By Clint McLeod
Last week fellow Fancast contributor Bob Hellman wrote his list of The 10 Best Sitcoms. I respected the list and explanations, but I personally couldn’t relate. I have not seen most of those shows, which are considered classics. So I thought I should create a list that spoke to a different audience. How about those of us who weren’t old enough to remember The Odd Couple or All In The Family? So I’ve created a list for those of under 35.
So here is my list of: The Best 10 Sitcoms For People Under 35:
10. Parker Lewis Can’t Lose: This may seem like an odd choice to start off the list, but stay with me here. For most of us that are 35 and under, we have been subjected to shows about cool kids, who ran their school. Guys like Zack Morris, Brandon Walsh and to a lesser extent Cory Matthews. But Parker was the best. His combination of charm, sarcasm and collection of Swatch Watches parlayed into one great show. Sadly, Corin Nemic hasn’t been able to parlay his success into other television ventures. Here’s hoping that VH1 picks him to star in a new reality show.
9. Friends: Friends is a tale of a comedy that outlived its usefulness. I think that the first half of the series was absolutely great television. The creative interplay of 6 completely opposite people made for some fantastic moments. As much as you may want to down play it, the beginning of the Ross/Rachel dynamic made us tune in to see what would happen next. I will admit that once the stars began collecting big paychecks, the series began to slide down hill. Having only 6 stars made it great in the beginning, but by the end it was its Achilles’ heel. But its legacy is that it was the Must-See comedy of the first half of this decade.
8. Family Guy: Family Guy is a modern day All In The Family. I think that Family Guy says and shows things that very few other shows dare to touch. Nothing is sacred. Now, while I’ll agree that the show often appeals to the lowest common denominator, there’s no deny that it’s highly entertaining. Another reason that Family Guy deserves a spot on here is that it was the first show that was literally saved by DVD buyers. If only more people had purchased the first season of Andy Barker PI to help save that! But for those over the age 40 that question this choice, go to any high school or college and I guarantee that this show will be one of, if not the most quoted show on campus.
7. The Cosby Show: Like Friends, it ran way too long. However, for those of us that grew up watching that show, the Huxtables were like a second family. Now, as far as actually being funny, I would say that the show rarely ventured outside realm of the usual family sitcom. However, the lip syncing numbers that the family would do on occasion are locked into TV comedy history. Why the show is my list is that very few of us under 35 can deny that we wanted to be part of the Huxtable clan.
6. The Office: The Office is undeniably the biggest cult comedy on television right now. Greg Daniels and the rest of the writing ensemble have made an intelligent and bold choice. They don’t try to appeal to everyone. They know that their audience is young, tech savvy, and up to date on pop culture. But more importantly they give the audience credit for being intelligent. The comedy of The Office is not cued up with laugh tracks or obvious punch lines; instead it relies mostly on the subtle side of comedy. I think that when the show decides to call it quits, it will be thought of as one of the best-written comedies in history.
5. Newsradio: This is a series that often falls below the radar. It wasn’t a ratings hit, but like The Office it had great writing and one of the best comedic casts. The show had so many contrasting characters. Dave Foley’s character needs to be considered one of the best “straight man” characters from TV’s past. Then you had the wit and delivery of Phil Hartman, Joe Rogan’s attitude and of course Andy Dick. To top it off you had the eccentric boss Jimmy James, played by Stephen Root, who makes The Office’s Michael Scott look tame. Obviously the death of Phil Hartman and the subsequent addition of show killer Jon Lovitz ended News Radio prematurely. But if you get a chance to watch this show’s reruns, you really need to. It is genuinely a laugh out loud comedy.
4. The Wonder Years: This is one of those revolutionary shows. What made The Wonders Years brilliant is that it was a coming of age story done right. We have always been bombarded with kids and schools on TV that were fun to watch, but not realistic. This show changed all that. The Kevin Arnold saga allowed us all to relate to at least one character. These were the problems we all had growing up and setting it in the 60s proved that the real problems kids face are timeless. This is one of those shows that was done absolutely perfect. It’s a show that was funny and rang true for both adults and kids. It truly bridged the generation gap.
3. Arrested Development: AD is the most under-appreciated comedy in television history. It was also one of the most ground breaking. If you love The Office and 30 Rock, it’s because of AD. Arrested Development broke the mold of traditional sitcom comedies. No studio audience, no laugh track, Ron Howard and company let the show stand up by itself. The story of the outrageous Bluth family was marvelously penned and acted. I really have no idea why this showed failed to bring in viewers. But the lack of viewers still can’t take away from the fact that AD completely changed the television comedy landscape.
2. Seinfeld: Shows based around a stand up comedian are unoriginal, but somehow Seinfeld managed to be one of the most original shows on television. With the exception of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld’s premise has never been duplicated before or after the show’s run. A show about nothing. Brilliantly simple and true. What Seinfeld is one of those rare shows that is just as funny today as it was then. It’s a credit to Jerry and Larry for creating a show with comedy that holds up as well as it has.
1. The Simpsons: The show that has completely encaptured Gen X & Y. The Simpsons, especially during its first 8 seasons was the most original and best-written show on television. It’s the show that a lot of us have literally grown up watching. I put The Simpsons ahead of Seinfeld because I think the Simpsons really spoke to our generations. The list of celebrities that have appeared on The Simpsons is a Who’s Who of Hollywood. You don’t get stars like Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor and Bono by being just an average family. Although the characters haven’t aged, The Simpsons are grown up as they tackle issues like gun control and same sex marriage in a funny, but poignant way. To me The Simpsons is the all-time best sitcom.
So there’s my list. I realize that there will be disagreement over the placement and omissions of some shows. So I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section.