I have always loved sitcoms and some of my all time favorite television came out of the 1980′s. Having the majority of my formative years in that decade the pop culture of that decade really permeated my taste as an adult. I look back to television, movies, music and all other pop culture of the 80′s era very fondly. No irony for me when I say I like neon, popped IZOD collars, big hair bands, leg warmers or the smell of Aqua Net. To me those things made me who I am today…. however good or bad that may be
By far the longest list I have compiled so far. I included primetime situational comedies that had the bulk of their on-air run in the 1980′s. Some may have started in the 80′s and ended in the 90′s or the other way too, starting in the 70′s and finish in the 80′s. With only the one exception on the list, the format holds. (It was split down the middle.)
Here is a list, in no particular order, of my favorite 80′s Sitcoms.
I know why this is on here… YOU know why this is on here… EVERYBODY knows why this is on here… What male teenager didn’t want to BE Mike Seaver? And furthermore, what female teenager/tween didn’t WANT Mike Seaver/Kirk Cameron? I am sure there were some, but that guy’s dimpled smile was on more teeny boppers walls in the 1980′s than there were friendship bracelets on their arms. It also pulled something from the next show on this list. The use of Christopher Cross’ song ‘Swept Away’ in the two-part season 3 opening episodes entitled ‘Aloha: Part 1′ and ‘Aloha: Part 2′ was perfect. (The Hula Girls don’t hurt either.)
Another good, clean family show. There was an excellent dynamic between the characters on Family Ties. The writing and story lines were always top-notch. Alex P. Keaton was a force to be dealt with on network television. Michael J. Fox was always pitch perfect. It was a good thing he worked out his schedule so he could take the part in ‘Back to the Future’ otherwise Marty was going to be played by Eric Stoltz. I have seen the footage they shot with Stoltz… it would have been a completely different film.
Now on to what I mentioned at the end of the ‘Growing Pains’ entry. For some reason this scene has been seared in my brain… The story line of Alex kissing his girlfriend’s (His GF btw was Lauren played by…? Yep that’s right, Courteney Cox.) roommate, Ellen (MJF’s future real life wife Tracy Pollan) who is supposed to marry some guy, Alex turning around after dropping Ellen at the train station then driving back only to see the train leave… But what’s this? Ellen is still standing there…. The whole time there is this song playing; ‘At This Moment’ by Billy Vera and The Beaters. Television and music in perfect synchronicity… to me anyway. I loved it. Still do.
(Stick with the clip. They must have blacked out the commercials.)
The Cosby Show
Billy Cosby changed the face of network television. He broke stereotypes but above all he made TV that everybody wanted to watch. He made ‘Must See TV’. Thursday’s at 7 (Central time anyway) was appointment television. Every week his fictional family became part of our real families. They taught us lessons and showed us what good clean entertainment was. To this day I constantly use quotes from that show; the cool thing is almost everyone knows what I am quoting. That is true iconic status.
The following is one of the most memorable moments of the show for me. Vanessa snuck out with her friends to go see a band in Baltimore. I can’t see, hear or think of the word Baltimore without this going through my head. This has to be one of the most perfectly written and executed parent/child interactions ever.
Head of the Class
This show always spoke to my inner nerd. I connected with show the first time I watched it. I stuck with the show even after Mr. Moore (Howard Hesseman) left the show and Mr. MacGregor (Billy Connolly) came in to teach the Honors class. And something that I am afraid will become a theme in this post, I had a crush on Khrystyne Haje who played Simone Foster. To quote David Wooderson in ‘Dazed and Confused’ “I love them redheads!”.
Here is another musical connection; Anytime I hear this song, I think of this episope. The class was tapped to put something in a time capsule. They made a music video. It really is the perfect combination of 80′s pop culture. Enjoy!!
Balki Bartokomous and his cousin Larry Appleton gave us 8 seasons of wacky high jinks and absurd situations; and I loved every bit of it. The physical comedy of Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pinchot took the ‘Odd Couple’ storyline to wonderful heights. One of the most underrated sitcoms, in my opinion, since the invention of the sitcom. If nothing else it gave us the Myposian ‘Dance of Joy’!
And of course, here is ‘The Dance of Joy’…
Charles in Charge
I mean who wouldn’t want Scott Baio to be there nanny back in the day? Seriously!?! He’s was Chachi Arcola for cryin’ out loud! And it has a damn catchy theme song…
Here is a combination of the Openings from all the seasons of the show.
And now my favorite version of the theme. It is by The Blanks.
Gordon ‘ALF’ Shumway, the Melmacian maniac… lover of cats, well cats as tasty treats anyway. Gordon crash landed in the backyard of the Tanner’s on September 22, 1986 and neither of their lives were ever the same. This was a Monday night staple for me. (As well as a Saturday morning cartoon staple.) It was witty and somewhat predictable but always had a positive message. To quote ALF, “Putting humans in charge of the earth, is the cosmic equivalence of letting Eddie Murphy direct.” Too true my little furry alien friend… too true…
I thought this was fitting…
Valerie/Valerie’s Family/The Hogan Family
Like I said before the last clip, I figured it was fitting to put this right after ALF, because it followed him on Monday nights for some time. This show was marred by the in fighting with Valerie Harper over her salary. She left the show because of it. The writers and producers were so angry with her that they ended up killing off her character on the show. Thus insuring that she couldn’t return. She was replaced by Sandy Duncan and the show was renamed for the first time; From ‘Valerie’ to ‘Valerie’s Family’ then eventually to ‘The Hogan Family’. Despite all that it wasn’t that bad of a show. Plus it had Jason Bateman.
A classic. It gave us the famous line… “Hi. I’m Larry. This is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl.” What a great cast. They all worked so perfectly together. And it probably had thee best series finally twist of all time.
WKRP in Cincinnati
This is the exception to the rule on my list. It was split in half between the 70′s and 80′s. Half in one and half in the other. But I had to put it on the list fo r the soul reason, believe it or not, this show made me want to become a radio DJ. The crew from WKRP will forever be on the air for me.
If you are making a list of sitcoms, 80′s or all time, this will not only make said list, it will usually be near the top. It was an institution. Sam, Woody, Coach, Diane, Cliff, Norm, Carla, Frasier… they were there, week in, week out. They became our friends. It really was a familure place and you believed if you walked in there, everybody WOULD know your name.
You have to have a few of these…
Punky Brewster and My Two Dads
I combined these two because they are on here for two reasons… Soleil Moon Frye and Staci Keanan. The two shows were good and I really enjoyed them… but I was crushing on those two pretty hard back then. Staci went on to do ‘Step by Step’ and Soleil went on to get a breast reduction; Both good career moves.
The Wonder Years
Speaking of crushes… Winnie Cooper would have to be at the top of that list. Danika McKellar, of course, went on to graduate Summa cum Laude from UCLA with a degree in Mathematics and has now published several books. Gotta love the nerdy girls!
The Wonder Years was another one of those shows that affected me on a deep personal level. The writing and acting were superb. Who wouldn’t want Daniel Stern to voice over the retelling of your life? The thought of Kevin, Winnie and Paul always brings a smile to my face. It never fails.
From the first to the last…
Honorable mentions go to E/R, Bosom Buddies, Alice, Dear John, Empty Nest, Silver Spoons, The Jeffersons, Mr. Belvedere, Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Who’s the Boss?, Night Court, Gimme a Break! and The Golden Girls.
There it is, for better or worse. That is my list of 80′s Sitcoms.
Let me know…