Maybe you've seen the lists of favorite sitcoms making the rounds on social media. They definitely say a lot about a person, and give us all a few moments of nostalgia for good times. Or for Good Times.
In compiling my own list, I couldn't bring myself to include funny shows like Moonlighting and Master of None, because they just don't strike me as proper sitcoms. Otherwise, I found myself unable to include some pretty big-deal shows just because I never really embraced them (The Cosby Show, Friends), even if I think they're pretty okay.
Feel free to mine this for your own lists on Twitter:
My Top 10, in Ascending Order
I could watch this show forever and never not laugh. Perfection, and the ultimate example of “can you believe I'm saying this?” comedy. Pity about that finale, because there's something iconic in nearly every episode.
(2) The Golden Girls
Brilliant old-school comedy that was progressive for its time, its universality is obvious, considering everyone loves it — even kids of the '20s. The women were giving master classes on delivery every episode.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the new queen of TV comedy, and this tour de farce cemented that status.
(4) Mary Tyler Moore
A classic sitcom that predates mockumentaries and the outlandishness of later, paler comparisons. Best finale ever.
(5) Parks & Recreation
I just recently rewatched this entire series, and its heart glows. Imagine being this funny and this sweet and making it look easy.
(6) The Office
I gave up on mockumentary-style comedies after this broke the mold. Pam and Jim put Sam and Diane to shame.
(7) The Comeback
Lisa Kudrow was the only really talented person on Friends, and this skewering of reality TV was timely in execution and timeless in its portrait of a lovably cringeworthy try-hard.
(8) American Dad!
I hate animation, and there is a lot of humor on this that for some reason people (including myself) are allowing to slide, but I have rarely laughed out loud so many times at a series.
(9) The Brady Bunch
This is my pick for a vintage show that is not funny but is more a corny, nostalgic fetish. I can hum the incidental music in most scenes. This show is tattooed on me.
(10) The Dick Van Dyke Show
An absolute classic, a boilerplate on how to do funny.
The other 40, in Alphabetical Order
30 Rock — Fucking hilarious, and Liz Lemon is one of TV's all-time icons.
Absolutely Fabulous — Saunders & Lumley were the grotesque, drunken Lucy & Ethel of the late '90s/early '00s.
All in the Family — Norman Lear's topical sitcom about the working class in the '70s could never be duplicated.
Bewitched — A fantasy series with a dream cast, including the best guests EVER.
Bob Newhart Show, The — A modern-feeling show at the time, with one of TV's best yin-yang couples.
Bosom Buddies — A Some Like It Hot rip-off that managed to match the classic film's tone and vivacity thanks to its leads.
Cheers — This one has sunk in my estimation over time, but if you ignore the Rebecca years, it was pretty sharp.
Curb Your Enthusiasm — It's like Seinfeld never ended! Somewhat formulaic after so many years, but still risky.
Designing Women — It's not as good as The Golden Girls, but the women's relationships and the speeches were money.
Episodes — I was blown away when I discovered this consistently hilarious, self-referential Matt LeBlanc masterpiece.
Facts of Life, The — An irresistible part of my teen years.
Family Ties — On-point in its early years. Fox was at the top of his game making young Republicans seem human.
Fleabag — One of the newest on my list, I must admit I fell for this painfully funny That Girl.
Get Smart — Created by geniuses, the Bond send-up is today both still funny and impossibly chic.
Getting On — Probably the darkest sitcom on here, this dry-as-toast comedy about getting old (and then getting on with death) was Broadway-level inspired.
Gilligan's Island — The perfect stupid sitcom. How can you not like this moronic shit?
Good Times — A comedy about living in poverty, with a sense of community.
Happy Days — A bit milquetoast, but comforting. Bizarre to think the '50s were to the '70s as the '00s are to the '20s.
Happy Endings — Absolutely hysterical comedy that's almost a parody of sitcoms, or of humor.
Jeffersons, The — Before Weezy became so ditzy, it was a devastating comedy about race.
I Dream of Jeannie — A pure, cotton-candy delight.
I Love Lucy — Of course, the mother of all sitcoms. It's amazing.
Laverne & Shirley — Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall were one of TV's all-time greatest duos.
M*A*S*H — Like watching a feature in 30 minutes every week, it was a cut above most everything in the '70s.
Maude — Bea Arthur expertly sent up a raging liberal in ways far more subtle than most shows even today.
Nanny, The — I never get tired of Fran Drescher's shtick.
Party Down — I only recently discovered this hilarious, short-lived, talent-engorged comedy. Hard to get past the Superbad gay jokes in every episode, but otherwise, quite amazing it was not a big hit.
Police Squad! — It's like Airplane! on TV every week!!! (Well, for very few episodes. We didn't appreciate it enough.)
Reno 911! — Niecy Nash, I love you. Just a side-splitting low comedy.
Simpsons, The — A pretty incredible feat: Animation whose characters are more three-dimensional than the human beings in most sitcoms. No wonder it's lasted ... forever.
Soap — Delightfully risqué parody of soap operas with the eternally daffy Katherine Helmond.
Square Pegs — The best teen sitcom ever, period. End.
Taxi — Way better than Cheers, this workplace comedy was always good for character-driven dramedy. Alex dancing at the gay bar is probably in my Top 10 sitcom episodes of all time.
Three's Company — It's dumb as shit, but that's the point, a quaint series straddling the gulf between TV censors and the new permissiveness.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — A comedy about women raped in underground bunkers? Somehow, it works, possibly mostly because of Jane Krakowski.
Will & Grace — Not the new version. At all. The original benefited from screwball-level leads and the indelible support.