The 100 Best TV Sitcoms of All Time

And where to stream them

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The 100 Best TV Sitcoms of All Time

We laughed, we cried, we raged against the dying of the light which sought to snuff out our personal favorite shows. Putting together a list like this is always equal parts painful and enjoyable for editors and writers, but I can’t think of a better time to look back on the greatest sitcoms of all time. We have arrived at a glorious point in history, where watching an excellent TV show might finally be intellectually on par with reading a great book, and even the most prestigious of shows are all the descendants, in some way or another, of the good ol’ sitcom. Families and relationships (and the dysfunctional and/or loving ties that bind them), workplace drama, compelling historical settings and characters who made even the mundane seem worthy of our attention—these things are at the core of good storytelling. And Peak TV did not invent good storytelling in episodic form. The sitcom did that, and though it has evolved and morphed into the stuff of dreams, it always had those high-brow, cinematic qualities in its fiber. Some of our favorites managed to weave the high-brow with the low-brow; many of them seemed unconcerned with either brow, as long they made us happy.

So, with a focus on quality over nostalgia—no matter how much it hurt—the Paste editors and writers have chosen the 100 best sitcoms of all time (first voting in 2016 and updating the list in 2022). We apologize in advance that one (or more) of your favorites did not make the cut. You can rest assured that many of our favorites didn’t either, which means we can tweet out our angry, but respectful, responses. You know—like one big, happy, dysfunctional family. —Shannon M. Houston

100. The Honeymooners

best-sitcoms-Honeymooners.jpg Years: 1955-1956
Creator: Jackie Gleason
Stars: Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, Art Carney, Joyce Randolph, Pert Kelton
Network: CBS

Although The Honeymooners only ran for 39 episodes in the mid-’50s, this offshoot of The Jackie Gleason Show has had a considerable impact on the world of situation comedies for six decades now. Unlike so much of the fare on TV at the time, the show concerned a working class couple, Ralph and Alice Kramden (played by Gleason and the wonderful Audrey Meadows), struggling to get by and get along. A typical episode involved Ralph’s efforts to make a quick buck, and winding up right back where he started from. Throw in some fine supporting work by Art Carney and Joyce Randolph as next door neighbors Ed and Trixie Norton, and the perfect formula was built for scripts that mixed acidic banter, slapstick, and lots of mugging. The show is certainly dated in many ways, but without it, there would be no Flintstones, Roseanne, Home Improvement, or Shameless.—Robert Ham


99. Welcome Back, Kotter

best-sitcoms-kotter.jpg Years: 1975-1979
Creators: Gabe Kaplan, Alan Sacks
Stars: Gabe Kaplan, Marcia Strassman, John Sylvester White, Robert Hegyes, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Ron Palillo, John Travolta
Network: ABC

There are a lot of interesting facts about Welcome Back, Kotter. It helped skyrocket John Travolta to fame. In the last season, Gabe Kaplan and Marcia Strassman didn’t really want to work together, and Marcia won that battle, forcing Kaplan to make sporadic appearances, even though he was the titular Kotter being welcomed back. The series centered on a teacher returning to his high-school alma mater to teach the “Sweathogs,” a group of remedial students, of which he once was one. Primarily, we spend time with four of the students, all of them broadly drawn, but delightful, caricatures. The show is silly, but fun, and of course it spawned a bunch of catchphrases, mostly courtesy of Travolta’s Vinnie Barbarino. The last season is skippable, but, before things began to downhill, it was a nice sitcom that earned its classic status. —Chris Morgan


98. The Carmichael Show

best-sitcoms-carmichael.jpg Years: 2015-2017
Creator: David Caspe
Stars: Jerrod Carmichael, Amber Stevens West, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish, Loretta Devine, David Alan Grier
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

The Carmichael Show earned a slot on this list by being as brave as it is hilarious. It regularly tackles serious social and political issues, including gun control, trans rights and Black Lives Matter, during one of the most contentious times in recent history. It’s an unapologetically black show about real life on a major broadcast network, and despite being shot as traditionally as a sitcom can (a studio audience, multiple cameras, a studio soundstage) it feels more daring and realistic than the flashier Black-ish. If you miss the era of Norman Lear sitcoms that were about something more than just making you laugh, you should be watching The Carmichael Show. It also has one of the best casts of any sitcom on TV today, with hilarious work from Loretta Devine, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish and Jerrod Carmichael. If the Emmys had any sense, David Alan Grier would have be a shoe-ins.—Garrett Martin


97. Happy Endings

best-sitcoms-happy-endings.jpg Years: 2011-2013
Creator: David Caspe
Stars: Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans, Jr., Casey Wilson
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

File Happy Endings under the dreaded “canceled too soon” category. Happy Endings could have and should have lasted far longer than three seasons, but sometimes the TV gods are cruel. Based in Chicago, the ensemble comedy had a pretty simple premise (“a group of friends in their early 30s hang out in the city”), with the clever twist that one of them (Elisha Cuthbert’s Alex) leaves another at the altar (Zachary Knighton’s Dave) in the pilot. They try to remain friends, hence the titular happy ending, and it adds a pretty strong “will they or won’t they” element to the show, but ultimately what made Happy Endings so great was the chemistry between its six leads. Sometimes “friends hanging out” is the only situation you need for a comedy to work. Also worth noting: this show doesn’t get nearly enough props for one of the least stereotypical portrayals of a gay character on a sitcom; Adam Pally’s Max is basically no different from Peter, the character he’d go on to play on The Mindy Project. He’s a goofy frat bro who just happens to be attracted to men, and that’s just one of the ways Happy Endings managed to subvert the standard sitcom formula, while still adhering to it. —Bonnie Stiernberg


96. The Big Bang Theory

best-sitcoms-big-bang-theory.jpg Years: 2007-
Creators: Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady
Stars: Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Sara Gilbert, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch
Networks: CBS

Watch on Hulu

Big Bang Theory is the last of the blockbuster sitcoms. It’s the last sitcom to get massive ratings, to build a huge, devoted audience who will absolutely watch the show whenever it’s on. Reruns of the series helped legitimize TBS as a comedy network. It has that broad, populist appeal that shows rarely have these days. Sure, it gets some critical kudos, and Jim Parsons has won about a million Emmys, but it will never be a hip show. Its future is Nick at Nite, not IFC. But, while Big Bang Theory is not a brilliant show, nor an iconic sitcom, it’s a solid series that delivered its very specific content with great reliability. The actors involved were all talented, and for every dumb joke delivered, the show provided at least one sharp one. Its immense popularity will always be held against it in some circles, but if you give it a chance, you realize that it’s a consistently entertaining story that has plenty to offer. —Chris Morgan


95. New Girl

new-girl.jpg
Years: 2011-2018
Creator: Elizabeth Meriwether
Stars: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone
Network: Fox

Watch on Netflix

When New Girl started it was a sharp hang-out sitcom for the 21st century, updating the basic template of Friends into the modern day, but with a looser, more improvisational feel to the humor that makes it seem at least a bit less artificial. Like Friends, the show’s greatest strength is less the writing than the performances and chemistry of its cast—few shows can milk as much out of its characters lounging around a living room, or drunkenly playing a made-up game with no clear rules. Its first seasons may have been its best, but they’ll live on through Netflix forever, or until the current rights agreement runs out. —Garrett Martin


94. Girlfriends

girlfriends_netflix.jpg Years: 2000-2008
Creator: Mara Brock Akil
Stars: Tracee Ross Ellis, Golden Brooks, Persia White, Jill Marie Jones, Reggie Hayes, Keesha Sharp, Cee Cee Michaela, Khalil Kain, Flex Alexander
Network: UPN, The CW

Watch on Netflix

Girlfriends reigned as that divine creation that explored life, love, careers and a blossoming sisterhood among women. The show, often compared to Sex and The City, was a witty, intelligent and sexy exploration of the many facets of black womanhood through the lens of four very different women. There was Joan (lawyer and “den mother”), Toni (selfish and popular real estate agent), Maya (sassy law assistant) and Lynn (free-spirited Bohemian). During its eight-year run, Girlfriends was one of the highest-rated scripted shows among black viewers aged 18-34 and tackled an endless number of issues, including colorism, AIDS and class issues. —Ashley Terrell


93. The Last Man on Earth

best-tv-shows-2015-last-man-on-earth.jpg Years: 2015-2018
Creator: Will Forte
Stars: Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, January Jones, Mel Rodriguez, Cleopatra Coleman, Mary Steenburgen
Networks: Fox

Watch on Hulu

So, the title The Last Man on Earth turned out to be a bit of a mislead. That’s for the best, because, as ambitious and fascinating as it was to watch the show in its early moments when it was just Will Forte ambling around an empty landscape, more people in the cast, including the excellent Kristen Schaal, has benefited the series by giving it actual human dynamics. The shift also gave Forte other people to bounce off of, with his particularly brand of unhinged comedy. Over the course of four seasons, some of the early rough edges were sanded down, the dynamics of the group grew in interesting ways, and most importantly, the show kept getting funnier. Who knew so much humor could be mined from a series about the vast majority of people on the planet dying off? —Chris Morgan


92. Reno 911!

best-sitcoms-reno.jpg Years: 2003-2009, 2020
Creators: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Kerri Kenney-Silver
Stars: Cedric Yarbrough, Niecy Nash, Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Carlos Alazraqui, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Mary Birdsong, Joe Lo Truglio
Networks: Comedy Central

Watch on Paramount+

Making a parody of the show Cops might seem like punching downward—how do you parody something that already seems like it’s one big joke? But thanks to creators Kerri Kenney-Silver and The State members Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, Reno 911! was more like an improvised sketch show set in the world of an inept police department. Like Cops, the series succeeded due to the insanity captured on camera, such as a roller-skating prostitute warning cops about a guy shooting babies with rocket launchers, or a repeat offender known for hiding under kiddie pools. Reno 911!’s phenomenal ensemble of brilliant comedic actors made the series wildly hilarious, along with the endless barrage of strange criminals played by the likes of Zach Galifianakis, Patton Oswalt and Keegan-Michael Key. —Ross Bonaime


91. Night Court

night-court.jpg Years: 1984-1992
Creator: Reinhold Weege
Stars: Harry Anderson, John Larroquette, Richard Moll, Selma Diamond, Markie Post, Marsha Warfield
Networks: NBC

Watch on Paramount+

This lively, ludicrous comedy based on a Manhattan courtroom’s graveyard shift was a success on NBC’s comedy lineup for nine seasons. The show’s oddball cast of characters and risqué humor thrust them into a myriad of tongue-in-check antics revolving around the trite, non-violent and petty crimes brought before the bench in each episode. The ensemble cast centered around the kooky Judge (and amateur magician) Harry Stone, played by Harry Anderson, and the raunchy, slightly corrupt prosecutor Dan Fielding (John Larroquette). Other notable and recognizable characters were Nostradomus “Bull” Shannon, the towering yet doltish court bailiff (Richard Moll) and the gruff and witty female bailiffs, Selma, Florence and Roz, who were played by a succession of actresses over the show’s duration. This ensemble cast of bailiffs, lawyers, plaintiffs and criminals blended sexy and funny with a dash of slapstick humor, entertaining with gusto for the show’s nine-year run. Because while Night Court’s jokes were often uncouth and absurd, you couldn’t help but laugh. NBC is reviving the series, with The Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch executive producing and starring as Harry’s daughter, Abby Stone. —Ann-Marie Morris


90. Rick and Morty

rick-morty.jpg Years: 2013-
Created by: Dan Harmon
Stars: Justin Rolland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer, Sarah Chalke
Original Network: Cartoon Network

Watch on Hulu

One of the most brilliant shows on television, Rick and Morty uses its nerdiness and intelligence not as a gimmick, but as a way to open the (literal) dimensions of creative possibility, whether the ideas are original (interdimensional cable, a sentient gas cloud named Fart) or tongue-in-cheek homage (to The Purge, Inception, even its own interdimensional cable episode). But behind the innovation is a Eugene O’Neill-ian dysfunction that probes the depths of familial unhappiness, and it’s when Rick and Morty leans into this (especially in episodes like “Total Rick-all” and “The Wedding Squanchers”) that it reaches its most sublime moments. Season Two, in particular, took protagonist Rick Sanchez into a profound depression matched only by BoJack Horseman among animated series aimed at adults. —Zach Blumenfeld


89. Mork & Mindy

mork-mindy-tv.jpg Years: 1978-1982
Creators: Garry Marshall, Dale McRaven, Joe Glauberg
Stars: Robin Williams, Pam Dawber, Conrad Janis, Jonathan Winters
Networks: ABC

