Best Sitcoms – what’s that?

Can an animated show be considered?

Barney MillerRecently. Rolling Stone listed the 100 Best Sitcoms of All Time. There was a time I’d be all over this.

But as Mark Evanier noted, the meaning is fuzzy. Does The Best mean the Most Influential? Beloved? Enduring?

Can an animated show be a sitcom? The Simpsons are #1 on the list.

But the real issue for me is that there are shows that I have NEVER even HEARD of, let alone seen. #98 Derry Girls, #96 Bluey (animated), #95 Baskets, #94 Insecure, #93 Big Mouth (animated), #88 Party Down, #83 Letterkenny, #78 Peep Show, #72 The Comeback, #64 What We Do in the Shadows, #61 Catastrophe, #59 Spaced, #57 You’re the Worst, #40 Review. Do any of you recommend some of these shows?

And some of these are on a platform called Channel 4, which I assume is NOT the British news programme.

I’m not planning to go through all of the rest. You can assume, however, that whatever CBS shows that are on this list from 1965-1980, and the NBC shows from 1983-2000 I probably watched.

Some shows

#99 Frank’s Place – I’m glad this obscure dramedy made the list, though I haven’t seen it since it first broadcast. Ditto #91, Buffalo Bill.

#85 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show – in the 1950s, it broke down the fourth wall.

#65 Phineas and Ferb. I know more about this animated show than any adult should. I liked it.

#49 Barney Miller, was not only one of my favorite shows but had one of the best theme songs. Interesting, though, the attempt to make this a work and home show (like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and, The Dick Van Dyke Show, for two) just didn’t click here. The home segments, with Barbara Barrie, were abandoned quite early.

#38 Friends – I’m surprised the phenomenon didn’t rate higher, though the show irritated me as often as entertained.

#36 – Sex and the City – a sitcom? The writeup describes it as beginning “as a clumsy, loud, and only occasionally funny attempt at social anthropology… By the end, it was almost purely a drama…”

Plus

#15 Arrested Development – I watched a few episodes the first season and gave up. Yet I watched the second season and grew to like it.

#14 The Andy Griffith Show. When flicking through the channels, I’ll still watch it.

#11  The Dick Van Dyke Show – the only sitcom for which I own the entire run on DVD. Yes, DVD on DVD.

#6 MASH – as early as the middle of Season 1, it dealt with serious subjects.  The “Sometimes, you hear the bullet” episode. e.g. 

#4 I Love Lucy – we’ve been to the museum. From a comment by the late Dustbury: “I Love Lucy invented the sitcom as we know it, with three-camera coverage, film instead of kinescope, and reruns (39 new shows a season, plus 13 repeats). Its influence is incalculable.”

#3 Seinfeld – I liked it much more when it really WAS about nothing, such as getting lost in a parking lot. I thought it became mean-spirited after a while, and I gave up on it.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

9 thoughts on “Best Sitcoms – what’s that?”

  1. I am supposed to get more sleep for my health. If you are going to do this, please do it later in the day.
    The list seems ridiculously skewed toward a new generation, but even there has some omissions, and of course you can argue with what is a sit-com and what is the best, is it the one most groundbreaking, the funniest.

    I’m sure I’m making some mistakes here but it’s hard to go through the list. Where was “The Addams Family” and “Leave it to Beaver”? Not in the top hundred? that’s ridiculous. Addams was much better than the Munsters. Burying Burns and Allen at 85, jeez, the show was hilarious then and still holds up. It was much funnier than the TV version of the Benny show. They never saw the George Gobel Show, which was so funny the writers had to hide the scripts from other writers. Beverly Hillbillies, another omission. They didn’t see “Brooklyn Bridge,” a show by Gary Goldberg that in many ways was much better than Family ties. It just didn’t last as long. How can they leave out Car 54, created by Nat Hiken, maybe that period’s greatest genius. More contemporary shows: maybe the best sitcom I’ve seen on netflix, certainly a top 15 program is “Master of None.” Its Thanksgiving show might be the finest single episode of a sitcom I’ve ever seen. Its second season is a masterpiece. Another new one that is brilliant: The Kominsky Method. And Cheers better than Seinfeld, the Simpsons better than all of them? Really? I could go on, but I need sleep.

