If a TV sitcom goes on long enough, chances are that there will be a casino-themed episode.
The setting provides a backdrop that audiences are familiar with and provides glitz and glamour.
It also crucially provides a reason to bring an entire cast together, out of their usual surroundings, to add to the drama or comedy that the new situation provides.
But why do we respond so well to casino themes on TV sitcoms?
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One of the most famous casino episodes was in The Office.
The second season finale Casino Night used the backdrop of Michael Scott’s casino to tie up storyline loose ends and prepare us for the third season.
While the supporting characters were on top form – and we got to hear Kevin’s musical stylings for the first time – it was the kiss between Jim and Pam that the environment fostered that had fans eager for more.
He took a gamble and it didn’t pay off – he ended up transferring to the Stamford branch of Dundler Mifflin for the season three premiere.
How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother has had several casino-themed episodes.
The second season saw the gang head to Atlantic City so that Marshall and Lily could get married.
Barney became embroiled in the fictional game of Xing Hai Shi Bu Xing – a game with countless zany rules.
The final season featured a poker game episode in the run-up to Robin and Barney’s wedding.
The backdrop of the game was used as a plot device to show how Barney was caught in the middle between Robin and his mother.
The appearance of the casino tells audiences that something momentous is about to go down that might change their lives forever – as we saw in the seventh season’s penultimate episode as Marshall and Barney entered the Atlantic City casino just as Lily was about to give birth.
The Friends episode situated at the casino in Las Vegas is possibly one of the most iconic in the series.
The fifth season finale sees tensions amped up – helped by the atmosphere of the casino – as Monica reveals she had lunch with an old flame (emphasis on old), Richard.
The episode also features a dynamic of Joey and Chandler’s carefree friendship that takes a more serious tone when Joey feels his friend doesn’t believe he’ll make it in Hollywood, and Chandler has to prove he has faith in him.
The casino setting provided us with the biggest pay-off of the night when it came to Ross and Rachel, however, as they drunkenly got married.
Why Do We Love Casino Episodes?
But why do casino episodes work so well in sitcoms?
Well, they are recognisable to people watching at home, as most people have an idea of the casino or at least the games that can be played and the atmosphere that develops.
Moreover, the excitement in the air adds to the drama playing out on screen – and everyone can imagine the kind of awkward encounters and scrapes that people could get in when playing casino games.
The most enthralling thing about the casino episode in a sitcom is that it reflects something that players at home can do.
Unlike other things in these sitcoms – working in a hilarious office selling paper or living above a coffee shop with your best friends in the most expensive city in the world – casinos show something accessible for players.
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Some offer special free spins where there are no play-through requirements, which means that players can be expected to keep what they win and not have to fulfil further criteria in order to access their payout.
Casino episodes are a staple of sitcoms and provide a tense and atmospheric backdrop to the comedy – and drama – that accompanies the series.
They are a good example of taking characters we know and love out of their usual settings to give them something else to do.
The casino episode can be as lowkey as an office casino night or can be a huge blowout in Vegas.
Either way, casino scenes and episodes are going nowhere fast, so be prepared for more of them in the years to come.
Who knows? We may have a new set of favourites, before long.
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