The 50 Greatest Sitcoms of All Time (#10 – 1)

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10. Family Ties

Liberal hippies Steven and Elise Keaton raise four children in Columbus, OH. Sounds simple enough, until you realize their oldest and most outspoken child, Alex P. is a staunch Republican, worshiping the legend of Richard Nixon and (then) current president Ronald Reagan.

family ties full series

Family Ties launched the career of Michael J. Fox and put a new spin on family politics. And who can forget Tom Hanks’ multiple appearances as Uncle Ned? Hide the vanilla extract! (Sha la la la)

 

9. Three’s Company

While the iconic theme song invited you to ‘come and knock on their door’, Three’s Company opened the door for countless sitcoms since. The formula of platonic single roommates sharing living quarters has been copied by a multitude of sitcoms (some more successful than others).

threes company

Based on the British sitcom Man About the House, Three’s Company broke barriers in American television, and gave us one of the most memorable cast holdouts in TV history. No matter who the landlord(s) or third roommate happened to be, this show always delivered a hilarious, misunderstanding-based 30 minute adventure.

 

8. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm picked up where Seinfeld left off- it was like Seinfeld Uncut: The Life and Times of George Costanza.

The things that Larry David got himself in and out of were consistently hilarious, and the mere fact that there’s no script makes Curb even more of a masterpiece.

 

7. The Golden Girls

Most of the humor and storylines in The Golden Girls were a bit over our heads in the 80s, but I got just enough enjoyment out of it every week that I didn’t want to miss an episode.

In the days before VCRs and DVRs, this show was one of the few that were considered “appointment television”. We didn’t want to miss a single moment on the lanai, a late night cheesecake conference, St. Olaf story, or Shady Pines reference from our favorite South Florida retirees.

 

6. Married with Children

Any show that starts with a Frank Sinatra song has our attention. Thankfully that wasn’t the only great thing about it.

Married With Children centered around an ex-high school football great turned shoe salesman, his big-haired red-headed wife who spends more time on the couch watching talk shows and gossiping with Marcy than with their children- who happened to be two of the worst kids in TV history. Put it all together and you’ve got a groundbreaking sitcom.

 

5. The Cosby Show

One of the biggest hit shows of the 80s, The Cosby Show left it’s mark on television.  Eight years, over two-hundred episodes, (only!) two Emmys, two Golden Globes, and an endless supply of sweaters and hoagies. Truly one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.

Despite being a comedy, it still hit on some tough subjects like dyslexia and teen pregnancy.  The Cosbys will always have a spot in all of our hearts, and no one can forget this memorable scene.

 

4. Arrested Development

We’re not here to talk nonsense to Bob Loblaw. The best thing to come out of the Enron scandal, Arrested Development is the most finely written comedic show of our time. “In fact” (Ron Howard voice), it’s a show that MUST be watched from the pilot, as there are so many in-jokes, quick cutaways and callbacks that sometimes you felt like you needed a scorecard.

Fans of the show would not let the 2006 series finale be the last they heard from the Bluths, as its cult status along with critical acclaim, cast support and DVD sales have helped resurrect the series for more original episodes on Netflix.

 

3. Seinfeld

Seinfeld is arguably the most culturally significant sitcom of all time. Jokes and scenes from Seinfeld had ways of becoming jokes between you and your friends, family, co-workers, and total strangers. Seinfeld’s influence is apparent on many subsequent shows, some of them the best of all time.

During it’s original run, it felt as if each episode had an immediate impact on pop culture. Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer are four of the funniest sitcom characters ever, and their exploits still linger in our memories today.

 

2. Friends

The show’s plot was simple: following the lives of six New York City friends as they navigate through their twenties. What made Friends possibly the best sitcom of all time was the instant chemistry the cast had from the pilot on, the impeccable writing, and smart direction. Friends still resonates with today’s generation of young television fans.

Friends has been off the air for a decade and yet its re-watchability is remarkably high. While some shows get ‘stuck’ in a time warp, the storylines and relationships of these characters transcends time. Ross & Rachel still work. Neurotic Chandler is STILL funny. “How you doin?” is still an acceptable pick up line, and who doesn’t yell “Pivot!” when helping a buddy move? For children of the 80s and 90s, this show holds a special place in our heart. We grew up with these friends, like they were our friends.

 

1. Cheers

What better setting for a sitcom than a bar? We could all relate to hanging out and goofing off with other regulars. Each character offered some personality aspect that we could see in ourselves.

Sharp writing and a great cast that successfully grew throughout the series’ run helped Cheers stay on the air for a remarkable 11 Seasons, garnering 28 Emmys along the way. Cheers helped NBC own Thursday nights for an entire decade.

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