Why do mockumentaries work so well?

George Bell discusses the appeal of the mockumentary sitcom.

George Bell
24th June 2020
Credit: BBC Two, IMDb
Much like movies, TV shows come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of genres and subgenres to satisfy even the most indecisive of families. And what better genre to bring the family together than a comedy? And what better subgenre of comedy than the ever-present and popular mockumentary. But why exactly do people love shows like this so much?
Credit: NBC, IMDb

Before we look at the why we should probably look at the what. Examples of a mockumentary include The Office and Parks and Recreation and are where your fictional story is filmed in a documentary style usually to satirise a specific topic. It’s a simple enough concept but has been proven to be extremely successful with shows like The Office being widely regarded as one of the funniest shows of all time. But why?

Credit: FOX Television, IMDb

Personally, I think the answer is realism. Being filmed in that documentary style with the camera following the characters and interviews makes it seem all the more real. Shows like Friends or How I Met Your Mother while they may be based around believable concepts like friends trying to find love in New York, the way it is filmed makes the audience feel like outsiders looking in. This is by no means a big issue but it certainly makes it feel less realistic compared to a mockumentary. And I tend to find if I relate more to the joke the bigger the laugh I will get.

mockumentaries tend to take place in a mundane situation audiences can put themselves in

Most mockumentaries tend to take place in a usually mundane situation like an office which is one of the reasons people are such big fans. They can almost put themselves in that situation because it is more than likely that they will work in an office as well. Similar jokes might get told in a workplace as in the show, you could relate certain characters to people you work with. It’s all about that realism. And hey, it might even give you some ideas for office pranks on the ‘Dwight’ of your work colleagues.

The mockumentary is a much-beloved genre that I for one hope keeps going for many years to come, especially if they make a University one (my schedule is free).

Credit: The Office, YouTube
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AUTHOR: George Bell
One half film addict, one part computer nerd. All parts Croc lover

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