The Sitcom Phenomenon

09/02/2012 17:05

Have you ever found yourself stuck in front of your computer for hours watching your favourite TV show, following one episode after another and not being able to stop? If yes, you are definitely not the first or the last one. If not, well, just wait until one of your friends tells you about the amazing show they are following and you will fretfully run home and start streaming.


Some say it is a waste of time. You watch and become too involved in the story while you could be somewhere out with your friends, living your own life. You watch episode after episode, season after season and when you finish, you find a new sitcom without even remembering what the previous one was about.


However, there is a good chance you might actually be doing something useful even by watching these so called mainstream ‘pieces of art’. Not only is it a good way of relaxing after a long and difficult day you had at work or at school, but it surely is one of the easiest and funniest way to learn a foreign language. By watching regularly either with the original sound enhanced with subtitles in the foreign language or your mother tongue, you get used to various accents and acquire new vocabulary. After some time you find yourself watching a show without realizing it is in a different language, forgetting that some time ago, you were not able to understand every second word and now it‘s only one or two words per episode which are new for you.


If you got a bit inspired after reading these lines but you still miss a friend to tell you what is really worth seeing, here are a few tips:


How I Met Your Mother

If you haven’t seen this hilarious American sitcom yet, I advise you to do that as soon as possible. It started in 2005 and became a huge success. The main character Ted Mosby is telling the story of how he met his wife, a mother to his kids. He went through numerous relationships, which usually ended in a catastrophe, but what you will really fall in love with are Ted’s friends: Marshall, Lily, Robin and the unforgettable Barney. You might have already heard about his appetite for women, so wait no longer; suit up immediately because this TV show is really legen- wait for it…dary!


The Big Bang Theory

Four geeks – Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Rajesh – chum up with Penny, a blond waitress who is living in the apartment next door. An outstanding sarcastic humour of these weirdly cool physicists will leave you overwhelmed and surprised about how funny, complicated and different ways of thinking people have. This sitcom won the Best Comedy Series Award in 2009, the People’s Choice Award in 2010, an Emmy Award and finally in 2011 Sheldon (Jim Parson) won the Golden Globe for Best Performance in a TV Series by an actor in a Television Series. You will not only enormously enrich your scientific vocabulary but you might as well get to know the meaning of a very important word in the world of humour -- Bazinga!


Modern Family

If you want to laugh a bit at the Spanish accent in English, an extrovert gay father, a small boy inventing all kinds of childish crazy stuff, or a father who is always trying to be helpful and right, but instead ends up clumsily funny and misunderstood, you will love Modern Family. This TV series is not so widely popular and known, but it is still one of the funniest, with a small anecdote at the end of each episode, which makes you think. The main protagonists of the families live their everyday lives filled with crazy, surprising and comic moments which will sometimes remind you of your own.


Dexter, a bloodstain pattern analyst for Miami Metro Police Department and serial killer, will be a good choice for men who like a bit of drama and suspense. Compared to other similar TV shows, Dexter is original in showing the double life of a man who is incapable of feelings but at the same time has an inbuilt sense of ethics as he only kills criminals who deserve to die. I bet you’ll enjoy all 72 episodes in six seasons – status ongoing.


Greek is an American comedy-drama TV series about college students, giving an authentic picture of how it works inside of fraternities and sororities. You will get to know all the rules, elitism, discrimination, school work, relationships, fun and parties which inevitably belong to the Greek system. You know, ‘College is a rush’, or at least it was in 2011 when the show was concluded with an epic final episode.



For those who prefer historical fiction, there is a televised HBO book adaptation in film quality called Game of Thrones. It is a relatively new but enormously successful fantasy series which started in 2011 and returns in April this year with Season Two. It describes seven families who fight for control of the mystical land of Westeros. Tim Goodman in his review for the magazine Hollywood Reporter says, “Exceptional storytelling, strong writing, superb acting and some stunning visual effects. What we have here is the successful pairing of an acclaimed collection of fantasy books with a television series that illuminates and expands what’s on the page.”


These are just a few tips for learning a language in a funny and relaxing way. It may become your motivation, source of inspiration, and a way to improve easily. If you haven’t started yet, maybe it is the right time now. If you already did, don’t forget that the world inside TV shows is not real, so sometimes it’s good to put your shoes on and create your own sitcom.


Andrea Kyslanová




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