Skip navigation

Defining the beats in the TV sitcom

Defining the beats in the TV sitcom

Klikova, Deborah ORCID: 0000-0001-9883-2646 (2021) Defining the beats in the TV sitcom. In: Batty, Craig and Taylor, Stayci, (eds.) Script Development. Springer - Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 205-218. ISBN 978-3030487133; 978-3030487126 (doi:

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


The sitcom is distinguished from drama or soap opera by having what is described as a closed or “circular” narrative structure wherein the plot returns to the original stasis, defined by Curtis as the re-situation (1982). In my book Situation Comedy, Character, and Psychoanalysis: On the Couch with Lucy, Basil, and Kimmie (2018), I analysed character behaviour to argue that the protagonist, in their attempt to dispel or deny the incident that has triggered the story, shapes the narrative in a way that reflects the “entrapment” of the show’s characters, a defining characteristic of this form of comedy (Mills 2005; Mintz 1985). While I argued that the sitcom begins with character, I now extend that premise to posit that the comedy emerges from the character’s reaction/actions to events that threaten their sense of self articulated at an early stage of script development: the beat sheet. In this chapter, I critically examine a beat sheet from one of my own pilots, At the Bar (2016), to determine how beats inform the shape of the narrative structure in this form of comedy.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: sitcom; beats; narrative structure
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Stage and Screen
Last Modified: 16 May 2023 08:57

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item