Unidentified foreign objects. The difficult path of US sitcoms into Italian TV schedules
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The essay traces the history of US sitcom genre on Italian television, highlighting the different stages that have occurred across the 60 years of its development: the failed stunt of I Love Lucy and the subsequent disappearance of the genre in the Sixties; the shaping of US sitcoms as programming mainly intended for children and teenagers, with titles as Happy Days becoming part of tv dei ragazzi in the middle of the Seventies; the abundance of half-hour series on commercial television and their consequent reappearance on PSB across the Eighties; the ‘Italianization’ process that has affected many shows in the Nineties; lastly, the diffusion and dispersion of sitcoms in contemporary multichannel scenario. Building on the basis of the historical work on both situation comedy and Italian television, this contribution aims to connect the ‘double history’ of the genre in the two countries, articulated through direct reflections and big distortions, and to highlight as well the ‘mediation’ role of both the destination culture and the Italian TV and media system. The analysis of such a marginal phenomenon could nevertheless provide useful insights on the dynamics of circulation and adaptation of TV products, genres and imaginaries, and put into spotlight the ideas, pre-comprehensions and working habits of the national television industry and the tastes, needs and expectations of the audience, which are both culturally and historically grounded.
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