Special report

The first television sitcom (short for sitcom) premiered in 1946 and was called “Pinwright’s Progress”. A chronicle of store owner J. Pinwright’s many troubles, it aired on the BBC for just 10 episodes before ending in 1947.

That same year, “Mary Kay and Johnny” became America’s first television sitcom. It starred real-life couple Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns and was set in New York’s Greenwich Village, telling the story of a bank clerk and his eccentric wife.

From these foundations was born a ubiquitous format that continues to thrive to this day. (Check Out The Best Classic TV Shows Available To Stream Now.)

In the decades that followed, the TV sitcom expanded in every possible direction. There are now animated sitcoms, single camera sitcoms, and mock documentary style sitcoms, to name just a few modern examples. Yet regardless of the genre’s reach, it still relies on the same proven recipe of putting endearing characters in fun situations. (Rather a cinephile? Here are the best comedy movies available to stream.)

Even when we put the animated fare aside, the live-action sitcom remains unmistakably large-scale. Shows like “Arrested Development” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” take the original formula far beyond its terrain and we’re not just talking about the single camera setup or the lack of a laugh track.

In England, the original version of “The Office” or current programs like “This Country” achieve a similar feat. Mix that with more traditional dishes such as “I Love Lucy” and “The Big Bang Theory” and you end up with a truly rugged TV landscape, where viewers are spoiled for choice. Here are the best of the best.

Click here for the 50 best live action sitcoms

To determine the top 50 live-action sitcoms, 24/7 Tempo looked at data on user rating and popularity of the Internet Movie Database. TV shows tagged with the keyword “sitcom” on IMDb were ranked based on an index made up of the average IMDb user rating and IMDb popularity score. Only sitcoms with at least 2,500 IMDb user votes were counted. The data was collected in October 2021.

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