Comedy is truly an art. Being funny every now and then might come naturally, but to be consistently funny takes far more talents and skills than can be listed here. So instead, check out these 5 shows that have had America in stitches for years.
M*A*S*H (1972- 1983)
Based off a Robert Altman film, which was in turn based off of a book, M*A*S*H was a daring comedy about a team of medical personnel in the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. Considered a commentary on the Vietnam War which ended in 1975, the show is noteworthy for managing to be funny with its serious subject matter, though a number of episodes also explored the darker sides of war. The series finale, after 11 seasons, was the second most-watched program on television with 105.97 million viewers, only being beaten in 2010 by the Super Bowl (a contentious fact surrounded by some controversy). M*A*S*H’s popularity continues as it is widely shown in syndication.
The Cosby Show (1984- 1992)
It’s been called one of the biggest sitcoms of the 1980s, let alone one of the best comedies of all time, was the first in a long line of shows based off of the material of a stand-up comic, as well as one of the one of the longest running and most successful sitcoms to predominantly feature African Americans. Following an affluent African-American family living in Brooklyn, New York, The Cosby Show is one of only three shows to be #1 in viewership for 5 consecutive seasons. Starring comedian Bill Cosby as the doctor patriarch, Phylicia Rashad as his attorney wife, raising their five children, the show was popular for depicting a normal African American family, as opposed to thug-like stereotypes, who are educated and lived a similar lifestyle to their Caucasian neighbors. Reruns are still shown to this day and The Cosby Show also spawned a popular spin-off, A Different World.
Seinfeld (1989– 1998)
It was the show that claimed to be about nothing, yet is often considered to be everything when it comes to comedic television. Hailed as one of the best television series ever made, Seinfeld is embedded in the cultural consciousness of America. Running for 9 seasons, the show revolved around a fictionalized version of Jerry Seinfeld, a comedian living in Manhattan and dealing with the hilarious and quirky people that inhabit New York City. The show effortlessly took everyday situations and social interactions and looked at them through the skewed perspectives of the neurotic characters that had everyone rolling with laughter. It also gave us catchphrases galore and Jerry’s three accomplices, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Kramer (Michael Richards), and George (Jason Alexander).
Friends (1994– 2004)
Friends gave us six loveable people trying to find love in the big city and failing hilariously at it. The show was a critical and commercial success, securing 63 Primetime Emmy nominations and consistently finishing in the top 10 for ratings. One of the cornerstones of the series was the Ross/Rachel relationship that you couldn’t help but root for through all of its ups and downs. After 10 seasons, the series finale grabbed 52 million Americans to become the fourth most-watched series finale ever and the most-watched episode of the 2000s.
The Simpsons (1989 – Present)
It’s no easy feat putting on a show for 21 side-splitting seasons, but The Simpsons seems to have no intention of ending any time soon. Originally starting as a series of animated shorts for The Tracy Ullman Show, The Simpsons has carved out an unforgettable place in television history. Featuring Homer J. Simpson, one of the most loveable oafs ever to grace our TV screens, the show has managed to pull off being off-the-wall crazy while still giving us a spot-on parody of numerous American institutions. Through its illustrious run, the series has picked up 27 Primetime Emmy awards, delivered a feature-length film that earned half a billion dollars at the box office, and gotten Homer’s catchphrase “D’oh!” accepted into the Oxford English Dictionary, not to mention holding the record for longest running American sitcom, animated program and primetime entertainment series.