Now that Friends is ending, there is a lot of hooplah about this final season that reminds me of the ending of Cheers (which is odd since the Cheers spinoff, Fraiser, is also ending this year and has zero hooplah). So I got to wondering, what are the best sitcoms ever, and by what criteria do we judge this?

The first one that keeps coming up in my mind is "Married... with Children". After the first season, this show became comfortable with taking the elements of everday life and exaggerating them for comedic effect while staying within its own universe. MwC changed the face of TV by being brash and honest and silly and never trying to be more than funny. The series also had the first openly-gay cast member - long before Ellen DeGeneres publicly came out of the closet - and its ratings were completely uneffected by the news even though the network feared it's seemingly all-male audience would be somehow intolerant of this. The network generally didn't think highly of its male audience but that was an advantage because the series could get away with more without drawing the ire of upset sponsors, and Fox never seemed to realize that MwC had a large female viewing audience either so the producers and writers could get more into the shows without worrying about Fox tampering with the series trying to target this other market. The show was often panned by critics, but lasted 10 years and still was its own brand of humor right until Fox pulled the plug.