Sitcom Cover


A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community

By Saul Austerlitz

Chicago Review Press, Paperback, 9781613743843, 406pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2014

A carefully curated tour through TV comedy series, this mixtape of fondly remembered shows surveys the genealogy of the form, the larger trends in its history, the best of what the genre has accomplished, and the most standard of its works. From "I Love""Lucy," "The Phil Silvers Show," and "M*A*S*H" to "Taxi," "The Larry Sanders Show," and "30 Rock," this guide presents the sitcom as a capsule version of the 20th-century arts--realism giving way to modernism and then to postmodernism, all between the hours of 8 and 10pm on weeknights. Each chapter springs from an individual representative entity, including "The Simpsons"' "22 Short Films About Springfield," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"'s "Chuckles Bites the Dust," "Seinfeld"'s "The Pitch," and "Freaks and Geeks"' "Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers," where Martin Starr's nerdy Bill takes comfort in--what else--the pleasures of laughing at TV.

About the Author
Saul Austerlitz is the author of "Another Fine Mess: A History of the American Film Comedy," named by "Booklist" as one of the ten best arts books of 2010, and "Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes." His work has been published in the "New York Times," the "Los Angeles Times," the "Boston Globe," "Slate," and elsewhere.