While the television situation comedies of the 1970s weren’t nearly as outlandish as the sitcoms that appeared later in the 20th century, they were much more daring than those that came before them.
70s sitcoms ushered in a brand new era of television and many of them began to address social injustices, giving audiences the impetus to discuss tough issues with each other, issues that were perhaps otherwise avoided.
Several 70s sitcoms remain at the forefront of television history and many can still be found on cable TV stations that air old but memorable tv shows in the 70s.
Here are some of the best 70s sitcom shows.
All in the Family – This was truly the most groundbreaking sitcom of the 20th century. Produced by Norman Lear, the show ran for most of the 70s and revolved around the antics of blue collar, middle class Archie Bunker from Queens, NY, who wasn’t afraid to voice his opinions for all to hear.
His dippy wife, Edith, added another comic dimension to the show.
Maude – A spin-off from All in the Family, Maude was another Norman Lear production that caused some controversy.
Starring Bea Arthur, the show centered on Edith Bunker’s liberal and outspoken cousin and the divorced daughter and the son who lived with her.
Maude, however, was part of the upper middle class but, like Archie Bunker, she broached tough subjects on the air. The show ran from 1972 to 1978.
M*A*S*H – Airing from 1972-1983, M*A*S*H was one of the biggest television sitcom hits of the 70s and still holds the record for the most watched TV finale of all times for its final episode, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen.”
This groundbreaking show was set amid the horrors of the Korean War but followed the hilarious antics of a light-hearted cast of doctors, nurses, and assorted other characters, all of whom did what was necessary to retain their sanity while working in a mobile army surgical hospital.
Taxi – This show appeared in the latter years of the 70s, Taxi launched the careers of a number of notable stars including Danny DeVito, Tony Danza, Marilu Henner, Christopher Lloyd, and the late Andy Kauffmann.
DeVito was the boss at a small New York cab company and the rest of the cast, all cab drivers, entertained us with their funny antics and sometimes poignant stories.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show – Starring the great comic actress of the same name, this sitcom stretched from 1970 until 1977 and told the story of Mary Richards, the unmarried 30-something female assistant producer at a Minneapolis television station.
Mary was happily surrounded by a hilarious cast of characters that included producer Lou Grant (Ed Asner), head writer Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), zany anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), Ted’s girlfriend Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel), Mary’s friends Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) and Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman), and TV host Sue Ann Nivens (the always funny Betty White).
Soap – This was another late 70s sitcom that will no doubt go down in the books as something totally different than that which came before.
A parody of daytime soap operas, it was a serial; hence, the story line continued each week. The plot poked fun of the drama of daytime soaps and was comically melodramatic.
Many young comic greats were part of this cast, including Billy Crystal.
Happy Days – A sitcom hit from 1974 to 1984, Happy Days was set in the 1950s and revolved around a typical middle class American family of the era.
Though it was funny, it was also simple and innocent and included a number of endearing characters like Ron Howard’s Richie Cunningham and Henry Winkler’s Arthur Fonzarelli, a not-so-tough motorcycle type who became an important part of the Cunningham family.
From Happy Days came another notable sitcom, Laverne and Shirley.
Other great 70s sitcoms included:
- Good Times – a spin-off from Maude about the family of her maid
- The Brady Bunch – the story of a blended family
- The Partridge Family – the tale of a musical widowed mom and her singing kids
- Three’s Company – a show about 3 roommates – 2 girls and a guy
- Diff’rent Strokes – a show about a rich Park Ave. businessman who adopts two African-American children after their mother, his maid, passes away
- The Jeffersons – the story of an affluent couple, a spin-off from All in the Family
- Mork and Mindy – the tale of a pretty, young woman who becomes roommates with a alien from the planet Ork