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There are countless American sitcoms about family life from the 1990s and early 2000s. They serve as cosy, nostalgic moments in time and a look back to a golden age in situation comedy.
With so many of these shows syndicated or outright cancelled, watching repeats or box sets are our only route back to this moment.
If ‘According to Jim’ was one of your favourites, read my list of recommendations for similar series.
Based on the work of comedian Ray Romano, this (for me) is the ultimate family sitcom. It focuses on the Barones, an Italian-American family living in Long Island. Romano plays typical dad Raymond Barone, a successful sports writer who has everything but still finds things to worry about.
The running gag throughout the show is that Ray’s parents Frank and Marie, are always coming over to the family home, often uninvited and causing trouble. A particularly great character is that of Raymond’s brother Robert, a giant of a man who is obsessed with being second best all the time.
After watching this devotedly growing up, I am convinced that some of the most comedic moments in television have happened on this show. This is largely due to the show boasting some of the best and funniest cast members around. If you’ve never seen ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’, check out this article. Then, I urge you to watch it from start to finish.
This is another sitcom revolving around family life, executed similarly to ‘According to Jim’ and ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’. Star of the show Kevin James actually appeared in a few episodes of the latter, just as Romano has guest starred in ‘The King of Queens’. These sitcom actors like to stick together!
‘The King of Queens’ follows the usual narrative: traditional suburban living inspires problems which are usually solved by the end of an episode.
The main character, Doug, is dopey and hopeless, subjecting him to constant nagging by his underappreciated wife. Unlike ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’, this show never really found its unique selling point in a world where network sitcoms are a dime a dozen.
Check out our article for more info on ‘The King of Queens’ and similar shows here.
This is an American sitcom with a refreshingly simple premise. A protective father wants what’s best for his teenage daughters and will happily scare boys away from them to ensure this. The ‘8 Simple Rules’ are what these potential suitors must abide by, resulting in hilarity and dysfunction.
With a little bit of digging – OK, one Google search – I found that this show is based on a book by writer W. Bruce Cameron. In my opinion shows and films based on books always have more developed narratives and complex characters.
If you like comedy shows about overbearing parents, this is absolutely the one for you. This show also features a young Kaley Cuoco, who later found fame in the hit series ‘The Big Bang Theory’, proving that sitcom actors can break into primetime TV.
The following recommendations are TV series like ‘According to Jim’ regarding their focus on the nuclear family. American families with dysfunctional dynamics will always offer hours and hours of entertainment: think of the hundreds of shows that follow this exact format and remain successful.
My next suggestions fit this description, but they are cartoons rather than sitcoms. Read on as I introduce you to two of the funniest families in America.
This is another show about a typical American family, just that it also has a talking goldfish and a resident alien. From the makers of ‘Family Guy’, Seth McFarlane’s latest offering takes mundane family life and throws in a little absurdity (including an apocalyptic episode), a plot for world domination, and kidnapping.
‘American Dad!’ is the perfect example of a cartoon world that goes beyond the boundaries of our normal world while still incorporating some relatable facets. It’s much more controversial than a sitcom, making even ‘According to Jim’ look stale.
If you love cartoons, read this article for the 10 most controversial episodes of ‘American Dad!’
Never has the discontinuation of a show been so unjust. The world could have done with more ‘King of the Hill’, a cartoon about American family life but without the talking goldfish and resident alien. The Hill family are much too sensible for that – happy with their Texan home, they are the antithesis to McFarlane’s rowdy cartoon families.
‘King of the Hill’ is definitely niche viewing: it’s up there with ‘Beavis and Butthead’ and ‘BoJack Horseman’ in the adult cartoon ranks. Gone is the silliness of regular animations and sitcoms – viewers watch this for the clever observations of everyday life.
TV shows about family life are so well received because we can relate to the difficulties these characters encounter – we’ve seen it all before. ‘According to Jim’ allows us to laugh at the stereotypes: the lovable yet useless husband, the worn out wife, the troublesome kids. The sitcom format is so familiar to us, it’s easy to laugh along and feel right at home.
If you’re making your way through American family sitcoms of the 1990s and early 2000s, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ should be your first port of call. If you’re a cartoon addict, watch ‘American Dad’ and ‘King of the Hill’ for a more escapist experience.
Do you agree with my recommendations? Let us know in the comments.