The 1970s brought a new wave of sitcoms that captured the hearts of viewers and left an indelible mark on television history. With their relatable characters, hilarious storylines, and social commentary, these sitcoms defined an era. In this article, we will take a look at the top 10 best sitcoms from the 1970s that continue to charm audiences with their nostalgic humor.
From dysfunctional families to workplace shenanigans, sitcoms of the 70s explored a range of themes and captured the essence of the era. The shows on this list are not only entertaining but have also stood the test of time, earning their place as classics.
- The 1970s saw a shift in sitcoms, with shows becoming more grounded and relatable to audiences.
- Top 70s sitcoms explored social and political issues while providing humor and commentary on the culture of the time.
- Sanford and Son, Three’s Company, Are You Being Served?, The Bob Newhart Show, Happy Days, Soap, WKRP in Cincinnati, The Odd Couple, and Fawlty Towers are among the top sitcoms from the 70s.
- These sitcoms continue to be beloved for their memorable characters, iconic moments, and lasting impact on the genre.
- Whether you’re a fan of 70s sitcoms or looking to discover classic comedy, these shows are a must-watch for any TV enthusiast.
Sanford And Son (1972–1977)
Sanford and Son is a beloved 70s sitcom that revolves around the lives of Fred G. Sanford, played by Redd Foxx, and his son Lamont, portrayed by Demond Wilson. The show centers on the hilarious antics of this father and son duo who run a junk dealership in the heart of Los Angeles.
Sanford and Son tackled controversial issues of the time, such as racism, with a unique blend of humor and heart. The show’s relatable characters and their dynamic relationships with each other and the community resonated with audiences, making it a huge hit during its five-season run.
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“We’re coming to join you, Elizabeth!” – Fred G. Sanford
The chemistry between Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson brought the characters of Fred and Lamont to life, delivering unforgettable comedic moments in every episode. Sanford and Son’s success led to a continuation with the spinoff series Sanford Arms and also a spinoff called Grady.
The Legacy of Sanford And Son
Sanford and Son left a lasting impact on popular culture and paved the way for future sitcoms. The show’s exploration of social issues, coupled with its witty writing and timeless humor, solidified its place in television history. Today, it is remembered as one of the greatest sitcoms of the 70s and continues to entertain new generations through syndication.
Three’s Company (1976–1984)
Three’s Company quickly became a beloved 70s sitcom with its innovative storyline and hilarious comedy. The show revolves around a single guy named Jack Tripper, played by John Ritter, who lives with two women, Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers), in the same apartment.
The sitcom explores gender dynamics and tackles the social attitudes of the time, often leading to misunderstandings and comedic situations. Three’s Company expertly weaves lighthearted humor with thought-provoking storylines, highlighting the gender gap in a way that resonated with audiences.
John Ritter’s portrayal of Jack Tripper left an indelible mark on sitcom history. His comedic timing and physicality brought the character to life and solidified his place as one of the most iconic television characters of the era.
“I’ve learned that men are romantics, I’m a romantic, and I’ve learned that women like romance as much as men do.” – Jack Tripper
The success of Three’s Company led to spinoffs and continued its popularity well into the 80s. The sitcom remains a cultural touchstone for its witty writing, memorable characters, and exploration of gender dynamics in a lighthearted and entertaining way.
Are You Being Served? (1972–1985)
Are You Being Served is a British sitcom that hilariously parodied the retail industry, specifically the ladies’ and gents’ apparel section of a department store. The show was known for its madcap humor, malfunctioning sales displays, and risqué double-entendres. It became a hit both in the UK and internationally, leading to a movie, a revival episode, and even an Australian adaptation.
Are You Being Served offered a delightful mix of cringe-worthy customer interactions, eccentric staff members, and British humor. The show’s witty scripts and memorable characters brought laughter to audiences around the world.
One of the standout aspects of Are You Being Served was its ensemble cast, which brought the hilarious characters to life with their impeccable comedic timing. The show featured unforgettable personalities such as:
- Mr. Humphries: The flamboyant and quick-witted sales assistant who delivered some of the most memorable one-liners.
