Because of syndication, and the plethora of cable channels available today, millennials like myself have seen our fair share of television programs. Sitcoms like Friends, Seinfeld, The Golden Girls, and ever classics like the Honeymooners and I Love Lucy have been featured so often on TV that they feel just as much a part of this generation as the ones in which they belong. However, there have been some all time great television sitcoms that have slipped through the cracks for whatever reason. While the humor may feel dated, the writing and story-lines are timeless enough in the following five shows to keep you laughing and entertained. Feel free to disagree. Enjoy the clips courtesy of YouTube.
Honorable Mention: The Dick Van Dyke Show
I know this is cheating but I had to mention, honorably if I might add, the Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran from 1961 till 1966. The Dick Van Dyke show starred who else but Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie, the head writer of a variety show. His wife was played by the immortal Mary Tyler Moore, who often steals the scene with her terrific and funny performances. The show was written and created by the great Carl Reiner, who based it off of his own experiences as a television writer for variety shows. Sitcoms like Episodes, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and 30 Rock owe a lot to this early showbiz comedy.
It’s a shame that this show doesn’t get the love it deserves from millennials. Airing from 1977 to 1981, Soap was created as a nighttime sitcom parody of soap operas. With outlandish plot elements such as alien abductions, ventriloquist dummies, and murders, Soap’s silly brand of humor has rarely been emulated. Perhaps Soap is most famous today for the place where Billy Crystal got his start. In fact, Crystal’s portrayal of Jodie Dallas was groundbreaking as Jodie became one of the first openly gay characters to be featured on a regular television show.
4. The Bob Newhart Show
Comedians of a certain era idolize Bob Newhart and his television show that aired from 1972 till 1978. The Bob Newhart Show is considered to be one of the greatest shows in television history by many. Still, millennials like my self have a hard time catching an episode of it as it rarely airs in syndication. Bob Newhart plays Dr. Robert Hartley, a psychiatrist, who deals with his various patients one way or another. One of the classic Bob Newhart Show moments wasn’t even featured on that program. On the very last episode of Bob Newhart’s subsequent sitcom, titled Newhart, Bob realized his entire experience on the later show was a dream that occurred while sleeping during the former show. That, my friends, is television genius.
3. The Odd Couple
What a simple premise, and yet it worked so well. Rarely do television shows that were spun off of movies (this one itself was also spun off of a Neil Simon Play) find such success. Mash being a notable exception. The Odd Couple featured Tony Randall as Felix Unger, a neurotic neat freak divorcee forced to move in with his slob divorced friend Oscar Madison played by Jack Klugman. As the show’s title would imply, these two men couldn’t be any more different. The chemistry worked so well that the show was able to last five seasons from 1970 to 1975.
2. Mary Tyler Moore Show
This is the second time Mary Tyler Moore has had a show featured on this list, and deservingly so. In the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary Tyler Moore plays Mary Richards, a single woman who becomes an associate producer at a local Minnesota television network. This show was groundbreaking as it featured a career minded independent woman as its main character. The Mary Tyler Moore Show won numerous Emmy’s with its star studded cast of Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Valarie Harper, Cloris Leachman, and Betty White among others.
If you have never seen an episode of Taxi, you are really missing out. Lead by a cast of comedic geniuses Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Conaway, Carol Kane, and Andy Kaufman, Taxi may have one of the greatest casts in sitcom history. Airing from 1978 to 1983, the marriage of talented actors and legendary writing has left me in stitches every time this show occasionally comes on the tube.Hopefully, this generation can connect with these shows and keep the laughter they have provided to previous generations alive.