About Writing: The Enemy Within Sitcom

One day I’m going to write a blog about how M*A*S*H and Hi-De-Hi! are fundamentally the same sitcom, but for now let’s talk about the idea of the enemy within.

Conflict is the essence of drama, as you know, which also makes it the essence of a sitcom. Sitcoms need to have strong dramatic structure to build the jokes on, and without it they flounder.

One of the better ways to infuse your script with conflict is the idea of an enemy within.

That is, two opposing groups working towards the same goal.

The Enemy Within Sitcom
The Enemy Within Sitcom

In The¬†Fighting Tigers (okay, Dad’s Army), Captain Mainwaring and ARP Warden Hodges serve the same function as Inspector Fowler and ¬†Detective Inspector Grim in The Thin Blue Line. They both want the same thing, but they clash on how to achieve that. Fowler wants a more civil approach to a more civil society, Grim wants to bash some heads together.

Hawkeye and Burns are constantly at odds in M*A*S*H, and as a result, they divide the camp into factions; a Them and Us type scenario. See also Ted Bovis and Jeffrey Fairbrother. The alliances that this causes give you plenty of scope to pitch different characters against one another; even your minor supporting characters become embroiled in the conflict, which makes them all the more rich for it.

I’m sure you can think of more examples …

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