Posted by: Mark | June 2, 2014

Sit Coms

I just finished Saul Austerlitz’s Sitcom: A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community (2014). It made me feel that while I’ve wasted my life watching television, I’m not the only one.

The sitcoms featured:

I Love Lucy (not really a fan)

The Honeymooners (only know a few episodes)

The Phil Silvers Show (haven’t seen any)

Leave It to Beaver (more history than entertainment)

The Dick Van Dyke Show (only a couple episodes)

Gilligan’s Island (chapter references My Mother the Car) (I’ve all or almost all Gilligan’s Island but not one episode of My Mother the Car)

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (probably saw the majority)

All in the Family (approximately half)

M*A*S*H (all but a few of the last seasons)

Taxi (only a few but I liked what I saw)

Cheers (probably all)

The Cosby Show (only a few)

Roseanne (a few)

The Simpsons (all up to a few seasons ago; will eventually see them all)

Seinfeld (most)

The Larry Sanders Show (only one or two)

Friends (my wife made me watch the first few seasons)

Sex and the City (not a one)

Freaks and Geeks (one or two; I’d like to see more)

Curb Your Enthusiam (every episode)

Arrested Development (the first three seasons)

The Office (everything up to the first seven seasons, including the British series; most of the rest)

30 Rock (the first few seasons)

Community (the first four seasons)


Several quotes stood out:


“One day the English language is going to perish. The easy spokenness of it will perish and go black and crumbly–maybe–and it will become a language like Latin that learned people learn. And scholars will write studies of Larry Sanders and Friends and Will & Grace and Ellen and Designing Women and Mary Tyler Moore, and everyone will see that the sitcom is the great American art form. American poetry will perish with the language; the sitcoms, on the other hand, are new to human evolution and therefore will be less perishable.” Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist


“More than jazz or musical theater or morbid obesity, television is the true American art form.” Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) 30 Rock


CBS exec Mark Golden: “There are four things Americans won’t stand for: Jews, men with mustaches, New Yorkers, and divorced women.” [This is the reason Mary Tyler Moore wasn’t divorced in her series]


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