- Captain Peacock: The pompous floorwalker known for his strict adherence to store etiquette and his propensity for self-importance.
- Miss Brahms: The feisty and flirtatious junior ladies’ department assistant who often found herself caught up in comical situations.
“Are You Being Served? is one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. The interactions between the characters are so funny, and the writing is top-notch. It’s a classic sitcom that never fails to make me laugh!” – Fan testimonial
Are You Being Served provided countless laugh-out-loud moments throughout its run. From the famous “lift episodes” where characters found themselves trapped and bickering to the hilarious mishaps and misunderstandings that occurred during the store’s annual sales events, the show was a masterclass in comedic timing and physical comedy.
|The fictional London department store, Grace Brothers.
|British wit, innuendos, and slapstick comedy.
|Became a cult favorite, leading to a loyal fanbase worldwide.
|Spawned spin-offs, a movie, and even an Australian adaptation.
Are You Being Served perfectly captured the essence of British humor while providing a lighthearted depiction of the retail industry. With its colorful characters, hilarious scenarios, and clever wordplay, the sitcom has secured its place as a timeless comedy classic.
The Bob Newhart Show (1972–1978)
The Bob Newhart Show is a beloved 70s sitcom that showcases the comedic talents of Bob Newhart. The show centers around the character Dr. Robert Hartley, a psychologist who finds himself in absurd and hilarious situations both at work and in his personal life.
Newhart’s portrayal of Dr. Hartley captures the essence of a well-meaning professional trying to navigate the daily challenges of his profession and maintain a happy marriage with his wife, Emily (played by Suzanne Pleshette).
As a psychologist, Dr. Hartley’s interactions with his patients provide plenty of comedic material. Whether it’s his eccentric patients or his confrontations with his quirky colleague, Dr. Jerry Robinson (played by Peter Bonerz), the show never fails to deliver laughs.
The Bob Newhart Show stands out for its well-crafted writing, relatable characters, and its ability to tackle serious subjects with humor. The show explores relatable themes such as relationships, marriage, friendship, and the human condition – all with Newhart’s trademark dry wit and brilliant comedic timing.
The Bob Newhart Show struck a chord with audiences during the 70s, and its impact on the sitcom genre is still felt to this day. The show received critical acclaim and garnered multiple award nominations, including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
The Bob Newhart Show continues to entertain audiences with its timeless humor and endearing characters. It remains a classic sitcom that has stood the test of time and holds a special place in the hearts of fans.
Notable Cast Members of The Bob Newhart Show:
- Bob Newhart as Dr. Robert Hartley
- Suzanne Pleshette as Emily Hartley
- Peter Bonerz as Dr. Jerry Robinson
- Bill Daily as Howard Borden
- Marcia Wallace as Carol Kester
|September 16, 1972 – April 1, 1978
Happy Days (1974–1984)
Step back in time to the 1950s with the beloved sitcom, Happy Days. This charming series takes viewers on a nostalgic journey through the lives of the Cunningham family and their close-knit group of friends in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Happy Days captures the essence of 1950s nostalgia, transporting audiences to an era of sock hops, diners, and jukeboxes.
One of the most iconic characters in television history, Arthur Fonzarelli, better known as “the Fonz,” quickly became a fan favorite. Played by Henry Winkler, the Fonz embodied the cool, leather jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding rebel with a heart of gold. His catchphrase “Aaay!” became a cultural phenomenon, and his suave, confident demeanor made him an unforgettable character.
Happy Days had a lasting impact on pop culture, spawning spinoff series like Laverne & Shirley and Joanie Loves Chachi, as well as reuniting the cast for various specials and reunions. The show even introduced the now-famous phrase “jumping the shark” due to a notable episode where the Fonz literally jumped over a shark while water skiing, which marked a turning point for the series.
Happy Days captured the hearts of audiences with its relatable characters, heartwarming stories, and timeless appeal. It remains a beloved 70s sitcom that continues to be celebrated for its nostalgic portrayal of the 1950s and the enduring bonds of friendship and family.
Soap was a unique sitcom that parodied the dramatic world of daytime soap operas from the 70s. Blending serious plotlines like kidnapping and murder with comedic elements, it offered a refreshing twist on conventional sitcoms of the time.
