Best TV Comedies of the 90’s!!!

Friends

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A show about a group of six friends hanging out and their friendships/relationships, “Friends” has developed into a pop culture phenomenon. As with every show, there were many strange things constantly going on, the most obvious of which is how Monica and Rachel were able to afford that apartment on waitress and chef salaries. Aside from that though, most of the strangeness was a result of the wacky characters and situations they end up in classic sitcom fashion.

What makes the show special:

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The thing that definitely stands out when it comes to “Friends” are the character relationships. There are entire seasons that feel like they’re working off of the classic “will they won’t they” trope. The constant hanging out, and being in each others lives always led to wackiness one way or another and with half of them being in or out of a relationship with another, the drama never ended. Add all this together with an instant musical classic like “Smelly Cat” and you’ve got yourself an all time great show.

Seinfeld

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The “show about nothing”, “Seinfeld” is still one of the funniest shows to have graced a television screen. All the main characters were pretty much scumbags and brought every awful situation upon themselves. That didn’t make it any less hysterical when they’d lie themselves into some ridiculous situation and then try to lie to make it better which obviously never works. It wasn’t only a comedic game changer though, “Seinfeld” also broke many television boundaries, making episodes about topics that were completely taboo at the time. Basically it changed TV forever.

What makes the show special:

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The thing that makes “Seinfeld” stand out is the fact that all the characters are so called “bad people” and are all very self centered. If even a single character was consistently honest, almost every situation the show finds itself in would have to be rewritten. Speaking of the writing, it’s some of the funniest a sitcom has ever seen, there aren’t many shows that consistently make people laugh simply by the situations the characters find themselves in but this is definitely one of them.

Frasier

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Typically when a spin-off of an extremely popular show is announced, people brace themselves. While there may be a few characters that they love, everyone knows that at best the show will be just ok and definitely not better. Somehow, “Frasier” managed to not only do well as a show itself, but in many opinions outdo the show it spun-off, “Cheers”. Who knew following Frasier Cane around Seattle would be as entertaining as it turned out to be?

What makes the show special:

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What makes “Frasier” special is undoubtedly the dialogue and delivery, especially from Frasier and Niles. It seems like both characters were perfectly cast as brothers and both actors perfected the strange, hoity toity speech the characters use. The diologue itself is also very unique, while most sitcoms dumb down their jokes so the wider audience will understand, “Frasier” allowed it’s characters to be intellectualy humerous. While it may not be super noticeable in a single viewing, watching it back to back with other generic sitcoms really allows it to shine.

Family Matters

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It’s hard to believe when looking at “Family Matters” today that Steve Urkel, by far the shows most recognizable character, was only introduced half way through the first season.  I don’t think theres any television show in history that had a character who went on to have the show revolve around them for 8 seasons, but was barely a recurring character in the first season. Whether you liked Urkel or not, he kept this show afloat and is the reason people remember the show today.

What makes the show special:

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While it may seem like I’m beating a dead horse, Steve Urkel is what made this show special. While he may have been incessantly annoying, you can’t argue that at times his character was comedic gold. Stumbling around and just being as goofy as possible, Urkel really put this show on the map and is the main reason people still have it in their memory. That’s not to take away from any of the other characters but Steve was just a step above everyone else.

Full house

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Recently being kind of rebooted on Netflix with “Fuller House”, this show introduced us to John Stamos and the Olsen twins. Was the writing amazing? No not really. Were a lot of the jokes corny? Yes they were. But was it entertaining? Sure was. “Full House” might not have been the best quality television but something about Danny, Jesse and Joey kept viewers coming back for more.  You know you’ve done something right if people are still tuning in 20 years later.

What makes the show special:

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The characters and star power definitely make this show stand out. While they might not have been A-listers at the beginning of filming, many of the actors here are extremely recognizable for their roles in “Full House” and other projects. John Stamos, Bob Saget, the Olsen twin and of course Lori Loughlin are all still relevant today, whether for good or bad reasons (we’re looking at you Lori). For a show that finished it’s run in 1995, that’s pretty impressive.

