The Quarantine Countdown: The Sitcom Theme Song

Hello everyone, hope you are all staying safe, healthy and haven’t attempted to murder anyone in your immediate family due to the close quarters of this quarantine. I am crawling up a wall without sports, I caught myself watching the 1992 East Regional Final between Duke and Kentucky yesterday, just to hear the sounds of sports yet again brought a smile to my face. The problem with that is, as soon as I realized there were no current sports being played, I got immediately depressed. In order to cure that depression, I fired up one of what seems like our hundreds of streaming services and dove head first into some good old fashion, network television sitcoms.

This got me thinking, what is one of the main things we miss now that the sitcom is slowly dying and the streaming world has taken over the television universe? The theme songs, there are so many classics, when I find myself not being able to click the “Skip Intro” tab on Netflix, you know that you have an absolute banger on your hands. This inspired me to rank my favorite television theme songs of all time. I figured, I would do the top five greatest (in my opinion) and then hopefully we get some feedback so I can see where you were with your rankings. The qualifications in order for the song to make the list is that it had to be written specifically for the television show. For example, The Wonder Years, one of my favorite shows of all time has “A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker, this song was originally written, performed and made famous by a little obscure band called, The Beatles, so a song like that would not be able to make my list. Also, growing up, Winnie Cooper held the lock and key to my heart. Let’s get to the countdown and start with the fifth most iconic television theme song of all-time:

5. The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air (1990-1996) “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Growing up as a 90’s kid, our collective favorite show would have to be this one. This show was in syndication non-stop, in the morning before school and on every night for hours on either TV Land or Nick at Night. I actually think this show holds up pretty well and for all the goofy comedy there are some serious well done acting scenes, especially from Will Smith and James Avery. There are countless phenomenal episodes in this sitcom, great characters, Uncle Phil tossing Jazz out of the house, Hilary Banks is a 90’s smokeshow, this has it all and even though it has all that, I was skeptical about putting the theme in the top five, I was torn, but overall it is culture defining, and for that, it gets a place in our top 5.

4. Friends (1994-2004) “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts
Look, I have been on the forefront of calling Friends one of the most overrated television shows in history. I stand by that. The problem with calling something “overrated” is that people bypass the meaning of the word and assume that you dislike the subject matter. In this case, not true at all, I think Friends is great mindless, background television with some very funny moments, that are actually laugh out loud type of comedy. I call it “overrated” because it is tossed around in the network TV great convo with Seinfeld, Frazier, Office territory by casual TV watchers and Jennifer Aniston Stan’s. Friends is nowhere near those other TV shows so therefore it is wildly overrated. With saying all that, I enjoy the show for what it is, just don’t compare it to the all-time greats of its generation, its not there. The theme song is iconic and if you had it in your top 3 or even your number 1 it would be tough to argue. When you hear it, you immediately are taking back to the opening of the six cast members in the fountain and on the couch. It’s a great opening song, definitely NOT “overrated”.

3. The Jeffersons (1975-1985) “Movin’ On Up” by Ja’net Dubois
My dear lord, if this classic is not in your top 3 then you have no business discussing TV theme songs. I really battled with where I should rank this, at one point I had it as my most iconic theme song of all time. This show is so good, Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson is probably the most iconic or second most iconic sitcom character behind only Archie Bunker or MAYBE The Fonz. Speaking of Archie Bunker of “All In The Family”, that is where the Jefferson family first appeared, as the Bunker’s neighbors, they later got their own spin-off show, and moved on up to that deluxe apartment in Manhattan. The Jeffersons proved to be a smashing success, it was on the air for more seasons than the show in which they originated, an absolute tremendous achievement for a spin off sitcom.

2. Happy Days (1974-1984) “Happy Days” by Jim Haas
This iconic theme actually did not appear until 1976, before that the 50’s classic “Rock Around The Clock” was used as the opening. When they unveiled the new theme song it was pretty evident that this slapped harder than the original and proved sometimes the sequel can be better than the original, shoutout Godfather 2 and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, don’t at me. This show is the focal point of my childhood, laying in bed with my window open on a summer night and tuning into TV Land around 10:00pm and falling asleep to this classic TV show. Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Tom Bosley; what a cast, what a show. This song will immediately put you in a good mood, it’s an incredible pick me up.

1. Cheers (1982-1993) “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” by Gary Portnoy
A little diddy bout’ Sam and Diane. Ted Danson as Sam Malone is iconic, the ultimate TV sitcom character and frankly, they don’t make em’ like that anymore. This show withstands the test of time and is still an incredible enjoyable show to watch. This theme song always hits home for me, it reminds me of my local watering hole in my hometown. When I was in college I found a newly opened bar in my hometown, I would go there on weekends and I loved it, the food, the drinks, the vibe, the music, it was everything I wanted a bar to be. I eventually graduated from only going on the weekends and would go in for dinner multiple nights a week, sit at the bar, all the way to the left if I could, became friends with the bartender/owners named Sean and Meg, I became a regular. I was one of the best and most regular customers at a place where everybody knew my name, I have such fond and enjoyable memories of that place and the people at that bar, it really did become like a second family, I even invited them to my wedding that’s how close we became. This song epitomizes that feeling and that camaraderie, I don’t drink anymore and I am glad that I don’t have to search for places to drink, because you only have one true love when it comes to places where everybody knows your name.