I am not a movie watcher. In my experience, they provide to short of a time frame to truly fall in love with characters and see them develop, often falling fatally short of the book they were based on or the trailer that preceded their premiere. However, I do love sitcoms, and the invention of Netflix’ instant streaming feature has allowed me to indulge in several of the best shows whilst simultaneously robbing me of several weeks of my life.
Recently, I have noticed a distinct pattern in the over arching plot of relationship sitcoms. Though this does not change my eternal love for them, it makes it clear that all of these sitcoms are extremely similar, each having the same components. Here are just a couple Sitcom Archetypes that can be found in your typical relationship sitcom.
1. The Destiny Relationship
The Destiny Relationship is defined as being the relationship that involved two people easily falling in love, and proceeding to marriage before an of their friends. The Best example of this is Jim Halpert and Pam Beasley in the Office. The audience is rooting for them from the very beginning, and though it takes a while for them to actually end up together, once they do it moves quickly and leaves no one doubting that they belong together.
The main purpose of this relationship is to introduce a long-term relationship and/or marriage to the storyline. The entertainment is not in how they fall in love, but how they interact once they become a couple. Usually, these are the couples that the audience longs to be apart of, because no matter the struggles they face, there is no doubt that they love each other.
Examples: Jim Halpert and Pam Beasley from The Office, Monica Geller and Chandler from Friends, Marshall and Lily from How I Met Your Mother, Ben and Lesley from Parks and Recreation, Howard and Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory, April and Andy from Parks and Recreation.
2. The On and Off Relationship
The On and Off relationship is one of my favorites, , because until the end it remains and unsolved mystery, leaving the audience watching each episode to see I they will end up together. Typically, it starts from the very first season, and often the very first episode, when one noticed the other and they begin to pursue each other, often with wrong timing, disastrous mistakes and alternate periods of loving each other and hating each other. An Ideal On and Off relationship is that of Ross and Rachel from Friends. From the very first episode, we know that Ross likes Rachel and that he always has, but she doesn’t see it. By the time she realizes his feelings and returns them he has moved on to someone else. This elusive dance continues for the entire length of the show, never being truly resolved until the last episode.
The purpose of this relationship is to keep the viewer watching and keep the plot unpredictable. It is obvious that they will probably end up together, but on the off chance that they won’t; we must keep watching.
Examples: Dwight and Angela from The Office, Robin and Barney from How I Met Your Mother, Cece and Shmidt from New Girl, Ross Geller and Rachel Green from Friends, Leonard Hofstadter and Penny from The Big Bang Theory, Ted and “The Mother” from How I Met Your Mother, Chris and Ann from Parks and Recreation.
3. The Irritating Friend
This is often one of the best parts of the show, and often what makes it so funny to begin with. The irritating friend is usually a bit eccentric, having strange ideal and the rest of the crew seems to find amusing and annoying simultaneously. Unlike the relationships above, this archetype is slightly more flexible. The friend can be in love or alone, smart or dumb, a free spirit or extremely OCD; but they all have one thing in common, their quirky tendencies that make them loveable and funny.
Usually, this character provides us with most of the comic relief, because nearly everyone can identify with having a friend who makes their lives both more complicated and more exciting. A perfect example of this is Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is extremely smart, but also extremely arrogant, insensitive and obsessive. He constantly insults his friends, due to his lack of human consideration; he flaunts his intellect and always needs his spot on the couch.
Examples: Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, Dwight from The Office, Barney from How I Met Your Mother, John-Ralfio from Parks and Recreation, Schmidt from New Girl.