Sometimes a background is more than a background.
When you switch on your TV or iPad to binge-watch your favorite show you’re probably mostly focused on the characters and the plot. But the parts that get you really hooked are the little details. Elements such as the design that give subtle clues as to the deeper meaning of the show, or at the very least act as a kind of metaphor for the heroes and villains to whom they belong.
Creators like to say things like ‘good set design means design you don’t notice.’ In other words, it feels natural to the world of the show, so it doesn’t distract you from what’s important: the story. But audiences, especially at the geeky end of the scale, know that those details are what matters.
And so, the humble sofa. Hub of the television sitcom. Even the geekiest of fans would probably struggle to calculate just how long they’d spent staring at Sheldon’s neglected brown leather couch in The Big Bang Theory, or Will and Grace’s fabulous mauve piece from their original series.
A glance this illustrated compendium of sitcom sofas reveals that in fact, sitcom couches are perhaps even more diverse than the characters who sit on them. A ‘multi-sofa show’ (industry term) such as It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Seinfeld, or Frasier, requires its designers to push the differences between the sofas to their extreme, emphasizing the personality of the characters with whom each couch is most associated while ensuring that each sofa has its own distinct identity.
In short, sitcom characters are animals of the same breed: humans. But sitcom sofas become more like the realm of dogs, where different varieties are so unique as to dazzle you with the potential of the form.
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