The appeal of 'ensemble' tv shows

Friends, That 70s Show, Community, The Office, Modern Family, the list spans kilometres. These kinds of ensemble tv shows, where rather than being just one main character, the focus is on a main group of characters, are incredibly popular today.
Investigate WHY that is. Is it something to do with the kind of show – many shows with ensemble casts are comedy or sit-com? Can viewers better find someone to relate to within a group, rather than with a designated sole protagonist? Does it open more expansive avenues for story-telling, when the focus is on six different people as opposed to just one? Does this keep viewers more invested, less bored? Is it the relationship aspect that draws viewers in? Do they enjoy feeling part of the on-screen group’s little family? Arguably, within a group, characters can afford to be more flawed as they have their peers to keep them in check, does this make for more relatable characters? Or is it the opposite, do these shows create caricatures (the smart one, the funny one, etc.) and is that why people enjoy it?

This article should offer specific examples of TV shows and what it is about them that people enjoyed.

There is something about this TV show formula that just works, and an article offering an answer to ‘why?’ could be very interesting and insightful.

  • Interesting topic! The cool thing about ensemble casts is that it gives more audience members a chance to find someone they can relate to. If there's a single defined protagonist, you either relate to that person or you don't. If there's a large ensemble cast, though, then it's more likely you can connect to someone in a fairly major role. – Debs 4 years ago
  • Certainly the writing team has more work cut out for them with an ensemble cast as opposed to one main character. Also, it leaves the door open to additional characters that interact with one or more of the main cast. Ensembles, represent a wider slice of the demographic pie and gives multiple actors a chance to shine. Often lesser character's get a spin-off show for themselves. One main character can be daunting for that specific actor, as many are less capable of truly engaging the audience. If a viewer misses an episode of a one character show, it can be hard to understand what may have happened or will happen but with an ensemble you can play to the strengths of the other actor's character's. If your main star does something outside of work that the viewing public doesn't like, or perhaps is illegal or unseamly it can wreck a perfectly good or even great show. Just look at what happened to the Rosanne reboot. She ruined what arguably was and would have been a multi season hit show. Rosanne flipped out on social media and the show got axed quickly. If I was part of that cast I would have been very upset at what the main character did on her own time. I'll close this out by also saying that it's much harder to handle the eventual fall from stardom if you're a former Superstar that was a singular character, than if you had a group of stellar characters to play with. There's more than a handful of actor's that took that fall hard. Some didn't make it through that pain and ended up destroyed by depression, drugs, alcohol and heartbreak and in the absolute worst outcome suicide. Super Stardom isn't for everyone. – WillyMac 4 years ago

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