It’s hard to choose the best sitcoms of the ‘90s: so many quality theme songs, so many outlandish misunderstandings, and so many will-they-or-wont-they plotlines. Though Seinfeld dominated much of the era, the show actually began its run in the ‘80s, so for the purposes of this best-of list, we begin at the beginning: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Home Improvement, and Beavis and Butt-head are just a few of the greatest sitcoms to start the ‘90s.
By the time Clinton was sworn into office, Blossom, Martin, and Mad About You were already must-see mainstays. Building on the successes of ensemble comedies like Cheers and Night Court, other sitcoms of the 90s like Wings, Frasier and The Drew Carey Show boasted a core group of characters getting equal airtime and intersecting storylines.
Then, there were the cultural phenomena. Friends took off like a pop-culture rocket, influencing music, fashion, hairstyles and vernacular. The long-running South Park launched on Comedy Central and neither animation nor celebrity spoofing would ever be the same. Cable broke new programming ground with Sex and the City, among other shows, setting a course for the ‘00s and teens, where subscription cable dominates the zeitgeist and awards shows.
Some critics’ darlings, like NewsRadio, saw abbreviated runs, while worn-out premises, like The Nanny, exceeded expectations. Shows like Will & Grace, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Living Single, and Step by Step reflected how the culture was redefining the traditional family. The funniest shows of the ‘90s entertained, but were also informed by the way we live today.
Every popular 1990s sitcom should be included on this list, so if your favorite is missing for some reason, add it to this list.