Top-FiveLOGO3Top Five Sitcoms

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

This week – they make us laugh, the make us cry, sometimes they even make poignant social commentary. Sometimes they feature Dr. Johnny Fever. It’s our Top Five Sitcoms, this week on Top Five!

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

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1 Comment

  1. November 17, 2016 at 9:50 pm — Reply

    I really enjoyed the episode this week. Sitcoms are my favorite television offerings outside of Berlanti productions.

    5. Friends
    Friends had an incredibly successful show model that many sitcoms coming after it tried and failed to recreate. Many shows to come out in the 2000s forward can trace the style of their jokes back to the model that Friends presented. But more than that, the show was imminently quotable (say “smelly cat” to anyone and you’ll get their crooned rendition of the infamous song), had characters that the audience truly loved and cared for (oh, and Ross was there too), and told gripping stories a half hour at a time for 10 seasons. Say the words “So no one told you life was gonna be this way” in a crowded room, and people will drop everything to clap. Aside from the huge impact it had on American culture (and shaped international views of Americans throughout the 90’s and 2000s), this was a show that brought my family together every week as the one show we could all agree was funny. We could all laugh at Joey and Phoebe scheming, Monica and Chandler trying to hide their relationship, Rachel trying something on her own for the first time and failing miserably (but never giving up). Not to mention the revolving door of huge stars, from Paul Rudd and Aisha Tyler to Tom Sellack and Brad Pitt. 10 years is an incredible achievement for a live-action sitcom; Friends deserved every one of those episodes.

    4. Scrubs
    Bill Lawrence, the creator of Scrubs, went to the College of William and Mary. As a result, JD and Turk went to William and Mary. A lot of their backstory is informed by Lawrence’s time at William and Mary, from JD’s love of appletinis to Ryan Reynold’s character as their frat brother who comes to visit. I knew from an early age that I was going to William and Mary, and I thought it was the coolest thing that there were characters on a show I watched who had done the same. Scrubs had incredible writing, incredible guest stars, incredible music, and no shortage of laughs. It managed to blend every type of comedy, whether it’s the physical and prop comedy brought in by Neil Flynn’s improv as the Janitor, the surreal humor of JD’s fantasies, the sarcastic fatalistic nihilism of Dr. Cox and Jordan, the cloud of awkward jokes surrounding Elliot and Ted, Turk’s frat bro machismo, or any other character. They all bring the funny in their own way, and it works. Jordan Sullivan is still one of my all-time favorite characters, and someone whose levels of sarcasm I seek to emulate. (Also, Better Off Ted came on right after it during its 8th and final season, which gives it bonus points for leading me to discover another favorite show.)

    3. Parks and Recreation
    While this show is number 3 on my list, I will be the first to admit that the first season and a half consist of some of the worst television I’ve ever seen. It took me 5 tries to get into this show, because I just could not stand the commitment it took to get to the place where everyone said it got good. But once I got to the introduction of Ben (Adam Scott) and Chris (Rob Lowe), I finally saw the show that everyone was raving about. This is another show that blends well different types of humor, so there is something in here for everyone. But the greatest gift that the show gives viewers – in between adorable love stories and empowering friendships and hilarious one-liners – is optimism. Leslie Knope has a whole world against her, and even her own last name tells her she cannot do what she wants. But she never stops trying. She’s a mid-level bureaucrat in a city that only wants to complain; she does everything in her power to make their lives better, even as they resist her and fight her and actively work against her. And still she never stops. She surrounds herself with friends and good people, and brings hope and happiness to the world, and to all those tuning in each week.

    2. Phineas and Ferb
    If you look at this show and dismiss it as being for children, you are doing yourself a disservice and missing out on one of the smartest comedies out there. It may be a Disney cartoon, but you will not make it to the end of an episode without catching at least a few jokes that would fly over the head of even the most precocious child. I’m not saying that there are a lot of dirty jokes that you need to shield children from (there are some, but they’re innocuous, and the pace of the show makes sure you’ve moved on to another laugh before you get asked an awkward question). But when a “kiddy show” can make a joke using the word “sesquipedalian” that actually makes sense and makes you laugh (once you look the word up), that is a show with great intelligence behind it. Most of the half hour episodes tell two distinct stories, and each of these stories has at least one song. A lot of these songs are catchy, and will stick with you for days. Since I was introduced to this show (by my high school physics teacher, no less) I have gone back and watched the whole series half a dozen times, because it is simply that good. I would (and do) recommend this show to anyone looking to add laughter and brightness to their life without a heavy time commitment.

    1. The Simpsons
    Before people start yelling about how this show hasn’t been good since season 12, I would ask them to identify any 27 years of their life where every consecutive week was as good as every single other one. Shows have bad episodes. In 600 episodes, the Simpsons has given us some of the most touching moments on television. It has also given us ones so bad that we pray the Treehouse of Horror massacres become canon. But through it all, the stories told are culturally relevant, try to teach important lessons through comedy, and always end with heartwarming togetherness. I was born the year the Simpsons debuted as its own show, so it has been a part of my life since I began. I’m glad that it got picked up to go through season 30, because it has been a comfort and a joy and a companion throughout everything I’ve ever been through. I won’t hesitate to call them out on bad episodes (if I never see the episode about Moe’s bar rag again, it’ll be too soon), but their new content still has some shining moments, and I am proud to announce them as my number one.

    Runners up: Better Off Ted (some of the best one-liners in the sitcom game), How I Met Your Mother (unashamed to admit it’s a good and funny show I watched every week), and 30 Rock (Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin could make me watch paint dry if they narrated).

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