  2. “What We Do in the Shadows” is based on the New Zealand comedy feature film (“a mockumentary horror comedy film”, Wikipedia called it) of the same name, written and directed by Jerome Clement (“Flight of the Conchords”) and Taika Waititi. The TV series, which was created by Clement, has been renewed for a third season. I haven’t seen the TV show (it hasn’t aired here, as far as I know), but I highly recommend the film.

  3. I had forgotten about Brooklyn Bridge; I LOVED that show! The Addams Family was iconic and maybe a little seditious. I STILL know the theme of Car 54.

  4. I am supposed to get more sleep for my health. If you are going to do this, please do it later in the day.
    The list seems ridiculously skewed toward a new generation, but even there has some omissions, and of course you can argue with what is a sit-com and what is the best, is it the one most groundbreaking, the funniest.

    I’m sure I’m making some mistakes here but it’s hard to go through the list. Where was “The Addams Family” and “Leave it to Beaver”? Not in the top hundred? that’s ridiculous. Addams was much better than the Munsters. No “Donna Reed’ or “Patty Duke”? Burying Burns and Allen at 85, jeez, the show was hilarious then and still holds up. It was much funnier than the TV version of the Benny show. They never saw the George Gobel Show, which was so funny the writers had to hide the scripts from other writers. Beverly Hillbillies, another omission. They didn’t see “Brooklyn Bridge,” a show by Gary Goldberg that in many ways was much better than Family ties. It just didn’t last as long. How can they leave out Car 54. More contemporary shows: maybe the best sitcom I’ve seen on netflix, certainly a top 15 program is “Master of None.” Its Thanksgiving show might be the finest single episode of a sitcom I’ve ever seen. Its second season is a masterpiece. Another new one that is brilliant: The Kominsky Method. And Cheers better than Seinfeld, the Simpsons better than all of them? Really? I could go on, but I need sleep.

  5. I tried to edit my comment but didn’t see how I could so correcting myself: Hiken also created the munsters, if I’m not mistaken. A few other shows that were period touchstones, and deserved inclusion: The Real McCoys, Gomer Pyle, Donna Reed and Patty Duke. I’m not sure if they were worth including but what about Green Acres and Petticoat Junction, two paul Henning creations. Paul was a wonderful fellow. I loved his story about how Beverly Hillbillies came about: he and his mother-in-law were visiting Lincoln’s birthplace, and as they drove away, he wondered what Lincoln would be thinking about current America if he was sitting in the back seat of their car. That was the Clampetts in Beverly Hills. Another show that had a major impact on American pop culture: Batman. The Super Bowl would have had another name if Batman had not aired.

  6. Of your “haven’t heard of them,” I’m quite fond of these . . .

    #83 Letterkenny (MOST recommended!)
    #78 Peep Show (MOST recommended . . . features Olivia Coleman in her pre-Oscar fame days is brilliant as a supporting member of the cast).
    #64 What We Do in the Shadows (Recommended . . . but deffo watch the movie, too, probably first)
    #59 Spaced (Recommended)

    Of those in your “have not heard of” list that I have less-fond feelings about . . .

    #61 Catastrophe (LOVED the first few episodes of the first season, but then . . . it went bad. Watched the second season and . . . it went worse. Sharon Horgan is delightful, but the male lead [I forget his name and do not want to look him up] was horrible).
    #93 Big Mouth (I love good quality animation, and I watched the first season of this based on reviews, somewhat engaged, somewhat appalled, and I appreciated the concept and execution of “The Hormone Monsters” characters. But this show just got way WRONG, and really badly so, in terms of sexualizing children to an unacceptable degree in a bit of ha-ha entertainment . . . I cannot watch or support it accordingly.)

    Of others on the RS list, I’m most fond of . . .

    #20. Bojack Horseman
    #24. Community
    #25. Atlanta
    #31. Faulty Towers
    #45. Broad City
    #60. Good Times
    #69. Flight of the Conchords
    #71. Rick and Morty
    #73. Absolutely Fabulous
    #80. Sanford and Son
    #92. Daria
    #97. Night Court
    #100. Schitts Creek

    Agree with others that “Addams Family” should be in there, highly. “Munsters” too. And “My Name Is Earl,” “Beverly Hillbillies,” “Green Acres,” and “Laverne and Shirley.” The new-ish “Resident Alien” is only one season in, but I love it, and recommend it.

  7. ooh, that’s great. I spent an afternoon with Paul, and he was totally charming and warm, with none of the hard edges that I experienced on a lot of writers (but not all) from that period.

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