Difficult. That’s one word that is appropriately used in summing up this list. Sitcoms, or situational comedies, have seen a pleasant and popular life since its inception. Spanning almost two generations, the style, structure, and the content of sitcoms have drastically changed. From one camera to two, and eventually to multiple settings are not the only changes. While the sitcoms of the old were conventional and drew heavily from conventional stereotypes and clichés, the newer, much modern sitcoms have shed that character and taken on a style that is brazen and delves deep with contemporary issues of importance. Therefore, making a list of the top American sitcoms of all time is tough. But, that is why we are here. So sit back and enjoy this list of top sitcoms ever made.
12. Friends (1994-2004)
The story of six bachelors in Manhattan endears people with the same intensity even today. ‘Friends’ is probably the most popular sitcoms around, despite not being the most efficient or brilliant. Roos, Rachel, Monica, Joey, Phoebe, and Chandler negate everyday life and come together at the iconic Central Perk to talk out the joys and heartbreaks of their lives. The NBC created show ran for ten seasons and ended with record Nielsen ratings. Its wild popularity stems from the affection that people harbor for its global stars, who themselves share a closely knitted bond. Iconic characters, lovable actors, and a relatable backdrop gel together to bring ‘Friends’ on the list.
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11. M*A*S*H (1972-83)
Making up a completely another style of comedy, ‘MASH’ marked the golden decade for television in the ’70s. The series relied on its source material, a book of the same name by Richard Hooker, which has also been adapted on-screen. The story of the novel follows a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the “4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital” in Uijeongbu, South Korea, during the Korean War (1950–53). Its dramatization of the events that conspired and a light-hearted take at politics and power dynamics made the show truly special and worthy of endless praise.
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10. Roseanne (1988-2018)
‘Roseanne’ marked its return to the small screen after almost a couple of decades off the air in 2017. But the revival was brief, as the show faced the axe following controversial comments by Roseanne Barr about former President Barack Obama. A spin-off, ‘The Conners’ is already in the works and is set to premiere sometime in 2020. The show surged to popularity and acclaim due to its realistic portrayal of working-class American families and its endeavor to present the real picture. Its roller coaster ride of ups and downs, akin to our own lives, endeared audiences and gave the show a distinct place in the hearts of all audiences.
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9. Arrested Development (2003-)
Don’t be misled. The show hasn’t run for thirteen years and entered only its fifth season in 2018 after a long hiatus. The show centers on the Bluth family, a rich, well-off, and white family, who finds itself in turmoil after the head of the family George Bluth Sr. gets arrested for fraud. The responsibility to manage the company and the family falls on the shoulders of Michael Bluth, George’s son and the eldest and the most sensible of the four children. Despite critical acclaim and bringing in refreshing characters and direct brand of comedy, the show got canceled in 2006, but has returned to excite us all!
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8. I Love Lucy (1951-57)
If ‘I Love Lucy’ wasn’t included on the list, it would have been a modern travesty. because it is expediently imperative to pay our respects to this landmark sitcom that changed the television industry forever. The show, which was the first scripted television program to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience, won five Emmy Awards and received numerous nominations and honor, while also becoming the first show ever to feature an ensemble cast. ‘I Love Lucy’ became the most watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and it was the first to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings. The achievement was matched by the next entry on the list.
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7. Family Guy (1998-)
Seth McFarlane’s force majeure performance has made ‘Family Guy’ one of the most enjoyable shows on television. The array of characters, all voiced by him, present the typical American family. The Griffin family, with an over-smart dog, battle on with their daily lives in the utmost unprepared and hilarious of fashions. The popularity of the show runs amuck compared to other similar sitcoms and the reason for that is Seth McFarlane’s brilliance. A true gem that remains one of the best sitcoms of all time.
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6. 30 Rock (2006-13)
Tina Fey’s comedic brilliance made ’30 Rock’ one of the most special presentations on tv. The star’s blissful performance and hilarious scripts brought a breath of fresh air and officially marked the begging of a new era for comedy. The show focuses on Liz Lemon, head writer of a sketch comedy show, who must deal with her arrogant boss and crazy stars, all while trying to run a successful TV show without losing her mind. Also starring Alec Baldwin, the show certainly is one of the best sitcoms around and a binge-watch would be totally worth it.
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5. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-)
Larry David features twice on the list, which just reaffirms his status as a paragon in sitcom history. The first entry is ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, post his grand success with ‘Seinfeld’. In the same league of shows today like ‘Louie’ and other host shows, the show explores the professional and private life of David, who lives in posh LA with his loving wife. The dry comedy, especially through David, is a special feature of the show and probably will never get old. With HBO having ordered a new season, another year to share with David’s evolving and happening life.
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4. Rick and Morty (2013-)
‘Rick and Morty’ is representative of the best and the worst on television. Good and Bad Rick, that is. Probably the most popular and scientifically reliant show around on television today, ‘Rick and Morty’ shadows the inter-dimensional misadventures of Rick, a cynical mad scientist and his fretful grandson, Morty. Through beautifully imagined and thoroughly researched timelines, the show has managed to gain a cult following and rates an amazing 9.3 on IMDb today.
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3. The Office (2005-13)
The US adaptation of the British show probably is the only one in the list that finds itself sparsely caught between classic and modern comedy. For people who aren’t fans of laugh tracks, ‘The Office’ is a good place to start. Its documentary style narrative sees a crew focus on an ordinary middle-ranged paper company in Scranton, “The Electric City” (thanks Michael Scott) in Pennsylvania. An over-enthusiastic and at times insensitive Michael Scott heads the regional Dunder Mifflin office and gets more than involved in the lives of his employees. ‘The Office’s awkward brand of comedy and simple, relatable characters go a long way in solidifying its status as one of the best sitcoms of all time. Certainly, my choice to be number one!
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2. Seinfeld (1989-1998)
‘Seinfeld’ is frequently cited as the greatest sitcom of all time. And it certainly has done a lot right to deserve that tag. While subjectiveness in art makes that an arguable debate, the unparallel quality, and originality of the show cannot be doubted. In fact, ‘Friends’ borrows a lot of ideas from the show, including some of its characters. ‘Seinfeld’, boldly declared as a show about nothing, is actually about nothing, and centers on the daily life of Jerry Seinfeld and his friends: George Constanza, a peculiar, over-invested middle-aged man; Elaine, a sensible editor, who is Jerry’s ex; and the best of the lot, Kramer, Jerry’s outlandish neighbor whose oddball personality and exuberance keep the friends entertained. If you want pure, unadulterated and misdirected comedy, ‘Seinfeld’ is the show for you.
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1. The Simpsons (1989-)
The longest running sitcom of all time comfortably sits atop the list. And rightly so. It has been the very reference to pop-culture references and has been the grandad in terms of shows on television. The city of Springfield becomes the playground for the dysfunctional and strangely charming family of Simpsons, who leave no room for melancholy and brevity in their lives. And to its extent, ours. The world will remember the show as possibly the greatest creation of emotions and future incidents on the small screen.
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