Watch on Paramount+

The world was introduced to Robin Williams playing the Mork from the planet Ork on an episode of Happy Days. His talent was so apparent that ABC gave him his own show. His comedy was already alien, and the mile-a-minute slapstick of that first season felt completely original. Things went largely downhill from there with the introduction of Jonathan Winters as Mork and Mindy’s “baby” in Season 4, but even bad Mork & Mindy was better than most sitcoms of its era. —Josh Jackson


88. GLOW

netflix glow.jpg Years: 2017-2019
Creators: Liz Flahive, Jenji Kohan and Carly Mensch
Stars: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young, Sunita Mani, Marc Maron
Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Much to my husband’s chagrin, I did not grow up watching wrestling on Saturday mornings. But just as I didn’t have to understand football to love Friday Night Lights, I don’t need to know what an atomic drop is to adore GLOW. A nearly unrecognizable Alison Brie (credit the ’80s hair and eyebrows for her transformation) stars as Ruth Wilder, an aspiring actress who finds her perfect role in the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. What she lacks in skill, Ruth makes up for in pluck. Her frenemy, former soap star Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), becomes her perfect foil. Marc Maron is hilarious as their world-weary producer and Sydelle Noel is a stand out as stunt woman-turned-trainer Cherry Bang. Come for the ridiculous costumes, makeup and hair. Stay for the surprisingly poignant show about female empowerment. —Amy Amatangelo


87. The Game

best-sitcoms-The-Gamejpg.jpg Years: 2006-2015, 2021-
Creator: Mara Brock Akil
Stars: Tia Mowry, Brittany Daniel, Hosea Chanchez, Coby Bell, Pooch Hall, Wendy Raquel Robinson
Brandy
Networks: The CW, BET, Paramount+

Watch on Paramount+

The Game is the perfect example of how, sometimes, the particular premise of a TV show doesn’t ultimately matter—it’s all about strong writing and believable, complicated characters. A series about professional football players and the women who love them may not sound especially exciting to some of us, but thanks to Mara Brock Akil (the brilliant mind responsible for Girlfriends and one of the most engaging dramas in recent years, Being Mary Jane), we were presented with a hilarious, nuanced tale that was soapy enough to be addictive, but so well-written that it was easy to forget you were watching a show, technically, centered on a bunch of rich and arrogant athletes. The Game presupposed that the women on the sidelines often had more to do with the outcome of a game than the men on the fields, and as a result a complex feminist narrative informed the three women who were initially at the center of the show. Melanie Barnett (Tia Mowry-Hardrict), Tasha Mack (the phenomenal Wendy Raquel Robinson) and Kelly Pitts (Brittany Daniel )were funny, compulsively watchable characters joined by Derwin Davis (Pooch Hall), Malik Wright (Hosea Chanchez) and Jason Pitts (Coby Bell). Melanie and Derwin would go on to have an intense, but also completely relatable romance, which made the series difficult to enjoy after the departures of Mowry and Hall at the end of Season Five (two season after the show’s revival on BET, following its cancellation on the CW). Although it was never quite the same, The Game would continue to deliver much of the same comedy, fantastic music, amazing guest stars and biting social commentary that made us fall in love with it in those early days. It returned for a 10th season in 2021. —Shannon M. Houston


86. Fresh Off the Boat

BEST-SITCOMS-fresh-off-the-boat.jpg Years: 2015-2020
Creator: Nahnatchka Khan
Stars: Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Ian Chen, Lucille Soong
Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

It’s no wonder that Fresh Off the Boat continues to thrive in the network television environment. “Representation” is often tokenism, despite being a mainstream talking point for the industry, but FOTB is the real thing—and it shows. The specificity of experience written into these Chinese-American characters we’ve grown to love over its many seasons makes the sitcom able to navigate choppy emotional waters with a grace grown from reality. Never losing a slightly surrealist edge, the series continues to understand how to create a family comedy that never feels expected or cliché. “Four Funerals and a Wedding,” a recent highlight, is a perfect example of how dedication to not making a show solely about universal experiences makes Fresh Off the Boat one of the most complex, engaging, moving comedies on TV. —Jacob Oller


85. Will & Grace

67-90-of-the-90s-Will-and-Grace.jpg Years: 1998-2006, 2017-2020
Created by: David Kohan, Max Mutchnick
Stars: Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally, Sean Hayes
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

Will & Grace remains a pivotal show for gay culture and the representation of gay characters on a sitcom. It received an absurd 83 Emmy nominations throughout its original run—the series returned for a ninth season in the fall of 2017—and each of the four regulars, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally, won an individual Emmy, making it one of only three sitcoms ever to achieve that feat. The stories, revolving around life and love in New York City, may have been sitcom boilerplate, but the subject matter (gay/Jewish identity), the rat-a-tat one-liners, the blockbuster guest stars, and the main cast’s chemistry were anything but: Will & Grace isn’t just a landmark TV series, it’s a rollicking good time. —Jim Vorel and Matt Brennan


84. Family Ties

family-ties.jpg Years: 1982-1989
Creator: Gary David Goldberg
Stars: Meredith Baxter, Michael Gross, Michael J. Fox, Justine Bateman, Tina Yothers
Network: NBC

Watch on Paramount+

One of the best family sitcoms of our time, Family Ties gave us the Keatons; they were our family. Liberal working parents Steven (Michael Gross) and Elyse (Meredith Baxter) raised their three children—smart and conservative older brother Alex (Michael J. Fox), flighty and fashionable middle child Mallory (Justine Bateman) and sarcastic younger sister Jennifer (Tina Yothers)—with love, compassion and limits. Fox, whose career was launched with the series, made Alex’s Republicanism funny yet not cliched. The series is still remembered for its very special episode, “A my name is Alex,” where Alex struggled to accept the sudden death of his friend. Today family comedies continue to try to capture the magic that was Family Ties.—Amy Amatangelo


83. The Thick of It

best-sitcoms-thick-of-it.jpg Years: 2005-2012
Created by: Armando Iannucci
Stars: Peter Capaldi, Chris Langham, Rebecca Front, Chris Addison, Joanna Scanlan, James Smith
Networks: BBC Four, BBC Two

Watch on Hulu

If you’re a fan of Veep, and find yourself jonesing for more TV from Armando Iannucci, then The Thick of It is definitely in your wheelhouse. A hilarious take on the British political system, it could be argued that it’s an even more biting take on politics than Veep. The show may have run from 2005 until 2012, but it was a sporadic run, as there are only 24 episodes. However, those 24 episodes are excellent. If you don’t know British politics, you might not fully understand every bit, but chances are you can still understand awful, stupid people saying awful, stupid things. Malcolm Tucker, as played by Peter Capaldi, remains Iannucci’s greatest creation. And if you’ve ever wanted to see the current Doctor saying the c-word a whole bunch, then this is the show for you. —Chris Morgan


82. Diff’rent Strokes

diffrent-strokes.jpg Years: 1978-1986
Creators: Jeff Harris, Bernie Kukoff
Stars: Todd Bridges, Gary Coleman, Dana Plato, Conrad Bain, Charlotte Rae
Network: CBS

Watch on Amazon Prime

Two Black boys from Harlem are adopted by a rich, white businessman on Park Avenue, and hilarity ensues. Diff’rent Strokes was as defined by the way it tackled difficult American issues as it was by Gary Coleman’s endearing catch phrase, “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” Drugs, sexual abuse and racism were faced head-on, even as the effects of child stardom on its three leading kids were swept under the rug (when Dana Plato became pregnant, her character went to study in Paris). Charlotte Rae’s character of housekeeper Edna Garrett was given her own spin-off, which became another long-running series, The Facts of Life. —Josh Jackson


81. Get a Life

best-sitcoms-get-a-life.jpg Years: 1990-1992
Creators: Chris Elliott, Adam Resnick, David Mirkin
Stars: Chris Elliott, Sam Robards, Robin Riker, Elinor Donahue, Bob Elliott
Network: Fox

Fox often toyed with sitcom deconstructions in its early years, from the pitch-black satire of Married… with Children to the meta commentary of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show. In a way those shows were a prelude to Get a Life, which, 26 years later, is still one of the weirdest and most subversive sitcoms to ever air on a network. Starring Chris Elliott and created by Elliott, Adam Resnick and David Mirkin, Get a Life was a half-hour distillation of the smart, ironic comedy Elliott performed on Late Night with David Letterman in the ’80s, irreverently mocking well-worn sitcom and TV clichés and introducing the kind of absurdity that would come to define “alternative comedy” into American prime time. It wasn’t a hit (although it did stay on for two seasons) but it’s still beloved today by fans of Elliott and weird comedy. —Garrett Martin


80. Workaholics

best-sitcoms-workaholics.jpg Years: 2011-2017
Creators: Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Kyle Newacheck, Connor Pritchard, Dominic Russo
Stars: Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Jillian Bell, Maribeth Monroe
Network: CBS

Watch on Paramount+

Several shows have attempted to tackle the post-collegiate letdown of the working world, but following these three man-bros as they party their way through jobs at a telemarketing firm takes low-brow humor to astoundingly hilarious depths. Adam Devine, Blake Anderson and Anders Holm (along with their on-screen drug dealer and off-screen co-creator Kyle Newacheck) take turns half-assing the climb up the corporate ladder, while maintaining an unwavering devotion to Super-blunt Sundays, Half-Christmas parties (keg of egg nog and all) and out-there drug experiences. Combining the absurdity of competitive corporate culture with the absurdity of “getting weird” on the weekend couldn’t be more relatable to the average internet show binge-watcher, even if we’re not all bartering for clean urine on the playground. The result is a quotable, re-watchable series that is very tight butthole, indeed.—Dacey Orr


79. Murphy Brown

best-sitcoms-murphy-brown.jpg Years: 1988-1998, 2018
Creator: Diane English
Stars: Candice Bergen, Charles Kimbrough, Robert Pastorelli, Joe Regalbuto, Lily Tomlin
Network: CBS

Watch on Paramount+

How many television shows actually become part of the national conversation? That’s exactly what happened on May 19,1992 when Vice President Dan Quayle called out Murphy Brown (Bergen) for being a single mom. It’s hard to even imagine in 2016 the scandal the show caused by allowing its title character to have a baby out of wedlock. But Murphy Brown was also much more than its most well-known zeitgeist moment. As a newswoman with a penchant for firing her secretaries, Brown was her generation’s Mary Richards. Surrounded by her naïve and nervous executive producer Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud), best friend Frank (Joe Regalbuto), stuffy newsman Jim (Charles Kimbrough) and way-too-cheery Corky (Faith Ford), the series was consistently topical and political, but most importantly, it always made us laugh. —Amy Amatangelo


78. Family Guy

best-sitcoms-Family-Guy.jpg Years: 1999-present
Creators: Seth MacFarlane
Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Mike Henry
Network: Fox

Watch on Hulu

It’s the show that made Seth MacFarlane a household name, and unfortunately, the one it seems he’ll never top. This is with good reason. MacFarlane created a family that’s easy to relate to despite the fact that it includes a talking dog (sniff) and an inexplicably British, bloodthirsty infant. Combine the characters’ eccentricities with jokes that (sometimes literally) won’t quit, and you’ve got one of the most important cartoons to grace the small screen. —Austin L. Ray


77. PEN15

pen15.jpg Years: 2019-2021
Creators: Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman
Stars: Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle
Network: Netflix

Watch on Hulu

Two young women make a comedy about middle school. It’s based on their own experiences, and they name the characters eponymously: Maya (Maya Erskine) and Anna (Anna Konkle). Then they make a really interesting choice, casting their 30-ish selves as the 13-year-old principal characters, and surround themselves with a supporting cast of actual middle schoolers. The result is so excruciatingly awkward it probably out-awkwards actual middle school, which is no small feat. Erskine and Konkle absolutely hurl themselves into the roles, sparing nothing in their quest to anatomize seventh grade in all its disgusting, giddy glory. They’re hilarious, and there are moments when you entirely forget they’re adults. And then there are moments when that fact sticks out like a sore thumb and those moments are possibly the best, because they evoke the competing impulses of the age—to race into adulthood and to go back to the safety of childhood—with a kind of zany, surreal brilliance. These are young people for whom every single minute seems momentous and defining, and who cannot realize that nothing momentous and defining has yet happened to them. —Amy Glynn


76. Gilligan’s Island

best-sitcoms-gilligans-island.jpg Years: 1964-1967
Creator: Sherwood Schwartz
Stars: Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Tina Louise, Russell Johnson, Dawn Wells
Network: CBS

