Top 10 Shocking Facts About Sitcoms



Top 10 Shocking Facts About Sitcoms

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Jesse Singer
These sitcom facts will shock you. For this list, we'll be looking at some things you might not have known about your favorite situation comedies. Our countdown includes "Modern Family," "Friends," "Seinfeld," and more!

Top 10 Shocking Facts About Sitcoms

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Shocking Facts About Sitcoms.

For this list, we’ll be looking at some things you might not have known about your favorite situation comedies. From casting choices to behind the scenes goings on, these facts are sure to shock, inform and entertain.

Which of these sitcom facts surprised you the most? Tell us in the comments.

#10: Luke Dunphy vs. Nolan Gould
“Modern Family” (2009-20)

While Alex may be the smartest member of the Dunphy family, when it comes to IRL, Ariel Winter’s smarts take a backseat to those of her onscreen brother. That’s right, Luke Dunphy is really smart. Well, maybe Luke isn’t, but Nolan Gould - who played Luke - sure is. Nolan is a member of Mensa and, as he told Ellen, has an IQ of 150. And unlike his character on the show who barely made it out of high school and was the proud recipient of numerous college rejections. Gould was getting his GED and graduating from high school at 13 and was accepted into USC a few years later.

#9: “New Girl” Cast Got a Seventh Season
“New Girl” (2011-18)

Not every show gets to end the way it wants to - often getting canceled before they can wrap up the way they intended. “New Girl,” however, was lucky, in that the show was able to go out on its own accord. But it turns out, that wasn’t always guaranteed. There was a chance that Season Six was going to be the show’s last. And while the Nick and Jess elevator kiss would have made for an acceptable ending. It wasn’t, as actor Jake Johnson said in his letter to the FOX chairmen, the “right way.” Yes, the cast members actually wrote letters to the FOX brass asking for one more season to do it right. They got it, and fans got a great goodbye.

#8: We Almost Saw Maris
“Frasier” (1993-2004)

Fans of “Cheers” will remember Vera as Norm’s often talked about, but practically never seen wife. And being a spinoff of “Cheers,” the creators of “Frasier” liked the idea of providing a little nod to their predecessor, with an unseen character of their own, in the form of Niles’ wife, Maris. Now, initially the plan was to play that game for a few episodes and then reveal her to the audience. But they ran into a problem. By the time they planned to reveal her, there had already been so many jokes about her demeanor and ridiculously waif-like appearance, there was no way they could find a real person who looked as they had been describing her. So, she became the show’s Vera, permanently.

#7: The $0 Pilot
“It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (2005-)

The development of “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” began as a short film idea by Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney. The two of them and Charlie Day had all become friends as struggling actors, and using the short film as a jumping-off point, the three of them grabbed their own cameras and filmed a pilot in their apartments called, “It's Always Sunny on TV.” While that pilot got the show sold, the only parts of it that made the FX show are some shots in the opening credits. The lore of that original pilot is that the guys shot it for $200. However, according to Day that’s actually an exaggeration because they shot it for nothing. “I don't know where this $200 came from.”

#6: Lisa Kudrow Learned Guitar for the Show
“Friends” (1994-2004)

We’re not sure what David Schwimmer’s experience on the keyboard was before he became Ross, but we do know that Lisa Kudrow couldn’t play the guitar before she became Phoebe. Kudrow got the part and then went and learned how to play the guitar. Or at least some basic chords. And although she was able to pull off the musician thing on the show, it turns out Kudrow never really enjoyed it. In fact, after the show ended, so did her guitar playing. In fact, in order to play “Smelly Cat” on the reunion show, she had to Google the chords to remember how to play it. We think it goes ‘bear claw,’ ‘turkey leg,’ ‘bear claw,’ ‘old lady.’

#5: First Gay Character
“All in the Family” (1971-79)

In 1997, when Ellen leaned over that airport loudspeaker and announced that she was gay, it was a big moment in sitcom and television history. But she wasn’t the first gay chracter on a sitcom. Her coming out followed a line of trailblazing shows and characters going back decades, and beginning with Steve. Steve was a former college football star and bachelor friend of “All in the Family’s” ‘loveable bigot’ Archie Bunker. While the series is mostly remembered for Archie’s cringe-worthy takes on race, many forget that the show - in only it’s fifth episode - introduced the audience to the first ever openly gay character on a sitcom.

#4: Sheldon Might Have Been Barney
“How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14)

We know that Sheldon Cooper believes in the ‘Many-Worlds Theory.’ And while he may not be dancing in any of them, there might be one out there in which “How I Met Your Mother” looks quite different. In fact, it could have been right here in our world, had Jim Parsons landed the role of Barney Stinson - for which he auditioned prior to Neil Patrick Harris being cast. And that’s just one part of what could have been. It turns out Jennifer Love Hewitt was offered the role of Robin Scherbatsky but turned it down to do “Ghost Whisperer”. And that’s no BA… wait for it… ZINGA.

#3: The “Carlton Dance” Inspiration
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96)

While “Friends” fans are familiar with Courteney Cox’s impressive moves via “The Routine,” what they might not know is her influence on an even more iconic pop culture dance move of the 90s. Although, for this we need to go all the way back to the mid 80s and Cox’s now famous appearance in Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” music video. Pulled on stage by the Boss, Cox busts out an awkward arm-swinging move that would later inspire “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s” Alfonso Ribeiro when coming up with his signature swing. According to Ribeiro, he took Cox’s dance and Eddie Murphy’s ‘white man dance,’ and brought them together to create the “Carlton.”

#2: “No Hugging, No Learning”
“Seinfeld” (1989-98)

Do you remember that “very special” episode of “Seinfeld”? The one where the characters took on an important issue and learned a valuable lesson? You know why you don’t remember it? Because it never happened! And that was very much on purpose. In fact, series co-creator Larry David had one very important rule for the writers to follow, “no hugging, no learning.” Just take the episode where George’s fiance dies. Normally, this would be a perfect moment for a good cry and a group hug. But not on “Seinfeld.” Then there’s the series finale that finds the gang sent to prison. A perfect moment for them to learn a lesson? Not on “Seinfeld.”

#1: “I Love Lucy” Start to Finish
“I Love Lucy” (1951-57)

While a multi-camera setup for sitcoms filmed in front of a live studio audience has been common practice for decades now, it wasn’t the norm in 1951 when “I Love Lucy” hit the airwaves. In fact, while “Amos 'n' Andy” used a multi-camera setup months before “I Love Lucy” implemented it, the latter was the first to use 35mm cameras and do so in front of a live studio audience. Using this innovative setup and plenty of rehearsals, “I Love Lucy” episodes were filmed in chronological order with minimal time between scene changes. In general, it took no longer than 60 minutes to film a full 23-to-26-minute episode. A much more efficient technique than Lucy and Ethel at the candy factory.