The Best Sitcoms Of The '70s
What were the best sitcoms from the 1970s? Perhaps Mary Tyler Moore or Sanford and Sons? This list of the greatest '70s television sitcoms has all the funniest shows from the decade. Top hits from every genre, including comedy, drama, romance, and thrillers were released during the 70's, but popular sitcoms were some of the most entertaining shows on television at the time.
The war drama-comedy M.A.S.H. regularly took the top spot in the television ratings, but hits like All in the Family and Happy Days were close behind. The top television sitcoms of the '70s closely followed the culture around it: the innocence of the '50s and '60s was reflected in old shows like The Brady Bunch and Three’s Company, yet the face of an ever-changing American could be seen in shows like M.A.S.H.
Sitcoms where a family was at the center of the story were subtly being replaced with comedies like Hee Haw and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. Whether it was Charlie’s Angels that you remember the most, or the quirky Mork and Mindy, cast your vote for the best 70s sitcoms of all time below!
What are the best '70s sitcoms? Did the sitcoms you think are best make the list? Are they still as fresh today as they were 50 years ago? Take a look and vote the best 1970s sitcoms to the top.
- Premiered: January 12, 1971
- Network: CBS
All in the Family, a groundbreaking and daring sitcom, aired from 1971 to 1979. Created by Norman Lear, it starred Carroll O'Connor as the iconic character Archie Bunker – a bigoted, working-class man – and Jean Stapleton as his long-suffering wife Edith. The show tackled controversial subjects such as racism, sexism, and politics with humor and sensitivity. It earned numerous accolades throughout its run, including Emmy Awards for both O'Connor and Stapleton. All in the Family's influence on American television is undeniable; it spawned several successful spin-offs such as Maude and The Jeffersons.
- Premiered: September 17, 1972
- Network: CBS
M*A*S*H premiered in 1972 and became one of the most well-regarded sitcoms of all time during its eleven-year run. Based on Robert Altman's film of the same name, this series followed the lives of medical personnel serving in a Korean War field hospital. Its ensemble cast included Alan Alda as Captain "Hawkeye" Pierce, Loretta Swit as Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, and Jamie Farr as Corporal Maxwell Klinger. M*A*S*H masterfully blended comedy with poignant drama while addressing war's human toll. It won numerous awards throughout its run, including multiple Emmys for Alda.
- Premiered: January 14, 1972
- Network: NBC
Sanford and Son brought laughter to living rooms across America from 1972 to 1977. Starring Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford – a cantankerous junk dealer – and Demond Wilson as his beleaguered son Lamont, this sitcom was known for its sharp wit and memorable catchphrases ("You big dummy!"). Created by Norman Lear based on British show Steptoe & Son, Sanford and Son received several Emmy nominations during its tenure. In addition to being one of the first successful African-American sitcoms, it helped pave the way for more sitcoms that featured predominantly Black casts.
- Premiered: January 15, 1974
- Network: ABC
Set in the nostalgic 1950s and early '60s, Happy Days ran from 1974 to 1984. The show followed the Cunningham family – particularly their son Richie, played by Ron Howard – through the trials and tribulations of teenage life. It starred Henry Winkler as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli, whose popularity spawned a cultural phenomenon with catchphrases like "Aaay!" and "Sit on it." Not only did Happy Days receive numerous Emmy nominations, but its success also led to spin-offs such as Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy.
- Premiered: September 18, 1978
- Network: CBS
Taking a humorous look at radio station life, WKRP in Cincinnati aired from 1978 to 1982. Boasting a strong ensemble cast including Gary Sandy as program director Andy Travis, Howard Hesseman as DJ Johnny Fever, and Loni Anderson as receptionist Jennifer Marlowe, this show uniquely combined workplace comedy with rock-and-roll hijinks. Creator Hugh Wilson modeled many of WKRP's characters after his own experiences working at a radio station. Though not an initial ratings hit, WKRP in Cincinnati gained cult status through reruns and syndication.
- Premiered: January 18, 1975
- Network: CBS
Spinning off from All in the Family, The Jeffersons chronicled the lives of George and Louise – played by Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford – as they moved up into a ritzy Upper East Side Manhattan apartment building. Airing from 1975 to 1985, this trailblazing sitcom notably dove into issues of race relations and class disparities while maintaining its comedic edge. The Jeffersons was nominated for multiple Emmys during its run; Sanford even won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1981.