By Cam Lippincott and Josh Silva
What is the meaning of life? What is love? Is God real? These are often listed as life’s greatest questions. But life’s actual greatest and most important question is, “What is the best television sitcom?” To answer that, The Las Lomas Page sought the knowledge of the nation’s top Sitcom Professors, Cam Lippincott and Josh Silva. After polling Las Lomas staff and students, these two came to the conclusion the world is waiting for, one that surprisingly doesn’t differ from the poll’s results. Out of the 90 votes cast, 23 were for our favorite sitcom: Seinfeld. It received a substantial boost from the Las Lomas staff, while students divided most of their votes among Friends (19), The Office (17), and Parks and Recreation (13). The poll’s two animated series, the long-running Simpsons and Family Guy, received seven and nine votes respectively, while the dark horse candidate, 30 Rock, remained in obscurity with only two votes.
It’s both surprising and unsurprising that a sitcom as mediocre and tame as The Office could become the crown jewel of Netflix-consumed media. Watching this for the first time after years of sustained hype feels like missing one grand inside joke: why is this funny? Greg Daniels’ American remake of the eponymous British sitcom about a paper sales company has all the basic components of a sitcom except the jokes, which never elicit more than a polite chuckle.
Family Guy has a problem: it’s only funny when it 2 AM and you’re watching it on Adult Swim while eating a bag full of Cheetos. But when you meet that criteria, it is the best experience of your life. Family Guy’s quality hasn’t dropped since its creation in 1999 because it relies so heavily on the “Random = Funny” formula. The show is good, but the best part is probably trying to imitate Peter Griffin’s voice with your friends.
The Simpsons completely changed what an animated show could be. Animation was exclusively used for children’s TV before the world was introduced to Springfield. The show completely changed the goalposts for sitcoms. Unfortunately, the show has been nothing but a dumpster fire since the 2000s but the first 10 seasons in the 90s are some of the best television ever made.
Perhaps network television’s last great sitcom, 30 Rock’s exceptionally nimble wit was eclipsed in the poll by blander shows. Its relative obscurity is likely due to its absence from Netflix in the last few years; the show departed from the platform in October 2017, years before NBC’s other properties did. Thus Hulu and Amazon Prime couldn’t grant it the cultural cache among Generation Z voters that other inferior sitcoms received from the streaming monolith. A shame; those who disregard it are missing out on what was, at times, television’s most consistently funny series. Tina Fey’s semi-autobiographical satire of the production of an SNL-type show doesn’t quite have the sitcomic lexicons of The Simpsons or Seinfeld, but phrases like, “Jackie Jormp-Jormp,” or, “I yelled ‘baba booey’ at Walter Kronkite’s funeral,” will often drift into my mind at any time of day.
Parks and Recreation
Most notable in the wave of mockumentaries that followed The Office was Greg Daniels’ other sitcom, Parks and Recreation. Little has changed in the formula: the show doesn’t provoke laughter as much as it does puffs of dry air out of one’s nose, combined with the obligatory smile. Again, all aspects are fairly competent, it’s just impossible to watch without recalling other, better shows that have more laugh-out-loud moments in 30 seconds than Parks does in an entire season.
As Seinfeld superfans, we have nothing against the laugh track. For that series, it provided the rhythm necessary for Larry David and staff’s sharpest jokes to land. Friends, however, is Exhibit A in laugh track abuse. The sheer magnitude of the laughter, played after any joke no matter how unremarkable, quickly gives each episode a hollow, insincere feel. The show is a cheaper imitation of Seinfeld, with no actor disappearing into their roles as well as Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, or Michael Richards did. Whereas Seinfeld went for broke in its most cartoonish moments, Friends’ cast does caricature with an almost condescending exaggeration, as if they know the mediocrity of their dialogue. Seinfeld reshaped the modern sitcom landscape, but every laugh track laden comedy that followed seemingly degrades its humor. Friends was merely one show in this devolutionary chain, one which now constitutes mind-numbing programs like The Big Bang Theory.
SeinfeldPlacing first in our school-wide poll, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s 90s classic is an influence on nearly all modern sitcoms. There is not a single subpar episode and characters like George Costanza are examples of what men should strive to be everywhere. Seinfeld is obviously the GREATEST sitcom of all time. Not only is it the best sitcom, but is also the best piece of television and the greatest piece of art ever created. Seinfeld is not only a comedy, it is a lifestyle. With quotes such as, “It’s not a lie if you believe it,” and “God will kill me before letting me be successful,” anyone can look to the show for guidance in life. Seinfeld, in fact, made its holiday to combat the consumerism of Christmas called “Festivus” which is celebrated nationwide on December 23rd. No show will ever be greater than Seinfeld.