For more than eight decades, sitcom has both marked the times and delivered a balm against them. From Rob Petrie stumbles over his stool further Dick Van Dyke Show to Ilana face planting on a Broad City subway car; from Honeymoon‘Ralph Kramden hardly contained his frustration over Ed Norton to Atlanta‘s Paper Boi does the same with his cousin Earn; From Lucy Ricardo getting drunk on Vitameatavegamin to Fleabag enjoying Gin in a tin with the hot priest, the genre̵
To choose the 100 greatest sitcoms ever, we first had to decide how to define the term. Skit comedies were out, from the explicit, like Saturday Night Live and Muppet Show, to the more ambiguous, such as The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Ditto comedy-drama hybrids that ran about an hour – Strange people and nerds, sig, or Crazy ex-girlfriend. Half-hour drama media presented a blurry image; we took them on a case-by-case basis, applying our own version of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition of obscenity: “I know it when I see it.” Where Illuminated and The Wonder Years seemed to fall just too far down the drama side of the line, for example Atlanta and Better stuff had enough comedy to qualify. This list is also composed entirely of English-language comedies, primarily American, with a handful of British and Canadian shows cutting.
For the most part, though, we were looking for a consistent group of characters and settings. Then we considered not only how much these series made us laugh, but also how much they affected the shows that followed, how well they reflected the world around them, and occasionally how deeply they made us feel emotions beyond joy.