While watching the documentary Friends – The One That Goes Behind the Scenes, one major thing that I learned was how many writers there were, and how many last minute changes that were made. While there were not many aspects of the production which came as a surprise to me, the documentary was still very educational and entertaining to watch. I was heavily involved in journalism, television production, and theater in high school, so most of the positions were familiar since I’ve been able to be in those roles for high-school level productions before. However, seeing these positions in a large professional production such as Friends was very fun and helpful, especially to see the backstage production which many do not consider as they are watching the episodes.
Considering not many shows anymore have live studio audiences and multiple cameras, the audience adds an entire new element to the show. This combines television and entertainment with theater in a fun way. I hadn’t realized that the studio audience is present for five hours as they re-shoot the scene multiple times, while rewriting the script, and a comedian keeps the audience entertained and wired. I also hadn’t realized that they ask the audience about what they think in regards to jokes, if they get jokes or plot, or if there is enough exposition. The film developing also is something I had not considered in the production process, since I’m used to seeing digital film. I hadn’t realized that editors filter out the unwanted background/white noise, and not the video editors.
Unfortunately, many positions of production are overlooked other than the actors and the director. The art director going over the set in its entirety, the set dressing department, set choreographers, and set construction who puts the sets together are seldom credited. Prop master who overlooks the props on set and anything that an actor touches (even when they have to make multiple, like six dollhouses, because they are light on fire) are not frequently discussed. Gaffers works with the director of photography to make sure the entire set is light properly are crucial and yet many do not think of them, or even know what their name means. Make-up and costume are critical and also can be overlooked, along with the script supervisor who has to go through the dialogue and make sure everything is conducive, in time, and makes sense with the blocking, etc. Folly artists also are not very widely considered even though they add a whole new element to the production to make the scene/audio better. Music editing is also overlooked, as they screen the show once editing is complete and they add music at the end to add more depth to the show.
I believe that, even though production set-ups similar to Friends and One Day at a Time are considered “low-brow” entertainment, they shouldn’t be. The repetition of this set up is a testament to that. Given the nature of the lives studio audience, there is more pressure put on everyone to do everything professionally, in a way that is entertaining, as well as a whole new element to the show and what it means to make an episode successfully. The presence of multiple cameras adds some stress because they all have to be operating in different ways at the same time, and the show captures elements of both television media and theater which is seldom seen. Due to the added pressure, I think these shows deserve more respect and admiration than they are given, and are just as enjoyable, if not more genuine, than shows with a single camera and the potential for unlimited takes.
Betancourt was onto something when they mentioned that One Day at a Time is an “urgent recasting of an older formula” because One Day at a Time is able to use a familiar medium to communicate newer, more progressive ideas. I think that were the TV show set up differently than the multi-camera, live audience orchestration that it possesses, the progressiveness of the topics such as femininity, discrimination, undocumented immigration, religion, etc. would be more difficult to communicate. In a way, it eases audiences into its newer aspects by delivering them in a way the viewers may be more accustomed to or feel more nostalgia towards. This live studio audience also offers a bigger sense of community because the audience is actually involved in the show, the jokes, the amount of humor portrayed by the actors and reflected by the viewers. This also makes the viewers at home, not in the studio audience, feel more involved because of the laugh track. At least for me personally, I feel more inclined to laugh out loud with a show when there is a laugh track, it makes me feel more relaxed as if I am allowed to respond more readily to the content. Although the show is produced in a more “conservative” way, its delivery of more “progressive” ideas finds a balance between the two which makes it more palatable for a bigger market of people, which helps make it so successful.