Keeping up with the Joneses: Socioeconomic Class Representation in Sitcoms
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This thesis examines the representation of socioeconomic class in situation comedies. Through the influence of the advertising industry, situation comedies (sitcoms) have developed a pattern throughout history of misrepresenting social class, which is made evident by their portrayals of different races, genders, and professions. To rectify the lack of previous studies on modern comedies, this study analyzes socioeconomic class representation on sitcoms that have aired in the last 15 years by taking a sample of seven shows and comparing the estimated cost of characters' residences to the amount of money they would likely earn in their given profession. The study showed that modem situation comedies misrepresent socioeconomic class by portraying characters living in residences well beyond what they could afford in real life. Accurate demonstration of socioeconomic class on television is imperative because images presented on television genuinely influence viewers' perceptions of reality. Inaccurate portrayals of class could cause audiences to develop distorted views of members of socioeconomic classes and themselves.