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The wonder of sitcoms and some great theme songs from television comedies of the 1980s

Updated on March 11, 2013
The Cosby Show Cast
The Cosby Show Cast | Source
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Take a trip down memory lane to a time of big hair, hug earrings and spandex. A time when the synthesizer began making more of an appearance in music and electronic dance music became the rage.

I refer to the era of the 1980s. Most of us remember it for sitcoms like Cheers, Charles in Charge and the Cosby Show. Career women of the era would remember Murphy Brown.

Then, there were the theme songs of these sitcoms that rang with many of us during the time. These songs put the sitcoms on our minds whenever we heard them.

We will take a look at the draw of the sitcom, the nature of their theme songs and some of the theme songs of very popular sitcoms of the 1980s.

Parachute Pants of the 1980s
Parachute Pants of the 1980s | Source

The decade of the 1980s

The decade of the 1980s had some hallmarks that allowed people to identify with it immediately. Here are some charms from this very special decade.

Fashion and style

Big hair

This era was the dawn of big hair and the punk hairdo. Hairstyles were diverse and certainly big!!

Leg Warmers

Who could forget the birth of the leg warmer? These are still popular today. Have a look at 1980’s Leg warmers!

Punk Clothes

This was the time when punk fashion began making an appearance. Outlandish, big and loud fashion was the rage!

Television

Viewers began having more choice as Cable and the Home Box Office began to make an appearance.

The mini-series and Made-For-Home movies made themselves felt. Then came the birth of soap operas like Dallas, General Hospital, Dynasty and Falcon Crest.

We go more into the topic of today with the television sitcom, which was given more life in the 1980s with shows based on stand-up-comic routines. Many would remember Cheers, The Cosby Show, Charles in Charge and Married....with Children.

Music

Music of the 1980s was characterized by the birth of technology and New Wave pop. Groups like the Pet Shop Boys gave us a form of electronic dance music many of us still jive to. Groups like Tears for Fears gave us new wave pop that many of us still Shout to.

Music from 1980s sitcoms was memorable in its own right. Many of them got us to relate to the sitcoms they were associated with.

BIg hair in the 1980s A portrait of Hedwig Gorski 1980s
BIg hair in the 1980s A portrait of Hedwig Gorski 1980s | Source

Why do we like sitcoms?

The topic of this article is music and the theme songs of 1980s sitcoms, but before we discuss that it is good to go a little into the psychology of the sitcom and why many of us are drawn to them.

Fascinated by their out-of-this-world nature

Many of us are taken by the out-of-this world nature of these sitcoms, where people behave a little oddly in realistic situations. The resulting combination is funny truth that draws us to TV.


Take the show Cheers, focusing on a bar in Boston, Massachusetts where everyone goes to drink, kick back and relax. The antics of the characters at the bar are what made it a little out of this world, funny, and drew audiences.

Learn life lessons

Many of these sitcoms, though quirky, were relatable because we could learn many lessons from life. We learned a lot about family relationships from the Huxtables as with those Married....with Children.

A balance of quirky, yet level headed characters.

There are always characters in each sitcom that are quirky, balanced off by those who knock them with a sense of reality.....and that balance provides the draw for audiences.

Cliff Huxtable provided a humorous, off-the-wall look at raising his kids, unlike Clair, who was level-headed and over-achieving. The hilarious combination gave the Cosby show is pull for 9 years from 1984.

Realistic, yet funny

These sitcoms were realistic yet terribly funny. Many of them deal with situations that we relate to and deal with on a day to day basis. but the quirkiness of some of the characters made the realism less pedantic and more fun to face.

The quirkiness of the characters in Cheers made their trials and tribulations seem easier to deal with, tolerable and even laughable.

Source

What is the function of a sitcom’s theme song?

Why did sitcoms, particularly those of the 1980s, have to have a theme song? They served a few purposes.

They served as tunes that characterized the sitcom.

These theme songs served to characterize these sitcoms and identify their very nature. The Cheers theme song and its refrain “Where everybody knows your name” told everyone about the nature of the show, identifying it as being about a place where ordinary folk could go to and be appreciated.

They filled voids at the opening or closing of shows.

These songs filled spaces at the beginnings of shows that might be present otherwise. A song served as the necessary opening and closing of shows.

Feel good factor

These songs made people feel good, and many were drawn to their positive vibes.