Given Gilligan’s Island’s immense cultural footprint, it’s almost baffling to recall that the original show only lasted a sparse three seasons. And though subsequent reunion specials and kooky guest star bits from the Harlem Globetrotters would eventually dissolve the once innocuous half-hour into a kitschy ‘80s artifact, intense syndication has kept the show’s prime years alive in the hearts of countless new fans. Even if one acknowledges the show’s repetitive, simplistic formula, there’s no denying the inherent charm to be found in the cast’s immense chemistry as well as the goofiness that characterized so many of the show’s outlandish plotlines. At its best, the series—despite its isolated setting—was a warm, inviting world that felt like a great break from the banal mundaneness of life.  And, of course, it boasts one of the single most earworm-y opening TV theme songs of all time. Today, the mere mention of a “three hour tour” may very well be enough to get someone to start whistling that familiar, chipper melody. —Mark Rozeman


75. Everybody Loves Raymond

17-90-of-the-90s-Everybody-Loves-Raymond.jpg Years: 1996-2005
Creator: Philip Rosenthal
Stars: Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Madylin Sweeten, Doris Roberts, Peter Boyle, Monica Horan
Network: CBS

Watch on Peacock

Everybody Loves Raymond was the quintessential “family/marriage sitcom” of its decade, never genre-bending but generally solid, always dependable. The insecurities of its characters were certainly relatable, from Ray’s struggles to assert himself in any facet of his life to the general concerns of age and sexual inadequacy. Between them, Ray and Debra seemed like people who could easily be living across the street from you, which was the whole idea. Of course, the characters of Ray’s parents and his brother Robert were just as important if not more so at times—look no further than the show’s Emmy history, where Doris Roberts and Brad Garrett led the series in wins. If Ray is the gravitational center of the show, Garrett is the heart and Roberts is the verve. —Jim Vorel


74. Red Dwarf

best-sitcoms-red-dwarf.jpg
Years: 1988-1999, 2009-
Creator: Rob Grant, Doug Naylor
Stars: Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, Norman Lovett, Hattie Hayridge
Network: BBC Two

Watch on BritBox

Produced mainly due to an unexpected surplus in the BBC budget, Red Dwarf was a fluke program that ended up becoming one of the most innovative and successful British sitcoms of all time. The central premise concerns Dave Lister, a slovenly crew member on the titular Red Dwarf spaceship, who is put into suspended animation as punishment and—after a catastrophic radiation leak—awakens millions of years later as the last surviving human. Left alone, Lister’s only companions are the ship’s computer, the sentient hologram of his former boss and a cat that, thanks to millions of years of evolution, has developed into a conveniently humanoid figure. Originally presented as a more traditional, multi-cam sitcom, wherein the cast (including a scene-stealing “mechanoid” named Kryten in later seasons) would bicker about the various problems and threats that emerged week after week, the creative team soon proved to be much more ambitious in their storytelling aspirations, incorporating plotlines centering on parallel dimensions, genetically modified monsters and terraforming (not to mention displaying a significant upgrade in production design quality). At times, the show would even downplay its farcical elements in favor of a more dramatic approach. And though behind-the-scenes disputes have resulted in the (sometimes temporary) departure of several key cast members and creative figures throughout the years (including co-mastermind Rob Grant), Red Dwarf’s enduring legacy has carved it a secure place in television history. One part Alien and one part Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Red Dwarf remains a beast all its own.—Mark Rozeman


73. Modern Family

best-sitcoms-modern-family.jpg Years: 2009-2020
Creators: Christopher Lloyd, Steven Levitan
Stars: Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Jeremy Maguire, Reid Ewing
Network: ABC

Watch on Peacock

Modern Family is a good warning about what happens when a show runs on for too long. Initially a refreshing combo of a traditional family sitcom and the kind of laugh track-free single camera comedy that came of age in the ’00s, Modern Family launched with a talented cast and a sharp angle on how the concept of family had changed over the decades. If it had ended after six or seven seasons it would have a better reputation today. Instead it went on for 11 seasons in total, the kind of run that few sitcoms can bear. (Cheers and Frasier might be the only two to run that long and remain consistently good.) Still, even those later seasons had some great episodes, and the core cast—particularly Ty Burrell, Ed O’Neill, and Julie Bowen—made it work without their characters devolving too deeply into cartoonish versions of themselves. Although it could be a bit tiresome and annoying at its worst, it was genuinely good for several seasons, and remained generally likable even during its long decline. —Garrett Martin


72. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

netflix kimmy schmidt.jpg Years: 2015-2020
Creator: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock
Stars: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, Carol Kane
Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

NBC has made any number of mistakes over the years, but few bigger than shelving Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s 30 Rock follow-up, before punting it over to Netflix. The fast-paced and flip Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt featured breakout performances by Office vet Ellie Kemper as the titular former “mole woman” trying to make it on her own in New York, and Tituss Burgess as her flamboyant and put-upon roommate, Titus Andromedon. Throughout the first season’s run, some writers and critics seemed dead set on finding some kind of flaw to pounce on with the show, zeroing in on how the minority characters are represented. This may be a wild generalization, but I think this was a natural reaction to one of the most overtly feminist sitcoms ever produced. Kimmy Schmidt is most certainly upsetting the natural order of your typical network sitcom. The show’s titular character is defining her life on her own terms and by her own standards. For some reason that still freaks some people out so they dismiss it or find some way to poke holes in the vehicle for that idea. Now that she has put the awful time in the bunker to bed, she can face a new day with that infectious smile, bubbly attitude and enthusiastic embrace of life experience. Sorry nitpickers and network executives; Kimmy Schmidt is going to make it after all. Robert Ham


71. Venture Bros.

best-sitcoms-venture-bros.jpg Years: 2003-Present
Creator: Jackson Publick
Stars: James Urbaniak, Michael Sinterniklaas, Patrick Warburton, Chris McCulloch, Doc Hammer
Network: Adult Swim

Watch on HBO Max

While The Simpsons and South Park get most of the love when it comes to animated satire, The Venture Bros. deserves a seat right there with them. From an initial premise of “Just how fucked up would someone like Johnny Quest be once he reached adulthood?”, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer’s series quickly expanded in tone and topic to explore pretty much every trope and cranny of comic book cliché. In the process, Venture Bros. has done things seemingly beyond the ability of DC and Marvel, diving into the action in medias res and trusting viewers to figure it out as we go along. (The series’ riffs on The Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom are arguably truer takes than anything Fox has crapped out.) Now in its sixth season (spanning 13 years), The Venture Bros. may never possess the cross-demographic appeal of some of its animated brethren, but as the MCU especially continues to spread the billion-dollar comic book gospel, Publick and Hammer’s creation should continue to find new converts for its brand of genre madness. —Michael Burgin


70. One Day at a Time

netflix one day at a time.jpg Years: 2017-2020
Creators: Gloria Calderon Kellett, Mike Royce
Stars: Justina Machado, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gómez, Marcel Ruiz, Stephen Tobolowsky, Rita Moreno
Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

I can’t remember a time I loved something the way I love the new One Day at a Time. Part of my affection stems from the fact that the show was such a discovery. It arrived with almost no hype. I write about TV for a living and I barely knew it was premiering. Almost immediately I dismissed the show as yet another ill-advised remake. How wrong I was. The comedy is a pure delight. A throwback to the defining comedies of the 1970s with a modern twist, the show deftly tackles some hot-button issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, wage inequality and teenage sexuality amid real conversations about generational differences and Cuban heritage and traditions. Justina Machado (Six Feet Under) is fantastic as the recently separated veteran raising her two adolescent children with the help of her mother Lydia (living legend Rita Moreno) and her landlord Schneider (Todd Grinnell). Above all the show is funny and grounded. Once you start watching, you won’t be able to watch this gem one day at a time. Amy Amatangelo


69. Boondocks

best-sitcoms-boondocks.jpg Years: 2005-2014
Creator: Aaron McGruder
Stars: Regina King, John Witherspoon, Gary Anthony Williams, Cedric Yarbrough, Jill Talley
Network: Cartoon Network

Watch on HBO Max

Based on writer, producer and cartoonist Aaron McGruder’s popular comic strip of the same name, The Boondocks’ four season, 55-episode run saw brothers Huey and Riley—transplants of inner city Chicago—navigate black culture in the fictional white suburb of Woodcrest. Part of Cartoon Network’s late-night comedy block on Adult Swim, the series was a brazen attack on the white American establishment and an unabashedly black satire that honed in on the complicated conversations surrounding racial identity, stereotypes, class, celebrity and viewpoint. From November 2005 to the end of its run in June 2014, the series unquestionably earned its reputation as one of the most controversial and culturally significant pieces of modern American comedy through its unapologetic approach to blackness, painfully honest humor, and clever subversion of traditional cultural dialogue.—Abbey White

68. Detroiters

detroiters.jpg Years: 2017-2018
Creators: Sam Richardson, Tim Robinson, Zach Kanin, Joe Kelly
Stars: Sam Richardson, Tim Robinson, Shawntay Dalon, Pat Vern Harris
Original Network: Comedy Central

Watch on Paramount+

The key to Detroiters is its sincerity, which shines through almost every episode without any kind of smugness or self-congratulations. Sam Richardson (Veep) and Tim Robinson (Saturday Night Live) genuinely love each other, and their families, and their advertising company, and most of all their city. (It’s Detroit. Detroit, Michigan. That’s where they’re from.) The tone gets dark at times, and Tim and Sam occasionally act petty or vindictive, but there’s almost none of the cynicism and mean-spiritedness so often found in comedy today. When they’re making illicit purchases in a back alley at night with Tim’s sanity-challenged father, they’re not buying drugs, but fireworks. When Sam unintentionally becomes a gigolo, it takes him a while to realize it, and he’s convinced he’s in love with his only client. When they accidentally run over prospective client Jason Sudeikis, it gnaws at them until they inevitably let Sudeikis run them over as penance. Without this sweetness, Detroiters would probably still be funny, but it wouldn’t be as charming or as powerful. —Garrett Martin


67. Young Ones

best-sitcoms-young-ones.jpg Years: 1982-1984
Creators: Ben Elton, Rik Mayall, Lise Mayer
Stars: Adrian Edmondson, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer, Christopher Ryan, Alexei Sayle
Network: BBC Two

The classic British sitcom was essentially a sketch show in a sitcom format. It had regular characters and thinly drafted plots, but would constantly take weird detours and make absurd asides, often involving puppets and bands like Motorhead and Madness. It’s an anarchic anti-sitcom that brought the British alternative comedy scene to the BBC, influenced sketch comedy on both sides of the pond, and foreshadowed the smart, self-aware, genre-expanding American sitcoms of the late 1980s and 1990s. (RIP Rik Mayall.) —Garrett Martin


66. Laverne & Shirley

laverne-shirley.jpg Years: 1976-83
Creators: Garry Marshall, Lowell Ganz, Mark Rothman
Stars: Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, Michael McKean, David Lander
Original Network: ABC

“Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incoporated!” That’s the extent of my Yiddish, thanks to a pair of lovable roomies in the ’70s and ’80s. The low-rent, blue-collar, brewery-working buddies began their TV lives as friends of the Fonz. But Penny Marshall’s Laverne De Fazio and Cindy Williams’ Shirley Feeney quickly outdrew Happy Days, doing it their way. Michael McKean and David Lander arrived fully formed as their upstairs neighbors Lenny and Squiggy, characters they created for comedy routines during college. The four characters were unlike any we’d seen on TV before.—Josh Jackson


65. Bob’s Burgers

BEST-ANIMATED-SHOWS-bobs-burgers.jpg Years: 2011-present
Creator: Loren Bouchard
Stars: H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal
Original Network: Fox

Watch on Hulu

Bob’s Burgers, from creator Loren Bouchard, runs the risk of being shoehorned into the middle ground between its brethren: The Simpsons (now more American institution than mere TV program), and Family Guy (the rat-a-tat gag factory devised by Seth MacFarlane). That it nonetheless manages to carve out a distinctive identity—with the Belchers goofily surviving crisis after crisis at the titular diner through a heady brew of whip-smart puns, witty musical numbers, gross-out humor, and real, true kinship—is only surprising if you’ve never seen it. Once you have, its warm, sentimental streak, so deftly balanced with its zanier elements, is impossible to miss: As Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) says in the Season Two finale, reading a review of the titular diner, “We did did have a rather unique and strangely inspiring experience while we were there. This shabby little dive seems to hold a special spot in the dingy town’s heart. ”Matt Brennan


64. Party Down

best-sitcoms-party-down.jpg Years: 2009-2010
Creator:
Stars: Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr
Network: Starz

