Best TV Sitcoms of all Time

Story posted September 26, 2022 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by CommRadio Arts & Entertainment Department

“Modern Family”

Having to choose the best sitcom is an almost impossible task, but I will always be partial to “Modern Family.”

“Modern Family'' revolves around 3 different families all connected by the grandfather, Jay, who is played by “Married With Children” actor Ed O’Neill. The large and somewhat eccentric family makes viewers feel like they are also a part of the family.

The show received a lot of critical acclaim. Over the course of the show’s 11 seasons, “Modern Family” was nominated for 85 Emmy Awards, spanning categories in acting, casting, editing, and even sound mixing.

Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, and Eric Stonestreet won 2 Emmy Awards each for their roles as Clarie, Phil, and Cam respectively. The show also won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series 5 times consecutively for its first 5 seasons.

There is a reason for all of that critical acclaim, and that reason is that “Modern Family”  perfectly blends being a heartwarming family show with being one of the funniest shows that has ever been on television.

- Izzy Charboneau


“30 Rock”

30 Rock, created by Tina Fey, is without a doubt the best sitcom ever. This show is filled with incredible characters, amazing running gags, and insane guest stars.

This show contains so much talent and a huge attention to detail. Everything happens for a reason, and every set up has an incredible payoff.

The writing in this show is top tier, especially the amazing character development every single character receives throughout the show's seven season run. Each character is multidimensional and everyone is given their time to shine.

The guest stars in this show are also insane. They have movie stars, television personalities, and musicians, some of which stay on for multiple episodes. These guest stars never feel forced, and each one is given something important to do for the plot.

The setting of 30 Rock is also quite unique. It takes place in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the same place as “Saturday Night Live” as well as many of the late night shows.

Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski, Tracy Jordan, and Alec Baldwin all shine throughout this series. Tracy Jordan and Jane Krakowski especially deliver spectacular performances. They are so unbelievably funny and really easy to root for throughout the series’ run.

This show is without a doubt worth checking out. It is laugh out loud funny, incredibly smart, and has some of the best sitcom characters of all time.

- Jack Freiser


“Parks and Recreation”

Except for a mundane six-episode first season, “Parks and Recreation” is a consistently flawless sitcom.

“Parks and Rec” ran from 2009 to 2015. The mockumentary starred Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, the deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana.

Poehler had a solid supporting cast, including Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott and Nick Offerman, and introduced the likes of Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt to audiences at home.

When “Parks and Rec” entered its third season, the series hadn’t just become great; it had created its own world and transformed into one of the greatest series of all time.

The ability to make audiences feel part of the Pawnee community by having running gags, characters and locations consistently appear throughout the series' seven-season run is beyond impressive. It’s also what makes the series so comforting to so many.

Not enough can be said about the simple excellence of “Parks and Recreation,” and the series is so much more than just being an unpopular opinion to bother fans of “The Office.” 

- Sophia D’Ovidio.


“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

I would have never expected a sitcom about a police precinct to be so hilarious.

Whether it's following the strung-out love story between Detective Santiago (Melissa Fumero) and Detective Peralta (Andy Samberg) or adoring the relationship between emotionless Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) and his corgi named Cheddar, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” produces constant intrigue throughout the series.

For eight seasons, watchers follow the growing bond of the Nine-Nine as a result of Holt’s new position as their leader.

Banter between untroubled Detective Peralta and no-nonsense Captain Holt yield amusing scenes every episode. The cold opens and entertaining subplots contribute in the same sense, their exciting and fresh situations build on the main plot.

Cast members such as Andy Samberg, Terry Crews and Stephanie Beatriz portray their roles which create multi-dimensional characters while still keeping the plot digestible.

I highly recommend the sitcom to anyone seeking an easy-to-watch show, entertaining in unexpected ways.

- Cassie Baylis


“It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”

Pennsylvania has been the setting of many iconic TV shows. Who could forget the coming of age tale of "Boy Meets World?" Or the real world strife brought onto Jon and Kate thanks to their eight kids? Of course, people never seemed to be able to shut up about "Pretty Little Liars" and "This Is Us" during their peaks in airing, and how could we forget the titan of 2000s comedy, "The Office?"

While these shows have brought many together for their scripted plots or reality TV antics, no other show oozes with more charm than that of "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Written and produced by three of its main actors, "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" stands apart from other comedy TV series with its homebrew feel. With its first few seasons primarily being made by the small cast itself, the show has grown in innumerable ways becoming one of, if not, the most iconic show still being produced for television to this day.