Cheers Theme Song

A few of our favorite 1980s sitcoms and their theme songs

Here are a few of our favorite sitcoms and their theme songs.

Cheers

The series surrounds folks who work in or patronize a bar named Cheers in Boston. The foibles of the characters, with their realistic quirkiness, gave the show its draw from 1982 to 1993 and even bore successful spinoffs like Frasier. The characters included Sam Malone (Ted Danson) the bartender who has problems pursuing meaningful relationships and Fraiser, the snarky and slightly off-the-wall psychiatrist who became a regular at Cheers in the third episode.

The theme song of the series, sung by Gary Portnoy, spoke for the ordinary folk who simply just want to be appreciated despite their ups and downs. Cheers became a place to go to “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.”

Different Strokes Theme Song

Different Strokes

This show, starring Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges, is about happenings in the Drummond household and ran from 1978 to 1985 on NBC. It also ran for another year on ABC TV. More importantly, it speaks of the importance of inter-racial harmony, shown in how two black brothers, adopted, become the sons that successful businessman Philip Drummond never had.

The song, performed by Alan Thicke says it all - it takes “Different Strokes to Rule the World.”

Family Ties Theme Song

Family Ties

Family Ties ran between 1982 and 1989, and spoke of the sometimes tricky relationship between young Republican Alex (MIchael J Fox) and his Hippie parents. The show showcased the change between the liberalism of the 60s and 70s to the conservatism of the 1980s, neatly symbolized by Alex.

The short little theme song stressed the importance of these ties despite differences. Hence, “What will you do, baby, without us...”

Perfect Strangers Theme Songs

Perfect Strangers

A show that humorously stresses tolerance of each other’s lifestyles, Perfect Strangers ran from 1986 to 1993.It starred Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker. We see how a cynical man’s life is changed and his eyes opened when his naive cousin, a sheepherder from the Mediterranean, comes to live with him. It is also a show about how we can live our dreams no matter what the odds are.

The theme song was composed by Jesse Frederick and Bennet Salvay. It was performed by David Pomeranz, and spoke of how we have to live our dreams despite the difficulties that come our way. “Standing Tall, on the Wings of My Dreams...”

Full House Theme Song

Full House

Full House, starring Bob Saget, addressed the problems of single parenthood. Danny Tanner (Saget) faces the dilemma of raising three children after his wife is killed in a car accident. What makes the situation hilarious is that he deals with the growing pains of three girls! He struggles with his own purpose in life as well.

The theme song, performed by Jesse Frederick, captured the shows essence for audiences, that of the need for support while on a search for our purpose in life. “Everywhere you look, there’s a heart, a hand to hold on to.”

Who's The Boss Theme Song

Who’s the Boss

Focusing on the dilemma of single parenthood, Who’s the Boss starred Tony Danza who works as a live in housekeeper for Judith Light. Danza, as a live in house keeper, provides the fatherly guidance that Light’s children have been missing, while she provides the maternal needs for his daughter, played by Alyssa Milano. The hilarity came with the Danza and Light’s romantic liasons and their eventual mutual attraction.

The theme song, Brand New Life, spoke of the difficulties the modern family’s need to adapt to each other. It also gave the show the realism and funniness that audiences could connect with. “There's more to live than what you're living, so take a chance and face the wind."

Conclusion

Here, I would like to thank the writers who answered the question What Is Your Favorite 1980s sitcom? Do check them out.

The 1980’s sitcoms bring us many good laughs and memories. Do enjoy the theme songs!


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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      On 1980’s sitcoms and their theme songs.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I actually had a television back then and I watched all of these shows. Is it my imagination or was tv better back then?

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      No Bill, it wasn't your imagination. TV was better back then because there weren't any reality shows!

      But, on to this hub Michelle. Realistic, yet funny..I think that is the appeal of the 80's sitcoms. Sure as you mention, things could get 'quirky' but for the most part they were real and relate-able. Not so much any more. I cannot relate to the folks on Jersey Shore or any of the other reality shows.

      Great job here. Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • profile image

      Rebecca Jimenez 4 years ago

      This just took me down memory lane.. Thinking about many of these shows, makes you realize why they're still on the air - there halarious, memorable and many others.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Back in the days when I had cable TV, I enjoyed the Cosby show and Cheers. I've never really cared much for sitcoms. The canned laughter annoys me.

      I don't even know what sitcoms are on TV now a days.