The show featured a stellar ensemble cast that brought the outrageous characters to life, including Katherine Helmond, Richard Mulligan, and Billy Crystal. With its controversial storylines and daring humor, Soap pushed boundaries and challenged the norms of television storytelling.
Notably, the sitcom received multiple award nominations, proving its impact on the industry. Soap also showcased the future of television with its innovative approach to narrative structure and character development.
Experience the hilarious and captivating world of Soap, where laughter meets melodrama.
Key Highlights of Soap:
- A unique sitcom that parodied the dramatic world of soap operas
- Mixed serious plotlines with comedic elements
- Stellar ensemble cast featuring Katherine Helmond, Richard Mulligan, and Billy Crystal
- Controversial storylines that pushed boundaries
- Received multiple award nominations and critical acclaim
- Shaped the future of television storytelling
Stay tuned for more hilarious sitcoms from the 70s in our ranking of the top 10 best shows from the era!
WKRP In Cincinnati (1978–1982)
WKRP in Cincinnati was a beloved workplace comedy that revolved around the lives of the staff members at a radio station in Cincinnati. Set in the late 1970s, the sitcom provided viewers with a hilarious and entertaining glimpse into the world of radio broadcasting.
The show featured a talented ensemble cast, including Howard Hesseman as the eccentric DJ Dr. Johnny Fever, Loni Anderson as the glamorous receptionist Jennifer Marlowe, and Tim Reid as the suave program director Venus Flytrap. Their chemistry and comedic timing brought the characters to life and made them instantly memorable.
“As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!” – Arthur Carlson
The inventive storytelling and clever writing of WKRP in Cincinnati set it apart from other sitcoms of its time. The show tackled a variety of topics and situations with wit and humor, creating a unique blend of workplace comedy and character-driven storytelling.
WKRP in Cincinnati became a blueprint for future workplace sitcoms, setting the standard for shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation. Its influence can still be seen today in the comedic portrayal of office dynamics and the quirky interactions among co-workers.
Notable Episodes and Moments
- “Turkeys Away” – In this iconic episode, station manager Arthur Carlson hatches a plan to boost ratings by dropping live turkeys from a helicopter. The disastrous results make for a comedic masterpiece.
- “Fish Story” – Johnny Fever accidentally starts a panic when he reports that toxic gas is about to be released into the air. The chaos that ensues showcases the show’s ability to balance humor and social commentary.
- “The Contest Nobody Could Win” – WKRP holds a contest where listeners have to identify a song to win a large cash prize. However, their choice of a difficult classical piece proves to be a hilarious challenge for all involved.
The legacy of WKRP in Cincinnati extends beyond its original run. The show remains a beloved 70s sitcom, with its memorable characters and timeless humor still resonating with audiences today. It garnered critical acclaim and received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, solidifying its place in television history.
WKRP in Cincinnati continues to be a favorite among fans of workplace comedies and serves as a testament to the enduring appeal of the genre. Its witty writing, memorable characters, and humorous takes on the world of radio broadcasting make it a must-watch for anyone looking for a good laugh.
The Odd Couple (1970–1975)
The Odd Couple, a beloved 70s sitcom, revolved around the lives of two divorced men, Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, who become roommates. With their contrasting personalities and lifestyles, the unlikely pair created a series of humorous conflicts and unforgettable moments that kept audiences entertained for five seasons.
Felix Unger, played by Tony Randall, was a neat freak, obsessed with cleanliness and order. In stark contrast, Oscar Madison, portrayed by Jack Klugman, was a slob who embraced a more laid-back approach to life. Their mismatched living arrangement led to a constant clash of habits, providing the perfect recipe for comedic situations.
The Odd Couple’s success stemmed not only from its well-developed characters but also from its witty writing and sharp dialogue. The show was an adaptation of the iconic play and film of the same name by Neil Simon, and it successfully brought the mismatched roommates to the small screen.
The Odd Couple resonated with audiences because it delved into themes that were relatable and timeless, such as the challenges of cohabitation and the dynamics of friendship. Despite their constant conflicts, Felix and Oscar ultimately found solace and support in each other, highlighting the enduring bond of their unconventional relationship.
