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Top 5 American TV Sitcoms

Updated on December 1, 2014

1. Friends

Friends is a TV sitcom which has aired from September 22, 1994 to May 6, 2004 on NBC. It is created by Martha Kauffman and David Crane. It is one of the longest-running TV sitcoms in America. The series has lasted for ten seasons and is now in syndication.

Friends revolves around the lives of six friends and their comedic romantic adventures, and their career issues. They are in their mid-20’s living in Manhattan.

Rachel Green, a runaway bride looks for her childhood friend Monica Geller, a chef. They become roommates in an apartment opposite the struggling actor Joey Tribbiani and his roommate Chandler Bing, a corporate man but nobody knows exactly what he does in his office. Monica Geller has a brother Ross Geller, a divorced paleontologist who calls himself Dr. Ross Geller. To complete the ensemble, there’s Phoebe Buffay, a masseuse and musician.

The characters usually hang out at Central Park, a Manhattan coffee shop where Rachel has found employment as a waitress in the earlier seasons, before she finds a career in fashion. When not in Central Park, they are found in Monica and Rachel’s apartment or in Joey and Chandler’s apartment across the hall.

Main Cast

Jennifer Aniston is Rachel Green, Monica’s childhood friend. Rachel Green is into an on-off relationship with Monica’s brother Ross.

Courtney Cox is Monica Geller, a perfectionist, competitive, and has an obsessive-compulsive tendency.

Lisa Kudrow is Phoebe Buffay who is a self-taught musician, and an eccentric masseuse. She has a positive disposition, to the point of being childlike and innocent but she is street smart.

Matt LeBlanc is Joey Tribbiani, the food lover and struggling actor. He got the part of Dr. Drake Ramoray in the soap “Days of Our Lives.” His pick-up line is, “How you doin’?”

Mathew Perry is Chandler Bing. He works in a multi-national company as executive in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration. He is known for his sarcastic sense of humor.

David Schwimmer is Ross Geller, Monica’s older brother who works at the Museum of Natural History as a paleontologist. He is sweet but socially-awkward. He loves Rachel Green.

These are the six Friends who for ten seasons have provided non-stop laughter to their viewers.

2. The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory is a sitcom which has premiered on September 24, 2007 on CBS. It is on its eight season now which has premiered on September 22, 2014.

The Big Bang Theory revolves around the lives of five characters who live in Pasadena, California. They are Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper, roommates and both physicists and geeks; Penny, an aspiring actress who works as a waitress while waiting for her big break. She lives across the hall from Sheldon and Leonard. In the 8th Season, Penny has become a medical representative and is good at her job. The other two characters are aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali. They are the equally geeky and socially awkward co-workers of Leonard and Sheldon. Most of the comic effect lies in the contrast between the four’s intellect and Penny’s social skills and common sense.

More characters have joined the later seasons to make more hilarious episodes. Bernadette Rostenkowski, a microbiologist who later becomes Howard’s wife, and Amy Farrah Fowler, a neuroscientist who has become Sheldon’s girlfriend.

Main Cast

Johnny Galecki is Leonard Hofstadter, an experimental physicist. Has an IQ of 173. Like the rest of his friends, he is a nerd who loves video games, comic books, and Dungeons and Dragons. He is into a romantic relationship with Penny.

Jim Parsons is Sheldon Cooper, a theoretical physicist with two master’s degrees, a PhD and a Sc.D and an IQ of 187. He finds social situations and life in general hard to understand and deal with.

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting is Penny, the girl across the hall who works as a waitress at The Cheesecake Factory to pay her bills.

Simon Helberg is Howard Joel Wolowitz, a Jewish who lives with his mother. He works as an aerospace engineer. He does not have a PhD like his three friends. He goes into space in Season 5 finale.

Kunal Nayyar is Rajesh Ramayan “Raj” Koothrappali, an Indian astrophysicist. At the earlier episodes, he cannot talk to women without taking alcohol but in later episodes, he becomes confident enough to talk to women without alcohol.

Melissa Rauch is Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz who first works with Penny at The Cheesecake Factory but has progressed to become a microbiologist and becomes the wife of Howard Wolowitz.

Mayim Bialik is Amy Farrah Flowler who joins the show as Sheldon’s girlfriend. Bialik who in real life has a doctorate in neuroscience plays Amy who has a PhD in neurobiology.

3. The Nanny

The Nanny is a TV sitcom which has aired on CBS from 1993 – 1999. It stars Fran Drescher as Fran Fine, a Jewish-American living in Queens and who becomes the nanny to the three children of the rich British Broadway Producer Maxwell Sheffield, a character which is portrayed by Charles Shaughnessy.

