Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mount Rushmore: Sitcoms

For the 4th installment of my periodic series in which I select who/what I think are the 4 ultimate in a given category, I'm focusing on sitcoms.  Because there are so many shows I feel are worthy of being up on this Mount Rushmore, it was hard as hell narrowing it down to just 4.  Please note that these aren't necessarily my favorite sitcoms.  However, when it comes to quality and influence, the following four represent the ultimate for me.

1. I Love Lucy- Because it's never been off the air since it debuted in 1951, it's easy to take I Love Lucy for granted.  Even if you are like a certain sitcom character who claims to have never watched a single episode of I Love Lucy, you probably are familiar with the word "Vitameatavegamin".

2. All In the Family- Contrary to the title of the Gil Scott-Heron song, the revolution was televised when All In the Family hit the airwaves in 1971.  AITF put a comedic spin on a variety of previously taboo sitcom topics  (racism, homosexuality, menopause, etc.) without being preachy.  It also began the trend of American sitcom producers looking to the U.K. for inspiration.

3. The Cosby Show- When a show is indirectly responsible for resurrecting an entire genre, it's got to be on the list.  During its debut season (1984-85), The Cosby Show was one of only 6 sitcoms to rank in the top 20. A season later, that number nearly doubled.  Case closed.

4. Seinfeld- Featuring some of the most dysfunctional characters in sitcom history, "No hugging, no learning" was thankfully the rule in the Seinfeld universe.  Can you imagine Jerry, Kramer, and Elaine consoling George after the death of his fiancĂ©e Susan as the studio audience lets out a collective "Awww"?.  Me neither.

What four sitcoms would make your Mount Rushmore?


pjazzypar said...

Hi Malcolm, I might replace Seinfeld with Roseanne or Good Time, only because I was never really a Seinfeld fan. I am surprised your Mt. Rushmore did not include M*A*S*H.

red said...

That's actually probably the perfect far as influence and what no.

red said...

err..."what noT"

Anonymous said...

Here's my 4:

1) All in the Family --> The only sitcom I agree with you on. :)

2) Two and a Half Men --> The best modern sitcom. Always consistent and no shark jumping in sight.

3) Golden Girls --> Forget Lucy & Ethyl, The Golden Girls are truly inspirational.

4) Sanford & Son --> Red Foxx... 'nuff said.

Rich Meyer said...

Can't say I really liked any of those you mentioned (and I loath Seinfeld with a passion, as many folks already know). I like a few of I Love Lucy (the George Reeves and Harpo Marx episodes particularly), but I never really liked her as a sitcom start, especially since she was such a good actress in the movies. All in the Family, while pivotal in the scheme of TV development, it hopelessly dated when you watch it now. The Cosby Show is just plain boring for me, since Bill Cosby had long abandoned his stand-up roots and was too family-friendly for my tastes.

I never equate popularity with something being good, as rarely do the sheeple flock together for something truly original or intelligent.

For my four, I'd go with M*A*S*H, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Waiting for God and Arrested Development. I think they're all shows you actually have to watch and think about in order to truly understand all the nuances and humor. For me, that's what good entertainment, particularly comedy, should do ... make you think a little while you enjoy it.

Dr. John said...

I agree with others who say that MASH could easily have a spot there.

Malcolm said...

Pjazzy: I never thought of "Roseanne". It definitely was groundbreaking and influential.

M*A*S*H came this close to making it to my Mt. Rushmore. In the end, I decided to go with "The Cosby Show" for the 4th spot.

Red: Thanks!

Dane: As good as "Two and A Half Men" is, I don't think it's groundbreaking or influential. You can't forget Lucy and Ethel... what's the matter with you? :-)

Rich: Of your 4, you know from my previous comments which is the only show I'd consider for my Mt. Rushmore. I never even heard of "Waiting for God" so that would automatically rule it out for inclusion. If it's any consolation, I would put "Arrested Development" in the "Brilliant, but canceled" category.

As for "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show", it's a shame that it's obscure to most people under the age of 40 because it was very funny and influential. One of the last good programming decisions that TV Land made was when it aired "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" on Sunday mornings a few years ago.

Dr. John: Leaving M*A*S*H off my list was a tough choice. Why couldn't the real Mt. Rushmore have 5 faces?

jamie said...

These choices are solid, solid as Barack - but I'd have to put Mary Tyler Moore in there somehow.

Jamie R

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