Old School Sitcoms and TV Shows That Still Make Us Laugh Today: From M*A*S*H to Cheers

by Suzanne Halliburton
old-school-sitcoms-and-tv-shows-that-still-make-us-laugh-today-from-mash-to-cheers

Fans of old school sitcoms — do you ever wonder what Archie Bunker would say if he were alive today? How about George Jefferson? Or Fred Sanford?

We still picture Sam and Woody serving up beers and laughing at the wisecracks of Cliff and Norm. Who wouldn’t want to eat a piece of cheesecake with the Golden Girls as we sit around the kitchen table, talking about men. And maybe Col. Hogan should run the military. He certainly snowed the Germans back in the day.

Classic, old school sitcoms can run on a loop in reruns all day, every day. We’ll never get tired of watching because the characters who were so real then, hold up so well now.

Here are some of the many old school sitcoms that can be new school now. And by the way, there are no wrong answers. Asking about your favorite comedy is akin to wanting to know your favorite flavor of ice cream. We love so, so many.

Archie Bunker Is Best Old School Sitcoms Character, Ever

All In The Family addressed it all back in the day. It ran for nine seasons, starting in 1971. And it was a sitcom before its time, addressing topics like racism, sexism, homosexuality and reproductive rights. Archie and Edith Bunker lived in their working class neighborhood in Queens. Daughter Gloria and husband Mike lived with Archie and Edith.

Archie would say most anything. His liberal son-in-law, affectionately known as “Meathead,” argued with Archie on everything. TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows Of All Time ranked it fourth. Bravo called Archie Bunker the greatest TV character of all time.

But seriously, can’t you imagine a reboot of the show? All the topics the characters discussed then still are so relevant today. Archie or Mike could be any of our opinionated family members who may be a bit too addicted to cable news.

The show produced so many spinoffs. There’s the Jefferson’s. George Jefferson and his wife, Louise, were neighbors of the Bunkers. They also were Black.

Then there was “Maude.” Bea Arthur played Maude, Edith’s super liberal cousin. She was only in two episodes before the “Maude” spinoff. Old school comedy fans also know her as Dorothy from the Golden Girls.

The Show M*A*S*H Allowed Us To Deal With War

The United States still was grappling with the Vietnam War when M*A*S*H premiered in 1972. So why not use a comedy about the Korean War in the 1950s to make sense with what was happening in current times. It worked perfectly. The show revolved around the doctors, nurses and other support staff of the 4077 based in South Korea.

The final episode, aired in 1983, drew an audience of 106 million. The show still is the highest-rated scripted TV show of all time. The telecasts of nine Super Bowls exceeded it. The series struggled in its first year, then Americans started to love characters like Hawkeye Pierce, Klinger and Hot Lips Houlihan.

There was lots of flirting and affairs, wisecracks and some doctor stuff. There also was brutal war. Lt Col Henry Blake was on his way home at the end of season three. But he died when his plane was shot down.

We Wish Fred Sanford And Archie Bunker Could’ve Been Neighbors

If only Fred Sanford and Archie Bunker could’ve met in the land of TV. Sanford was the main character in Sanford and Son. And raunchy comedian Redd Foxx played cantankerous Fred Sanford to perfection. It was a show that featured an almost all-Black casts, one of the first on network TV.

Fred Sanford was a widow. And he ran a junk yard. The show also included his son, Lamont and best friend Rollo. There Other characters included Aunt Esther, Fred’s sister-in-law, Grady and Bubba. The two loved to argue and insult each other. And, if Fred ever wanted to win an argument, he’d clutch his chest, as if he was having a heart attack, and say “Elizabeth, I’m coming to join you, honey.” Elizabeth was his dead wife.

The show ran from 1972-77. It was ranked among the top 10 most watched shows for five of his six seasons.

Hogan’s Heroes Turned WWII Into a Comedy

America also dealt with the Vietnam War by watching another war comedy — Hogan’s Heroes. This show, which ran from 1965 through 1971, was set in World War II, in a prison camp in Germany. Col Hogan, portrayed by Bob Crane, ran a special operation spy campaign right underneath the German’s noses at Stalag 13.

Hogan and other characters were prisoners of war. But they could leave through a series of tunnels beneath their prison house.

Col Klink ran the prison. He often would brag that no prisoner never escaped Stalag 13. And he never caught on that Hogan and his buddies weren’t normal POW. Sgt Schultz was the most lovable character. He wanted no part of figuring out what the prisoners were up to — “I know nothing, I see nothing” — was a catch phrase.

Cheers Fits Definition Of Old School Sitcoms

Given how popular this show turned out to be, it’s difficult to believe it almost got the boot after its first season. It ranked 74th out of 77 shows on TC in 1982. The show also had the distinction of being nominated for an Emmy for best comedy for all 11 of its seasons. It won 28 Emmys from a record 117 nominations. It’s series finale draw an audience of 93 million.

The show, which ran from 1982 to 1993, was set in Boston. Sam Malone, a former Major League pitcher and a recovering alcoholic, owned Cheers, the neighborhood bar. The patrons were some of the show’s stars — Cliff, Norm and Frasier, the psychiatrist. Sam’s employees included fellow bartender Woody; Carla, the waitress who terrorized the customers; Diane, the snobby waitress and Rebecca, a manager.

Frasier, the character, got his own show. Kelsey Grammer moved from Boston to Seattle and the show focused on Frasier’s relationship with his own family.

Here’s To The Golden Girls And Living Your Best Life

Imagine this show: three 50-something women, two widows and a divorcee, live as roommates in Miami. One of their mothers, who’d suffered a minor stroke, moves in, too. The chemistry was perfect between the sexy Blanche, substitute teacher Dorothy, naive Rose and Sophia, the wise-cracking octogenarian.

The show ran from 1985-92. It twice won the Emmy for best comedy series. And all four stars won at least one Emmy. Like all the great comedies, it didn’t back down from society’s major issues.

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