Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, July 8, 2016



The totals are in from Hollywood and it doesn't look good. A record 162 TV shows were cancelled after the 2015 - 16 season. Granted: Twenty years ago, there were only four networks...compared to the 34 today...but it is still a staggering number nonetheless. Also surprising was the number of sitcoms on the cancelled shows list. Even shows with big names like Rob Lowe got the axe. While the sitcom genre seems simple, the truth is it takes a complicated mix of writing, celebrity and silliness to create the perfect situation comedy. But when you succeed, you've captured the nation's heart. Here are the top ten of all time:

#10 Big Bang Theory. 9 seasons. 2007 - present.  Once the butt of many a sitcom joke, Nerds today are on top. The Fonz would be amazed! One of the geeks on the show (Leonard Hofstadter) even has a gorgeous blonde girlfriend. As expected, much of the humor is found when the socially-challenged dudes try to interact with the real world.

#9. Mary Tyler Moore Show. 7 seasons. 1970 - 77.  For a sitcom to succeed, it's a good idea to pick a completely new situation to base the plot around. Featuring a single career woman as the central character was truly ground-breaking back in 1970. Unlike the working girls in the Big Bang Theory (who never cook or clean), Mary tries to balance gender stereotypes. The best episodes are her disastrously funny dinner parties.

#8. Gilligan's Island. 3 seasons. 1964 - 67.  While it's rare to pick super-silly situations for today's shows, this was the norm back in the sixties. Talking horses, magical jeanies and shipwrecked castaways dominated prime time lineups. Gilligan stood above the others. Balancing outstanding physical comedy, high speed camera tricks and jokes galore, it is seared in every American's memory forever.

#7. Cheers. 11 seasons. 1982 - 1993.  A Boston tavern served as the place "where everybody knows your name." A parade of local patrons confided in Sam Malone, the handsome bartender with a colorful past. Wildly popular, it was nominated for 'Best Comedy' every single year it aired.

#6. Friends. 10 seasons. 1994 - 2004. Here, we follow the trials and tribulations of six buddies in Manhattan. For ten years, they dated each other, two got married and two broke up. For ten years, America dutifully tuned in every Thursday to find out what's next. The final episode in 2004 was the most watched TV event of the decade.

#5. All In The Family. 8 seasons. 1971 - 79. In this program, the situation is social change. Archie Bunker's role in the healing the wounds of this turbulent era cannot be understated. As the ultimate anti-hero for bigotry, his actions helped many understand the complex, new society created by the Civil Rights movements of the 1960's.

#4.  Seinfeld. 9 seasons. 1998 - 98. Billed as a "show about nothing" this program instead focused on the minutiae of daily life. Plots revolved around a series of coincidences that miraculously get solved in under thirty minutes. While many sitcoms use the formula of inserting a successful stand-up comedian as the lead, Seinfeld succeeded by surrounding him with an amazing supporting cast. Who doesn't instantly laugh at Cosmo Kramer?

#3. The Brady Bunch. 5 seasons. 1969 - 74.  Another sitcom formula is the tired-and-true 'Family with a Twist.' Meet the Brady's: Three boys from one parent, three girls from the other. But this "group would somehow form a family," and win over millions of viewers. The episodes are the most aired reruns ever. While Archie Bunker delved head-first into tense issues, the Brady's stayed in the simple world of prom dates, sibling rivalry and roller skates.

#2. I Love Lucy. 6 seasons. 1951 - 57.  When TV first began in 1950, it was horribly boring: Dull newscasts, the Texaco Star Theater and slow Westerns. Yawn. Then along came the world's first situation-comedy. I Love Lucy wrote the book on how the genre is to be done: Take Lucille Ball and place her in outrageous plots. In a way, all future sitcoms are just a re-hash of Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel.

#1. Three's Company. 8 seasons. 1977 - 84. In 1980, Lucille Ball was asked what her favorite TV show was. Yep, she loved Three's Company the most. She called Jack Tripper the "most gifted physical comedian since Charlie Chaplin." She also loved the writing: A simple misunderstanding resulting in uproarious hijinks. We agree. Great comedy goes just over the line of good taste, and that's exactly where you'll find this show.

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