Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What is the Greatest Sitcom Ever?

In my post yesterday, I briefly touched on the Emmy awards from the other night. Of course being the nerd I am, I started thinking more and more about the history of the Emmys and had to do some additional research (yeah, that's fun for me somehow).

At first, I was kind of surprised to see which shows had won how many Emmy awards for Outstanding Comedy Series, but the more I thought about it, it actually all kind of made sense.

Then I started realizing that the Emmy award winners could actually help us figure out which series is the greatest sitcom of all time purely on a statistical level by removing all subjective feelings.

So what I have done below is list the winners from each decade and choose a Decade Winner (from the 1950's through the 2000's). Then at the bottom, I have put together an All-Time Category consisting of those six Decade Winners and you get to choose which show is the Greatest Sitcom Ever.

Series with the most votes (in the comments section below this post) wins. I will also accept e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter responses.

I'm not going to weigh in on this one. This is all about YOU. So let me know what you think.


The Red Skelton Show (’52)
- I Love Lucy (’53, ’54)
- Make Room for Daddy (’55)
- The Phil Silvers Show (’56, ’57, ’58)
- The Jack Benny Show (’59)

WINNER: You know that crappy Steve Martin movie that came out a few years ago called "Sgt. Bilko"? Yeah, that was a modernization of "The Phil Silvers Show", which is an absolute classic. But I'm sure no one remembers that series, so "I Love Lucy" it is. Not a bad consolation prize.


- Art Carney Special (’60)
- The Jack Benny Show (’61)
- The Bob Newhart Show (’62)
- The Dick Van Dyke Show (’63, ’64, ’65, ’66)
- The Monkees (’67)
- Get Smart (’68, ’69)

WINNER: "Get Smart" (the classic TV series, NOT the awful Steve Carrell movie) made me pause for a minute, but after further review, it's not even close. "Van Dyke" was the first sitcom to really perfect the show at home/show at work formula. Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam stole the show at the office and gave Rob Petrie all he could handle but at least he had Mary Tyler Moore to come home to.


- My World and Welcome to It (’70)
- All in the Family (’71, ’72, ’73, ’78)
- M*A*S*H* (’74)
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show (’75, ‘76’, ’77)
- Taxi (’79)

WINNER: "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in a minor upset. I know "All in the Family" won more Emmy's and probably was more culturally relevant (although, not by much as "Moore" really showcased the independent woman of that era), but "Moore" just kept crafting the work/home dynamic that "Van Dyke" had perfected and in my humble opinion, still stands as the template for the perfect sitcom. Having Ted Knight's Ted Baxter as the greatest supporting character doesn't hurt either.

(Special recognition to "Taxi" for winning in '79 and again in '80 and '81. The actual decade barrier hurt its chances more than anything)


- Taxi (’80, ’81)
- Barney Miller (’82)
- Cheers (’83, ’84, ‘89)
- The Cosby Show (’85)
- Golden Girls (’86, ’87)
- The Wonder Years (’88)

WINNER: Every time I watch an episode of "Cheers" on DVD, I can't help but think that it would have been the greatest get-together-with-your-friends-and-watch series of all time. Shows like "Friends" and "How I Met Your Mother" are now able to exist because of "Cheers", with its focus on the ensemble as opposed to the Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke star-driven predecessors.


- Murphy Brown (’90, ‘92)
- Cheers (’91)
- Seinfeld (’93)
- Frasier (’94, ’95, ’96, ’97, ’98)
- Ally McBeal (’99)

WINNER: The biggest landslide of all, and it's NOT "Seinfeld". You know what, I'm not even going to insult the winner with an explanation.


- Will & Grace (’00)
- Sex & the City (’01)
- Friends (’02)
- Everybody Loves Raymond (’03, ’05)
- Arrested Development (’04)
- The Office (’06)
- 30 Rock (’07, ’08, '09)

WINNER: This was the hardest decision for me by far. I don't think a TV person like me will even remember "30 Rock" in 30 years (I was PRAYING for "The Office" to win this past Sunday so that those two shows would be tied and I could justify going that way). While "30 Rock" is a consistently well-written and genuinely funny show, there is never an EPIC TV moment that will be replayed or talked about for years to come. I always enjoy "30 Rock" but I never remember it. "Arrested Development" should have walked away with this decade but viewers are too stupid to realize brilliance until it's too late. So, with great reluctance, I give the nod to "Everybody Loves Raymond". It had that classic sitcom feel, some big moments, great cast and never did anything wrong (so why doesn't it feel more right?)

The All-Time nominations have been made, now it's time for you decide the Greatest TV Show Ever. For me personally, it's not even a discussion, but I can't wait to hear your thoughts on your winner.

Once again, the nominees are...

All-Time Category

- I Love Lucy
- The Dick Van Dyke Show
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show
- Cheers
- Frasier
- Everybody Loves Raymond

Feel free to comment below!


Gray said...

Frasier. The End. Not that I'm biased or anything.

Emily said...

Ha ha ha! I agree with Gray....FRASIER.

Just Being Josh said...

Em - gotta say I'm impressed, did not know you were a Frasier fan!

DW said...

Frasier for sure. It's the only show I'll watch on Lifetime besides HIMYM.

Just Being Josh said...

Just got this email from my mom:

"From that (alternate) list Andy Griffith hands down... MTM would be next, Bob Newhart's old show could be in there probably."

