The best sitcoms ever made are the ones that reflect some part of our lives. People either want to watch shows to get an insight on a life they could never live, or because they want to watch something they can relate to. Sitcoms, in a sense, are about creating situations that everyone can relate to. Without a doubt, Seinfeld was able to capture the mundane moments of every day life better than any other show on television. It may not have been the funniest show ever, but a lot of modern sitcoms are using a very similar formula to the one that Seinfeld created.
As the saying goes, “art imitates life” which is unusual considering how much we can learn about our own lives through art and television. We relate to the characters we see on TV and spend time arguing with our friends over who’s Ross and who’s Joey. But no matter who you are or who your favourite character is, there are life lessons we can learn from just about every sitcom. Here are 15 of the best!
15. You Can Handle Anything — Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a Netflix sitcom produced by Tina Fey about a woman who was kidnapped and forced to live in a bunker with three other women and the man that kidnapped her for 15 years. The women were told that Doomsday had come, and if they left the bunker they would die. Eventually, the women are rescued and find that the world was fine and dandy. The show focuses on Kimmy as she tries to start her life in New York, and the interesting characters she meets along the way.
In episode two, Kimmy tells someone, “You can stand anything for 10 seconds, then you just start on a new 10 seconds.” Although it may sound like a childish approach to life, these words were coming from a character that was brainwashed and held against her will for 15 years. You don’t have to be in an equally traumatic situation to use this advice. For example, the next time you have to deal with an exceptionally rude person or annoying child, just remember Kimmy’s words!
14. Do Your Best — Parks And Recreation
Even though Parks and Recreation launched the careers of Chris Pratt, Aziz Anzari, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, and so many others, it seems the show doesn’t get enough love. Today, Chris Pratt is universally loved, and that is in part due to Parks and Recreation. It’s a show filled with valuable life lessons such as “treat yo’ self.” Essentially, two characters have one day a year that they treat themselves to pretty much whatever they want. Massages, junk food, funky clothes, anything!
Nick Offerman said the poignant quote “never half ass two things — whole ass one thing.” Yes, it’s hilarious, but it’s also a great lesson to take with you on this crazy journey called life. Instead of creating two mediocre products, focus on creating something that you can be proud of because you know that you did your absolute best.
13. Hit The Reset Button — The IT Crowd
The IT Crowd is another one of those sitcoms that was critically acclaimed but didn’t find it’s audience until it was taken off the air. This British sitcom only ran for 24 episodes but they only get better as the show progresses. While you may be thinking that there isn’t much to learn from a sitcom about an IT team, there’s one life lesson that you could use every single day of your life: try turning it off and back on again.
Any time you’re having trouble with your electronics, the easiest solution is to just turn it off and then back on again. Usually, this allows your device to start from scratch and whatever problem existed before is now gone. The same solution can be used in your personal life, as well. Whenever you get into an argument with your girlfriend, family, co-workers, whoever, try to take a step and start all over again.
12. Friends Come And Go — HIMYM
How I Met Your Mother was Friends in a more updated setting. Instead of TV guides, coffee shops, and Chandler, How I Met Your Mother had blogs, bars, and Barney. There are more life lessons in How I Met Your Mother directly told to the audience than any other sitcom because the entire show is a story that’s being told by a father to his children. Some of our fan-favourite lessons include “nothing good happens after 2 a.m,” and “don’t cling to the past; it’s already gone.”
Though How I Met Your Mother had 9 seasons of life lessons, the best one comes near the very end of the series. Marshall tells the gang that he remembers being happy to see certain people at his wedding that he hasn’t seen in years. Ted then says, “That’s how it goes kids. The friends, neighbors, drinking buddies, and partners in crime you love so much when you’re young. As the years go on, you just lose touch. You’ll be shocked at how easy it is to part ways with people forever. That’s why, when you want to keep someone around, you do something about it.”
11. Confidence Is Key — The Office
The characters in The Office are perfect to watch on TV but would be an absolute nightmare to deal with on a daily basis. Jim’s pranks would get old fast, Dwight can’t have a normal conversation, and Michael Scott would be the most aggravating boss of all time. Michael isn’t the worst boss ever — he’s just a little oblivious. That said, there’s a few things that we could learn from Michael Scott.