Watch on Hulu

Party Down boasts a formula so simple and ingenious, it’s absolutely insane that no one had attempted it before. The general premise centers on a gang of aspiring LA-based actors, writers and entrepreneurs who make ends meet by working at a catering company. This being Hollywood, their assignments veer from the mundane (corporate retreats, birthday parties, weddings) to the absurd (backstage concert parties, porn awards, orgies). No matter what the setting, however, the lackadaisical crew of Party Down catering can always be counted on to ruin the occasion, frequently in ways that leave the audience crying from laughter. Taking cues from the best Judd Apatow productions, however, beneath all the crass, scatological humor and cringe-inducing scenarios lies a bittersweet story of dreams deferred and the lengths people go to, in order to find validation and acceptance. Boasting an insanely talented main cast that included Adam Scott, Ken Marino and Lizzy Caplan, the show also employed its “new week, new location” structure to recruit guest turns from the likes of J.K. Simmons, Kristen Bell, Rob Corddry, Thomas Lennon and—in one highlight episode—Steve Guttenberg. In the end, despite strong critical reviews and a devoted cult following, the show’s ratings were nothing short of anemic and Starz pulled the plug after two seasons. Though both fans and critics would bemoan the show’s short existence, there’s no denying that it lived fast and left a great-looking corpse.—Mark Rozeman


63. Archer

best-sitcoms-archer.jpg Years: 2009-present
Creator: Adam Reed
Stars: H. Jon Benjamin, Judy Greer, Amber Nash, Chris Parnell, Adam Reed, Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter, Lucky Yates
Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

The sign of a good show is that it evolves over the course of its run. Archer, which itself is already an evolution from creator Adam Reed’s Frisky Dingo, layers its self-references, constantly reinvents itself, and is never afraid of sacrificing story or character for a single piece of wordplay. Blessed with characters of far more hilarious depth than any Ian Fleming dreamed up, not to mention its instantly iconic tone, style, and voice acting (looking at you, H. Jon Benjamin and Jessica Walter), the parody of super-spy tropes is a masterpiece of silliness, living and dying by a singular unit bound together in one sense of humor. Through all its boredom-beating tangents and constant winks, though, one thing has remained consistent: Archer is one of the funniest shows on television, and is that in a completely different way than any other contemporary adult-oriented animation. —Jacob Oller


62. Broad City

BEST-TV-SHOWS-OF-2015-so-far-broadcity.jpg Years: 2014-present
Creators: Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson
Stars: Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, Hannibal Buress, Arturo Castro
Network: Comedy Central

Watch on Hulu

Being in your 20s is like going to war, and no show on television understands that better than Broad City. War is surely ugly, but the going is easier with a trusted, hilarious comrade by your side. Abbi and Illana, the two heroes and self-described “kweens” at the center of the New York City-set Broad City, aren’t just best friends. They’re that for certain, but they take the concept of finding one’s “person” (originally defined by another great TV friendship, that of Meredith and Cristina on Grey’s Anatomy) to a new level. Where Meredith and Cristina hugged each other and cried, Abbi and Illana tripped out on mushrooms and crashed parties. Forget responsibilities, finances and even actual partners—they are each other’s soulmates. Through five seasons of hilarity and shenanigans, joints and jazz singers, guest stars (Hi, Hilary Clinton!) and coat checks, Abbi and Illana (portrayed by their real life counterparts, Abbi Jacobson and Illana Glazer) gave us humor and heart in a post-Girls New York. Some (me) might even say they one-upped their HBO foremothers. —Ellen Johnson


61. Everybody Hates Chris

best-sitcoms-everybody-hates-chris.jpg Years: 2005-2009
Creators: Chris Rock, Ali LeRoi
Stars: Tyler James Williams, Terry Crews, Tichina Arnold, Tequan Richmond, Imani Hakim, Vincent Martella
Networks: UPN; The CW

Watch on Peacock

Chris Rock is one of the funniest comedians of all time. This is far from a controversial stance. Upon developing a period sitcom about his Brooklyn childhood for the (now defunct) UPN back in the mid-2000s, however, the question emerged of whether or not his brand of knowing, acerbic comedy could survive the transition to network TV. The answer proved to be both yes and no. From the opening seconds of its pilot, Everybody Hates Chris positions itself as an incisive, utterly confident comedic tour-de-force that is perfectly in line with Rock’s brand. And yet, in the hands of co-creator/showrunner Ali LeRoi, the show aimed to be much more than simply the comedian’s stage work reformatted into TV storylines. The result was a family sitcom that both harkened back to the Norman Lear comedies of old, while still retaining the rapid pace and tight construction of the best single-camera productions. The show was never more successful, however, than when it came to its casting, with Tyler James Williams demonstrating immense charisma and comic timing as a young Chris; meanwhile, Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold would promptly enter the pantheon of great TV couples as Chris’ larger-than-life parental units. And though low ratings and frequent schedule shifts would ultimately snuff the Chris out after four seasons, it quickly sketched out its place as one of the greatest sitcoms of the aughties, and living proof of why we can’t have nice things.—Mark Rozeman


60. Sports Night

18-90-of-the-90s-Sports-Night.jpg Years: 1998-2000
Creator: Aaron Sorkin
Stars: Josh Charles, Peter Krause, Felicity Huffman, Joshua Malina, Sabrina Lloyd, Robert Guillaume
Network: ABC

A Sportscenter parody was a pretty ripe idea for a comedy-drama when Aaron Sorkin dreamed it up in the late ’90s, but unlike other Sorkin gems such as The West Wing, Sports Night never ended up finding the popular appeal to match its critical acclaim. One gets the sense that it could have gone over better had it been more squarely in the hands of its creators, but in its first season, ABC insisted the show be a comedy first and foremost. Over time, the laugh track was eliminated and the show began to incorporate many more of the stylistic choices that one would see on other Sorkin shows, such as the witty, fast-paced repartee and the tendency to “walk and talk.” Perhaps this could have eventually breathed some new life into the series, but by 2000 The West Wing was taking off as a hit show and Sorkin left to focus on a sure thing. Sports Night was left behind as a program that displayed a ton of promise but didn’t quite manage to harness it. —Jim Vorel


59. WKRP in Cincinnati

wkrp.jpg Years: 1978-1982
Creator: Hugh Wilson
Stars: Gary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Loni Anderson, Richard Sanders, Frank Bonner, Jan Smithers, Tim Reid, Howard Hesseman
Network: CBS

WKRP in Cincinnati might have the most classic sitcom characters of any MTM show. It’s a murderer’s row of outsized comic archetypes that are grounded just enough in the typical MTM style. There’s manic DJ Dr. Johnny Fever, tacky salesman Herb Tarlek, news nebbish Les Nessman, the smooth late night DJ Venus Flytrap, and naïve manchild Arthur Carlson, each one clearly and directly inspiring characters on later sitcoms. Add in perhaps the only good role ever written for Loni Anderson and it’s a great mix of characters and personalities, with storylines that focus on their personal relationships and on the weird role radio stations play in their communities. The only knock against WKRP is that it’s a little bit more of a cartoon than MTM’s other greatest shows, in part because the straightmen who are the nominal leads are nowhere near as charismatic or interesting as the more absurd characters like Dr. Johnny Fever, Arthur Carlson or Les Nessman. Also music rights issues have made WKRP almost impossible to watch on DVD; Shout Factory put out the best DVD set yet last year, with most of the original music intact, but some notable ones still missing. —Garrett Martin


58. Daria

65-90-of-the-90s-Daria.jpg Years: 1997-2002
Creators: Glenn Eichler, Susie Lewis Lynn
Stars: Tracy Grandstaff, Wendy Hoopes, Julián Rebolledo, Marc Thompson
Network: MTV

Watch on Paramount+

Significantly more influential than one would have expected from a Beavis and Butt-head spin-off, Daria is without a doubt the defining show of angsty teens of the late ’90s who couldn’t quite get over the death of grunge. It’s a paean to the lazy, the slackers, the cynical and the sarcastic, as Daria and her friend Jane bemoaned the plight of a broken society by watching tabloid shows with titles like Sick, Sad World. Its fatalism was deep, dark and often hilarious, and one got the sense that few shows have ever actually captured the zeitgeist of their subjects more accurately. Every teen who ever shrugged their shoulders and sighed in frustration after being asked how their day at school was by Mom was clearly thinking, ‘My life is just like Daria.’ —Jim Vorel


57. South Park

6-90-of-the-90s-South-Park.jpg Years: 1997-present
Creator: Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes, Eliza Schneider, Mona Marshall, April Stewart
Network: Comedy Central

Watch on HBO Max

The South Park of the 1990s was quite a different show from the one it grew into over the years. In its earliest episodes, it was absolutely committed to raising as much controversy as possible, which was certainly a success in terms of media coverage alone. But the main characters were also quite a bit different—Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman were more innocent characters back then, truly childlike in many ways, less mature and grizzled from the insane experiences of living in their “quiet mountain town.” The early episodes are focused much tighter on those central characters as well, while just beginning to dip into pop culture parody (such as “Chinpokomon”) and episodes dedicated to supporting characters (such as “The Succubus”). The ’90s show hadn’t quite grown to its full potential, but it’s still easy to miss some of these character-driven stories compared to South Park’s more recent product, which so often dedicates whole episodes to Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s opinions on a single trend, celebrity, film or limited subject matter. —Jim Vorel


56. Sanford and Son

best-sitcoms-sanford-son.jpg Years: 1972-1977
Creators: Ray Galton, Alan Simpson, Bud Yorkin, Norman Lear
Stars: Redd Foxx, Demond Wilson
Network: NBC

Watch on Peacock

Although Sanford and Son was developed by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin as an adaptation of a British sit-com, there’s a bitterness and nihilism to the show that don’t appear in Lear’s other works, let alone other sitcoms from the ‘70s. Much of this comes from the brilliant Redd Foxx, who delivered an iconic performance as the titular Sanford, co-owner of a junk store. Really, though, the show was a two-hander, relying just as much on the underrated Demond Wilson, who played the progressive straight man to Foxx’s childish firebrand with perfect comedic timing. Yes, the laugh track is there, and Foxx’s language is disarmed so as to make it past network censorship, but despite the genre trappings, there was a realism to Sanford and Son that made it like nothing else on television at the time, and very little since.—Sean Gandert


55. Silicon Valley

BEST-TV-SHOWS-OF-2015-so-far-silicon.jpg Years: 2014-present
Creator: Mike Judge
Stars: Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Josh Brener, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr
Network: HBO

Watch on HBO Max

Though this HBO sitcom does a great job skewering the doublespeak and hyper-positivity of the tech world, Silicon Valley shines the brightest when the antisocial misfits of startup Pied Piper find themselves in more and more ridiculous situations. But, like most of Judge’s projects, Silicon Valley has found that perfect sweet spot where smart comedy and dumb comedy collide. And it located it very early on, as evidenced by that still-genius scene at the end of Season One where all the Pied Piper engineers, realizing their imminent defeat at TechCrunch Disrupt, decided to devote their time to calculating the fastest way to jerk off a room full of men. There’s no doubt that the comedic talent working in the writers room could churn out some loud, brash show, a la the dreck that’s cluttering up the multiplexes right now. But they want better for us, which is how we get a series that wants to dip its toes, occasionally, into the waters of pure indecency, all while holding a mirror up to the insanity of the trillions of dollars being tossed around in the tech industry.Robert Ham


54. Malcolm in the Middle

best-sitcoms-malcolm-in-the-middle.jpg Years: 2000-2005
Creator: Linwood Boomer
Stars: Jane Kaczmarek, Bryan Cranston, Christopher Masterson, Justin Berfield, Erik Per Sullivan, Frankie Muniz
Network: Fox

Watch on Hulu

Motherhood changes you: your body, your priorities, your relationship with your significant other. And not all of them are drastic or even negative. But in Lois’ case, after raising five particularly unruly, rambunctious boys, her personality has adapted to her parental struggles. Once a happy-go-lucky, free-spirited mother after the birth of her first child, Francis, she grows into the dark, paranoid, tough, sometimes cruel disciplinarian she is at the premiere of the show. Her loving relationship with her husband, seems, curiously enough, largely untouched. Their marriage has survived the changes parenthood has brought because they’re a pretty solid team, with an us-against-the-boys mentality. While Lois’ intentions are usually good, there’s also an odd side of her that does relish in punishing her children, and it’s the same side of her that allows her to be pretty successful after all in the raising of her children.—Anita George


53. Eastbound & Down

best-sitcoms-eastbound.jpg Years: 2009-2013
Creators: Ben Best, Jody Hill, Danny McBride
Stars: Danny McBride, Steve Little, Katy Mixon, John Hawkes, Jennifer Irwin
Network: HBO

