A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community
By Saul Austerlitz


416 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB, Mobipocket, PDF

Trade Paper, $22.99 (US $22.99) (CA $29.99)

ISBN 9781613743843

Rights: US & CA

Chicago Review Press (Mar 2014)


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Seminal moments in the evolution of TV’s comedic art form

The form is so elemental, so basic, that we have difficulty imagining a time before it existed: a single set, fixed cameras, canned laughter, zany sidekicks, quirky family antics. Obsessively watched and critically ignored, sitcoms were a distraction, a gentle lullaby of a kinder, gentler America—until suddenly the artificial boundary between the world and television entertainment collapsed.

            In this book we can watch the growth of the sitcom, following the path that leads from Lucy to The Phil Silvers Show; from The Dick Van Dyke Show to The Mary Tyler Moore Show; from M*A*S*H to Taxi; from Cheers to Roseanne; from Seinfeld to Curb Your Enthusiasm; and from The Larry Sanders Show to 30 Rock.

            In twenty-four episodes, Sitcom surveys the history of the form, and functions as both a TV mixtape of fondly remembered shows that will guide us to notable series and larger trends, and a carefully curated guided tour through the history of one of our most treasured art forms. 


“Astute and bursting with information—an entertaining treat for sitcom fans and a valuable contribution to TV history.” —Kirkus Reviews

“An enthusiastic, well-observed, fresh look at old favorites that makes a compelling case for the genius of American film comedy.”  —Kirkus Reviews on Another Fine Mess

“A born completist, Saul Austerlitz has burrowed deeply into the neglected history of the TV sitcom and lived to tell the tale. And a great tale it is. Who would have thought that these shows, woven into the fabric of our common culture, would be such a delight to remember? Lively and evocative, in tune with its spirited subject, this book sparkles with richly informed insight.” —Morris Dickstein, author of Gates of Eden and Dancing in the Dark 

"A compulsively readable and often laugh-out-loud funny study of the American sitcom." —Starred review, Library Journal

“[...] Austerlitz ingeniously and persuasively uses the genre of situation comedy as an American Rosetta stone, showing it to be capable of decoding itself (thanks to its endless self-references) and of making intelligible an entire social archaeology, [...]  Bottomless in its depth of research but as light in touch as the best of its subjects, Sitcom belongs in any home that has a sofa and a TV set.” —Stuart Klawans, the Nation

"[Austerliz] is capable of delightfully mischievous prose." —The New Republic

"[A] smart new book" —The New Yorker

“Austerlitz writes with a direct and punchy style… that makes for compelling reading.” —Paste

Author Biography

Saul Austerlitz is a writer and the author of Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy and Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes. His work has been published in numerous publications, including the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and Slate. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.