What are your favorite sitcoms? How many of them would make your Funniest Sitcoms of All-Time list?
You never know where the next list will come from here at the Sunday Seven! This time, the idea comes from AARP, which recently posted what it considered to be the 20 Best Sitcoms of All Time.
Fortunately, I don’t have to pick that many: I have less than half of that on my “to-do” list for this week. So here are my picks.
And I hope you’ll consider playing along by listing the seven sitcoms you’d list as the greatest.
Here we go:
7 Best Sitcoms of All Time
1. The Andy Griffith Show
This one gets top billing in my book because the writing was just so good. Griffith himself once said that when writing the show, the integrity of the characters was kept paramount: “If a joke made a lie out of a character, we’d ditch the joke.” It’s still funny 50 years after its premiere, and one gets the sense that they’ll never make another sitcom like that again.
2. I Love Lucy
Aside from being funny thanks to the incredible physical comedy of Lucille Ball, this show was groundbreaking because of how it was recorded: rather than old-style kinescopes that allowed networks to air shows later in different time zones, Desi Arnaz insisted that their show be filmed. This meant a better quality rerun and, more importantly, syndication. That decision allowed generations to enjoy the show and establish how important sitcoms are in the television landscape, even more than 60 years after the show’s debut.
On one level, it was just a comedy set during wartime. But on another, more important level, it was social satire designed to make people rethink how they felt about war, death and life. The ensemble was top-notch and the laughs far outlasted the conflict in which the series was based. It’d be nice if life worked that way more often.
4. All in the Family
Another social satire, but what amazes me most about this show is its true timelessness. Other than the fashions and pop culture references of the time, AITF holds up amazingly well more than 40 years after its first airing. In fact, if you substituted today’s leading politicians into their dialog, you might think the show was written this year. It’s a shame we haven’t found more answers in four decades to society’s problems, but at least we know that once in a while, we can find humor in them.
5. Sanford & Son
Aside from being one of the first sitcom since Amos ‘n’ Andy to feature black characters in lead roles, it was a well-written (at least for a while) comedy with a crazy collection of characters that somehow didn’t seem as outlandish as they might have appeared. We all know Fred Sanford, no matter what color he is.
6. The Cosby Show
A landmark show of the 1980s, Bill Cosby brought us positive characters we could all relate to, and in doing so, made clear what shouldn’t have been necessary: that the races aren’t so different as we might otherwise assume.
7. Everybody Loves Raymond
This show speaks to me because I feel like I have many of these same characters in my family. Unlike some of the others on this list, the writing remained top-notch all the way through, and when they felt they had no more to say, they stopped while their network still wanted more. The result was genuine laughs from the first show to the last, and that final show could have been a textbook example of how to end a sitcom the right way: plenty of laughs through plenty of tears, but as in real life, even when the curtain comes down, family goes on.
Those are my picks. What are yours?