Ever notice that there are three states that virtually all sit-coms
take place in? There is New York
(and the vast majority of sitcoms in New York take place in New York City
). There is California
, predominately featuring Los Angeles/Hollywood and San Francisco. And finally there is Wisconsin
and the midwest.
Wisconsin you say? Yes, Wisconsin - mainly that of Milwaukee (or just across the border to Chicago). You've got Happy Days and all of its spin offs, Married with Children, Step by Step, Dave Nelson from News Radio and more recently, That '70s Show. Extending it to the Midwest just a bit, WKRP can be added into the list along with Drew Carey. This isn't a new occurrence, the narrator in The Great Gatsby (Nick) was from
Wisconsin Minnesota (though one could argue that the feel of the midwest and values is that general area). Why?
What is special about Wisconsin? Popular culture holds that Wisconsin is plain, and without any dramatic flaws. The Midwest as a whole is seen to be very normal and average.
And there is the key - that people in the Midwest are perceived to be average. Part of the sit-com style is showing what society believes to be average people. Al Bundy is meant to be the average blue collar worker. Dave Nelson of News Radio is perfectly plain (and from Canada).
It is the interaction of normal people with extraordinary surroundings and
extraordinary people with normal happenings that are key components to
the sitcom. This extends also to the other three dominant locales in
sitcoms - New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
New York City: Land of business and commerce. Interestingly, very few
people in New York SitComs appear to actually work (Friends, Seinfield).
Blue Blood. Subway systems.
Los Angeles: Hollywood. Most things having to do with actors.
Buffy and spinoffs have added a bit to
San Francisco: Full House. Charmed. Hippyness or the supernatural.