What is the best comedy series in history?
Find the answer to question that was tormenting philosophers for centuries. Well, maybe not philosophers per se and not for centuries, but still it is a tough question to answer.
After visiting about 30 lists called Top Comedy Series, Top 100 Sitcoms, Best Sitcom in history I started to ask myself - is there any way to settle this almost philosophical question - what is the best comedy series in history? I mean after a little time spent on each of those lists I always realized that they are faulty in some way. But one day it struck me - yes, there is a way to settle once and for all which comedy series is the best in history of human kind. And I’m gonna tell you this... after a steady build-up of course :).
First fo all I had to find a single feature that would point the best one. Of course for comedy series the most important factor seems to be are they funny? It is the most important thing, but not necessary the only one that could tell if the series is good. There are many examples of comedy series where there aren’t much single-liners nor situation or physical comedy, but still the wholesome atmosphere or characters are creating more successful comedy series than many laughters (see The Detectives for example or Taxi). Also just the number of jokes can’t be taken as a serious factor to chose the best comedy series ever - f.e. sketch based shows like Fast Show or Hale and Pace would have a huge advantage, because since they don’t have to run a plot the number of jokes is much higher.
So, if this method of finding the best series failed I’ve turned to authorities. I mean each year the series get the nominations and awards in different countries and in different categories, so they should make the choice of best series a trivial challenge. At least they should, because... they are presented each year. What does it change? A lot. If some series gets the award let’s say in 2010 as the best series of the year we can presume that it was the best... according to some unknown people that have decided that. But what does is tell about the series itself? Absolutely nothing besides that it was probably, but not necessarily, better than other series in year 2010. Ok, but does it mean that it was better than series that did get the same award in year 2000 or 1990? Absolutely not. Most probably not even the same set of people was deciding about the award, perhaps they didn’t even see the one that won few years before. So, I had to drop that way of finding the best series.
Viewers! That’s right, the number viewers and the ratings system will tell which series was best in history. At least the could if there wouldn’t be some factors to take under consideration. Take a look at any comedy series where Nielsen ratings are shown and you’ll find how many people were watching the show every season, but they are just numbers and need to be taken with some comments. Usually they vary even in same series if the show will be moved to different time slot or they won’t be as well publicized than their competitors. Also sometimes the people that decide about the future of the series just simply make some stupid decisions that will affect the ratings and will kill the good result. Also there isn’t any way to compare those rating between two countries - f.e. is 12 million of viewers in United States equal to 12 million of viewers in United Kingdom. So, unfortunately, rating and number of viewers had to be dropped as a way to find the best comedy series ever.
But don’t think that discouraged me - I had one more ace up my sleeve - the Internet! The millions of Internet users, millions of brains connected together will just have to give the answer. As I said before I have visited simply dozens of top sitcom lists, rankings, wish-lists, etc. I thought that if I just compare them I will finally get the answer. Well, I was wrong. There were just few titles that I’ve noticed on different lists, but none of them were pointed more frequently than the others, but it did cut down my list of candidates to about 10 titles. But there was something that worried me a little bit - I’ve found such list made by people who actually work with comedy series - writers, directors, etc. and their list was almost completely different from the others. If they are professionally connected with the comedy series business they should know better... or perhaps that makes them worst observers since they are "inside" the business.
So, when I was down just to 10 titles I’ve decided to take another step to find the best series ever - I’ve started to read what people actually think about those series. The lists are good way to find series, but on the other hand people who made them weren’t actually as good in their judgments as I thought. The lists made in USA glorified American series (like Friends, Frasier, Seinfeld) and usually authors haven’t actually heard about most of the great British series. On the other hand British lists consisted their classics (like Only Fools and Horses, Blackadder, Porridge, The Office) and also American series, but usually different ones than in US. People from different countries were mostly pointing to American series, but it was hard to tell if that was their choice or if they just didn’t have much contact with British series, etc. The forums showed me that there are different views even on the series that I’ve already put on the list of candidates. I’ve even found a British forum where users were looking for the worst series ever and... there were all the 10 titles that were leaders. Few minutes later I’ve found there almost all the good series that I ever heard - you name it, they hate it!
I was a little bit disappointed in the whole outcome of my search for the best comedy series ever. But as I promised I’m gonna tell which is the best comedy series ever... in just a moment. After looking at all the lists I’ve realized that it is hard to make up my mind about the best series, because there are so many factors to take under consideration. Many of the people who made the list just forgot all the older series (or they were too young to see them), many only concentrated on series from their own countries, some of them just had a different taste and chose those series that represent it, lists made few years ago didn’t have recent titles (like 30 Rock, Everybody Hates Chris or Samantha Who?) and it was hard to guess if they would get on the list or not. I also had to think about those factors like f.e. times - in 1950s and 1960s series were usually slow paced, later there were faster with more jokes than physical comedy and there isn’t a good way to compare them since they are in completely different style and they were produced for different kind of viewers.
Nevertheless I managed to choose the one series that is definitely the best in history of human kind. Yes, now I’m gonna tell you which one is it. After a long consideration and long time spent on that matter I can responsibly say that the best comedy series ever is... the one that you like best! I know that you probably expected the simple answer, but if you will think about it you will have to agree that this is the simplest answer there is. If you like some series then you should not care what other people say about it. For example even here you will find reviews of series, but they are just guidelines and that’s how you should treat all the reviews - some people will say how they see the series and why, but everyone has own taste and there isn’t any way to convince someone what he should or shouldn’t like.