Watch on HBO

I feel like a lot of people dismiss Eastbound & Down as vulgar shock comedy, a TV version of the fratty comedies that proliferated over a decade ago after the success of the Farrelly brothers and American Pie. Jody Hill and Danny McBride’s vision is far deeper and pointed than that, though, parodying not just sports or Southern culture but the type of unhealthy masculinity that underpins so much of American culture. It has more in common with the best work of Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, but it’s darker and edgier than Stepbrothers or Talladega Nights, more violent and more truthful. It’s one of the few comedies I can think of where I was often afraid of what was about to happen, like I was watching a horror film or thriller. The first season in particular was a modern masterpiece, but the show remained on point throughout its four seasons.—Garrett Martin


52. A Different World

best-sitcoms-different-world.jpg Years: 1987-1993
Creator: Bill Cosby
Stars: Lisa Bonet, Marisa Tomei, Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison, Loretta Devine, Sinbad
Network: NBC

Watch on HBO Max

This Cosby Show spin-off had a rocky start, but after writing out Denise Huxtable and hiring Debbie Allen to oversee it before the second season, it turned into one of the most distinct sitcoms in TV history. Instead of focusing on one member of a beloved TV family in a new setting, it refocused on the setting itself, a historically Black college called Hillman that was a fictional stand-in for Howard University. Jasmine Guy and Kadeem Hardison might’ve lead the ensemble as Whitley Gilbert and Dwayne Wayne, but it was a true ensemble, with a cast that reflected the diversity of Black life in the late ’80s and early ‘90s. It also often dealt with social issues that The Cosby Show and other sitcoms at the time shied away from, and usually without the schmaltz you’d expect from “very special” sitcom episodes. —Garrett Martin


51. What We Do in the Shadows

wwdits.jpg Years: 2019-
Creator: Jemaine Clement
Stars: Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, Mark Proksch
Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

Based on the vampire mockumentary from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, What We Do in the Shadows brings the sadsack bloodsuckers Stateside. The Staten Island roommates— vampires Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), as well as Nandor’s servant, Guillermo (Harvey Guillen)—are all ridiculous and slightly pathetic. The handheld camerawork is the deadpan punchline, with every shaky zoom in on a character during a confessional implying, “Can you believe this weirdo?” More of the humor comes from the macabre wordplay and deadpan goofiness—often thanks to Berry’s stark, blustery delivery, straight from his BAFTA-winning Toast of London, and the exasperated looks it draws from Demetriou and Guillen—which are then punctuated by violent slapstick, featuring gallons of blood. In bringing the vampire-out-of-water conceit’s mix of comic elements down to the granular level, What We Do in the Shadows harkens back to the strongest parts of the film, which thrived on its charming re-imagining of dopey mythical creatures failing through the world in a way very particular to Kiwi… or, now, Staten Island. And with its documentary style taken just as seriously as its campy effects and extravagant costumes, the cretinous cosplay is beautifully straight-faced and completely winning—especially when the show goes to oxymoronic extremes of mundanity, like a city council meeting about zoning ordinances. —Jacob Oller


50. Black-ish

best-sitcoms-blackish.jpg Years: 2014-present
Created by: Kenya Barris
Stars: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin, Jeff Meacham, Jenifer Lewis
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

To enjoy black-ish is to enjoy all that the show has to offer in the name of entertainment. The sitcom about a wealthy black family is especially hilarious when the child stars (Marsai Martin and Miles Brown) are leading the plot. But when the show veers to address topics that reflect America’s race relations and systematic injustices, it shines brightest, because the writers are not afraid to be strikingly honest and come at an issue from different angles (without losing any of the writers room wit). From Season 2’s “Hope” to Season 4’s “Juneteenth, black-ish stands apart in its ability to be simultaneously conscious and comedic. There’s a reason it’s spawned two spin-offs. It has been pure joy to see the Johnson children continue to grow up and the show continue to blossom. —Iris Barreto


49. Sex and the City

best-sitcoms-satc.jpg Years: 1998-2004
Creator: Darren Star
Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon
Network: HBO

Watch on HBO Max

Most of us who watched Darren Star’s Sex and the City could not relate to the very specific demographic of women who were showcased. And, for a series whose beating heart was NYC, the show did not do well in its presentation of gay characters or characters of color (whenever they showed up). Hell, even the main character was problematic and difficult to root for at times—Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), the not-so-eloquent writer who was better at choosing a pair of Manolo Blahniks than making decisions in her love life (Team Aiden)? Indeed, this was an infuriating show to experience sometimes, and that’s partly why we loved it. It remains a phenomenon, and as cliché as it may sound, it opened the door for more complex narratives about women and sex, and it did so unapologetically thanks in large part to Kim Cattrall’s role as Samantha Jones. And if Samantha was too much for you, Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) and Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) offered up their own unique perspectives, giving the foursome an original, entertaining, and important balance of personalities and feminist (or anti-feminist) outlooks. Whatever class issues, or race issues, or gender and sexuality issues Sex and the City might have swept under the rug (or addressed in an off-putting way), it still functioned as a loud, oft-obscene call for agency among the marginalized. And it did all of this with some of the funniest dialogue and sex talk we’d ever heard. “My man has funky tasting spunk!” will go down in history as one of the most horrifying, incredible TV moments of all time, and that’s just the tip (ahem) of the legendary SaTC iceberg.—Shannon M. Houston


48. How I Met Your Mother

best-sitcoms-himym.jpg Years: 2005-2014
Creators: Carter Bays, Craig Thomas
Stars: Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Cristin Milioti
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

Kids, back in 2005 television was very different. Netflix was still the company that sent you DVDs in the mail. Amazon delivered books and toilet paper to your house. And you had to wait a whole week for a new episode to premiere. The TV schedule still ran on a September to May cycle, and as a nascent TV critic, I would spend my summer months consuming all the pilots broadcast TV had to offer. So for a show to stand out amid a plethora of new shows meant something. How I Met Your Mother stood out immediately. It flipped the cliché of the woman being the one who always wanting to get married and gave us Ted, a man who wanted nothing more than to settle down with the love of his life—he just hadn’t met her yet. Ted and friends Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily (Alyson Hannigan), Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) became my new Friends, which had just ended the year before. The comedy also did something usually only seen in dramas, and set up a mystery that bounced back and forth through time. The pilot showed viewers how Ted met Robin across a crowded bar, they had a great first date, he stole a blue French horn for her (long story) and we all thought okay this is how he met “the Mother” until the pilot ended with the zinger of “that kids is how I met your Aunt Robin.” It was an excellent twist and one that would play out, often frustratingly so, over nine seasons. There were hints of the mother all the time—a yellow umbrella was a recurring motif that weaved in and out of the seasons. And while the series finale still stings in a major way (hand salute: Major Way), my fondness for the show remains. To quote Ted, “sometimes even if you know how something’s gonna end, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride.” —Amy Amatangelo


47. King of the Hill

38-90-of-the-90s-King-of-the-Hill.jpg Years: 1997-2010
Creator: Mike Judge
Stars: Mike Judge, Kathy Najimy, Pamela Adlon, Brittany Murphy, Johnny Hardwick, Stephen Root
Network: Fox

Watch on Hulu

When you really consider the traits and personalities of the characters, one can’t help but realize that King of the Hill is honestly one of the most unique animated shows of both the 1990s and 2000s. Name one other popular, long-running sitcom where the protagonists—people we at least like, if not agree with—are staunch conservative, mildly redneck individuals. You can’t do it, because King of the Hill tapped into an aspect of the American ethos that is often ridiculed and made those characters funny, human everymen. With the possible exception of Peggy (who can be a real pill with few redeeming qualities), the characters on King of the Hill are really decent people, even when they’re a little overzealous. But in the end, Hank always fundamentally does the right thing, even if that does involve threats to “kick your ass” on a disturbingly regular basis.—Jim Vorel


46. Barney Miller

best-sitcoms-barneymiller.jpg Years: 1974-1982
Creators: Danny Arnold, Theodore J. Flicker
Stars: Hal Linden, Barbara Barrie, Abe Vigoda, Max Gail, Ron Glass, Jack Soo, Gregory Sierra
Network: ABC

Watch on Crackle

Barney Miller had all the witty banter and shaggy charm of your typical workplace comedy. It just so happened that this one took place within the dingy, paper-strewn squad room of the 12th Precinct. Along the way, Capt. Miller and his crew of hangdog detectives dealt with all manner of crimes, squabbles, and broke open the occasional social issue like drugs and gay rights for examination. What it never got was too preachy, too dark, or too scary, even though all the cops on the scene were carrying pieces. Instead, the crew took everything in stride, washed down with a mug of lukewarm coffee. —Robert Ham


45. NewsRadio

best-sitcoms-newsradio.jpg Years: 1995-1999
Creator: Paul Simms
Stars: Dave Foley, Stephen Root, Andy Dick, Maura Tierney, Vicki Lewis, Joe Rogan, Khandi Alexander, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz
Network: NBC

Watch on Amazon Prime

One of the most perfectly cast sitcoms of the past 20 years, NewsRadio elevated the stature of the workplace comedy, thanks to a marvelous absurdist streak and an unwillingness to stick to the rules of the traditional three-act structure. Few lessons are learned and no one within the show really grows as a human being. Creator Paul Simms also threw aside the idea of dragging out a “will they/won’t they?” storyline with station manager Dave (Kids In The Hall member Dave Foley) and producer/news director Lisa (Maura Tierney, who would go to star in The Affair) by having the characters sleep with each other in the second episode. As much fun as their relationship woes were, NewsRadio was anchored by its supporting cast, especially Phil Hartman as the Ted Knight-like buffoon Bill McNeal, Vicki Lewis as Dave’s snarky secretary, and the always reliable Stephen Root playing Jimmy James, the wildly eccentric billionaire owner of the radio station. The show maintained decent ratings numbers for four seasons, but its spirit was deflated prior to season five due to the untimely death of Hartman. —Robert Ham


44. Fawlty Towers

best-sitcoms-fawlty.jpg Years: 1975-1979
Creator: John Cleese, Connie Booth
Stars: John Cleese, Prunella Scales, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth
Network: BBC2red

While we can’t say we’d ever want to stay at the titular hotel, run by the hapless Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), we sure do enjoy watching him struggle to maintain it. Cleese has said the show was inspired by his stay at the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay and his encounters with its owner, Donald Sinclair, whom he’s described as “the most marvelously rude man I’ve ever met.”—Bonnie Stiernberg


43. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

best-tv-shows-2015-brooklyn-nine-nine.jpg Years: 2013-2021
Creators: Dan Goor, Michael Schur
Stars: Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti, Andre Braugher, Dirk Blocker, Joel McKinnon Miller
Networks: Fox, NBC

Watch on Peacock

Dan Goor and Michael Schur’s police comedy has maybe been shaded a little by real-life events—it is understandably hard for many to view cops as a funny group of good-time buddies, even when they’re played by such an amazing cast. If you can overlook the politics, though, you’ll find a sitcom that brilliantly combines the MTM Studios approach to ensemble comedies with unfettered cartoon silliness. This whole list is full of amazing casts, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s core of Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Fumero, Terry Crews, Joe Lo Truglio and Chelsea Peretti might be the single best one on the list. Every actor has a defined, unique role that they play to perfection, and that contrasts beautifully with every other actor. This isn’t the best sitcom in the Schur-verse, but it might be the most consistent, and the most immediately likable. —Garrett Martin


42. Living Single

best-sitcoms-living-single.jpg Years: 1993-1998
Creator: Yvette Lee Bowser
Stars: Queen Latifah, Kim Coles, Erika Alexander, T.C. Carson, John Henton, Mel Jackson, Kim Fields
Network: Fox

Watch on Hulu

In a ’90s kind of world, I’m glad I’ve got my girls! During a decade with many successful black sitcoms, Living Single was the flyest. It remained in the top five most-watched programs by black audiences throughout its five-year run, and eventually knocked Martin out the No. 1 spot. The beloved series had unforgettable style, unparalleled verbal sparring between Kyle (T.C. Carson) and Max (Erika Alexander), and a theme song by Queen Latifah that has since become iconic. Yvette Lee Bowser, a producer on A Different World, drew on experiences from her life to create Living Single, which followed six single black twentysomethings living in a brownstone in Brooklyn, N.Y., and figuring out their personal and professional lives. The cast’s group chemistry produced comedy perfection, introducing a special kind of humor, personality, and heart to network TV that still hasn’t been exactly replicated. —Ashley Terrell


41. Taxi

best-sitcoms-taxi.jpg Years: 1978-1983
Creators: James L. Brooks
Stars: Judd Hirsch, Jeff Conaway, Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, Randall Carver, Andy Kaufman, Christopher Lloyd, Carol Kane
Network: Comedy Central

