These Are the 5 Best New England-Based Sitcoms
5. (TIE) “I Love Lucy”/“The Gilmore Girls”
The only reason “I Love Lucy” doesn’t rank higher on this list is that it wasn’t until the show’s final season that Lucy, Ricky, and Little Ricky moved to Connecticut (soon to be followed by Fred and Ethel). But several memorable episodes took part in the Ricardos’ Westport home, including the house being overflowed by chicks when the gang tries its hand at farming.
As for “The Gilmore Girls,” it has perhaps the sharpest, rapid-fire dialogue in the modern TV era. But is it a comedy, or is it a drama? A little bit of both – but this is a list for TV comedies, not dramedies. No cheating!
4. “Who’s the Boss?”
Ayy! Ohh! Ayy! Connecticut makes the list again with this '80s favorite, with an all-star cast led by the great Tony Danza. Or was it Judith Light? Just who was the boss anyway, Tony or Angela? Trick question – the answer is Mona.
We head to Vermont, where Bob Newhart scored his second straight legendary sitcom as do-it-yourself author and innkeeper Dick Louden. But we all know the real stars of this show were Larry, Darryl and Darryl – three brothers and backwoodsmen, only one of whom spoke (introducing the trio each time they appeared).
Perhaps their most famous appearance came during mistaken UFO landing, when they were mistaken for aliens, to which Newhart dryly stated, “That would explain a lot.”
The series is most famous, however, for its surprise ending, hailed by many as the greatest in comedy history (but seen as yours truly as a slight towards a colorful cast of characters and, ostensibly, group of actors). Still, you can’t deny that huge audience pop, and to this day we wonder how they kept it a secret.
2. “Family Guy.”
Quahog, Rhode Island may not be a real New England town, but it’s real in the hearts of Millennials. One of the greatest animated comedies of all-time, this long-running series is in many ways the most New Englandy show to make it to the airwaves.
From the thick New England accents to the wacky incidents at Stop ‘n Shop to memorable appearances by Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, this is NEW ENGLAND. And it’s not surprise, as creator Seth MacFarlane hails from Rhode Island, while longtime producer Chris Sheridan grew up in New Hampshire and Connecticut.
This should be no surprise. In my opinion, “Cheers” is not just the greatest New England television comedy of all time, but the greatest situation comedy of all time, period.
It's another show that perfectly captured the essence of '80s and '90s Boston (for better or worse), and managed to do so in a potentially dreary setting from which characters rarely strayed.
In fact, during its first season (when it initially ranked last in the ratings), not a single episode of “Cheers” took place outside of the bar. Throughout the years, the show’s writers and producers used cast turnover as an opportunity to create new characters with an ease that almost seems superhuman. Getting cast on “Cheers” was essentially signing up to win an Emmy.
While the show did miss a couple of opportunities to explore cultural issues in Boston (such as failing to capitalize on the uncomfortable but funny dynamic between Cliff and his coworker Lewis) as well as those at large (though one major swerve was discussed), it played perfectly to the humanity and humility of its characters. And, in my opinion, it had the greatest ending in television comedy history.
Sorry, “Newhart,” but you just can’t beat its perfect finale, capped by Sam Malone waving off a customer with the line, “Sorry – we’re closed.”