Comedy rules are made to be broken. If all laughter comes from some great psychological misdirect, then it follows that the funniest series are the ones that continue to take the unexpected routes.
But sometimes a comedy is memorable because of the rules that it inadvertently puts in place. Some foundational TV series have endured not because they were ratings or cultural juggernauts in their time, but because their spiritual descendants dotted programming lineups years — maybe even decades — after their cameras stopped rolling.
As in other realms of entertainment, the TV comedies that endure and that are worth revisiting manage to speak to something brewing in their day and the audiences watching generations after. Sometimes it’s a matter of seeing how much the idea of good governance has changed since some starry-eyed optimists in Indiana closed up shop just a few years ago. Other times, it’s recognizing how