If you're a sitcom connoisseur, you're already intimately familiar with the fine flavors of "Seinfeld," "The Simpsons," "Frasier," and "Friends."
But even those with the most refined sitcom palates need to expand their horizons every once in a while -- it's that sort of passion, the desire to seek out sitcoms on the fringe and to discover the current lineup of soon-to-be-classics -- that defines the true sitcom lover. Well, get ready for some serious couch time, these shows will tickle your sitcom senses.
'Arrested Development' (2003 - 2006, 2013 - )
For four too-short seasons, "Arrested Development" chronicled the struggles of Michael Bluth -- played pitch perfectly by Jason Bateman, the king of the everyman -- as he desperately tried to keep his insane family from imploding. And if you think that sounds like standard sitcom fare, wait till you get to the arcs that involve hand-eating seals, Never Nudes, exploding yachts, and flaming frozen banana stands. "Arrested Development" is the ultimate cult sitcom for your roster, with more comedic layers than the world's most awkward onion, the most jokes and in-jokes per square second of probably any sitcom in history, and one of the finest ensemble casts to ever grace the small screen.
And when you face the inevitable "Arrested Development" withdrawals at the end of Season 4, you can comfort yourself with the 2013 revival, and the news that the Bluths still have at least another season left in them.
'King of the Hill' (1997 - 2010)
For 13 seasons, King of the Hill," the story of a propane salesman and his believably dysfunctional family getting by in small-town Texas, silently trucked on under the shadow of glossy sitcoms and brasher, bolder, edgier cartoons. It was the show that you knew was there, but maybe didn't think much about. And for all that time, "Hill" was a working-class workhorse that never jumped the shark -- every season was solid, with just as much pathos and humanity as there was humor -- Hank wasn't just a good old boy, he was a good old boy who had a complex relationship with his sensitive son. So BYOB and plan on spending some time in Arlen -- but don't you dare bring charcoal to the party.
'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' (2015 - )
"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" has the vibe of a classical TV sitcom -- call its take on the wide-eyed-gal-versus-the-big-city narrative, a modern-day version of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," if you will. But under that traditional shell is a show with a progressive heart, lots of colorful quirk, and one of the most, uh, unbreakable female characters on the tube. If Kimmy Schmidt won't let 15 years in a cult or the madness of New York City break her, then she won't be relegated to the sitcom sidelines, either.
'Modern Family' (2009 - )
From "The Brady Bunch" to "All in the Family," some of the most memorable sitcoms are those that not only explore the family dynamic, but are open to reinventing it. And that's why "Modern Family" -- a show that wears its content right in its title, delving headfirst into 21st-century American family life and all the different ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations that familial melting pot includes -- feels like a well-worn, perfectly fitted pair of sitcom jeans. Sure, it's formulaic, but its quips and performances are bulletproof, and its sitcom-y nature is just plain comforting.
A bonus meta-narrative for the sitcom obsessed: Pretend that Married ... With Children," divorced from Peggy and settling down in his old age. It works so well it's almost creepy.
'Master of None' (2015 - )
There's a reason -- OK, there are probably lots of reasons -- that Master of None" took home the Critics' Choice Award for Best Comedy of 2015. The "sit" of this sitcom isn't so much a situation as it is life itself -- particularly millennial life, and all of its social media complications, economic uncertainty, and optimistic quest for social progress. Feel free to dive right into any episode; each one feels like a New York short film, a little like "Louie" without all the existential dread. "Master of None" might be the first show that doesn't rag on the millennial experience, instead embracing it with equal parts confusion and hope. Stream it now, look forward to its second season later, and try not to cry during the episode that explores life as a second-generation immigrant in the States and teaches us that parents are people too.
- 'Arrested Development' Season Five Won't Repeat the Mistakes of Season Four, Suggests Tony Hale
- 10 Episodes That Made 'King of the Hill' One of the Most Human Cartoons Ever
- The 10 Best Sitcoms of 2015
- Five Reasons Why 'Modern Family' Is Television's Best New Comedy
- 'Master of None' Named Best Comedy at Critics' Choice Awards
- 'Master of None' Season Two Release Date: Aziz Ansari Confirms Netflix Show to Return in 2017