Monday, 17 October 2011

Loathe Story

I've just given a lecture and run a seminar on genre, for media students. I quite enjoyed explaining why Jimmy McNulty doesn't bake and Miss Marple would never describe a suspect as a 'motherfucker', and why viewers would be made deeply uncomfortable were they to do so.

We got on to the structural and generic conventions which separate and unite American and British sit-coms. They picked up without prompting the more frequent comedy of shame, sarcasm and embarrassment in UK humour, as opposed to the general (obviously there are exceptions) niceness and zing-based American version.

So in their honour, here's a bit of Steptoe and Son, the comedy based entirely on Oedipal loathing, bitterness and isolation. It's a work of genius, though its attitudes are depressingly unprogressive in many ways. In this episode, Harold tries to kill his father with a cleaver. Somehow I can't see mainstream US comedy making anything similar.

1 comment:

The Red Witch said...

Sanford and Son was saved by Redd Foxx being a comedic genius.