Watch on Hulu

Let’s just pause for a minute and remember that somebody once convinced a network to put Andy Kaufman on the air. I just wish it had been live TV. Like M*A*S*H, Taxi often tackled serious social issues like drug and gambling addiction, but did it with a wonderfully strange cast of characters from the alien-like Latka (Kaufman) and his wife Simka (Carol Kane) and drugged-out hippie Reverend Jim (Christopher Lloyd) to the down-on-their-luck trio of Bobby, Tony and Elaine (Jeff Conaway, Tony Danza and Marilu Henner) to misanthrope boss Louie (Danny DeVito). And then there was Judd Hirsch’s Alex, the cynical everyman entry for the rest of us. —Josh Jackson


40. The Bob Newhart Show

best-sitcoms-bob-newhart-show.jpg Years: 1972-1978
Creator: David Davis, Lorenzo Music
Stars: Bob Newhart, Suzanne Pleshette, Peter Bonerz, Bill Daily, Marcia Wallace
Network: CBS

Watch on Hulu

Bob Newhart might be the greatest comedian of all time—who else could build such a legendary career almost entirely off of reactions? He recorded one of the best-selling stand-up albums of all time as a straight man with no partner. He’s brilliant, is what I’m saying. It’d be tough to do a weekly sitcom all by yourself (although I’m sure Newhart could’ve found a way to make it work), so MTM Enterprises (in this case, show creators David Davis and Lorenzo Music) devised a set-up that made perfect use of Newhart’s skills. He played a psychologist who had to patiently tolerate the various idiosyncrasies of his patients and his staff. As great as the 1980s Newhart was, this show was Newhart at his best, his deadpan stammer constantly deflating what could’ve turned into stereotypical sitcom shenanigans on lesser shows. It’s also a little different than the typical MTM show: although it had an amazing cast, including Marcia Wallace, Bill Daily, Peter Bonerz and recurring appearances from Jack Riley and John Fiedler, it feels like more of a star-driven vehicle than an ensemble show. Yes, even when surrounded by great comedic performers playing unforgettable characters, even though he’s still basically a straight man, Bob Newhart and his sensibility dominate this show. Only his on-screen wife Suzanne Pleshette is his equal, both as a performer and as a character—theirs is the rare TV marriage between mature adults who treat each other as equals and don’t care about starting a family. —Garrett Martin


39. Only Fools and Horses

only-fools-and-horses.jpg Years: 1981-1991
Creator: John Sullivan
Stars: David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Tessa Peake-Jones, Gwyneth Strong
Network: BBC One

Watch on BritBox

Following the attempts of a pair of South London brothers living with their grandfather, scheming to get rich, Only Fools and Horses dominated British TV in the 1980s, watched by up to a third of the U.K.’s total population. Del Boy Trotter has the ambition to make it selling goods on the black market, but not the wisdom to match it. After the death of his mother, he raised his much younger brother Rodney, an easily manipulated sidekick. In 2007, the show was voted Britain’s Best Sitcom.—Josh Jackson


38. Good Times

best-sitcoms-good-times.jpg Years: 1974-1979
Creators: Eric Monte, Mike Evans, Norman Lear
Stars: Esther Rolle, John Amos, Ja’net Dubois, Ralph Carter, Jimmie Walker, Bern Nadette Stanis, Johnny Brown, Janet Jackson, Ben Powers
Network: CBS

Watch on Peacock

Good Times is a tale of two shows. The first is a socially conscious sitcom about a poor but proud Black family living in public housing in Chicago, with Esther Rolle and John Amos playing the parents who struggle with underemployment or demeaning jobs while preserving their dignity. The second is a catchphrase comedy based around their oldest son, Jimmie Walker’s J.J., who, with his slogan “Dy-no-mite!” and exaggerated indolence, was essentially a stereotype. He was the show’s breakout character, though, its Fonz or Urkel, and came to dominate it after the first season—to the point that both Rolle and Amos left the show at different points, the latter permanently after the third season. There was still some sharp commentary and smart comedy in later seasons, but the first year is a classic Norman Lear sitcom with progressive politics and a strong viewpoint, while the rest of the show is basically just a goofy network sitcom. —Garrett Martin


37. The Andy Griffith Show

best-sitcoms-andy-griffith.jpg Years: 1960-1968
Creator: Sheldon Leonard
Stars: Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, Elinor Donahue, Don Knotts, Frances Bavier
Network: CBS

It’s honestly hard to imagine a TV landscape before The Andy Griffith Show. Much like air or water, the show has an almost elemental feel to it, as if it’s always been there. That’s not to say, of course, that it’s easy to ignore. Quite the contrary, out of all the classical sitcoms, Andy Griffith not only boasts a remarkably sharp comedic sensibility that has stood the test of time, but also demonstrates a sense of naturalism that remains notable even to this day. Though shot in and around Los Angeles, the show’s production team expertly crafted Mayberry into a fully realized location that boasted the tangible look and feel of a small, rustic town. Not to mention that the creative team brilliantly populated the area with a memorable group of characters, with Andy serving as the town’s Zen beacon of wisdom forced to spend every week wrangling the crazy town kooks—including Don Knotts’ Deputy Barney Fife, who remains the gold standard for which all subsequent scene-stealing TV goobers have aspired. A beautifully crafted relic of a time and place long gone, The Andy Griffith Show has more than earned its position as a newfound icon of Americana. —Mark Rozeman


36. The Wonder Years

41-90-of-the-90s-The-Wonder-Years.jpg Years: 1988-1993
Creators: Neal Marlens, Carol Black
Stars: Fred Savage, Dan Lauria, Alley Mills, Danica McKellar, Olivia d’Abo, Jason Hervey
Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

The Wonder Years was set in a perfectly evoked 1960s, but just hearing Joe Cocker’s take on “With a Little Help From My Friends” immediately makes me think of watching the show with my family in my childhood living room. The show featured some of the best-developed characters of any sitcom, especially owing to the trademark narration by Daniel Stern, which examined all the events with the knowledge of age. An episode like “My Father’s Office” is still a beautiful thing and such an identifiable nugget of childhood—the realization that one’s father is just a man and a worker bee, rather than a patriarch in all aspects of his life. The Wonder Years was filled with those kinds of revelations.—Jim Vorel


35. Happy Days

happy-days.jpg Years: 1974-1984
Creator: Garry Marshall
Stars: Ron Howard, Marion Ross, Anson Williams, Tom Bosley, Henry Winkler, Donny Most, Erin Moran
Network: ABC

Watch on Paramount+

Happy Days had already literally jumped the shark before the Reagan era began. But the show endures—in our hearts and on our late-night TV blocks—all these years because of its endearing innocence, whether from Marion Cunningham or her kids Richie and Joanie. When Ron Howard left after seven seasons (gone off to the army), Fonzie carried the series on his leather-jacket-clad shoulders.—Josh Jackson


34. Fleabag

fleabag.jpg Years:2016-2019
Creator: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Stars: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sian Clifford, Jenny Rainsford, Bill Paterson, Olivia Coleman, Brett Gelman, Hugh Skinner
Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

TV and cinema have proffered plenty of variations on the theme of whip-smart women struggling with emotional crises while also making questionable romantic and sexual decisions. But almost none have had the raw wit and impressive depth of the BBC-born, Amazon Prime-fostered Fleabag. Writer/performer Phoebe Waller-Bridge is heartbreaking and hilarious in the role of a silver-tongued Londoner still reeling from the deaths of her mother and her best friend but stifling any negative emotions through her endless barrage of witty rejoinders and bad behavior. Over these half-dozen half-hours, the titular Fleabag finds her steely exterior roughly chipped away as her relationships start to crumble around her, revealing just how lonely she really is. Fleabag strikes every note with poise and self-possession, never getting too maudlin or too clownish and trusting in an incredibly strong cast (particularly Bill Paterson and Olivia Colman as her withering father and evil stepmother, and Sian Clifford as her tightly-wound sister) to maintain that equilibrium. The steady hand at the wheel is Waller-Bridge herself, in a dazzling, nuanced dual performance as the writer and star of each episode, resulting in gaspingly hilarious, achingly human television. Robert Ham


33. The Golden Girls

golden-girls.jpg Years: 1985-1992
Creator: Susan Harris
Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty
Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

If you were born in the 1990s, you probably missed out on this gem of a comedy. Now all seven seasons are available finally on a streaming platform. The story of four senior citizens—the sarcastic Dorothy (Bea Arthur), her take-no-prisoners mom Sophia (Estelle Getty), the flirtatious Blanche (Rue McClanahan) and the daffy Rose (Betty White)—resonates to this day because it’s an honest story about friendship and building a family out of your community. And the show was surprisingly progressive, tackling topics including gay marriage, teen pregnancy and the AIDS epidemic. But mostly it was hilarious. Once you’ve watched, you’ll thank these four amazing women for being your friend. —Amy Amatangelo


32. Ted Lasso

ted-lasso.jpg Years:2020-
Creators: Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Bredan Hunt, Joe Kelly
Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Phil Dunster, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed, Juno Temple, Sarah Niles
Network: Apple TV+

Watch on Apple

Almost a decade ago, NBC Sports released a very funny sketch starring Jason Sudeikis as an American football coach named Ted Lasso who manages to get hired as the manager of Tottenham, one of the top soccer clubs in England’s Premier League, which is one of the best leagues in the world. The comedy is the culture clash—a shouting alpha male with a southern accent trying to figure out a totally unfamiliar sport in a strange place, too stubborn to adapt and bringing all the wrong lessons over from America. As soccer becomes more familiar in the U.S., that sketch becomes increasingly quaint, since even your average deep-south gridiron jock knows more and more all the time about the world’s most popular sport. Which makes the premise of Ted Lasso the current TV show questionable; can you really translate a premise that’s thin in the first place, and extend it to multiple seasons even as soccer becomes less and less exotic to us all the time? Wisely, creators Sudeikis and Bill Lawrence didn’t really try. Now focused on AFC Richmond, a middling English soccer club facing relegation, the success of the show begins and ends with Sudeikis (whose Lasso is almost pathologically nice as a coach and motivator rather than tactical genius), but the rest of the cast is also superb. In short, I found it genuinely moving more than it was uproarious, although the climactic scene in the final episode of the first season might be one of the greatest athletic set pieces in comedy history, and will make any sports fan bust a gut. There’s also something very timely about the fact that the competitive drama here isn’t about winning a glorious championship, but about avoiding the shame of relegation. And yet, when faced with the unofficial AFC Richmond credo, “it’s the hope that kills you,” Lasso disagrees. “It’s the lack of hope that comes and gets you,” he tells his team, and whether or not that’s strictly correct is irrelevant. What actually matters is, do you believe? [Full Review] —Shane Ryan


31. Martin

84-90-of-the-90s-Martin.jpg Years: 1992-1997
Creators: John Bowman, Martin Lawrence, Topper Carew
Stars: Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, Carl Anthony Payne II, Thomas Mikal Ford, Tichina Arnold
Network: Fox

Watch on HBO Max

A lot of people, Martin Lawrence included, probably thought this would be the peak of the former stand-up’s career in comedy, but they were simply unaware that he would one day make Big Momma’s House. Set in direct opposition to the dominance of NBC’s “Must See TV” block on Thursday nights, Martin became a counterbalance, a story set in urban Detroit with a largely black cast. A bit of a blowhard and a paper tiger, Martin is a funny guy who likes to act tough, but is secretly a softy on the inside, a characteristic only rarely seen by his more serious, long-suffering girlfriend, Gina. The show had a bit of an odd conclusion, as a sexual harassment lawsuit from Tisha Campbell resulted in her being absent through a good portion of the final season. She eventually settled and filmed three final episodes under the stipulation that she wouldn’t appear in any scenes with Lawrence, which certainly sounds like it must have been awkward to witness.—Jim Vorel


30. The Larry Sanders Show

30-90-of-the-90s-The-Larry-Sanders-Show.jpg Years: 1992-1998
Creators: Garry Shandling, Dennis Klein
Stars: Garry Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor, Rip Torn
Network: HBO

Watch on HBO Max

Before HBO established itself as a dramatic powerhouse with The Sopranos and Oz, Larry Sanders was their flagship scripted program. It was literally a decade before its time, prefiguring shows like The Office and Arrested Development with its lack of a laugh track, a single camera setup, and a roster of unlikable characters. It blurred the line between reality and TV show, with real-life actors playing themselves on the talk show within the show, and often sending up their public personas. It also featured three unforgettable performances from Garry Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor and Rip Torn, who were all as good at revealing the desperation and futility of their characters as they were in the comedic moments. Despite its inside showbiz setup and caustic humor, its characters were fully-formed, believable people. It was a very smart and human show. —Garrett Martin


29. Futurama

23-90-of-the-90s-Futurama.jpg
Years: 1999-2003, 2008-2013
Creators: Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, Ken Keeler
Stars: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr
Network: Fox

