Every generation needs to laugh. There’s nothing quite so warm, welcoming and cathartic as sitting down with old friends, catching up on what’s been going on in their lives, and having a good giggle about it all. This is surely why the sitcom has been one of the most enduringly popular TV formats over the decades.
An abbreviation of ‘situation comedy,’ the sitcom is traditionally a half-hour show set primarily in a single key location, following the day-to-day lives of a group of people who share a specific space. A great deal of the time this means the show centres on a family, and mostly takes place in the family home; alternatively, it may mean co-workers, and be set primarily in their place of employment. Often, a key place the group socialise may also feature.
Catching up with these characters week after week (or, in this age of streaming box-set binge-watching, a lot more regularly), audiences can develop a close affection for these characters, and develop a real investment in them. At its best, this bond reaches such a degree that tuning in to watch almost feels like sitting down with loved ones in your own living room – which is no doubt why such shows often go down so well as family viewing.
Of course, family can take many different forms, and the sitcoms of the 80s and 90s explored this at length. It’s not always the traditional parents/child set-up; oftentimes it’s just about those you spend the most time with, regardless of whether or not you always get along. Sitcoms explore the highs and lows of these relationships, and while they don’t always shy away from the harsher realities, they always leave us with a smile.
Scroll on down, and give a thumbs up to all your most beloved 80s and 90s TV sitcoms – and if you don’t see your personal favourite(s) from those two decades, go ahead and add them at the bottom of the page.