In just about everything Michael Scott does, he’s filled with confidence. Whether he’s acting in a racially insensitive skit, hosting a nightmare of a dinner party, or saying phrases incorrectly, Michael Scott proves that confidence is key. Without confidence, he wouldn’t have ever become the boss. Additionally, as the season goes on, we learn that Michael isn’t the most successful salesman, but he’s filled with passion. After all, passion counts for more than skill.
10. Everyone Gets Lonely Sometimes — Scrubs
The legacy Scrubs would have had was essentially ruined by the last season of the show. During it’s run, Scrubs was the sitcom that would make you laugh as often as you would cry. There are countless lessons throughout the series, but perhaps the one that can be applied to every episode is this: every day is a test.
Another popular lesson from Scrubs is how to deal with feelings of loneliness. One of the most often quotes from the show is “nothing sucks more than feeling alone, no matter how many people are around.” It’s a topic that sitcoms don’t really address because on TV, friend groups are rock solid. In reality, everyone feels lonely sometimes for one reason or another. You just need to know how to deal with it. Scrubs’ solution? “If you find someone you want to keep around, let go of the little things because nothing sucks more than feeling all alone.”
9. Everybody Has A Lobster — Friends
Friends was one of those sitcoms that appealed to everyone. It’s been off the air for over a decade and it seems like the show has been having a resurgence in popularity since it was put on Netflix. Though the pop culture references are too dated for young viewers, the themes of the show are strong as ever because there are many lessons that you can learn from Friends. Lessons like don’t be afraid to take risks, follow your dreams, and of course, pizza is always a good idea.
Undoubtedly, one of the sweetest life lessons from Friends is that everyone has a lobster. This lesson originated when Phoebe tells Ross that she knows him and Rachel will end up together. Ross asks how she knows this, and Phoebe says that Rachel is Ross’ lobster. Phoebe then explains that lobsters mate for life and that everybody has a lobster!
8. Be Yourself — The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory is the most popular sitcom on TV right now, and it’s pretty polarizing for most people. Either you love all 11 seasons of the show or you loathe its existence. The show first aired in 2007, just before the Marvel movie craze had begun. Since comic books have gone mainstream, the show has only gained popularity. A decade ago, people were being beaten up for being “nerds.” That’s not the case today. It’s cool to be a nerd.
Whether they’re a Sheldon Cooper or a Penny, The Big Bang Theory taught people to just be themselves. Embrace the things that make you quirky. People are always going to tease you for liking something, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t like it. Just ignore them, and be yourself. After all, Leonard’s put up with Penny’s nonstop teasing for 11 seasons now.
7. We’re All Alright — That 70’s Show
That 70’s Show somehow managed to make growing up in the 1970s relatable to someone growing up in the early 2000s. Even though pop culture has changed, most of the problems that teenagers faced in the ’70s are the same problems that teenagers are dealing with today. Awkward encounters, discovering drugs, and rebelling against your parents in just about any way that you can.
Many of the characters in That 70’s Show forge their own life lessons most of the time, and other times, these lessons are given to them by Red and Kitty Forman. But the best lesson from the show can be found in the theme song that we all love to sing: we’re all alright. You don’t have to live a life full of new experiences to have a good time. Find some friends, hang out down the street, do the same old thing you did last week, and you’ll be alright.
6. Be Proud Of Your Body — Seinfeld
For a show about nothing, Seinfeld managed to teach everyone a lot about life. Fans of the show took to Twitter in November, 2017, and talked about what the show taught them using #SeinfeldTaughtMe. Fans tweeted about how the show taught them to dance like no one is watching, that you can show up to work after quitting and pretend nothing happened, the importance of a good come back, and that it isn’t a lie if you believe it.
The most profound life lesson from Seinfeld can be applied to just about every character in the show — Jerry’s hairy chest, George’s sexy photo shoot, Kramer’s experience marketing a bra for men, and Elaine flaunting her cleavage to prove a point to her friends. What do these things have in common? The characters are proud of their bodies. They are all different shapes and sizes but that doesn’t stop them from showing off what their momma gave them.