2 quick questions - How did Bob Newhart's show (the one set in Chicago) not get a win somewhere in there and HOW DID I FORGET ABOUT IT??

Ugh. I feel kinda ashamed right now.

The Triumphant Return of Paulie Walnuts said...

90s - Seinfeld easy. Frasier not even in the finals.

You can't bust on critics and then totally bend over for the greatest "critics choice" emmy winner of ALL time!!!!

If you loved Frasier, great. Good for you. NO ONE. I repeat, NO ONE will be talking about Frasier over Friends or Seinfeld outside fans or tv critics. From a cultural, popularity, memorable, different, broad appeal, rewatchable, or any other normal way of measuring a show, Frasier isn't even close to those other 2.

Outside of Gray and Josh I don't know a SOUL who owns Frasier DVDs. Half the people I know (slight exageration) own Friends. Many people I know own Sienfeld. Both are in HEAVY sindication still.

Em is the first female I have ever heard of even MENTION Frasier and she is in 3 fantasy football leagues so not exactly target demo there.

Just look at the end of the shows. The Seinfeld finale was an epic even. everyone I knew watched that. The Friend's finale lasted 3 years (you can say it sucked, but people CARED!!) and when it finally ended, NO ONE missed that show. The finale episode was available retail!

You get a group of guys together and you can talk Seinfeld moments all night. Heck you could just talk Krmaer or George moments all night. Get any group of people together and you can talk Friends all night.

We may not be friends anymore after this post, but I gotta keep it real. You want to call Frasier the great sitcom of all time based on how well made or written or acted a show is, I have no problem with that. Absolutely a great show; it has the awards to prove it. But to start out with a snub slant and then not even MENTION Friends or Seinfeld is a joke. I like Frasier, but I've NEVER talked about it a SINGLE TIME IN MY LIFE outside of you and Gray. Friends and Seinfeld go in the time capsul of the 90s if the world is about to explode. No one talks me out of that.

The Triumphant Return of Paulie Walnuts said...

You want my vote still?

First my thoughts on the 00s:

30 Rock: Funnier than the Office the past 2 years. Fact.

I know you hate me now, but you picked Raymond. Joke. That show was flat boring. Honestly don't think I ever saw it live.

AD was amazing, but ended too early.

I've never seen those old shows, and 30 Rock is too new. So I give Seinfeld and Frasier a split in the 90s and Bump the 00s.

Final Vote: Cheers, Seinfeld, Frasier. (Friends should be in here, but can't bump Sienfeld on relavance/popularity, or Frasier on quality. Even if they made it they would end up 4th).

Winner Seinfeld. The show about nothing was perfect in everyway. It was smart, creative, entertaining, relevant, and lastly really really funny. Everybody watched it and it was still cool. The four main characters were all good (no Phoebe eps here), and the side characters were awesome. The interactions were great. You can watch an ep on its own. you can watch in a group or alone. It changed television and it was entertaining. Done.

Just Being Josh said...

Haha - love you Paulie!!

I'm guessing no one read the intro because I've had SO MANY angry emails and texts responses.

This whole activity was based on Emmy winners and nothing else (that's exactly why I posted the alternate, "people's choice" category).

But this is what the intro said:

Then I started realizing that the Emmy award winners could actually help us figure out which series is the greatest sitcom of all time purely on a statistical level BY REMOVING ALL SUBJECTIVE FEELINGS.

Frasier's record straight 5 wins is tough to ignore (esp when Seinfeld only won one).

I LOVE Seinfeld. I FREAKING LOVE Friends. They had waaaaay more cultural relevance and impact. But that was not the focus of this excercise.

That's it. I promise!

The Triumphant Return of Paulie Walnuts said...

Your 'intro' was your emmy column my friend, and I read THAT!

And you were subjectively picking decade winners!!!

MTM?!?! - HOMER PICK! (less Emmys)Raymond?!?! - HATER PICK! (30 Rock WAY better)

You just took 1000 words to hide behind a premise of Objectivety (Emmy wins) to select a Subjective final group (Josh's decade winners) and then back to an Objective 'winner' which you knew all along would be the show with the most Emmys anyways!?!?!

You may fool them, but not me mister!

I'll leave you with this:


Just Being Josh said...


I failed.

I was trying do something different and it tanked.

Yes, I was trying to pick subjective winners based on an objective process and all my braniac friends had to nuts about it (LOVE you guys).

So yes, to sum up: Frasier has the most Emmy wins and Seinfeld will probably be regarded as the greatest sitcom of all time.

The end.


willmcdougal said...

I have actually had a friend get angry with me for leading a Seinfeld story with, "Did you see the seinfeld where...?"

He was insulted by my not assuming that he had seen the episode. The fitting lead-in would have been, "Remember the time on seinfeld when..."

JP said...

Seinfeld is the greatest comedy ever. I try to resist absolutes; but I was not aware that this was even up for debate.

Assuming we're not counting cartoons, in which case The Simpsons might be in the running. But with too many (READ: several hundred) weak episodes, it's only a fair alternate #1.

As for the 2000's? People, I love The Office & 30 Rock too... but Arrested Development wins big here. Everyone knows that!

JP said...

PS. Obviously this IS "up for debate" because it's & nearly everybody is familiar with the territory.

PPS. My dark horse contender for the 00's: Army Wives on The Lifetime Channel.