When you think about your favorite TV shows, in particular sitcoms, you do not think about the setting or the subject matter, you think of the cast. In order to captivate viewers and keep them coming back week by week, or in the case of Friends streaming off of Netflix each night before bed, a show needs to have a great ensemble cast. Think of your favorite sitcom or any great TV show, the cast is what gives it that extra ‘oomph’ that makes it great.
Casting is what makes or breaks a show. If one castmate doesn’t mesh well with the others that translates to the small screen and viewers quickly pick up on the lack of cohesion amongst the ensemble. Each member needs to put in 100 percent and do their best to work together. Your favorite show definitely had a cast that worked well to make the storyline and in the case of sitcoms, punch lines, funnier than ever. The cast needs to have a natural banter in order to achieve this. So, now let’s have a look at some of the TV shows featuring some of the best casts in the last five decades.
I Love Lucy
Let’s start off in the 1950s with I Love Lucy. It aired for seven years, from 1951 to 1957 and was considered a critical success. It followed the comedic pursuits of Lucy Ricardo, who shook up her homemaker lifestyle by constantly getting up to no good.
Her husband was a Cuban band leader on the show and her other castmates were quirky neighbors who often joined her in her comedic skits. Together they had a riot of a time.
Boy Meets World
Boy Meets World was one of the darlings of the 1990s. This was not a family drama but instead focused on the problems facing teens both in their personal lives and in high school. The teenage years are by no means easy, and the cast played their roles very convincingly.
The audience also liked that they were growing up alongside the cast. The main character, Cory Matthews showed what it was truly like to be a teen and just how hard growing up can be.
We have now reached the age of color television in the 1960s and Gilligan’s Island made full use of the vibrant colors the 60s were famous for. Instead of a family centered drama, it featured a cast that had been shipwrecked and had to figure out how to work together to stay alive.
Each castaway was unique, and the show was full of puns that audiences simply adored. Reruns can still be seen when you tune in to classic TV channels on the weekend and the jokes are just as funny, albeit a bit corny, today. You always know it’s Gilligan’s Island by Gilligan’s signature hat.
The Golden Girls
We have now reached the 1980s, and they would not be complete without a mention of the critically acclaimed show The Golden Girls.The show featured four women no longer in the bloom of youth and on their way to being elderly and the shenanigans you can still get up to no matter what age you are.
The show ran for seven seasons and each one was full of lively banter between the four ladies about slightly risque topics.
While Full House came out in the 1980s, it has gone through a reboot on Netflix so its humor has truly withstood the sands of time. It ran for a whopping 192 episodes that comprised 8 seasons, although who knows how many more we will get.
It centered around a single father, Danny Tyler who has to raise his three daughters with the help of an old friend and a slightly off the rails brother-in-law. The audience adored the show because of how funny each scene featuring one of the Olsen twins was.
No list of the best ensemble casts would be replete without Friends on it. Friends ran for exactly ten years (1994-2004). This ensemble cast is about as good as it gets, with the dynamics between each character being laugh out loud funny. While the NYC apartments may have been unbelievable, the relationships and issues that they all dealt with were the exact opposite.
The musical numbers provided by Phoebe also added something special. A lot of the success experienced by Friends was also thanks to their talented pool of writers.
Last, but not least, the most contemporary and still airing show on this list is Brooklyn Nine-Nine which features Andy Samberg in the starring role. Each cast member is a detective who manages to solve crimes in an unconventional manner for the NYPD.
Each episode is funny but ends with a warm undertone that leaves the audience laughing and sighing at the same time. The cast is what truly makes this show, and the bickering between all of the detectives.
While the US version of The Office featured some key differences from its UK version, some would say it is even more hilarious. Shot like a single camera documentary it features the salesmen at a paper company called Dunder-Mifflin and all of the pranks they pull on a daily basis.
Each character has obscure characteristics that make them quirky and loveable, but Michael Scott played by Steve Carell steals every scene. The show ran for a whopping nine seasons which would not have been possible without its top-notch writing team.
The Andy Griffith Show
After the family shows of the 1950s, there was a move in the 1960s to less conventional storylines. The Andy Griffith Show was one such exception. Instead of following the happy go lucky family plot line it featured a sheriff who was widowed working in a small town and living with his son and aunt.
Andy was the focal point of the show, and while it was largely centered around him it would not have had the amount of success it did if it was not for his fellow castmates. The cases he had to solve always required the aid of another cast member, and the camaraderie which was held between them all was what gave the show its magic.
The Addams Family
Now The Addams Family was truly something revolutionary when it first hit the television seen in the 1960s. It did have the quintessential family dynamic of past shows, but with a twist. The family was based on a New Yorker cartoon of the same name, and they all had somewhat unique personalities which seemed to verge on the supernatural.
The cast was special because they largely appeared to be somewhat otherworldly in their appearance yet on the screen the family all dealt with the same everyday problems as the average North American one. The family just had a few supernatural problems, and creatures to work with on the side.
The Brady Bunch
The 1970s brought the idea of a good family centered sitcom but with a twist. Instead of focusing on the nuclear family, it focused on a blended family. The Brady’s featured Carol and her three daughters, and Mike and his three sons who merged their families when they embarked on their second marriage.
The idea behind this show was to reflect how American society was changing, and the show achieved this goal remarkably well. The entire cast worked together to create a natural looking family bond, and that was evident on the screen. They actually bickered and fought like a real family, which the audience loved.
All in the Family
While the previous TV shows have largely featured loveable, and sometimes quirky families, All in the Family does not. Instead it centers around the character of Archie Bunker who is neither charming nor nice.
His blue-collar family, which features his long-suffering wife Edith, their daughter Gloria and her husband Mike are there to provide a more intense family dynamic. Archie believed largely in stereotypes and everyone he met was subject to them, which is why the goal of the show was for him to see the error of his ways.
Sanford and Son
The 1960s had largely been dedicated to Eurocentric ethnicities, but the 1970s allowed studios to break industry norms. The advent of this change was the show Sanford and Son. The show was comprised of an all African American cast which had not been seen before, and harkened in a new era of TV.
The father and son pair made audiences laugh as they came up with wild schemes to deal with debt. The chemistry between the duo had the show running for six seasons.
The Wonder Years
Later in the 1980s, people began to yearn for times past. So, The Wonder Years focused on the late 1960s and early 1970s even though it was filmed in the 1980s and early 1990s. The show dealt with some serious topics, specifically those associated with the era in which the Vietnam war occurred.
Audiences were really able to empathize with the characters as the cast portrayed all of these problems in a believable manner and dealt with some pretty serious topics like war, death, and love.
We have now firmly arrived in the 1990s and this decade would not be complete without Family Matters and the comedic genius that is Steve Urkel and Carl Winslow. It was about an African-American family that was centered on addressing stereotypes.
Steve Urkel was the glue that held the show together, he was quirky in an utterly charming way and every scene with him made the audience fall in love with his character even more. You couldn’t watch him without laughing.
Freaks and Geeks
Freaks and Geeks may not have had a long run, only eighteen episodes to be exact but it is considered a cult classic now. It was set in the 1980s and transported the audience back to those awkward teenage years and what it is to be nerd or a rebel in high school.
The cast really put their acting chops to the test, and the audience could see that in how authentically they portrayed their characters.
Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation definitely shares some similarities with The Office, but where the office hijinks are similar the workplace setting is not. Set in a small municipality government in Pawnee, Indiana, Leslie Knope played by Amy Poehler is the star of the show.
This is a true ensemble cast though, and each scene featuring any of the characters features their raw sarcasm and sometimes wide-eyed naivete. This was a cast that could adlib like there’s no tomorrow.