I have completed 46 years of research for this post. The study was tedious, but I knew that my research was prove valid in years to come. I battled sleep and ignored my name being screamed from my mother’s kitchen. I endured weather conditions while turning the pole of the antenna outside of our house, while my dad yelled to me when the picture was good (anyone remember that?). I have pretended to be ill and gone through the 122 steps to set my VCR to record shows while I was absent. Sitcoms take us away from many things in life and help us (if only for thirty minutes) avoid reality, allowing humor to wash away our troubles. Here are the top 25 sitcoms . . . in my humble opinion:
25. Night Court: Forget about this one? Many have, so don’t kick yourself. It was funny in its time and is rarely in re-runs anymore. The twist of comedy that was placed into scenes by each actor with his/her own way of making us laugh is what separates this show from others. Yes, it could be corny, but it was funny.
24. King of Queens: Starting with a funny, overweight guy who is married to a pretty, little Italian girl whose dad lives in the basement and it’s got to be funny. The writing is character enriched and right on cue!
23. Sanford and Son: The whole show is centered around Redd Foxx in his living room, battling his “big dummy” son. The show is a TV icon, and there are not many people on Earth who wouldn’t recognize . . . “Elizabeth! I’m coming to join you!”
22. Gilligan’s Island: Yes, the show is ridiculous. Yes, there are so many ways to get off of the island. Unrealistic is the word that comes to mind. But who among us has not thought of being trapped on a deserted island with Mary Ann? Yes, Mary Ann is the prettiest. The goofiness of Gilligan is why this show didn’t place higher.
21. Bewitched: What a genius idea for a sitcom it was. Darren is the “head of the home,” but Samantha holds all of the power. The underlying tone of suppressing who you really are is funny and drives home a point. The later replacement Darren was the beginning of the end for the long-running show.
20. The Honeymooners: “To the moon, Alice!” was such a iconic statement that generations recognized. One of original sitcoms of television, this show became the benchmark for all others, with no frills, just an cheap apartment setting and a couple struggling to survive.
19. Everybody Loves Raymond: Comics do make good television, every once in a while. This show has such a poke-your-wife-in-the-ribs humor, followed by a statement of “that’s just like we are.” The character blend is spot-on, and the writing is hilarious.
18. I Love Lucy: The irony of the show is funny from the start: Lucy is the star of the show, but she struggles to get Ricky to let her be in his show to become a star. The antics of Lucille Ball is iconic comedy that will live for generations to come.
17. M.A.S.H.: The wounded hospital 4077 during the Korean War wouldn’t be ideal setting for humor, but it is so perfect. The laughs in a stress-filled setting allows the viewer to realize that whatever is happening in his own life can’t be all that bad. Oh, and Winchester is the best roommate.
16. Psych: A newer show, compared to the previous, but the “intelligent humor” is so packed with small pieces, scattered throughout, that a viewer can miss a hilarious section and never know it. The flashbacks to the 80s are classically funny. Oh, did you know about the pineapple in every episode?
15. Community: A community college in itself is a perfect setting. The characters that flow in and out of these small institutes of learning are comical, to say the least. The teachers are generally weird and quirky, and that only adds fuel to the fire. Who cannot help but laugh at Ben Franklin Chang?
14. Three’s Company: A sexually suggestive television show in the 70s is par for the course. Having two girls and one guy living in the same place and lying to the landlord about the guy being gay is a great foundation. The humor of John Ritter couldn’t have been done better.
13. Andy Griffith Show: Without Don Knotts it wasn’t really all that good. Yes, the show delivers great moral points and slapstick humor, but it carries the viewer to a time and place in our history that we may never see again.
12. Taxi: One of the first sitcoms that I remember seeing with my parents, as it premiered. The cast of actors in this sitcom has blazed into infamy. I can only imagine what it would cost to bring all those actors back. I can remember as a child laughing out loud at Christopher Lloyd’s character.
11. The Cosby Show: Another excellent show based on a comic’s standup, this show was almost instantly a classic. Whatever is going on with Bill these days should not cast a shadow over this great family show. My own family never missed this one, when I lived at home with my parents.
10. WKRP in Cincinnati: I had to place this show this high. Of course, like most hormonal teenagers, I was in lust with Lonnie Anderson. That aside, the show gained so much momentum, with such a wide range of characters who could not survive without the support of each other, that it burned out too quickly for me. It’s funny in the purest form. Johnny Fever forever!
9. All in the Family: How can such a racist protagonist be loved by millions? He’s an idiot. The stupidity of Archie Bunker and his “dingbat” wife is still funny today, even though many times, watching the show, a viewer might still cringe at comments from Archie. It’s television gold.
8. Cheers: Of course a bar is a great setting for a sitcom. Men sitting around wasting their life away and trying to solve the world’s problems is funny in itself. The various social and economic levels of the characters are perfect to create such rich humor.
7. Friends: Yes, this show has become legendary. The writers of this show are the real stars. From a coffee show to an apartment and back again is not the best setting for humor, unless you combine good actors and excellent and funny writers. This show will continue to be in re-runs for years and years to come.
6. Frazier: A spin off of Cheers, most of these sitcoms die hard. This is not the case with this superbly-written show. Mixing the two worlds of the brothers and their father is so good. Throw in an English maid, and you have one of the funniest sitcoms of all time. The humor doesn’t get old.
5. The Big Bang Theory: Many considered this a flash-in-the-pan sitcom that would have its funny moments and fade away, but not so fast! Laughing at nerds is nothing new, but then again it goes to show that they eventually win out in the end. The high-level of thinking combined with being confused over the most simplest of life’s problems is perfection for the genius characters!
4. Happy Days/Laverne and Shirley: These two can’t be separated. They are intertwined in the sitcom world. The simplicity of the story lines is accelerated with good, clean humor and great characters played by terrific actors. Hold up one thumb, lean back, and say “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA,” and see if 9 out of 10 people don’t know who you are portraying.
3. Parks and Recreation: A newer sitcom of the bunch that was a springboard from The Office-type concept, this show is straight out hilarious! The shenanigans of workers in the show, each with his/her own agenda, are superb. There is always one character that makes me laugh more than any other: Andy Dwyer played by Chris Platt is that guy.
2. Seinfeld: I battled with the positions of #1 and #2. They could go either way. The show about nothing is legendary television. Another comedian being the focal point is spot on. The insanity of talking about nothing AND it being funny is comical within itself! Michael Richards’s character of Kramer ranks among the best of all-time.
1. The Office: Steve Carell is a genius. Being hilarious just using facial expressions is fantastic. Everyone knew the show was doomed when he was set not to return at the end of the 2010-2011 season. The Office Picnic was one of the biggest things ever . . . that’s what she said. Who among us can forget this? “Oh my god, Meredith! Where are your panties?!” To which the she replied, “It’s casual Friday!”
Maybe your show wasn’t on the list. That’s okay. It was funny to you, and it took you away to a happy place then it’s all good. What was that particular show that you enjoyed so much . . . or maybe still do?