Watch on Hulu

Totally under-appreciated in its original run, one gets the sense that Futurama at first suffered from misplaced expectations. Knowing it was coming from Matt Groening, perhaps people expected a futuristic version of The Simpsons, but Futurama is fundamentally different in quite a few aspects. Although it was similar in its satirical lampooning of modern (or futuristic) daily life and media, it was also capable of being surprisingly—even shockingly—emotional at times. Just ask anyone who remembers the end of “Jurassic Bark” or “The Luck of the Fryrish,” among other episodes. Likewise, its self-contained continuity was unlike almost every other animated sitcom, with events unfolding in both its first and second run on TV that fundamentally affected the viewer’s perception of earlier plot points. It’s now rightly recognized as one of the best animated comedies ever. —Jim Vorel


28. Married…with Children

40-90-of-the-90s-Married-with-Children.jpg Years: 1987-1997
Creators: Michael G. Moye, Ron Leavitt
Stars: Ed O’Neill, Katey Sagal, Christina Applegate
Network: Fox

Watch on Hulu

Each era has its “low-brow classic” show, and for the late ’80s and most of the ’90s, that show was Married…with Children. Unlike Ed O’Neil’s current stint on Modern Family, there’s really no wit or morals to be had here, just a crass commentary on the state of the lower-class American family in the early ’90s. Al Bundy is a simple man, and he has few redeeming characteristics: He’s cheap, he’s a loser, he’s a depressed would-be philanderer, but damn if people couldn’t identify with the sad sack and his quest to simply put meals on the table with enough money left over for beer. It’s the kind of show that received heaping amounts of scorn from the literati for its entire run but is remembered today with fondness by just about anyone who wanted to kill a half hour on a Sunday night with a few harmless laughs.—Jim Vorel


27. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

best-sitcoms-always-sunny.jpg Years: 2005-present
Creator: Rob McElhenney
Stars: Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito
Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

Made on a shoestring, with scripts that average about three insults a minute, the exceptionally long-running It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia follows The Gang, a group of egomaniacal degenerates who run an Irish pub in South Philly: Glenn Howerton and Kaitlin Olson’s twins, Dennis and Dee; Danny DeVito as their dad Frank, and Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney as their friends Charlie and Mac. Storylines have included attempting to solve the gas crisis, attempting to get record-breaking drunk on a cross-country flight, and one heck of a coming-out episode in which Mac uses interpretive dance to tell his incarcerated dad that he’s gay. The Gang never change and they never grow, but we love them for it. Few shows could get away with so cleverly lampooning major societal quandaries and issues as one in the same season they investigated “who pooped the bed?” And yet it’s always pitch-perfect. —Whitney Friedlander and Allison Keene


26. Schitt’s Creek

netflix schitts creek.jpg Years: 2015-2020
Creator: Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy
Stars: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Chris Elliott, Daniel Levy, Annie Murphy, Jennifer Robertson, Emily Hampshire, Tim Rozon, Dustin Milligan
Network: CBC

Watch on Netflix

The narcissistic matriarch of her spoiled clan, stripped of their fortune and plopped down in the rural burg of Schitt’s Creek, former soap star Moira Rose—as played by Catherine O’Hara, dressed by costume designer Debra Hanson, and written by Schitt’s Creek co-created by Dan Levy and his team—was, for the series’ first two seasons, the main reason to tune in: She’s high camp catnip (“What is your favorite season?” “Awards.”) with a wig collection that qualifies as the best drama on television. And then something happened. Her husband, Johnny (Eugene Levy), once the owner of a successful chain of video stores, rediscovered his purpose running a motel. Moira won a seat on the town council. Their son, David (Dan Levy), opened a store and met the love of his life. Their daughter, Alexis (Annie Murphy), finally finished high school (it’s a long story) and decided to enroll in community college. In Seasons Three, Four, and Five, the Roses put down roots, and as they have, the people of Schitt’s Creek—once treated primarily as rubes, innocently getting in the way of the family’s plans to flee back to their former lives—have learned to wrangle them, in some cases by developing sharper edges of their own. Though it hasn’t lost its absurdist inflection, what began as a fish-out-of-water comedy about a bunch of snobs reduced to eating mozzarella sticks at the Café Tropical has become a gentler, warmer, more complicated tale of what happens when the fish sprout legs, and one of the best comedies on television: Call it the sweetening of Schitt’s Creek. —Matt Brennan


25. BoJack Horseman

netflix bojack.jpg Years: 2014-2020
Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Stars: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins, Aaron Paul
Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

BoJack Horseman is one of the most underrated comedies ever made, and it almost pains me that it doesn’t earn more praise. Right from the title sequence, which documents BoJack’s sad decline from network sitcom star to drunken has-been—set to the beautiful theme song written by the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney—this is one of the most thoughtful comedies ever made. Which doesn’t mean it’s not hilarious, of course. Will Arnett is the perfect voice for BoJack, and Paul F. Tompkins, who is in my mind the funniest man on planet Earth, could not be better suited to the child-like Mr. Peanut Butter. This is a show that isn’t above a visual gag or vicious banter or a wonderfully cheap laugh, but it also looks some very hard realities of life straight in the eye. There are times when you will hate BoJack—this is not a straight redemption story, and the minute you think he’s on the upswing, he will do something absolutely horrible to let you down. (There’s a special irony in the fact that a horse is one of the most human characters on TV, and the unblinking examination of his character makes “Escape from L.A.” one of the best episodes of TV this year.) So why isn’t it loved beyond a strong cult following? Maybe it’s the anthropomorphism that keeps people away, or maybe it’s the animation, but I implore you: Look beyond those elements, settle into the story, and let yourself be amazed by a comedy that straddles the line between hilarious and sad like no other on television.—Shane Ryan


24. Newhart

newhart.jpg Years: 1982-1990
Creators: Barry Kemp, Sheldon Bull
Stars: Bob Newhart, Mary Frann, Jennifer Holmes, Julia Duffy, Tom Poston, William Sanderson, Peter Scolari
Network: CBS

Watch on Netflix

Bob Newhart had the best second act in sitcom history. Newhart ran for most of the 1980s, longer than The Bob Newhart Show did, and despite resting heavily on Newhart’s patented brand of deadpan exasperation, the two shows had strong enough settings and casts to stand out from each other. Newhart featured career work from Tom Poston, Julia Duffy and Peter Scolari, and its remote Vermont setting lead to the creation of three of the most memorable breakout sitcom characters of the 1980s: Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl. Newhart was a smart, confident, hilarious show, and people still talk about the ingenious twist in its final episode decades later. —Garrett Martin


23. The Good Place

netflix the good place.jpg Years: 2016-2020
Creator: Michael Schur
Stars: Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto, Ted Danson
Network: NBC

Watch on Netflix

Some of the best sitcoms in history are about bad people. M.A.S.H., Seinfeld, Arrested Development: It’d be hard to argue that the majority of their characters aren’t self-involved, intolerant or downright assholes. It’s far, far too early to enter The Good Place into any such pantheon, but it’s relevant in pinning down why the latest comedy from Michael Schur (The Office, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) feels simultaneously so cozy and so adventurous. Fitting into a middle ground of sensibilities between occupational comedies like NewsRadio and the sly navel-gazing of Dead Like Me, The Good Place is the rare show that’s completely upfront about its main character’s flaws, creating a moral playground that tests Eleanor’s worst impulses at every turn. Played by Kristen Bell at her most unbridled, she’s a vain, impish character—the type of person who’ll swipe someone’s coffee without a second thought, then wonder why the universe is plotting against her. She’s a perfect straight woman in an afterlife surrounded by only the purest of heart, but the show doesn’t hold it against her. If anything, following in the grand tradition of sitcoms, the show knows that we’re all bad people at one time or another.—Michael Snydel


22. Veep

best-sitcoms-veep.jpg Years: 2012-present
Creator: Armando Iannucci
Stars: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole
Network: HBO

Watch on HBO Max

Veep satirizes the political world by distilling it down to what the public likes to watch most: the screw-ups. From foot-in-mouth moments to mis-sent documents to squeaky shoes, everything Selina Meyer (Julia Louis Dreyfus) does is scrutinized, turned into an offense, and spit back at her through the distorted prism of Twitter and never-ending public opinion polling. They never specify Meyer’s political party, and it’s no surprise that its fans span the political spectrum. Because the main thing Veep stays true to is shining a light on the people more desperate to be near power than to make any real social impact. Dreyfus may be the funniest person on TV right now. She’ll truly commit to a bit, and she has a habit of taking them beyond surface level cute into the truly disastrous and unflattering. Selina Meyer doesn’t walk into glass doors, she shatters them and stands in a pile of glass with bleeding cuts all over her face. She takes bad advice, wears terrible hats, gets a Dustin Hoffman haircut, and can’t go abroad without committing terrible international faux pas. And Selina is at her best as a character when she’s at her most terrible—full of ego, more concerned with being liked than passing legislation, and blaming her staff for her mistakes. Selina’s “bag man” Gary (Tony Hale) is a glorious sad sack, and Dan Egan (Reid Scott) is so coldly ambitious his every misstep feels like a victory. But for every unknowingly selfish thing each person says, Veep’s ace-in-the-hole is Anna Chlumsky’s Amy, whose Olympic-level reaction faces land everyone else’s jokes. And the smaller recurring roles offer cameos from some of America’s best improvisers. Through and through, it’s a comedy nerd’s dream team.—Erica Lies


21. Roseanne

roseanne.jpg Years: 1988-1997
Creators: Matt Williams, Roseanne Barr, Marcy Carsey, Tom Werner
Stars: Roseanne, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Michael Fishman, Lecy Goranson, Natalie West, Sarah Chalke, Emma Kenney
Network: ABC

Watch on Peacock

Before she permanently nuked her reputation and career through her unhinged social media, Roseanne (formerly Barr, formerly Arnold) was the star of the best ’80s and ’90s sitcom about working class America. The blue-collar milieu wasn’t laid on too thick, but was always present within the show, at a time when the disparity between the haves and have-nots grew exponentially. Much of the show’s success can be credited to John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, two world class actors who are as adept at comedy as they are drama—a skill that’s vital for a sitcom that regularly turned melodramatic. A testament to how strong the show’s cast and concept was: when it was revived 20 years after its initial cancellation, it became one of the most popular shows on TV again, and has continued on for multiple seasons after the firing of its former star. —Garrett Martin


20. Scrubs

best-sitcoms-scrubs.jpg Years: 2001-2010
Creator: Bill Lawrence
Stars: Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke, Donald Faison, Neil Flynn, Ken Jenkins, John C. McGinley, Judy Reyes
Network: ABC, NBC

Watch on Hulu

J.D. and the gang gave a completely absurd (and yet often the most realistic) look into the world of hospitals. The episodes didn’t center around some outlandish disease that everyone thought was lupus, only to find out it was something else in the last five minutes of the show. Instead, Scrubs was very much character-driven. Though it was consistently overlooked by the Emmy Awards, and viewership dwindled throughout the seasons, the witty writing and off-beat characters deserved more. When NBC canceled the show, ABC was confident enough to pick it up for two more (laborious, unwatchable) seasons. But in its prime, it was one of the best sitcoms on TV. —Adam Vitcavage


19. The Dick Van Dyke Show

dick-van-dyke.jpg Years: 1961-1966
Creator: Carl Reiner
Stars: Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews, Richard Deacon
Network: CBS

Watch on Peacock

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


18. Curb Your Enthusiasm

best-sitcoms-curb-your-enthusiasm.jpg Years: 2000-
Creator: Larry David
Stars: Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman
Network: HBO

Watch on HBO Max

Set aside the recent revival for a a moment: Larry David pulled off the rare successful second act in television comedy. Curb Your Enthusiasm was Seinfeld-ian in its rhythms, with David basically playing the George Costanza version of himself as an eternally perturbed and self-defeating schlemiel who just happens to be fantastically wealthy after creating a show called Seinfeld. A lot of cringe comedy forgets to actually be funny, but that was never a problem for Curb, which remained as funny (and cringeworthy) as ever over the eight seasons of its original run. And it’s not just the increasingly uncomfortable situations or David’s masterful escalation from annoyance to rage to embarrassment that made the show work so well. David surrounded himself with a fantastic cast, from regulars like Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, JB Smoove and Susie Essman, to such recurring guest stars as Wanda Sykes, Richard Lewis, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Bob “Super Dave” Osborne. Oh, and also there’s an entire season about a Seinfeld reunion, guest starring the original cast. Curb can be hard to watch at times, but it is always hilarious, and was HBO’s trademark comedy throughout the last decade. —Garrett Martin


17. Friends

7-90-of-the-90s-Friends.jpg Years: 1994-2004
Creators: David Crane, Marta Kauffman
Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer
Network: NBC

