A while a ago I wrote a post on my top 10 British sitcoms, so it only seems fair that I do one on my favourite American sitcoms. I think it’s safe to say that Americans are a funny lot (I’m referring to their humour here). I even know a few and they’ve made me laugh more than once. Sure, they’re not as funny as us hilarious Brits, but they certainly can crack a joke or two. So, it’s of no surprise that they know how to create a sitcom with admirable skill. I’ve always loved an American sitcom. As a child, I remember watching Taxi and then as I got older, as a family we all sat down together and watched the Cosby Show and Rosanne every week (ummmm, can I mention the Cosby Show?). My Dad was obsessed with both Cheers and Frasier, so much so that when I had to write an essay on a TV programme for my GCSE English project, he literally sat me down and forced me to write it about Cheers. Then, when I left home my taste in American sitcoms developed further. So much so, that some of my favourite TV programmes of all time are in fact American sitcoms. And I whole heartedly thank all those clever Americans for providing me with such joy over the years.
Disclaimer before we start: there’ll be plenty of sitcoms (yes that includes Seinfeld) that you’ll be surprised aren’t here in my personal top 10, but in all likelihood they’d probably all feature in my top 15, if that helps. So, here goes and just like my top 10 British sitcoms list, I found this so tough to do.
10. Rick and Morty
So let’s get this straight. Rick and Morty is disturbing, disgusting, confusing, ridiculous, completely over the top, surreal, harrowing and I absolutely love it. It may be all those things, but it is also intensely clever and not to mention- fucking funny.
Cheers was a master class in how to create and build up characters in a sitcom. We have seen the character of Woody repeated in so many other sitcoms ever since, it’s quite the tribute to the genius of Cheers.
8. 30 Rock
Ok so from about halfway through season 4 and onwards 30 Rock went downhill slightly. However, Tina Fey’s multi-award-winning sitcom never failed to constantly make me laugh out loud before that. I adore the character of goofy, but lovable Liz Lemon, partly because I can relate to her obsession with food of course. However, it’s Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of the conceited Jack Donaghy and his unlikely friendship with Liz that really steals the show.
7. Arrested Development
Like many of my favourite sitcoms, Arrested Development is just silly. Whilst, I wasn’t so keen on the fourth “return” season. The first three seasons are sitcom perfection. Picking a favourite character on this would be pretty tricky as like all good sitcoms each character is so strong. Poor old George Michael (the name alone is hilarious), Tobias Funke, Buster and my life role model Lucille are probably up there. Although, obviously I have to give a shoutout to Annyong Bluth and the characters played by Liza Minelli (Lucille’s vertigo suffering chief social rival) and Henry Winkler (their terrible family lawyer). And let us not forget that the whole thing is narrated by Ron Howard.
6. Brooklyn 99
From one wonderfully silly sitcom to another. Brooklyn 99 follows the misadventures and blundering antics of a Brooklyn detective department. Jake Peralta is our whimsical protagonist and despite all of his and his colleague’s questionable approaches to solving crime, they always get the job done. Brooklyn 99 is laugh out loud stupidity and watching an episode of it cheers my day up endlessly. P.S. I am #teamCaptainRayHolt
5. Parks and Recreation
There is something about Parks and Recreation that makes me so happy. I mean, apart from the fact that it’s absolutely hilarious that is. It just always leaves me with a nice, warm glowing feeling after watching an episode. I think it’s mainly down to our protagonist, Leslie Knope. Leslie is one of the best female TV characters ever written. She is a hero. Her optimism, vibrant energy, hard working ethics, caring nature and warmth leap out at you from the TV screen without ever being saccharine. If we all made the effort to be a little more Leslie Knope then the world would be a better place. Seriously. We might all have a worrying waffle addiction, but there’d undoubtedly be a lot less war and internet trolls. But it’s not just Leslie that blesses us with her presence in this gem of a TV programme. There’s the adorable, but beautifully simple Andy, super cool April, idiotic and lovable Tom, poor, stupid Jerry, another TV role model of mine- Donna (treat yo self!) and then there’s Ron Swanson. Oh Ron with your hefty dose of testosterone, your love of meat and carving wood and your sexy moustache. I won’t lie to you, he is my ideal man. Just writing about this programme makes me realise how much I miss it and Leslie.
