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Top 10 Television Sitcoms of the 1990s

VO: Rebecca Brayton
After sitcoms were revitalized in the 1980s, they really hit their stride in the '90s with shows about friends, families and nothing. We saw ensemble casts take off and sharp writing find its place. Politics took center stage on shows like "Murphy Brown," blue collar families made waves on "The Simpsons," "Roseanne" and "Married... with Children," while more upscale characters were seen on "Frasier." While relationships were vital to "Friends," shows like "Seinfeld" broke the mold by focusing on nothing in particular, and "Mad About You" followed suit – to a point. "Home Improvement" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" reminded audiences that goofiness was still alive and kickin' in the '90s. In this video, counts down our top 10 favorite sitcoms of the 1990s.

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These shows were about friends, families, and nothing. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down the top 10 sitcoms of the 1990s.

#10 – “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-1996)

Kicking off our list is the show that made Will Smith a star, and gave us two Aunt Vivs, one bitchy British butler, a dad with a short fuse and… the Carlton dance. Sure, it may not have won boatloads of awards, but we’re guilty of busting out that handshake every once in a while. The “Fresh Prince” also gets credit for having the greatest theme song of any show on this list.

#9 – “Home Improvement” (1991-1999)

Does everybody know what time it is? If you watched sitcoms in the ‘90s, there’s a good chance you knew where to find Binford Tools, great neighborly advice, bearded sidekicks and sexy Tool Time Girls. You may also remember when JTT was on the cover of every Tiger Beat in sight. Did we only watch this show to see people blow things up all the time? I don’t think so, Tim.

#8 – “Married… with Children” (1987-1997)

Who doesn’t wanna sit around with the remote in one hand and the other down their pants? Al Bundy and his family led the way for controversial sitcoms by constantly defying the censors. With a hot wife who wouldn’t do housework, a dumb blonde daughter and a wannabe womanizer for a son, it’s no wonder Al was so bitter, and the Bundys were the poster family of dysfunction.

#7 – “Mad About You” (1992-1999)

Here’s the equation: Take a likeable husband, add a neurotic wife and a dumb dog and you’ve got a hit. We always loved seeing crossovers between this series and other NBC hits like “Friends” and “Seinfeld.” As with most ‘90s sitcoms, “Mad About You” dealt with A) trivial everyday annoyances, and 2) nutty family, friends and guest stars. It’s moments like that that kept us watching until the show jumped into the “Final Frontier.”

#6 – “Roseanne” (1988-1997)

The Conners were an average blue collar American family, and brought real-life back to sitcoms. Whether they were hanging Christmas lights, celebrating Halloween, or smoking old weed, Roseanne and her clan were edgy. It may not have been high brow, but “Roseanne” was definitely well-written, and had one of the more memorable sitcom finales of the decade.

#5 – “Murphy Brown” (1988-1998)

This show never backed away from hot topics. “Murphy Brown” confronted every political story under the sun, was constantly lampooning sitting presidents, and tackled single motherhood. Bitingly smart writing, an endless supply of dumb politicians and perfectly cast roles helped “Murphy Brown” succeed. In fact, Candice Bergen was so good as this brash TV journalist she finally just pulled herself out of the running for the Emmy.

#4 – “The Simpsons” (1989-Present)

You may argue about “The Simpsons” since the show made it well past the ‘90s, but we’ve included it on our list because that’s the decade when the show hit its stride. Springfield is a second home to kids of the ‘90s: Moe is our bartender, Flanders our neighbor and Homer our dad. “The Simpsons” are one of the most beloved families in TV history – animated or not.

#3 – “Frasier” (1993-2004)

Could any other spinoff brag about 37 Emmys? By blending working-man comedy with hoity-toity humor, this “Cheers” offshoot found a huge audience. Sure, Frasier and Niles weren’t always the most lovable guys, with their pompous attitudes and endless neuroses, but Eddie always balanced them out pretty well. Plus, those guest-star callers were always a treat. We’re listening.

#2 – “Friends” (1994-2004)

Six friends living and loving in New York. The premise seems stale now, but “Friends” was groundbreaking when it debuted, and it truly became a cultural phenomenon. From the hairdos and giant coffee mugs, to Joey’s “How you doin’?” to Ross and Rachel’s “break,” this series was packed with memories. We’re not proud, but we still cry when Rachel gets off the damn plane. Could this show be any more of a hit?

#1 – “Seinfeld” (1990-1998)

Taking the top spot on our list is a show about nothing. Without any real unifying plot, this show made ‘90s TV with its star’s observational humor and the chemistry between its characters. “Seinfeld” may not have won all the awards, but it’s the ‘90s sitcom we continue to quote on a daily basis. The show also crushes it in syndication, and that’s why “Seinfeld” remains master of its domain.

The 1990s were full of hilarious sitcoms and Must-See-TV. Make sure to subscribe to tell us which of your favorites we’ve left off our list.

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