Migration, diversity and television

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Typically German/Typically Turkish: Young People and the Comic Dismantling of Stereotypes (2007)

This reception study shall show how 14- to 16-year-olds in Germany, with and without immigration background, ‘read’ clichéd characters of German and Turkish origin represented humorously in two current family comedies on German TV.

Comedy shows rank second after Daily Soaps as most popular genre amongst teenagers and, accordingly, are frequently watched in Germany (JIM-Study 2006). This preference is met by a wide range of comedy shows, which – in many reruns – constitute a considerable part of German TV programming. The leading TV networks, regarding quantity and popularity of the broadcast comedy shows, are PRO7 and RTL (Schumacher/Hammer 2000, Knop 2007). These networks are very popular also with teenagers with immigration background (ARD/ZDF study on Migranten und Medien 2007, Simon/Kloppenburg 2007).

How much do youths really like the so-called “ethnic comedies” that represent everyday life of German and (German) Turkish people and use stereotypes about Germans and immigrants for humorous communication? What do teenagers with and without immigration background laugh about in these shows and how do they interpret this humour? Two current series, Türkisch für Anfänger (transl. “Turkish for Beginners”, ARD) and Alle lieben Jimmy (transl. “Everyone loves Jimmy”, RTL), will be analysed how and at what special points teenagers connect to the humorous material. Both series are set in Berlin, in both the plot revolves around the turbulent lives of teenagers and their families. Whereas in “Turkish for Beginners” the dominant perspective is that of (German) 16-year-old Lena in her new German-Turkish patchwork family, “Everyone loves Jimmy” shows the world from the point of view of 18-year-old German-Turkish Jimmy, whose favourite pastime is hanging out with his (German) pal Ben.


The study will show differences and similarities in the reception of teenagers with and without immigration background, in the reception of boys and girls as well as between the reception of ‘normal’ viewers and of fans. In order to obtain the widest range of opinions possible, teenagers at different types of schools will be interviewed.

Data collection

1. Media Analysis
One episode of “Turkish for Beginners” and “Everyone loves Jimmy” will be analysed through the following questions: What are similarities and differences in the depictions in the series? Whose point of view is used? Which characters and stereotypes can be found in each programmes? How are they framed/commented on?

2. Interviews with 14- to 16-year-old teenagers
Questionnaire-based surveys and group discussions will be conducted with 150 teenagers in Munich and Berlin, who have seen an episode of “Turkish for Beginners” or “Everyone loves Jimmy”, respectively. It will be analysed, how the teenagers evaluate the different characters, which scenes they find especially amusing and which (cultural) conflicts are central for them. In German television, from Daily Talks and Soaps, Court Shows to TV magazines, the stereotypes of (male) Turks, from Macho man and criminal to ‘victim of circumstance’ dominate the depiction of characters with immigration background. Thus it is especially interesting to compare the reception of the teenagers with and without (German) Turkish background.

3. Fan forum analysis and Fan-questionnaire
Which aspects of the series do the fans refer to, who use forums offered by the networks and fan forums? How much does the cultural background of the series’ characters matter for the reception of the characters by the fans? A quantitative analysis of the topics that are discussed in the forums and a questionnaire shall shed light on these correlations.


This study aims at contributing to understanding, how teenagers ‘read’ stereotypes of German and (German) Turkish characters used for humour production against the background of the media discourse about migrants and what do they laugh about? The results shall produce guidelines for media educators for dealing with these popular formats.