What sets "It’s Always Sunny" apart from other TV shows is its edgy social commentary and cast of characters that you love to hate and hate to love. Series writers and main actors Rob McElhenny (who plays a right-wing closeted homosexual catholic), Charlie Day (who plays a mentally challenged illerate janitor) and Glenn Howerton (who plays a socially unhinged narcissist) aimed to make the perfect non-traditional sitcom by getting the characters they play in the show into asinine situations with their audacious personalities.

Rounding out the main players is leading lady and McElhenny’s wife, Kaitlin Olson (playing a berated bartender who’s the butt of everyone’s jokes), and the cast’s crown jewel, hollywood legend Danny DeVito (who plays a scheming benefactor that funds the gang’s impractical ideas).

While some of the topics they address seem harsh, their satirical takes on real world issues define a new meaning for dark humor. For example, one episode may find the gang trying to scam the welfare system by getting addicted to crack. Another might find them shutting down an entire waterpark due to them lying about having AIDS in order to jip to the front of the lines. Of course, all of these things happen while the characters constantly avoid their only responsibility of running the dive bar they co-own, a setting where many of their insane fiascos and cocamamy schemes unfold.

The gang’s hijinx often cause these situations to go from bad to worse with no moral repercussions or lessons being learned by the end of their tyrades. It is these reasons why I find the show monumental; not only does it commentate on hot topics while making fun of everyone involved with the issues, it also shows exactly how not to behave in life while trying to survive financially and socially.

- Clayton Signore

 

“Malcolm in the Middle”

The best sitcom is also one of the most underrated ones, “Malcolm in the Middle.”

The show focuses on a talented student in the middle of a dysfunctional family. He is the middle child between two unruly, misbehaving older brothers and an unhinged little brother. Malcolm brings balance to the family when things go a little off the rails, which happens essentially every episode.

The best episodes are season one, episode 13, “Rollerskates” season two, episode 20 “Bowling”, and season four, episode three, “Family Reunion”. They perfectly show off how not-perfect each family member can be and how the family may be dysfunctional but in the end they always come together to support each other.

One of the most fun parts about this series is that you get to see Frankie Muniz and the rest of his siblings grow up as the years go by. This show is also very rewatchable.

Depending on one’s age, audiences can relate to a variety of characters. Older viewers could relate to Malcolm’s older brother, Francis, and his struggles with family. But no matter the audience's age, people can enjoy the family as a whole, as well as the quirks of the show that made viewer’s fall in love with it in the first place.

The show may have ended 16 years ago, but every single one of the characters still remains relatable today.

- Sophia Clements

 

“The Good Place”

Few shows in the history of the television sitcom have accomplished feats in the same manner as "The Good Place." In just 53 episodes, the underappreciated comedy has long cemented its legacy as one of NBC’s all-time greats, making every single episode an absolute pleasure to watch.

Written and created by Michael Schur, the mastermind behind projects such as "Parks and Recreation," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "The Office" and much more, "The Good Place" is widely regarded as one of the best television shows of the last century.

Throwing typical sitcom conventions out the window, Schur constantly leaves audiences shell-shocked. With each and every episode landing on a season-finale-level cliffhanger, audiences are left enthralled, on the edge of their seats, and desperate to put the next episode on.

The show features acting legends Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, who earned Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for their respective work in the series.

Additionally, actors such as William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, and D’arcy Carden shot to fame following their breakout roles in the series. Their performances in The Good Place earned all of the series regulars spots on shows from networks such as Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, and much more.

This fast-talking, insanely clever comedy is NOT to be missed.

- Ethan Berman

 

"Arrested Development"

It is a shame that Arrested Development had poor ratings when it initially aired on Fox from 2003-2006. The show has one of the biggest cult followings in all of the sitcoms to air, and for a good reason, it is downright hysterical.

The concept is ingenious, a dysfunctional family that goes from riches to rags, and the protagonist, Michael Bluth, (Jason Bateman) holding them together. Every single member of the family was perfectly cast with Bateman, Will Arnett, comedian David Cross, a young Michael Cera, and even Ron Howard narrating the entire thing.

What stands out the most is the recurring jokes throughout the show. Scattered throughout episodes are ridiculous gestures and catchphrases that are hilarious on their own, but once tied into the story present a major payoff.

The original run was unhinged, downright groundbreaking content. Although the Netflix reboot took away some of the magic, the series will be remembered for the way that it shaped comedy television forever.

