In the last decade primetime television has been taken over by the “Mockumentary”. These shows are scripted comedies about a camera crew following around a certain group of people and documenting their everyday life. I will be looking at the overall history of mockumentaries, and more importantly recent successful mockumentaries including The Office (UK and US), Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family to analyze why they are so successful, their effect on the television industry, and the television industry’s effect on them.
Using Havens and Lotz’s pinball model I will be analyzing the conditions, practices and mandates surrounding the production of a mockumentary. More specifically I would like to look at The Office and analyze the differences between the British and American version and see if it is related to the British version being under a non-commercial mandate, and the American version being part of a commercial mandate. I would like to look at Parks and Recreation and see the effect of a successful mockumentary with a lead woman. For Modern Family I would like to look at the fact that they have such a broad target audience and look at how that restricts the show and how it might help the show.
Their recent rise in popularity makes mockumentaries a perfect case study for how a genre is affecting the television industry. I believe the success of The Office, Parks and Recreation and Modern Family will lead to more a continued rise in the number of mockumentaries in primetime television, and I am excited to analyze their relationship to the industry.