Negotiating new German identities: transcultural comedy and the construction of pluralistic unity

Academic Article


  • This article explores the potential of entertainment media as a platform for challenging monolithic conceptions of national identity. Discussions about immigration in Germany usually concentrate on what minority communities need to do in order to become integrated, but neglect to consider how normative Germans must renegotiate German identity to include immigrants and minorities. German-language television often reinforces cultural divides through underrepresentation or stereotypical misrepresentation. However, several recent productions have sought to change German television by bringing normative audiences into the liminal space of transcultural Germany. In particular, two Turkish-German family comedies broke new ground with high-quality scripted narratives, distinct from the popular skit-based ‘ethno-comedies’ that began to appear in the 1990s and are still popular today. The more capacious story-telling space of scripted series is well-suited to developing complex characters. In particular, family series are studies in the tensions surrounding difference in community, with the distinct personalities of members responding differently to the same framing conditions. This article analyzes the characters and narratives of these programs in conjunction with their circulation in the public sphere to argue that family comedies provide forums for intercultural negotiation, even as they may risk reifying the stereotypical representations they seek to undermine.
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • May 2017
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 552
  • End Page

  • 567
  • Volume

  • 39
  • Issue

  • 4