- Caelan Chevrier

“New Girl”

Who’s that girl…who’s that girl…it’s Jess!

There is no denying that the 2011 sitcom “New Girl” will go down as one of the greatest of all time. A combination of the consistently funny script and outrageous acting performances enabled the show to run for seven seasons, and create a loyal fanbase along the way.

The show follows Jessica Day (Zooey Deschanel) — quirky, eccentric and recently cheated on by her boyfriend. She needs a new place to live, and ends up moving in with three men she found online.

The adoration for the show stems from the dynamic between Jess and her roommates, Winston, Schmidt, and Nick, all of whom have extremely different personalities and living styles.

Nick Miller (Jake Johnson) is lazy, messy and gets on everyone’s last nerve at times, but his chemistry with Jess is undeniable and exciting to watch. Winston Bishop (Lamorne Morris) loves his cat Ferguson with all his heart and embodies a “soft” character that audiences can adore. Last but certainly not least, Winston Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is a pretty-boy perfectionist that delivers the most hilarious one-liners imaginable.

Netflix gave “New Girl” a second life after the show stopped airing, as the timeless characters and humor still resonate with people today. Hopefully, the “youths” of America can continue to keep the show alive.

- Kaitlyn Murphy

 

“Jane the Virgin”

The telenovela/sitcom, Jane the Virgin, is definitely a binge-worthy show to indulge in. Spanning 5 seasons and 100 episodes, you’ll be hooked on the fascinating characters and addictive plot line before you can even finish the first episode!

The series starts with the protagonist, Jane Villanueva, finding out that she is pregnant despite the fact that she is a virgin. This event sets the stage for the entirety of the series. Being a telenovela, the episodes contain plot twists, back stabbings and of course, more pregnancies.

Through everything, Jane and her loved ones always show that their loyalty lies within their family. Jane depends on her mother and grandmother for advice pertaining to important life decisions, which shows us how tightly knit the Villanueva family is.

Flashbacks are used within the series to show important experiences that Jane endured in her childhood. Oftentimes, the flashback will show Jane learning a lesson which will then fast forward to Jane applying the lessons learned as a child in adulthood.

Throughout the course of the series, the characters begin to feel like your friends. At the conclusion of the final episode, tears will be flowing by everyone, characters and viewers included.

- Carly Dell’Oso

Izzy Charboneau is a second-year majoring in journalism. To contact her, email ijc5186@psu.edu.

Jack Freiser is a third-year majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email jef5614@psu.edu.

Sophia D’Ovidio is a second-year majoring in communications. To contact her, email sgd5184@psu.edu.

Cassie Baylis is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email ceb6085@psu.edu.

Clayton Signore is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email crs6219@psu.edu.

Sophia Clements is a second-year majoring in communications. To contact her, email sbc6003@psu.edu.

Ethan Berman is a third-year majoring in film & television. To contact him, email ethanberman@psu.edu.

Caelan Chevrier is a third-year majoring in marketing. To contact him, email cjc6789@psu.edu.

Kaitlyn Murphy is a first-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email kvm6255@psu.edu.

Carly Dell’Oso is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email ced5690@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

Caelan Chevrier's photo

Caelan Chevrier

Third Year / Marketing & Journalism

Caelan Chevrier is a third-year student in the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University studying marketing and broadcast journalism with the goal of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in four years. His career goal is to spread informative, meaningful, and entertaining content across various platforms and to be a positive impact on the community. He has also spent time working at WWE in the communications department and writing for The Westport Local Press in his hometown of Westport, CT. If you’d like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Jack Freiser's photo

Jack Freiser

Third-Year / Telecommunications

Jack Freiser is a third-year student in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State University studying telecommunications. He is very passionate about both music and film. He aspires to impact the music business as a successful A+R by signing artists who will be culturally relevant and will leave an impact on the world, and through keeping a strong relationship with the artist and their team. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Sophia D'Ovidio's photo

Sophia D'Ovidio

First-Year /

Sophia D’Ovidio is a first-year from Allentown, New Jersey. She is now a communications (undecided) major at Penn State University. Sophia intends on pursuing a career in journalism. Sophia writes for the CommRadio Arts department.

Isabelle Charboneau's photo

Isabelle Charboneau

/ Journalism

Izzy Charboneau is a second-year student majoring in digital and print journalism. She is from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Izzy is in the arts and entertainment department of CommRadio.