Watch on HBO Max

In terms of pure marketability, Friends was a juggernaut. Everyone watched Friends. Parents watched alongside kids. Its mass appeal is summed up by its incredibly general title alone—I mean really, “Friends”? Its success may be the ultimate reminder that truly populist sitcoms are all about the characters and not necessarily the storylines. Friends simply had the best-defined characters: Nebbish Ross, prickly Chandler, air-headed Joey, domineering Monica, bubbly Phoebe and “I’m very attractive” Rachel. The writing was just clever enough to let a talented bunch of actors grow into their roles and become archetypes that have been echoed in dozens of sitcoms in the decade since the show’s finale. The reach of Friends extends to every end of pop culture, even fashion. Case in point: “the Rachel” hairstyle, which became the decade’s defining ’do. That is the definition of influence. —Jim Vorel


16. M*A*S*H

mash-tv.jpg Years: 1972-1983
Creator: Larry Gelbart
Stars: Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson, Larry Linville, Gary Burghoff, Mike Farrell, Harry Morgan, Jamie Farr
Network: CBS

Watch on Hulu

The best part of M*A*S*H’s run was in the 1970s—by the time Reagan rolled into office, we’d already lost Henry Blake, Trapper McIntyre, Frank Burns and even Radar O’Reilly. But with replacements for all but Radar firmly in place, there was still enough momentum in the end to make the season finale the most-watched TV episode up to that point in history with 125 million viewers. Alda, as both star and executive producer, steered the show into more serious waters with episodes like “Follies of the Living” and “Where There’s Will, There’s a War,” without ever losing the sharp wit at its heart. —Josh Jackson


15. All in the Family

best-sitcoms-all-in-the-family.jpg Years: 1971-1979
Creator: Norman Lear
Stars: Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers, Rob Reiner, Danielle Brisebois
Network: CBS

When it comes to creative reigns, few in Hollywood can claim to have a more consistent, high-quality streak than writer/producer Norman Lear did in the 1970s. Debuting in 1971, All the Family, a remake of the British sitcom ’Til Death Us Do Part, served as the maiden voyage for Lear’s brand of comedy—namely, delivering gut-busting comedy that aimed to Trojan Horse controversial, yet topical social issues of race, sex and class into the American living room. Spearheading the series was Archie Bunker, the cantankerous, crusty and altogether racist working man who, in the hands of actor Carroll O’ Connor, became one of TV comedy’s greatest creations and a beacon for both liberals and conservatives alike (those on the right were convinced he was espousing their values, while those on the left viewed him as a caricature of old world sentiments). Each week, Archie would find his limited worldview challenged by the likes of his counter-culture-friendly son-in-law, thus opening the doors to discussions that were as illuminating as they were humorous. Though not all of the show’s 200-plus episodes were home runs, All in the Family remains one of the most influential and powerful programs of all time. Today, much of the abundance of great television on display can be traced back to Lear’s insistence that the medium could be an instrument of social change, rather than simply the “vast wasteland” it has been dubbed.—Mark Rozeman


14. Community

community_netflix.jpg Years: 2009-2015
Creator: Dan Harmon
Stars: Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Chevy Chase, Ken Jeong, Jim Rash
Network: NBC, Yahoo

Watch on Netflix

As a half-hour sitcom, Community didn’t merely break the fourth wall; it broke it, openly commented on the fact that it broke it, only to then build a fifth wall for the express purpose of further demolition. Yet, if deconstructing the sitcom formula was all creator Dan Harmon’s magnum opus had to offer, it would have been a fun, if superficial lark. Instead, in telling the story of a ragtag group of community college students, the show used its vast pop culture vernacular as a vessel for telling surprisingly resonant stories about outcasts attempting to find acceptance, a sense of belonging and, yes, community. Whether the Greendale study group was participating in an epic game of paintball or being confined to their study room in search of a pen, Harmon and Co. perfected the art of taking gimmicky concepts and transforming them into strong, character-driven gems. And while only time will tell if the show will ever fulfill the “movie” segment of its #sixseasonsandamovie battle cry, the strange, winding saga of Community will forever stand as the stuff of TV sitcom legends. —Mark Rozeman


13. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

49-90-of-the-90s-Fresh-Prince-of-Bel-Air.jpg Years: 1990-1996
Creators: Andy Bororwitz, Susan Borowitz
Stars: Will Smith, James Avery, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons
Network: NBC

Watch on HBO Max

Most beloved opening theme song of the 1990s? Could very well be, judging from the response this one will get at literally any bar karaoke night—seriously, try it the next time you’re out on the town. Looking at this series in the context of 1990, it’s funny to think that Will Smith was already sort of viewed as a “has-been” in his music career, a guy desperately trying to stay relevant by joining a sitcom. Of course, he ultimately had the last laugh as the fish-out-of-water story of Fresh Prince became popular immediately and survives in syndication to this day. Smith went on to become Hollywood elite, and the rest of the country learned to dance The Carlton. Everyone wins.—Jim Vorel


12. Frasier

5-90-of-the-90s-Frasier.jpg Years: 1993-2004
Creator: David Angell, Peter Casey, David Lee
Stars: Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin, John Mahoney
Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

Many of the sitcoms on this list are paeans to blue-collar family life, but Frasier was the odd show that made cultural elites and eggheads somehow seem like lovable characters to a mass audience. Both Frasier and his brother Niles can be infuriatingly snobbish, but audiences soon found that when their petty jealousies were directed at each other, they could also be hilarious. The show soon became an off-hand representation of the idea of “smart comedy” on TV, but it was also still a sitcom full of relationship humor. Viewers waited a hell of a long time in particular for the long-teased relationship between Niles and Daphne to finally come to fruition (seven full seasons). Frazier, on the other hand, is never really lucky in love, but he was always better as a semi-depressed single, turning his probing mind on himself. —Jim Vorel


11. The Mary Tyler Moore Show

best-sitcoms-mary-tyler-moore.jpg Years: 1970-1977
Created by: James L. Brooks, Allan Burns
Stars: Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight, Betty White, Cloris Leachman
Network: CBS

Watch on Hulu

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 at 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


10. 30 Rock

30-rock-netflix.jpg Years: 2006-2013
Creator: Tina Fey
Stars: Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander, Alec Baldwin
Network: NBC

Watch on Netflix

30 Rock sums up the risks and rewards of a joke-a-second comedy: when the writers were on, this live-action cartoon was one of the funniest shows in TV history. When they were off, it could be almost cringe-worthy. Fortunately Tina Fey and co.’s batting average was pretty high for most of the show’s run, and even when the material was a little weak, a stellar cast of comedians and actors (Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Alec Baldwin, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, and more) could often make it work. Like The Simpsons, you can basically queue up any episode of 30 Rock and find something to laugh at; unlike The Simpsons, it had the good sense to wrap after only seven seasons. —Garrett Martin


9. The Jeffersons

best-sitcoms-jeffersons.jpg Years: 1975-1985
Creator: Norman Lear, Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, Bernie West
Stars: Isabel Sanford, Sherman Hemsley, Maria Gibbs, Roxie Roker
Networks: CBS

Norman Lear created a run of hit shows in the 1970s, beginning with All in the Family, Sanford and Son (and its British predecessor Steptoe and Son), The Jeffersons, Maude, One Day at a Time and Good Times. It could be argued that no one had a bigger audience for interracial dialogue than Lear. The Jeffersons was his longest running series, lasting well into the ’80s, and in it, he gave the world an affluent African American family dealing with new surroundings. George Jefferson might not have been a model for race relations (referring to Louise’s interracial couple friends as “zebras”), but as with Archie Bunker, bigotry in the show was revealed for what it was. —Josh Jackson


8. Parks and Recreation

best-sitcoms-2015-parksandrec.jpg Years: 2009-2015
Creator: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur
Stars: Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Retta, Jim O’Heir, Billy Eichner, Paul Schneider
Network: NBC

Watch on Peacock

After a short, shaky first season as a too-familiar Office protege, Parks & Rec quickly adjusted into one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. When you talk about the classic sitcom casts, where every actor was perfect for the role, and every role was equally important, Parks & Rec has to be near the top of the list. With equally strong writing and the most fully developed sitcom town this side of Springfield, Parks & Rec was the ideal sitcom during its six year run. —Garrett Martin


7. Arrested Development


arrested-development.jpg Years: 2003-2006, 2013-2019
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

Watch on Netflix

Mitch Hurwitz’ sitcom about a “wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together” 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. 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. And after years of rumors, the show returned to Netflix for two additional seasons so far—different in both construction and tone, but nevertheless, a gift to fans who had to say goodbye to the Bluths all too soon. —Josh Jackson


6. The Office (U.S.)

best-sitcoms-office-us.jpg Years: 2005-2013
Creator: Greg Daniels
Stars: Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B.J. Novak, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Kate Flannery, Angela Kinsey, Oscar Nunez, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Phil Lieberstein, Creed Bratton, Craig Robinson
Network: NBC

Watch on Peacock

Remakes are not easy. But the U.S. version of The Office taught a master class in staying true to the spirit of the original British The Office, while creating its own distinctive show. The employees of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company were led by their oblivious leader Michael (Steve Carell). He was the best boss in the world, and had the mug to prove it. Now a bit de rigueur, when it premiere in 2005, the show’s mockumentary style, wherein characters spoke directly to the camera, was innovative. Carrell brilliantly walked the fine line of being absolutely clueless about interpersonal relationships, but fairly competent as a salesman. Amid all the irony, the series brought viewers the sweet romance of Jim and Pam, the not-so-sweet romance of Dwight and Angela and some terrific office shenanigans. The show was often preposterous, but always had heart. There was a little bit of our co-workers in every Office character.—Amy Amatangelo


5. “The Office (U.K.)

best-sitcoms-theofficeuk.jpg Years: 2001-2003
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

Watch on Hulu

I consider Ricky Gervais’ version of The Office to be a perfect sitcom for the way it balances cynicism and sentimentality. The comedy is heartbreaking, dark, brutal and oppressive—it stares into the deadening abyss of modern capitalism, which for so many people takes the form of dreary office jobs that eat up our time and slowly kill our souls, and it viciously attacks the entire structure. At its heart is David Brent, the incompetent, pompous narcissist who is one of the least lovable, most insecure leads in sitcom history. He fancies himself a kind of guru, but is in fact a moron, and his interactions with his deadly serious underling Gareth are beyond delightful. And even in this bleak setting, Gervais manages to reach our heartstrings with the awkward, slowly budding romance between Tim and Dawn, which stops short of the soap operatic smaltz of the American version (for one thing, Gervais has the balls to cast average-looking leads in his show, which would never happen over here) and has the capacity to actually make you ache. This seminal comedy gives up nothing too easily—its default setting is disappointment and ennui, always striving to undercut its principles—and that fact makes each move toward something brighter feel truly beautiful and truly earned.—Shane Ryan


4. I Love Lucy

best-sitcoms-lucy.jpg Years: 1951-1957
Creators: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz
Stars: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley, Richard Keith
Network: CBS

Watch on Hulu

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 2016, 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


3. The Simpsons

the-simpsons.jpg Years: 1989-
Creator: Matt Groening
Stars: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Pamela Hayden
Network: Fox

Watch on Disney+

At its creative peak in the mid-’90s, there was no better-written show on TV—the joke density alone is absolutely incredible. Go back and watch an episode like part one of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” from 1995 and the thing one can’t help but notice is how insanely fast everything moves—there’s literally a joke every few seconds, most of them brilliant. Every type of humor is present, from the ubiquitous pop culture references to self-referential parody, slapstick, wordplay and simply silly, iconic characters. Really, what TV character has been quoted more times since the early ’90s than Homer Simpson? How many of us can recite entire passages or episodes?—Jim Vorel


2. Seinfeld

seinfeld_poster.jpg Years: 1989-1998
Creator: Larry David
Stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, Michael Richards
Network: NBC

Watch on Netflix

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 16 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


1. Cheers

20-90-of-the-90s-Cheers.jpg Years: 1982-1992
Creator: Glen and Les Charles, James Burrows
Stars: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Nicholas Colasanto, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger, Kelsey Grammer, Woody Harrelson, Kirstie Alley, Bebe Neuwirth
Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

Seinfeld might have recast the sitcom in its image, but Cheers perfected the form, running through 11 seasons without ever running out of charm or laughs. Cheers is rightly lauded as one of the deepest and best sitcom casts ever, but its writing might be unparalleled. Never bound by genre convention, and often willing to experiment with its storytelling rhythms, Cheers never grew old despite rarely leaving the bar for over a decade. Like many long-running sitcoms, the Cheers of the ’90s was really a fundamentally different show than it was in the ’80s, 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 is the right decision—it is of course his “one true love.” —Jim Vorel