The 50 Best Sitcoms on Hulu (April 2018)

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10. The Bob Newhart Show

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Creators: David Davis, Lorenzo Music
Stars: Bob Newhart, Suzanne Pleshette, Marcia Wallace, Peter Bonerz, Bill Daily
Network: CBS

Like many a sitcom star, national treasure Bob Newhart made his name as a comedian first, thanks to his best-selling series of standup albums including the Grammy-winning The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. As his celebrity rose, Hollywood came a-calling leading to several dalliances with TV shows and the occasional film appearance. But what cemented his legacy in the small screen universe was this titular sitcom, on which he played a frequently put-upon psychologist barely putting up with his troubled clientele, his sharp-witted assistant (played by the late great Marcia Wallace), and the other folks that worked in his office building. Even better was the repartee Newhart had with his TV wife, played winningly by Suzanne Pleshette. There was such a lived-in quality to their on-screen marriage that made their tart interactions completely believable. Robert Ham


9. 30 Rock


Creator:   Tina Fey  
Stars: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander
Network: NBC

The spiritual successor to Arrested Development, 30 Rock succeeded where its competition failed by largely ignoring the actual process of creating a TV show and instead focusing on the life of one individual in charge of the process, played by show creator Tina Fey. 30 Rock never loses track of its focus and creates a surprisingly deep character for the its circus to spin around. But Fey’s not the only one that makes the series. Consistently spot-on performances by Tracy Morgan—whether frequenting strip clubs or a werewolf bar mitzvah—and Alec Baldwin’s evil plans for microwave-television programming create a perfect level of chaos for the show’s writers to unravel every week. 30 Rock doesn’t have complex themes or a deep message, but that stuff would get in the way of its goal: having one of the most consistently funny shows on TV. Suffice to say, it succeeded. Sean Gandert


8. The Office (U.K.)

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Creators: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant 
Stars: Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Crook, Lucy Davis, Oliver Chris, Patrick Baladi, Stacey Roca, Ralph Ineson, Stirling Gallacher
Network: BBC

Before there was Steve Carell’s Michael Scott and endless “that’s what she said” jokes, there was Ricky Gervais’ equally clueless David Brent and his fantastical dancing. Before there were John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer’s adorable Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly, there were Martin Freeman and Lucy Davis’ star-crossed Tim Canterbury and Dawn Tinsley. And, of course, before there was Rainn Wilson’s assistant [to the] regional manager, Dwight Schrute, there was Gareth Keenan—Mackenzie Crook’s retired Territorial Army member, who is both obsessed with his slightly senior workplace status and his one-sided friendship with his boss. The series synonymous with the use of the mockumentary format on TV (see also: Modern Family, Reno 911!) is a tightly compacted version of the long-running, Emmy-winning American spinoff (This is the U.K., after all, so there’s only two six-episode seasons, a Christmas special and a reunion episode). Fans of the latter will recognize similar plot points here. Whitney Friedlander


7. I Love Lucy

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Creators: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz
Stars: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley, Richard Keith
Network: CBS

I Love Lucy is one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time. It’s a show so well-structured, and so beloved, it continues to air in 2017, even though the last new episode premiered in 1957. It was the first show inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, and multiple publications, including TV Guide and TIME, have named it one of the best television shows of all-time. Many series have clearly been (and still are) influenced by the wacky adventures of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, but I Love Lucy also played a major role in what would become a staple of the sitcom genre;reruns and syndication, born out of necessity after Ball became pregnant while filming. Ball and Arnaz were consistently determined to bring their unique vision to television, which ultimately resulted in a reinvention of the modern sitcom. Even if the generations to come don’t get to experience the magic in the same way that some of us have, the legacy of Ball and Arnaz, and how they made and re-made television, will always be apparent. Chris Morgan


6. Arrested Development

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Creator:   Mitch Hurwitz  
Stars: Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Tony Hale, David Cross, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Alia Shawkat, Ron Howard
Networks: FOX, Netflix 

Mitch Hurwitz’s sitcom about a “wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together” debuted six weeks after Two and a Half Men but never gathered the audience to keep the show alive. Still, Hurwitz packed a whole lot of awesome into three short seasons. How much awesome? Well, there was the chicken dance, for starters. And Franklin’s “It’s Not Easy Being White.” There was Ron Howard’s spot-on narration, and Tobias Funke’s Blue Man ambitions. There was Mrs. Featherbottom and Charlize Theron as Rita, Michael Bluth’s mentally challenged love interest. Not since Seinfeld has a comic storyline been so perfectly constructed, with every loose thread tying so perfectly into the next act: The Oedipal Buster spiting his mother Lucille by dating her friend Lucille, and eventually losing his hand to a hungry loose seal; George Michael crushing on his cousin only to have the house cave in when they finally kiss; the “Save Our Bluths” campaign trying to simultaneously rescue the family and rescue the show from cancellation. Arrested Development took self-referencing postmodernism to an absurdist extreme, jumping shark after shark, but that was the point. They even brought on the original shark-jumper Henry Winkler as the family lawyer. And when he was replaced, naturally, it was by Scott Baio. Each of the Bluth family members was among the best characters on television, and Jason Bateman played a brilliant straight man to them all. Josh Jackson