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

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The show with one of the most recognizable theme songs of all time, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” is undoubtedly one of the best shows of the 90’s. To this day, there are still things that are relevant because of Fresh Prince. Number one, we got introduced to Will Smith who would go on to become one of the largest and most successful Hollywood stars in history, second, the aforementioned theme song and third we got the Carlton dance which has recently been brought back to the forefront because of Fortnite.

What makes the show special:

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The obvious answer here is the characters as every single role makes an impression and is still memorable over 20 years later. An answer that sometimes gets overlooked in regard to Fresh Prince is its ability to cover serious and important topics while also staying funny and light, especially with most viewers not being used to seeing an affluent African- American family. It really broke boundaries which allowed for it to have an impact other shows wouldn’t have had.

Boy Meets World

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While many shows take you on a mental journey of growth, we don’t often get to actually grow up with all the main characters on a show. In “Boy Meets World” we watch Corey, Shawn, Topanga and co literally grow from children, to teenagers, to young adults right in front of our eyes. Heartbreaks, homelife difficulties, school, we’re there for it all and by the end, it honestly feels like they’re journey of maturation has been yours as well.

What makes the show special:

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While I already talked about it in the previous slide, what made “Boy Meets World” standout is the way we were able to grow with the characters. In a television guide littered with coming of age stories, “Boy Meets World” managed to stand out because of its honesty and realism. The relationships felt real and while it had classic sitcom moments, none of it felt fabricated.  There’s a reason a modern day spin off titled “Girl Meets World” centred around Corey and Topanga’s daughter was made instead of making a new show around new characters.

Saved by the Bell

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Everyone remembers “Saved by the Bell”, it’s the decisive high school sitcom from the early 90’s. Most of the original stars are still relevant today and and each character is instantly recognizable. In addition to all that, I’m pretty sure every single guy had a crush on Kelly Kapowski during the shows run time. While all the shows on this list feel iconic, this one feels a bit more so. Is that the nostalgia talking? Probably, but it’s still an important point.

What makes the show special:

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The characters on this show are definitely what stands out. Each main character is the ideal stereotype for what high school was back then. We’ve got cool guy Zack Morris who has the ability to pause time and explain exactly what he’s thinking during any situation. There’s “perfect” Kelly Kapowski, study obsessed genius Jessie, jock with a classic jock name A.C Slater, geeky nerd guy who everyone is still friends with Screech, and finally fashion and gossip expert Lisa. They were just a perfect blend of friends.

Home Improvement

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Similar to “Full House”, this show will never be remembered for its incredible acting or groundbreaking writing. It was a simple entertaining show that people tuned in to watch in droves. It was also Tim Allen’s first real acting gig and he would go on to voice one of the most recognizable animated characters of all time, Buzz Lightyear. It also thrust Jonathan Taylor Thomas into the limelight who would go on to voice young Simba in “The Lion King”.

What makes the show special:

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To be honest, there isn’t one thing that grabs you as the reason to watch this show. Was it Tim Taylor bumbling around and almost getting everyone killed too many times? Maybe. Was it Jonathan Taylor Thomas playing Tim’s son Randy who was coined to be the next Macaulay Culkin at the time? Also maybe. Point is  as previously mentioned, there isn’t anything that especially stands out, that’s not to say “Home Improvement” is a bad show because it isn’t, it’s just more of a turn your brain off and relax kind of experience.

That 70’s Show

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While “That 70’s Show” may have hit it’s heyday in the early 2000’s, it started in the late 90’s so it earned a place on this list. With star power galore, every lead in “That 70’s Show” went on to do more once the show concluded. There’s a reason all these leads went on to have successful careers and that’s because “That 70’s Show” was genuinely funny and enjoyable. From the bevy of running gags to the shows unique setting, “That 70’s Show” was special.

What makes the show special:

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The obvious answer here is the setting but I honestly feel that this show would be funny in any time period. With constant weird visual effects and catchphrases/gags that were funny for all 8 seasons, “That 70’s Show” was just as special for its writing and characters as it was for taking place in the 70’s. One more unique factor in play with “That 70’s Show”, the parents were actual characters as opposed to being figureheads there to discipline. For a show about teenagers, that didn’t happen very often.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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While nowadays vampires are mostly associated with “Twilight”, a few years before the reputation of vampires everywhere became tainted, we had “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. Created by Joss Whedon, who would go on to direct the first two Avengers films, this was a show with obviously geeky direction that somehow made it mainstream. With an interesting blend of humor and horror, Buffy was really different from everything else that came out at the time and is remembered for it.