Throughout its run, The Odd Couple garnered critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase. It received multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, solidifying its place as one of the most beloved sitcoms of the 70s. The show also spawned a successful animated series, a sequel series, and various adaptations in different countries.
In summary, The Odd Couple stands as a classic sitcom that captivated audiences with its unique premise, memorable characters, and hilarious misadventures. It remains a testament to the enduring appeal of mismatched roommates and the comedic chemistry that can arise from contrasting personalities.
Fawlty Towers (1975–1979)
Fawlty Towers is a legendary British sitcom that aired from 1975 to 1979. Created by the brilliant John Cleese of Monty Python fame, the show not only featured Cleese as the lead character but also showcased his exceptional writing talent. Set in a beachside hotel in Torquay, Fawlty Towers follows the chaotic and often hilarious life of hotel owner Basil Fawlty.
Despite its short run of only 12 episodes, Fawlty Towers remains a timeless classic and is widely considered one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. Cleese’s portrayal of the irritable and perpetually frustrated Basil Fawlty is legendary, earning him critical acclaim and a place in sitcom history.
Fawlty Towers is a prime example of British comedy at its finest. The show’s unique brand of humor, clever wordplay, and physical comedy continues to captivate audiences to this day. From Basil’s memorable catchphrases to the absurd situations he finds himself in, each episode of Fawlty Towers is a comedic masterpiece that leaves viewers in stitches.
What are the best 70s sitcoms?
The top 10 best 70s sitcoms are Sanford and Son, Three’s Company, Are You Being Served?, The Bob Newhart Show, Happy Days, Soap, WKRP in Cincinnati, The Odd Couple, and Fawlty Towers.
What is Sanford and Son about?
Sanford and Son follows the story of Fred and Lamont, a father and son duo who run a junk dealership. The sitcom tackled controversial issues, including racism, while providing a heartfelt dynamic between the two main characters.
What is Three’s Company known for?
Three’s Company became a hit with its unique premise of a single guy living with two women in the same apartment. The sitcom explored gender dynamics and created hilarious storylines around the misunderstandings and situations that arose from their living arrangement.
What is Are You Being Served about?
Are You Being Served is a British sitcom that hilariously parodied the retail industry, specifically the ladies’ and gents’ apparel section of a department store. The show was known for its madcap humor, malfunctioning sales displays, and risqué double-entendres.
Who stars in The Bob Newhart Show?
The Bob Newhart Show stars comedy legend Bob Newhart as Dr. Robert Hartley, a psychologist who navigates ridiculous and hilarious situations with his patients, colleagues, and his wife. Bob Newhart’s performance and the show’s comedic material garnered critical acclaim and multiple award nominations.
What is Happy Days about?
Happy Days transported viewers to the 1950s with its charming portrayal of the Cunningham family and their friends. The show became synonymous with 1950s nostalgia and introduced iconic characters like Arthur Fonzarelli, better known as “the Fonz.”
What is Soap about?
Soap was a unique sitcom that parodied daytime soap operas, featuring serious plotlines like kidnapping and murder mixed with comedic elements. The show had a stellar ensemble cast and took risks with its controversial storylines.
What is WKRP in Cincinnati focused on?
WKRP in Cincinnati focused on the lives of the staff members at a radio station in Cincinnati. The workplace comedy featured a talented ensemble cast and became the blueprint for future workplace sitcoms. The chemistry of the cast and inventive storytelling made WKRP in Cincinnati a beloved sitcom, earning Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.
What is The Odd Couple about?
The Odd Couple followed the lives of two divorced men, Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, who become roommates. The mismatched roommates led to humorous conflicts and unforgettable moments. The show featured the iconic comedic duo of Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.
What is Fawlty Towers known for?
Fawlty Towers was a British sitcom created by John Cleese, who also starred in the show. The series followed the chaotic life of hotel owner Basil Fawlty. Fawlty Towers is widely regarded as one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, despite its short run of only 12 episodes. Cleese’s performance and the show’s unique brand of comedy have left a lasting impact on the sitcom genre.
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