5. Parks and Recreation

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Creators: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur
Stars: Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones
Network: NBC

Parks and Recreation started its run as a fairly typical mirror of The Office, but in its third season, the student became the master. As it’s fleshed out with oddballs and unusual city quirks, Pawnee has become the greatest television town since Springfield. Parks flourished over the years with some of the most unique and interesting characters in modern comedy. And the beloved comedy accomplished the near-impossible and went out on top in 2015 when the series came to an end. Comedies, in particular, have a difficult time knowing when it’s time to take a bow. But Leslie Knope and her merry band of friends kept us laughing (and crying) right up until the series finale, which offered a powerfully good farewell to one of the most creative and beloved network series. Ross Bonaime and Amy Amatangelo


4. The Mary Tyler Moore Show

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Creators: James L. Brooks, Allan Burns
Stars: Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight, Betty White, Cloris Leachman
Network: CBS

Even if you were born long after the show premiered, you probably are familiar with its most iconic moments—Mary triumphantly tossing her hat in the air, the death of Chuckles the clown or the traveling group hug that ended the series. Mary Richards (Moore) remains iconic as the first single, career woman to ever be the subject of a television show. She lived by herself! Made her own decisions! And wasn’t worried about getting married! Can you believe it? Set in the newsroom of WJM in Minneapolis, Mary’s co-workers included her irascible boss Lou Grant (Asner), affable news writer Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), and goofy anchorman Ted Baxter (Knight). This was an office-based comedy in a time when family comedies were all the rage. The groundbreaking series paved the way for shows as varied as Murphy Brown, 30 Rock and The Mindy Project. Plus Mary had spunk, and we love spunk. Amy Amatangelo


3. Cheers

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Creator: James Burrows, Glen Charles, Les Charles
Stars: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, Nicholas Colasanto, John Ratzenberger, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, George Wendt
Network: NBC

Like many long-running sitcoms, the Cheers of the 1990s was really a fundamentally different show than it was in the 1980s, less about the dating life of Ted Danson’s Sam and much more of an ensemble device, full of characters who were by this point beloved by all. The final years of Cheers were when all these characters got to shine, especially Rhea Perlman as Carla and Kelsey Grammer, who joined the cast full-time before spinning off into Frasier. The finale episode received mixed reactions at the time, but nostalgia has pushed it into favorable territory, especially given the happy endings that most characters receive. The fact that Sam decides not to get married and “stays with the bar;it is of course his one true love. Jim Vorel


2. The Dick Van Dyke Show

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Creator: Carl Reiner
Stars: Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews, Richard Deacon
Network: CBS

Before Dick Van Dyke became the toast of Disney live-action films and the star of every senior citizen’s favorite crime procedural Diagnosis: Murder, he was the titular star of this fantastic sitcom. The classic half-hour gave viewers two shows in one: a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a TV variety show and a warm-hearted family comedy. The former allowed for plenty of sharp dialogue and fast-paced jokes courtesy of show creator Carl Reiner and co-stars Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie, all playing comedy writers. The latter took full advantage of the winning chemistry between Van Dyke and former dancer and TV bit player Mary Tyler Moore. Robert Ham


1. Seinfeld


Creators:   Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David
Stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, Michael Richards
Network: NBC

On any given weekday, the likelihood is high that I watch a Seinfeld rerun that I’ve seen at least 20 times before, and I’m not alone in that habit. The fact that the show has been in continual reruns and syndication since its 76-million viewer finale proves how beloved it remains to this day: Seinfeld is still making money for networks 20 years after it ended. Its grasp on pop culture minutia was on another level entirely, as was its distaste for typical sitcom conventions. Long-term relationships and love triangles were practically non-existent on Seinfeld. Never did characters offer sappy apologies to each other. Never did they even learn from their mistakes! Larry David and company were instead committed to telling stories of everyday, casual misanthropy from people who viewed themselves as generally decent or average, but were in reality pretty terrible individuals. Without even going into depth about the show’s transformative effect on the cultural lexicon, known as “Seinlanguage” it’s easy to see how Seinfeld uniquely stood out from every one of its peers. Jim Vorel

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