What makes the show special:

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As previously mentioned, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was the only show on television to combine high school comedy with action horror and they did it expertly. There aren’t many shows that have legitimate laugh out loud moments but also have scenes that make you want to hide under the covers, but “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is one of them. It also had a strong female lead who wasn’t intimidated by anything, including actual monsters, which again was against the norm for teen shows back in the 90’s.

The Simpsons

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Easily the most iconic show on this list, while it’s been on the air for over 30 years at this point, no one will argue that “The Simpsons” hit its heyday during the 90’s, so were going to categorize it here. This show has been on the air for so long at this point, people don’t know what it’s like to not have it around and with that comes the instant recognition of all it’s main characters.  Everyone from a 5 year old kid to a 95 year old senior is able to name at least one character on this show and while it might not have had such a consistent run, no one will argue with huge cultural impact “The Simpsons” has had.

What makes the show special:

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During its 90’s peak, “The Simpsons” was the go-to source for pop culture references and commentary. It’s humor was fast paced and non stop with excellent jokes that seemingly refused not to land. The characters were iconic, the moments were unforgettable, the writing was top notch and it all culminated in probably the most internationally recognizable television show of all time. Sometimes it’s hard to remember just how incredible this show was with what it’s turned into but there’s a reason it’s as iconic as it is, and that reason is because of its run in the 90’s.

Married… with Children

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The story of Al Bundy’s quest to just get dinner on the table and enjoy a beer, “Married…with Children” was the perfect show to flip on, sit back, relax , enjoy a few cheap laughs and then go back to your normal life afterwards. It wasn’t the funniest, smartest or best intentioned show but it managed to entertain people to the tune of 11 seasons and over ten years on air so it was doing something right.

What makes the show special:

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“Married…with Children” was on the air for so long simply because of how relatable it was. It wasn’t about some rich guy trying to do rich people things, high schoolers that were unrealistically good looking, a group of friends who somehow always manage to find themselves in ridiculous situations or some over the top nerdy neighbour. The show was about a guy who isn’t all the special or great in any way, just trying to make it day by day. People connected with that and for that reason it’s still remembered today.

Everybody Loves Raymond

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The classic family sitcom, “Everybody Loves Raymond” won 15 Emmys during it’s 9 season run. It’s even still extremely popular today as there are constant reruns seemingly on at all hours. Ray and his family gave us the classic family problems in sitcom fashion, so even though you might be sitting there thinking to yourself, “Wow, that’s exactly what would happen to me,” it wouldn’t scare you too much because of the comfortable sitcom setting.

What makes the show special:

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Similar to the previous show, “Everybody Loves Raymond” was just easy and simple to relate too. Everybody argues with their spouse, many of us struggle with not being able to assert ourselves and combine that with dealing with your parents and siblings, this show is about as relatable as they come.  It’s pretty easy to just close your eyes and imagine Raymond living on your street corner or even the house next to yours.

The Rugrats

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Starting in 1991, going on adventures with Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil and the rest of the gang were some of the most entertaining half an hours you could spend on the television. The show had some incredible voice acting and even better animation which made it instantly recognizable for kids and adults everywhere. All the characters were likable as well, (besides for Angelica) which just added to the joy of watching the show. Unsurprisingly, it lasted all the way until 2004 with multiple movie spin offs and even a show with the babies grown up as teens.

What makes the show special:

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First and foremost, the voice acting and animation were great as previously mentioned. The writing also stands out as the show was genuinely funny and unique. Because “Rugrats” was essentially told from the perspective of babies, they really had to work overtime to give it that classic cartoon playfulness while also planting the tiniest seed in our heads of whether babies actually thought like this. It was really a special show and for those reasons it came to define many kids childhoods who grew up in the 90’s.

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