The Best Feelgood Sitcoms

The subjects of this week’s ‘Who The F*** Are You?’ profile, writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, are the kings of feel good comedy. Here are ten of the best sitcoms, old and new, to watch for an uplifting escape from reality.

Porridge (BBC, 1973 — 1977)

Porridge’ (slang for doing jail time) was penned by our profile subjects this week, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. The sitcom is about the inmates of HM Prison Slade, where habitual criminal Norman Stanley Fletcher, played brilliantly by the late great Ronnie Barker, finds himself in perpetual bother with wardens and fellow prisoners alike. Richard Beckinsale, father of actresses Samantha and Kate Beckinsale, played somewhat naive cellmate Lennie Godber who was often the target of Fletcher’s cutting barbs.

Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV, 2015 — 2020)

This modern classic, that swept the board at last year’s Emmys, helped millions of people around the world find a laugh during the recent coronavirus pandemic after experience a ‘Netflix bump.’ The show follows the once-wealthy Rose family as they move to a motel in the aptly-named Schitt’s Creek after losing their fortune – and discover there’s more to life than money.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO, 2000 – present)

From the co-creator of another smash hit sitcom, ‘Seinfeld’, Larry David plays a version of himself on this improvised series. Facing a constant barrage of life’s little annoyances, he makes dramatic mountains out of molehills, openly complaining about almost everything that we all secretly wish to moan about too. The joy is bearing witness to his frustrations and misery, the source of what makes us snigger. Hitting the air for the first time in October 2000, Curb continues, 100 episodes in so far, plus a 60-minute special and more to follow.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (NBC, 1990 — 1996)

‘This is a story all about how my life got switched turned upside down…’ You know the rest. This 1990s classic launched the career of Will Smith, whose fictional mom sent him from the tough streets of Philadelphia to live with his rich uncle in Bel Air.

Friends (NBC, 1994 — 2004)

‘Friends’ had perhaps the biggest pop culture footprint of any sitcom, launching the stellar careers of its cast Courteney Cox, Matt Le Blanc, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, and Jennifer Aniston. It was also wonderfully-written escapist TV.

The Simpsons (Fox, 1989 — present)

The animated series is the longest-running sitcom in history, ensuring a comforting watch, nostalgic laughs and a reminder that our own family is not so disfunctional after all. During a Comic-Con@Home panel teasing season 33, executive producer Matt Selman described premier episode “The Star of the Backstage” as the “most musical episode we’ve ever done”- like a Broadway musical of an episode with wall to wall music.”

Black-ish (ABC, 2014 — present)

Wealthy advertising exec Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) worries his family aren’t black enough in this timely show balancing comedy and tackling important social issues. Barack Obama is a fan, while Donald Trump called it racist, and we know whose judgement we trust.

Only Fools and Horses (BBC, 1981 – 2003)

The love and warmth that underpins the hilarity in this classic sitcom about London market trader Del Boy (David Jason) and his family make it as uplifting as it is it funny.

Cheers (NBC, 1982 — 1993)

Set in a Boston bar of the same name, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax and share their ongoing dramas. The show is centered around the bar’s owner Sam Malone (Ted Danson), a womanizing former relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. During its run of 275 half-hour episodes spanning eleven seasons it was considered one of the most popular series in history. It also proved a launching pad for some of the stellar ensemble cast including Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer and Kirstie Alley.

The Office (BBC, 2001 — 2003)

The awkward antics of paper company boss David Brent might not lend itself to feel good TV, but the big heart of the show, which beats hardest in its wonderful finale, makes it a moving and uplifting watch. In March 2005 the US adaption began with Steve Carell as lead protagonist, proving that the basic office concept could successfully and brilliantly span both sides of the pond.

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