      Voted UP, and shared.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Huge fan of 80's sitcoms and you named so many of my favorites here. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Michelle!! Have voted way up and shared, too!! :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I have to ask where Growing Pains is? That theme song is one of my all time faves! Surprised Alan Thicke didn't sing that one since he sung the one for "Diff'rent Strokes" and co-wrote "Facts of Life." Aw, another show I loved. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I loved the 80s shows and we also did not have as big a selection as we do today and most had good family values...Today there are drugs and even a mother selling drugs to survive..Good message for kids. I loved Murphy Brown, Family ties and when I heard the theme song I thought of the show. Great job here..voting and pinning.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I loved Family Ties (Michael J Fox) and leg warmers! They are still great.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      It definitely was.....thanks for sharing, Bill!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      That's why we enjoyed them, Mary, the lives of the characters mirrored ours, yet there were funny twists. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, Rebecca...many are still being watched because they retain that audience connection. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I think the attempt to generate the funniness makes thing a little fake...I do agree! Thanks for sharing, loved Cosby and Cheers too.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janine!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I wonder too, Alecia. And I was thinking about what you said about Alan Thicke....since he sang for the other sitcoms, he should have done so for his own! A little ironic, unless he wanted to keep the distance a bit. THanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I like the wholesomeness of 80's T.V....sadly, it is not as accepted today as it was then. These younger generation tends to find anything wholesome "boring". Thanks for pinning!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Actually, I notice people still wearing them indeed! Thanks, Jackie!

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 4 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      Michele, honestly, this is an addition to my knowledge, thank you for sharing. God bless.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Memories...Arlene and Martin were settling down to raise a family. Thank you for this.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      midget,

      This hub is awesome. It is on my decade. I loved hard rock and heavy metal that flourished in the 80s. Top bands were created in the 80s and made money then. Their shows were organized in large sports arenas, not in halls.

      I was addicted to watching Different Strokes and Perfect Strangers with Full House a close third. Sadly, only 1 out of 4 actors from DS is alive today.

      Thanks for sharing a great hub. It pays to be nostalgic sometimes.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      thanks for this hub. brought back memories of me watching growing pains

      and the cosby show. thanks again and voted up

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

      Cool.. 'Who's the Boss' would have been my pick. Voted up.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Girishpuri!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Hatter!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      It's sad that Gary Coleman passed on early. Thanks for sharing, Suhail!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for sharing, torilynn.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Enjoyed it too! Thanks, Mike!

    • Nancy Owens profile image

      Nancy Owens 4 years ago from USA

      Thank you for sharing this wonderful hub! The 1980's was a decade of change... in fashion, fitness, and social values. Your hub sparked some very good memories for me.

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 4 years ago from Georgia country

      What an awesome hub! I really loved the Bill Cosby Show, Family Ties and Who's the Boss? Fortunately, they also broadcasted those sitcoms here in Germany. Though we have a lot of German sitcoms I'm still in fond of the American ones.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I like the shows of the 1980's. I like the sense of humour, the kindness and the good values. There are too many reality TV shows right now because it's just cheaper to do!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it definitely was a decade of change! Thanks, Nancy!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I am glad that you get to see them! Thanks, Janet!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Correct, Kidscrafts.I miss these sitcoms too! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Yes I enjoy those sitcoms. They are so much fun to watch and they are really inspiring. That made me really say sit back enjoy and relax while watching TV.

      Thanks Michelle for sharing. :-)

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Had a good time watching them when they were still being aired here in Singapore. Thanks for sharing, meldz.

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 3 years ago from Bangkok

      Ahh... I miss sitcoms with their own theme songs. How about that Hawaii 5-0 guys right? :) Sharing!!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      I miss Hawaii 5 0 too. Thanks, Being Well!

    • Billie Kelpin profile image

      Billie Kelpin 3 years ago from Newport Beach

      This is one of THE MOST enjoyable hubs I have ever read! I really think that the way you've explored this topic is an historical masterpiece. Actually, it made me remember a time of my life when I was consumately happy and my little family watched these together. I believe that television really does play a role in shaping who we are and analyzing a period of comedy on TV says a lot about society and the political, economic, and social issues going on. I LOVED this, Michelle. Thank you for writing it.

    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      midget38, this is a wonderful trip down memory lane! I love 80's sitcoms. I wish I found some that I loved as much as The Cosby Show and Cheers. This hub was well put together and very informative.

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