Will the Crappy Economy Save the Sitcom?

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Photo: Courtesy of CBS

The dire state of the economy has caught up with television networks and studios, resulting in the most cash-strapped pilot season in years. According to Variety, development for the 2009–2010 season has been marked by an across-the-board emphasis on driving down costs, which has forced networks to lower salaries for actors and writers, reduce budgets, and seek tax credits by filming outside of Los Angeles. Though fewer sitcoms are entering production due to streamlining costs, one interesting aspect of the belt-tightening is that it is encouraging a resurgence in multi-camera comedies. That low-budget style, closely associated with traditional sitcoms, had fallen out of fashion in recent years, but it's paid off at CBS with Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother. The tight economy has also directly influenced the subject matter of pilots entering production, most of which deal with working-class or formerly rich characters. Given the current trends, it seems like a safe bet that our favorite new show of 2010 will probably be a starless, old-school sitcom about blue-collar folks, shot before a live studio audience somewhere in North Carolina. Well, hey, we always did love Roseanne.

Economy pinches TV pilots [Variety]