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Top 10 Television Sitcoms of the 1970s

VO: Rebecca Brayton
This was the decade when sitcoms came of age and became a tool for social commentary. The 1970s saw such legendary producers as Norman Lear and Garry Marshall come into their own, with hit sitcoms like "All in the Family," "Sanford and Son," and "The Jeffersons," as well as "Happy Days," "The Odd Couple," and "Mork and Mindy" respectively. Whether it was taboos about sex, race, politics or even war, '70s sitcoms tackled it head on – with lots of laughs to be had by all. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 sitcoms of the 1970s.

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Top 10 Sitcoms of the 1970s

This was the decade when sitcoms came of age and became a tool for social commentary. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 sitcoms of the 1970s.

#10 – “Three’s Company” (1977-1984)

Kicking off our list is the show that brought sex talk to the mainstream. By sharing an apartment, Jack, Chrissy and Janet proved that women and men can be just friends. In between, there was physical comedy, innuendo and double-entendres galore. Oh yeah, and Jack had to pretend to be gay. The show was silly beyond belief, but it was popular as hell.

#9 – “The Brady Bunch” (1969-1974)

The Bradys were one of TV’s most famous families. Sixties’ sitcoms focused on the nuclear family, but the Bradys extended that vision to the blended family. Solving family problems was the name of the game, and there were rarely huge disagreements within the close-knit group. While the show didn’t have huge ratings and wasn’t critically acclaimed, it did gain popularity in syndication and continues to entertain audiences today.

#8 – “Happy Days” (1974-1984)

Fifties’ nostalgia was at an all-time high when Ritchie Cunningham and Arthur Fonzarelli rolled into town. Garry Marshall had several huge ‘70s shows including “Mork and Mindy,” “Laverne & Shirley,” and “The Odd Couple,” but innocence was at its peak on “Happy Days.” A middle class American family, everyday teenager problems, and a soda shop? Life sure was simple in this world. Plus, everybody wanted to be the Fonz.

#7 – “Sanford and Son” (1972-1977)

This show broke ground for African-Americans on TV. While running their junk yard, widower Fred Sanford was prone to get-rich-quick schemes, and his loyal son Lamont kept him out of trouble. Witty and flat-out funny, the show also focused on political, social and economic problems. But no matter what’s going on, Fred was usually hoping to reunite with his wife.

#6 – “The Odd Couple” (1970-1975)

Based on a movie that was based on a play, this show brought together two mismatched divorced men in the same apartment – so of course, hijinks ensued. It was unlike the decade’s other shows, and possibly because of that it did very poorly in the ratings. Regardless, Jack Klugman, Tony Randall and the series itself were constantly nominated for awards, proving its timelessness and humor.

#5 – “The Bob Newhart Show” (1972-1978)

In a precursor to the ‘80s and ‘90s, stand-up comedian Bob Newhart brought his deadpan routine to TV with this sitcom. As a psychologist, he was the straight man to some hilarious patients and characters. Newhart’s sitcom followed “Mary Tyler Moore”’s formula by spotlighting a group of young professionals and rarely postulating on hot-button issues, but they also added some wackiness for good measure.

#4 – “Taxi” (1978-1983)

With an ensemble cast that included Christopher Lloyd, Danny DeVito, Andy Kaufman, and more, this was one of TV’s most acclaimed sitcoms, winning 18 Emmys and four Golden Globes over its run. Following a group of New York cab drivers who don’t want to be cab drivers, “Taxi” included its share of dark comedy, and like many ‘70s sitcoms it also covered dramatic issues before it was cancelled. Twice.

#3 – “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970-1977)

Single, self-sufficient and not searching for a man, Mary Richards became a symbol for women’s liberation. Instead of focusing on her struggle to find love, the show concentrated on Mary’s relationships with friends and coworkers, some of whom became so beloved they earned spinoff series. Societal issues were facts of life and not causes to be championed, and the show was even able to find humor in death.

#2 – “M*A*S*H” (1972-1983)

Set during the Korean War as a commentary on the Vietnam conflict, “M*A*S*H” evolved over its run to be less comedic – which is one reason they struggled with using a laugh track. Brains, candor, great writing and a pitch-perfect cast gave this show a loyal following, won it awards and made its finale the most-watched TV event in history with 105.9 million tuning in to say goodbye.

#1 – “All in the Family” (1971-1979)

Taking the top spot on our list is the controversial Norman Lear show that challenged bigotry, discrimination, and the status quo. Archie Bunker was a symbol of bad middle class attitudes and political incorrectness, but even so he was a lovable curmudgeon. Number one for five years, the show won awards and had multiple successful spinoffs; but most importantly it brought real-life to the sitcom format.

Do you agree with our list? Which ‘70s sitcom was your favorite? For more great top 10s, be sure to subscribe to

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