The word sitcom comes from the term situation comedy, and 80s sitcoms gave us plenty of situations to laugh at.
Some of these 80s sitcom shows are still broadcast on cable or available in DVD sets so we can enjoy them whenever we want.
Set in a Boston bar, Cheers was one of the most watched 80s sitcoms. Sam was the owner and bartender, as well as a perpetual ladies man that employed Carla, the funny and sarcastic server, Woody, the naïve young bartender, Diane, a snobby waitress and love interest of Sam, and later, Rebecca, a sophisticated manager and also one of Sam’s love interests.
The show revolved around the adventures and lives of the staff and regular customers. There was Norm, Cliff, Coach, Dr. Crane and his uptight wife, Lillith.
Alf was a show about a furry alien, Gordon Shumway, from the planet Melmac who crash-landed in the Tanner family’s garage. He was loud, cynical, and liked to eat cats.
The family frequently had to scramble to keep him a secret from the Alien Task Force. Alf had his own opinions and observations about humans, which were usually quite accurate, while the family would try to explain our customs and actions to him.
The Cosby Show
A groundbreaking new sitcom, The Cosby Show, focused on the Huxtable family and shattered stereotypes. The great Bill Cosby played Cliff – a doctor with a unique parenting style and great sense of humor.
The mother, Clair, was a lawyer and had her hands full with not only their five children, but keeping Cliff in line. This was also one of the very first sitcoms based on the main character’s standup comedy.
Family Ties gave us liberal former hippie parents and showed us what happens when their children are budding conservative republicans. Alex P. Keaton was the most political and entrepreneurial minded member of the family, followed by his sister, Mallory who was a little on the airhead side.
Jennifer was the youngest sister – she was more like her parents and commonly the voice of reason. Another sibling, Andrew, joined the family in 1984. Big brother Alex couldn’t get a suit and tie on him fast enough.
Who’s the Boss?
Who’s the Boss was another stereotype-busting sitcom. Angela Bower was a divorced advertising executive who hired Tony, a former pro baseball star from Brooklyn, to be her live-in housekeeper in an upscale Connecticut suburb.
Tony and his daughter Sam moved into the Bower residence, which included Jonathan, Angela’s young son, and Mona, her feisty mother.
Another great family comedy was Growing Pains. The Seaver family consisted of a stay at home father who was a psychiatrist and a mother who was a reporter.
They had four children to keep them busy – Chrissy was the youngest daughter, Ben the youngest son and hilarity ensued between them and their older sibling, Mike the troublemaker and Carol the overachiever. In the later seasons, they took in Luke – Ben’s friend played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
There were also other great shows like Full House, Family Matters, Just the 10 of Us, and many more. There were so many great 80s sitcoms that it was easy to have at least one or two favorites.
Toward the end of the decade, ABC started putting these shows together in one block of programming calling it TGIF – Thank Goodness it’s Funny.