TV Article

Ha-Ha History

Sitcom history timeline -- We look back to happier times for TV comedies

There was a day, not so long ago, when sitcoms roamed the ratings plains like the mighty buffalo. Doubt it? Just look at our timeline of top TV comedies to see how they were hunted to near-extinction for their laugh-track hides.

1970-1971
6 Sitcoms in Top 30
America is all like, ''I Think I Love You'' to The Partridge Family, but is not-so-secretly seeing variety shows on the side.

1975-1976
16 Sitcoms in Top 30
Laverne & Shirley makes us long for Milwaukee, beer, and hairy-chested Italians who share a nickname with spaghetti sauce.

1980-1981
11 Sitcoms in Top 30
And five of 'em, like The Jeffersons, are spin-offs. The start of a fallow period that won't end until '84 with The Cosby Show.

1985-1986
13 Sitcoms in Top 30
The year when Cosby and Family Ties rule and Celebrity Fit Club isn't even a glint in Tempestt Bledsoe's or Tina Yothers' eyes.

1990-1991
20 Sitcoms in Top 30
One of the funniest seasons ever, with Cheers and Roseanne atop the charts. But a bad one for drama: just three in the top 30.

1995-1996
14 Sitcoms in Top 30
Almost every new comedy tries to be the next Seinfeld. Most end up becoming the next Newman.

2000-2001
9 Sitcoms in Top 30
After an embarrassment of riches in '97 (emphasis on ''embarrassment''), the drought begins as hits like Friends start to age.

2005-2006
2 Sitcoms in Top 30
The only shows to crack the top echelon are on CBS: The New Adventures of Old Christine and Two and a Half Men.

Originally posted Sep 29, 2006 Published in issue #900 Oct 06, 2006 Order article reprints
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