The best '90s sitcoms are a hot item for any of the best streaming services to add to their library of TV shows. While there are plenty of great new shows to stream right now, few things provide as satisfying a binge-watch as a sitcom, and the 90s produced some of the best shows the genre has to offer.
Plus — let’s be honest — quite a few of you reading this probably rely on a sitcom to go to bed. I know plenty of people who binge Friends in particular while trying to get some sleep, which is probably why Nick at Nite gives cable viewers a marathon of the show every night around bedtime on the East Coast.
Don’t worry though, no cable subscription is required to watch any of these '90s sitcoms. And while you’ll definitely find Friends on this list, you’ll also find some more underrated offerings like Martin and The Larry Sanders Show. Here are our picks for the seven best '90s sitcoms you can stream right now.
For “a show about nothing,” Seinfeld is pretty darn good. Starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld as a fictionalized version of himself, the show follows the day-to-day lives of Seinfeld and his friends Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) and George Costanza. Each episode kicks off with Jerry doing a stand-up bit and often shows are based on real-life events experienced by the writers and cast.
The beauty of Seinfeld is that you don’t really need to watch the episodes in order. Sure, you can just binge through the entire series, but this is also a show you could put on shuffle and still enjoy. Many of the episodes are self-contained and some rank among the best episodes of TV ever. Plus you get some great appearances from recurring and guest characters, from Jerry Stiller to Bryan Cranston and many, many more. If you’re only going to watch one '90s sitcom, Seinfeld is the top choice.
Stream on Netflix
Full disclosure, I was planning on writing up this guide prior to the untimely passing of Matthew Perry. But his passing gave me all the more reason to put this list together. While Perry wouldn’t ultimately end up the most successful or famous of the Friends cast, in part due to a crippling drug addiction, I’m firmly of the opinion that he was the best actor of the bunch. He was certainly my favorite.
That’s not to say the other members of the Friends cast aren’t great. In fact, they all are, which is why this sitcom about a group of friends living in New York was so successful and why attempts to copy largely fall short. The cast of Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Courtney Cox as Monica Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller and Perry as Chandler Bing excel at owning a scene and playing off each other in equal measure. There was no way Friends was going to be left off of any list of the best '90s sitcoms, and this one is no exception.
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For those that aren’t familiar, Frasier was actually a spin-off of the great 1980s sitcom Cheers, where actor Kelsey Grammer became a mainstay of the famous Boston bar as the psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane. But despite being a spin-off, this show would go on to be considered one of the best comedy series of all time, winning a whopping 37 Primetime Emmy Awards and at one point winning Outstanding Comedy Series five years in a row.
Aside from Grammer’s Dr. Crane, Frasier stars David Hyde Pierce as Frasier’s brother Dr. Niles Crane (also a psychiatrist), John Mahoney as their father Martin Crane and Jane Leeves as Daphne Moon, the live-in helper Frasier has hired to help Martin in their shared Seattle apartment.
If you want to watch some of the most brilliantly written episodes of comedic television, Fraiser is a must-watch. My personal favorite is Three Valentines, which is the 14th episode of season 6. I don’t think an episode of TV has caused me to laugh harder in my life.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
It’s quite possible at this point that the theme song for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is even more iconic than the beloved '90s sitcom, but that doesn’t mean you should sell the show short. Starring Will Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, the show follows his transition from aspiring rapper in rough-and-tumble West Philadelphia to living with his upper-class aunt and uncle in Bel-Air.
The cast is rounded out by James Avery as Uncle Phil, Janet Hubert as Aunt Vivian (Daphne Maxwell Reid in seasons 4-6), Alfonso Ribeiro as Will’s cousin Carlton, Karyn Parsons as Will’s cousin Hillary and Tatyana M. Ali as Will’s third cousin Ashley. Plus, Joseph Marcell stars as Geoffrey the Butler, who may be my favorite character in the entire show. Well, either he or DJ Jazzy Jeff, who plays Will’s friend Jazz and was Will Smith’s real-life partner in the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince.
Of all the '90s sitcoms on this list, this was the one that resonated with me the most watching as a kid and is my sentimental favorite of the bunch. So definitely watch the entire series now on Hulu while you still can.
Stream on Hulu
Martin was one of the biggest sitcoms of the '90s but is often overlooked. Running 5 seasons and 132 episodes, the show launched comedian Martin Lawrence into stardom and was considered a major success at the time. But whether it was a rocky scheduling history in FOX’s weekly lineup, the fact that it was nearly an all-Black cast or Lawrence’s personal issues off and on set, Martin didn’t get the respect from critics that some of these other shows did, nor is it often spoken of in the same breath.
And that’s a shame because the show is hilarious. And as much as Lawrence, starring as the titular Martin Payne is funny nearly every time he’s on screen, the show definitely wouldn’t work without Tisha Campbell, who plays Martin’s girlfriend-turned-wife Gina Waters-Payne. If you want something different than the typical 90s sitcoms everyone talks about, Martin needs to be next on your list of shows to watch.
Stream on Max
The Larry Sanders Show
Sure, you can watch real late-night talk shows now that the Writers Guild of America strike is over. But you can also watch The Larry Sanders Show, a Max sitcom starring the late Garry Shandling as fictional late-night host Larry Sanders. And with how well-written and funny it is, you may not regret your decision to go with satirical fiction instead of the real deal.
And Larry Sanders isn’t just for late-night fans either. The focus of the show is the behind-the-scenes of producing a late-night show as it is the fictional talk show itself. The Larry Sanders show probably has more in common with Curb Your Enthusiasm, another sitcom about a hilarious TV show persona, than your favorite late-night show, and fans of Larry David’s work in general will definitely enjoy Shandling’s comedy. Start streaming it now and discover one of Max’s best shows in its library.
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Before Fran Drescher was the president of SAG-AFTRA, she starred in one of the most iconic sitcom roles ever. Frankly, it may even be one of the most iconic roles in television history. Her voice, let alone the rest of her performance as Fran, is one of the most recognizable of any TV character ever.
In The Nanny, Drescher’s Fran Fine is suddenly thrust into serving as the nanny for the wealthy Sheffield family, a partnership family patriarch Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) is loathe to enter into. The show excels largely around Drescher’s performance as a Jewish nanny for an Anglo-American family, but it’s her acting from top to bottom that makes this series so worth watching. Drescher would go on to receive multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her performance over the show's 146 episodes.
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