5. Dress To Impress — 30 Rock
30 Rock solidified Tina Fey’s place as one of the funniest people in the entertainment industry. The show ran for 7 magnificent seasons and was loved by critics and fans. Additionally, 30 Rock helped Donald Glover launch his career, and he’s now one of the most praised people in the business.
30 Rock is different than a lot of the other sitcoms on this list because the messages and themes of the show weren’t thrown in your face. Everything, even the humor, was subtle. With that in mind, one of my favourite lessons from 30 Rock comes from Jack, who taught us all that you need to dress to impress. When asked why he was wearing a tuxedo, Jack responds by saying, “it’s after 6. What am I, a farmer?” He may have taken the whole “dress to impress” thing to the extreme, but life lesson still rings true.
4. It’s Okay To Change For Other People — Community
As kids, most of us are told that we shouldn’t conform to what’s ‘normal’ and that mindset follows us through life. Often times, people are told that they shouldn’t have to change themselves just to please someone else, especially in relationships. While that may seem like wisdom at first glance, when you really think about it that’s a bad way to live your life. You’re always changing and you should embrace it.
Community was unfortunately ruined by what was happening behind the scenes, but for a few years, it was the best show on television. It was riddled with life lessons, usually from Abed, who would break the fourth wall to almost speak to viewers directly. Perhaps the best is when Abed tells Britta, “When you really know who you are and what you like about yourself, changing for others isn’t bad.” We’ve all pretended to like something to make someone else happy, and Abed is essentially saying that’s alright to do.
3. Appreciate The Little Things — It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia isn’t for everyone. The characters are the worst human beings imaginable, constantly ruining the lives of everyone around them for their own personal gain. It seems like the group of friends (known as The Gang) doesn’t particularly care about each other, either. Nonetheless, it’s an original take at five people that somehow own a bar that is still operating although it is almost always empty.
In one of the episodes, the bar is undergoing a surprise health inspection. One of the characters, Charlie, spends the entire episode scrambling around and organizing the rest of The Gang to make sure that they pass the inspection, which they do. Charlie had to do things that the rest of The Gang doesn’t even realize need to be done because Charlie’s just always does them. These jobs are called “Charlie work” and if they didn’t get done, the bar would get shut down. The Gang was too self involved to see the importance of Charlie Work. So, what’s the lesson? Appreciate Charlie Work. You don’t know how much people are helping you behind the scenes.
2. Where You Come From Doesn’t Dictate Where You’re Going — The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is one of a kind. It was a show about Will, a troublesome teenager who moves from his mom’s house in the ghetto of Philly to live with his rich uncle in Bel-Air. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is one of few shows with an all black cast that appeals to everyone. We can all relate to feeling like a fish out of water, and it helps that the show was filled with as many touching moments as funny ones.
One of the most important lessons from the show comes from how Uncle Phil earned his riches. He, too, started off living in a poor ghetto like Will, but he took control of his life and became a successful lawyer. The fact that Phil was able to work his way out of the ghetto was proof to Will that where you come from doesn’t dictate where you’re going. And that’s a message that everyone needs to hear.
1. Life Isn’t Fair — Malcolm In The Middle
Back in the early 2000s, Frankie Muniz was the biggest child star that wasn’t affiliated with Disney. Most people know him starring in movies, but Muniz’s best performance was Malcolm, in the show Malcolm in the Middle. For whatever reason, the show wasn’t (and still isn’t) as popular as it should have been. Malcolm in the Middle was hilarious and depicted, possibly for the first time, what a real dysfunctional family actually looks like.
Malcolm is a genius with an attitude problem. He’s the middle child in a family of five boys. For most of the show, it seems that the other boys only have a knack for stupid stunts and getting themselves in trouble. Whenever something starts to right for Malcolm, it blows up in his face. Between his controlling mom and socially awkward friend group, Malcolm learns that life isn’t fair — but that doesn’t mean that we can all just give up on it.
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