“I really must go, I’m hosting a seminar on multiple personality disorders and it takes for ever to fill out the name tags.” “How can men possibly use sex to get what we want? Sex IS what we want!” “Daphne deserves a doctor or a lawyer, someone for whom a T-shirt is an undergarment.” With lines like these, Frasier isn’t a psychiatric sitcom; it’s a compulsion.
Each episode of this US sitcom is so wonderfully moreish you’ll want to raffle through several instalments a night. Soon the only way to know how long you’ve spent watching is to keep tabs on how the kids grow from season to season. Together the Dunphys and Pritchetts make up the best ensemble comedy on television, every line deftly packaged and generously delivered. It may veer close to schmaltzy now and again but you’ll be laughing so much you won’t notice.
Friends will always be there for you. When the rain starts to pour, like it’s been there before. For many, the names Ross, Rachel, Chandler etc have the same power as John, Paul, George and Ringo, and an episode of the definitive American sitcom is the perfect pick-me-up. Constant repeats make it easy to forget how funny (and sexy) it could be, but everyone needs this sitting on their virtual shelf, in case of emergencies/bad break-ups.
Larry David started the trend for celebrities playing comedy versions of themselves (see also: Extras) when he co created Seinfeld, but he perfected the game with this fictionalised version of his own life. Larry David plays Larry David, a misanthropic millionaire prone to shooting his mouth off at the worst possible moment. That must have been a stretch.
More often discussed for what it says and represents than how good it is as a TV show, Lena Dunham’s “dramedy” easily stands up, even if you don’t care what wider meaning it has. The tales of four listless, directionless 20 somethings in privileged New York have a raw honesty, led by Dunham herself as maddening wannabe writer Hannah Horvath, that makes selfish youth sympathetic. Put that with Dunham’s gift for knowing what to leave out in a tight half-hour’s running time and you have something that feels fresh.
Read the full guide to The 100 Greatest Shows to Watch Now in the latest issue of Radio Times, out from Tuesday 13 January.