top 10 american sitcoms

Posted: June 5, 2012 in Arts
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Any top ten proclamation is bound to elicit strong reactions from anyone who reads the choices. I suspect this list is no different. For example I’m sure lovers of South Park, Family Guy, Cheers and Gilligan’s Island will take exception to this list. And who’s to say they’re wrong? Oh right, me. So without further finessing and meaningless explanation as to why some shows didn’t make the list I give for your arguing pleasure my choices for the top ten American sitcoms of all time.

10) Community – Yes, I know it gets put on hiatus more often than Ms. Lohan violates her probation. Just because it doesn’t have a huge following doesn’t diminish its astounding creativity. This show attempts things that no other major network show dare try. Sure the plots may be outrageous and beyond rational belief, but they are never without wit and intelligence.

9) The Odd Couple – It is tough to find this gem in reruns. After all it is 40 years old. But this show accomplished a rare thing. It improved upon its source material, Neil Simon’s brilliant Broadway play and equally terrific feature film. When the two main characters were portrayed on the big screen by the immortal Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau it is quite an accomplishment to eclipse the public’s primary association with actors who played these roles. Jack Klugman and Tony Randall did that because they were perfection.

8) Modern Family – Another current show, although this one is a bonafide hit. The writing is sharp, the acting flawless and the situations always play well off the character’s idiosyncrasies. I don’t often laugh at loud at sitcoms, but this is a notable exception. And how can you not love Cam and Mitchell?

7) The Honeymooners – Although the Honeymooners sketches ran for years on The Jackie Gleason Show (a gem in its own right), any serious fan of this show knows when you speak of it you are speaking of the 39 episodes produced for the 1955-56 television season. Every episode is filled with obvious and hidden gems and, for its time, it showed a fair amount of honest sentiment. There were many standout episodes, but my favorite is probably “The $99,000 Answer” when Ralph goes on a Name That Tune type of show. If you haven’t seen it the payoff is among the funniest (and most melancholy) moments in television history.

6) Curb Your Enthusiasm – Has there ever been a more cringe inducing comedy? I can’t think of one. Larry David basically employs the same formula he used to create Seinfeld. The character “Larry David” (loosely based on the real Larry David) navigates his way through life in well-heeled Los Angeles. The show is perfect for HBO since the censors leave it alone. That is important because without the salty language and the “I can’t believe they are talking about this” vibe the show would lose a considerable amount of its oomph. Just try watching the sanitized versions on the TV Guide Network. On second thought, don’t bother.

5) M*A*S*H – The only comedy I can think of that perfectly straddled the line between gut-busting laughter and horrific life experiences. The show aired for 11 years, about 8 years longer than the Korean War during which it was set. However it was always topical and insightful without being preachy. Not many shows can survive the departure of two of its main characters at the same time, but M*A*S*H did so and, in the process, upped its game.

4) The Simpsons – Sure it’s been on for too many years and it passed its peak at least a decade ago, but for the first 10 years or so there was never another show which could match it for relentless, spot-on satire. Also, has another show ever crammed so much into a 22 minute episode? I think not.

3) The Office – Anyone who has worked in an office can relate to the insane shenanigans which infested the Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company. Steve Carell’s departure has greatly impacted the quality of the show, but man oh man, for those 7 seasons it was often brilliant. And it is almost as cringe inducing as Curb Your Enthusiasm – which is saying something.

2) I Love Lucy – How can anyone not love Lucy? The first great sitcom chronicled the wacky adventures of Lucy Ricardo, her husband Ricky and their ever-present neighbors Fred and Ethel Mertz. Lucille Ball is probably the greatest physical comedienne we’ve seen and even though the show is about 60 years old it still rings true because it adheres to the basic tenets of comedy. I dare you not to laugh when Lucy stomps grapes or steals John Wayne’s concrete footprints from Graham’s Chinese Theater or goes on television to sell Vitameatavegamin. I dare you!

1) Seinfeld – This one show has impacted popular culture more than any other sitcom. It has given us catch phrases, classic lines, hilarious situations and a main cast that played off each other with the perfection of a symphonic orchestra. I know plenty of people who don’t particularly care for the show. To me, however, it sits alone on the top of the comedy hill.

Let the debate begin!

  1. Curb Your Enthusiasm, M*A*S*H and Seinfeld are definitely in my top list.. along with Cheers, All in the Family and How I Met Your Mother… great list!!


  2. Hey, thanks for stopping by and liking my stuff. I always think it’s crap. The fact that you give it the time makes me feel better about it : )


  3. I’m with you on I Love Lucy, Seinfeld, and The Odd Couple, and The Office. I also thought Mary Tyler Moore and The Bob Newhart show were really funny. Modern family and the Simpsons are wonderful and I can see how they made your list. Don’t laugh but Leave it to Beaver was a pretty funny show. I don’t know if you ever saw a show called, Still Standing – but I thought it was really funny.
    I need to watch Community. I’ve heard it’s really good.


  4. Patti Kuche says:

    Can’t wait for your top ten list of Seinfeld episodes!


  5. kayjai says:

    Mine: All in the Family, also The Jeffersons (spun from All in the Family) , Cosby Show, The Carol Burnett Show, I LOVE I Love Lucy, Big Bang Theory…that’s about it…I still have a soft spot for MASH and Seinfeld, but loved Friends too…couldn’t help myself there.


  6. How about ‘Friends’?


  7. topiclessbar says:

    Sitcoms don’t get enough respect. I guess it’s because there are so many bad ones. Anyways, thanks for the list – I’ve actually never seen most of these shows and am always looking for something to download. Peace John!


  8. One of my faves was short-lived, but I absolutely loved it. Bought the DVD’s after it was canceled – Sports Night. and I totally agree with you for putting Seinfeld at the top.


  9. surroundedbyimbeciles says:

    I have to add my favorite show of all time – The Andy Griffith Show. I’m not sure that it translates to other parts of the country, but I know people just like the ones on there.


  10. whiteladyinthehood says:

    I love the Simpsons (I actually used to watch the Tracy Ullman show where they were first introduced)


  11. While it is hard to come up with just 10 sitcoms for a top ten list, my list would have to include The Mary Tyler Moore Show.


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