Enlarged Family. Developments of a television genre: italian family comedy
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Family comedy represents one of the most popular and important sub-genres of contemporary Italian small-screen fiction, being widely popular in prime time television in both commercial networks (Mediaset) and Public Service channels (Rai), and capable of receiving some of the highest ratings among a wide and mainstream audience. This TV genre, peculiar to Italian television1, relies on some fixed and common patterns. First of all, family comedies are normally scheduled in prime time. This determines the length of each episode, which ranges from fifty (with two episodes on air back-to-back) to ninety minutes. Secondly, Italian family comedies are usually long-running series, divided in various episodes and extended over progressive seasons: generally, an inter-episodic running plot is accompanied by an episodic and self-contained anthology plot. A prime-time family comedy would show the daily life of a middle-class family, focusing on minor dilemmas and everyday complications caused by the interplay between the various household members. These complications eventually lead the characters to a learning experience through a process of problemsolving. Several storylines are interweaved, following each character in their life experiences inside and outside of the family circle. Comedy is merged with a number of more serious and dramatic situations, eventually solved through peaceful resolutions of arguments. The kind of humour displayed in this TV genre is character-based, and often combined with morally complex and poignant issues of gender and generational conflicts.
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