There’s no doubt that we are living the Golden Age of Television! Countless genres of television have been fuelling our hours from comedies, drama, thrillers, sub-genres of comedy like slapstick, stand-up comedy to a more niche style of filming – the mockumentary style.
What is a mockumentary? In truth, a mockumentary is a parody presented as a documentary recording real life, in other words depicting fictional events in a documentary format. The term gained popularity in the 1980’s when director Rob Reiner used it to describe his movie The Spinal Bad about a popular English band on tour. The most notable American sitcoms trending even today are The Office, Modern Family and Parks and Recreation, all of which can be found on STARZPLAY!
Why do people love Mockumentaries?
Popularity: The shows are a perfect combination of real vs unreal as is seen in mockumentaries. They blur the lines between fact and function while also categorising themselves as factual! They are also super successful! The Office was on the top of all must-watch TV Show lists with a star studded cast from the likes of Steve Carell to John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer. The second season of Parks and Recreation was touted as the most impressive comeback in the history of American television with Times Magazine naming it as the #1 TV series of the year! 18 Emmy Awards winner, Modern Family was famed for its realistic depiction of family life.
Storylines: The Office revolved around the everyday life of employees working at the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Parks and Recreaton follows the journey of mid-level bureaucrat Leslie Knope and her employees whose main objective is to build a park in a vacant lot while red tape and corruption proves to be a complete bummer. Modern Family is an everyday take on three families living in Los Angeles who are interrelated through Jay Pritchett and his children, Claire and Mitchell. These stories don’t involve any of the rich lifestyles we are used to watching on a daily basis, no risque content, no glitz or glam but rather the everyday life of a person working 9-5 jobs, social dynamics and the daily bickering in a family. Rather we see over the top versions of ourselves – our socially awkward or over-eager bosses (Michael Scott and Leslie Knope), our slacking co-workers (April Ludgate), the office romance that everyone gossips about (Jim Halpert and Pam Beasley), our self-appointed ‘cool dad’ (Phil Dunphey), and our scatter-brained sister (Hayley Dunphey).
Positivity: Furthermore, we as an audience have latched on to the feelgood nature of these shows. We undergo challenges, ups and downs in our life on a daily basis and so do these characters. But the emotions are captured with positivity and hope for a better tomorrow. A mantra we are all trying to live by. Getting married, having kids, going to work, and connecting with family and friends – It’s both relaxing and reassuring to see the characters we love experience the same things that we do. We cheer when Leslie and Ben Wyatt finally tie the knot, we laugh when Jim pulls endless pranks on Dwight Schrute, we feel proud when Hayley’s family celebrates that she was waitlisted at college.
Natural: Mockumentaries also tend to be more real in nature. For instance, The Office, Modern Family and Parks and Recreation have no laugh track which adds to the authenticity of the moment. The unscripted dialogues and awkward pauses in between a dialogue or improvised speeches are all a part of the drill. In fact, actors such as Ty Burrell and Amy Poehler have said that sometimes, cast members will come up with hilarious lines on the spot. The Mockumentary format itself causes us to see the scene differently. It may be absurd and weird but also adds to the whole natural factor of these shows.
Pop culture references: The humour in these shows is heavily influenced by pop culture and social references. For instance, you’ll see all the employees at Parks and Recreation love Games of Thrones or you’ll see the characters in The Office making Harry Potter references. All of this together just makes it seem how close these characters and the stories are to our real life. How we are all tied to the same universe of being.
What’s more fun than unscripted storytelling? Scripted “mockumentaries” that mimic docudramas and bring us original stories and real laughs!
Your daily binge buddy,