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Top 10 Classic Golden Age Sitcoms

VO: Rebecca Brayton
There have been countless television sitcoms over the years. Sitcoms have been a staple of television programming since the advent of sound. The most iconic and influential sitcoms happen to be from the 1950s and 1960s. This period produced such classics as "I Love Lucy" and "The Honeymooners" and is considered the Golden Age of television. These shows captivated us with their hilarious characters, plots, gags and set the pace for others to follow. Join as we count down the top 10 classic golden age sitcoms.

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Top 10 Classic Golden Age Sitcoms

This comedy era boasted great timing, zippy writing, and larger-than-life personalities. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down the top 10 classic golden age sitcoms.

#10 – “Leave it To Beaver” (1957-1963)

Kicking off our list is one of the first shows to portray childhood from a kid’s perspective. “Leave It To Beaver” followed the everyday life of a naïve boy named Theodore Cleaver – better known as Beaver. Wally, the Beave and the rest of their family remain one of the best examples of what ‘50s audiences expected of suburban life. Cue the heartfelt moments of parental respect and discovery…

#9 – “The Donna Reed Show” (1958-1966)

If you’ve ever wondered how to pull off heels and pearls while doing housework, just look at Donna Reed. But her show wasn’t all style and no substance: while the comedy focused on typical real-life family problems of the era, it also covered edgier topics like women’s rights. Reed was so convincing in her portrayal of the perfect, upper-middle class suburban housewife, she won a Golden Globe.

#8 – “The Andy Griffith Show” (1960-1968)

This friendly whistle greeted an entire generation. Andy Griffith starred in this long-running TV classic as the sheriff of Mayberry. Viewers tuned in each week to watch this widowed father raise his son Opie, played by Ron Howard, and work alongside his quirky, bug-eyed partner Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts. The folks of Mayberry were so popular with fans, the show spawned not one, but two spinoff series.

#7 – “The Abbott and Costello Show” (1952-1954)

This was the original show about nothing. Abbott and Costello’s short-lived and slapstick-filled sitcom was highly influential mainly because it chose not to focus on the intricacies of family life. In fact, it barely had a coherent plot! This lack of a storyline later influenced a comedian by the name of Jerry Seinfeld to shun the traditional sitcom formula. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

#6 – “Make Room for Daddy” [“The Danny Thomas Show”] (1953-1965)

Starring beloved nightclub comic Danny Thomas, this series underwent many changes throughout its long run, not the least of which were a name swap and the death of the main character’s wife. Despite the alterations, the show and its absentee father premise captured the nation for over a decade, and prompted a successful spinoff when Thomas was arrested by Sheriff Andy Taylor.

#5 – “The Jack Benny Program” (1950-1965)

Jack Benny’s vaudeville humor was regarded as the pinnacle of 20th century comedy. His radio-series-turned-TV-show spent the latter part of its three-decade-long life on the boob tube, with Benny portraying a vain comic and cheapskate who lives in denial about his age. This show was groundbreaking not only because it maintained its award-winning quality, it also featured a black actor whom Benny treated as an equal.

#4 – “The Phil Silvers Show” [“Sgt. Bilko”] (1955-1959)

As Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko, comedian Phil Silvers ran a U.S. army platoon in the uneventful town of Roseville, Kansas, and often used his men to orchestrate hilarious get-rich-quick schemes under the nose of the base’s commander. The ensuing hijinks won the sitcom several Emmys, and like many other golden age classics, you would often see cameos by the top personalities of the era.

#3 – “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (1961-1966)

We’d watch him trip over that ottoman a million times! Often cited as one of the greatest TV shows of all time, this legendary sitcom earned 15 Emmy Awards throughout its run thanks to the chemistry between Dick Van Dyke and costars like Mary Tyler Moore. Van Dyke starred as a writer for the fictitious “Alan Brady Show,” which gave audiences the chance to witness outrageous behind-the-scenes happenings at a comedy program.

#2 – “The Honeymooners” (1955-1956)

Though it only lasted 39 episodes, this short-lived CBS series remains a television landmark. It was the first series to showcase a working class couple, but perhaps its greatest contribution was a laundry list of memorable catchphrases. Jackie Gleason is an icon thanks to his portrayal of the short-fused, kindhearted, opportunistic loudmouth, Ralph Cramden. That character even went on to inspire the creation of other characters, like Fred Flintstone!

#1 – “I Love Lucy” (1951-1957)

Taking the top spot on our list is the most beloved show of its time! This series regularly topped the ratings, was the first to introduce a live studio audience, and won five Emmy. But what made it popular was its star. Whether she was trying to join Ricky’s act, raising her son or working a new job, this naïve and ambitious woman was always getting in trouble – which is why we love Lucy.

Do you agree with our list? Which is your favorite golden age sitcom? For more great Top 10s, be sure to subscribe to

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