seen all those plots time and time again. So, tried* and true? Or lazy writers?

    *My first attempt was a typo: “tired.” Freudian, perhaps?

  7. Great list Dianne. Made me smile:)

  8. Lenny Lee* says:

    hi miss dianne! im thinking its cause you guys are lots more older those plots get boring for you. for me i could watch stuff over and over and same old plots if it could get me laughing or feeling happy. maybe when i get old im not gonna like them so much.
    …smiles and laughs from lenny

  9. Kimberly says:

    Lol, Lenny Lee. That does make sense though. I’ve seen all these same plots multiple times too. But I guess as Lenny says, for the younger crowd, they haven’t seen them and so are not tired, yet…

  10. Can’t help here. I don’t watch much TV. Mostly the news. Though to be honest, people tend to keep making the same dumb mistakes.