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The introductory essay sets up a series of short fragments concerning the American sitcom from the 1940s through the 2010s. It argues that the genre effectuated a complex, subtle, and arguably unrivaled-in-scale change in American attitudes and therefore in the attitudes of those around the world whose lives were touched by American empire and the American culture industry, concerning love, sex, family, plot, work, race, and identity. It describes key features of the sitcom genre and this book’s approach, which argues that despite its reputation as a normative model of heterosexual social reproduction, the sitcom in fact presents the heterosexual family neither as the inevitable point of departure for comic plot nor indeed its point of arrival.

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