She comes to the door of Maxwell Sheffield to sell cosmetics after losing her job but she is hired instead as a nanny to the three kids, Maggie, Brighton, and Grace.

After some hilarious ups and downs, Fran Fine helps the father and his children become a happy family. The side-splitting antics of Fran’s mother Sylvia Fine and the butler Niles has made The Nanny one of the funniest American TV sitcoms. Not to forget Maxwell’s business partner C.C. Babcock who plans to become the new Mrs. Maxwell Sheffield. She and the butler Niles have an on-going battle of wits.

Main Cast

Fran Drescher is Fran Fine, the funny nasal-voiced lady from Queens. She is jovial and outgoing but seems to always get in trouble, though she solves them through her street smarts.

Charles Shaughnessy is Maxwell Sheffield, the rich and widowed British Broadway Producer left with 3 children. He seldom spends time with his children so he hires a nanny.

Nicholle Tom is Maggie Sheffield, the eldest child who is shy and awkward but with Fran’s help and influence, she has gained confidence socially.

Benjamin Salisbury is Brighton Sheffield, the middle child and the only boy. Just like his previous nannies, he dislikes Fran at first but later on has bonded with her. He wants to become a Broadway Producer just like his father.

Madeline Zima is Grace Sheffield, the youngest child who is in therapy. Under Fran’s guidance and influence, she slowly gets out of therapy. She becomes very close to Fran.

Lauren Lane is C.C. Babcock, the business partner of Maxwell Sheffield for 20 years.

Daniel Davis is Niles, the loyal butler and chauffer for the Sheffield family. He likes Fran, considers her as a breath of fresh air that the family needs. He manipulates events in favor of Fran to undermine C.C. Babcock.

4. Frasier

Frasier is a sitcom which aired on NBC from September 16, 1993 to May 13, 2004. Frasier is a spin-off of Cheers. It is one of the most successful spin-off series in the history of TV. It is also one of the most critically acclaimed comedy series.

Frasier is about the life of the psychiatrist Dr. Frasier who moved to his hometown in Seattle when his marriage ended. He hosts the Dr. Frasier Crane Show on talk radio station KACL.

He is hoping for a new life as a bachelor but then his father Martin, a retired Seattle Police Department detective gets shot during a robbery and gets injured, Frasier is forced to take him in. His father moves in with his dog Eddie. Frasier also hires Daphne Moon, a live-in physical therapist and care giver for his father. If that is not enough to cramp his bachelor style, his younger brother Niles, also a psychiatrist has become a frequent visitor in his apartment.

At work, Frasier’s producer Roz Doyle has become his close friend in spite of the difference in their taste and temperament.

Frasier Crane and Niles Crane have fine tastes and intellectual interests. They think highly of themselves and usually clash with their blue-collar, down-to-earth father. These differences with their father and the sibling rivalry between Frasier and Niles are often the source of hilarious situations.

Main Cast

Kelsey Grammer is Dr. Frasier Crane, a radio psychiatrist.

David Hyde Pierce is Niles Crane, Frasier’s younger brother who is a psychiatrist and works in private practice.

John Mahoney is Martin Crane, the father of Frasier and Niles.

Jane Leeves is Daphne Moon, and English physiotherapist who takes care of Martin and lives with them in Frasier’s apartment.

Peri Gilpin is Roz Doyle, the producer of the radio show and becomes a close family friend.

Moose and Enzo, the Jack Russell terriers who play Eddie in the sitcom. Moose has played Eddie from 1993 to 2000 and Enzo becomes Eddie from 2000 to 2004.

5. Perfect Strangers

Perfect Strangers is an American sitcom which chronicles the lives of Midwestern American Larry Appleton and his distant cousin Balki Bartokomous who comes from the fictional place called Mypos in Mediterranean Europe. The sitcom is created by Dale McRaven and has aired on ABC TV network from March 25, 1986 to August 6, 1993. It stars Mark Linn-Baker as Larry Appleton and Bronson Pinchot as Balki Bartokomous.

Larry has just moved to an apartment in Chicago when Balki shows up claiming that he is Larry’s distant cousin. That is the start of the misadventures of two totally different people with different outlooks, different backgrounds, and different views of life. Balki who is a shepherd in Mypos tries to adjust to a city life, while Larry struggles to advance his career as a photographer. The TV series has aired for 8 seasons.


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    • Virgo908 profile image

      Virgo908 3 years ago

      Yes, Seinfeld is up there but I really like the others more... Seinfeld is my number 6, then Everybody Loves Raymond. Perhaps when I complete my Top 10, I'll put Seinfeld up in the top 5. Thanks.

    • Porshadoxus profile image

      Porshadoxus 3 years ago from the straight and narrow way

      You left out Seinfeld!? Several web sites list Seinfeld in the top 5. It's my favorite, anyway.