4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
And on the opposite end of the spectrum from the lovely and fluffy Parks & Rec, we have It’s Always Sunny. A TV show with the most hatable TV characters possible. Similar to Rick & Morty, this is not a pleasant sitcom. It is grotesque, is borderline offensive and it is outrageous. Right up my street, in other words. The characters are idiots. Not even in a sort of likeable way. You have absolutely no sympathy for them, but thank God they exist. However you’re feeling or whatever you’ve done in your life, you can just reassure yourself and thank your lucky stars that you are neither Dennis, Dee, Charlie, Mac or Frank. Those guys are the worst (I love them obvs).
Side note: they were going to originally make Dee the “straight character”, but thankfully they thought better of it and made her just as despicable and hopeless as the rest of the cast. Could you imagine a straight Dee? What a waste of a brilliant comedic actor that would’ve been.
Of course Friends is in this list. Of COURSE it is. The influence that Friends had on our culture is phenomenal. I mean, could it BE anymore influential? I don’t need to tell you much about Friends because you know it all anyway. Such is the legacy of Friends. Which Friend are you anyway? I’m a perfect combination of Phoebe, Monica and Joey (I don’t share food). PIVOT!
2. The Simpsons
You probably haven’t heard of this animated sitcom before, so let me summarise it for you. It’s based around a family of yellow people who only have four digits on each hand. The Dad is a lazy beer and doughnut addict, the Mum has blue hair almost the same height as herself, the son is a little shit that the Dad regularly strangles, the sister is clearly full of existential angst and the baby sister hasn’t uttered a word (or has she?)* for the whole 31 years that this cartoon has been running. Trust me on this one, it is absolutely brilliant and you will love each and every one of these characters as if they are your own family members. Especially the Dad. You will love him and all his relatable failings the most. He is all of us.
[Please note my daughter’s favourite TV programs is the Simpsons and she helped me choose this clip. She also wants me to tell you all that her name is Bessie]
So here it is , my all time favourite American sitcom ever….
And it is….
1. The Office (or as it’s known over here in the UK The American Office)
God I love this programme, so very much. It’s not just my number one American sitcom, but it is one of my all time favourite TV programmes ever. A warmer, more sentimental version of it’s British cousin, watching this programme is the comedy equivalent of wrapping a cosy blanket around yourself and putting your feet up, but you know, in a funny way. Steve Carrell as Michael Scott was comedy mastery. Pam and Jim were perfect and yes adorable. Dwight was a fabulous twat. The supporting cast had to be the best collection of supporting actors ever. Stanley, Kevin, Angela, Phyllis, Meredith, Oscar, Creed, Andy, poor, poor Toby, Daryl, Erin, Gabe, the brilliant Jan and my favourite couple ever Ryan & Kelly were just sublime. All of them were such strong characters. You loved them like you would your own work colleagues- fully aware of all their flaws, yet you have a strange affection for them all anyway. Unless you’re Toby and your boss is Michael, then he’ll just irrationally hate you despite the fact you’re the nicest person in existence. I could actually write a whole blog solely on my love for this multi-award-winning sitcom. It’s incredibly worthy of my number one slot….that’s what she said.
The one that almost made it: Broad City. These girls are basically me and my best friend 20 years ago in a different city.
You know what I’m going to ask next, which is your favourite American sitcom? It will be interesting seeing the varying answers between Americans and non-Americans too.
*she actually has and was voiced by both Elizabeth Taylor and Jodie Foster. However, these are brief moments and the running gag is that she never speaks.