10. 'The Muppet Show' (1976-1981)
Bad puns, silly songs, a Catskills sensibility, guest stars making fools of themselves: How did Jim Henson's sweet variety show ever manage to be hip? "One of Jim's real talents was that he had the ability not to take most things more seriously than they deserved," Muppet Show head writer Jerry Juhl once said. "And that means that most things are pretty funny." Indeed, it was Henson's skill at tightrope-walking the line between sincerity and absurdity that energized the program's five-season run. You laughed along with Kermit, Fozzie and Miss Piggy's groan-worthy quips because you knew that they knew how dopey variety shows were — and the let's-put-on-a-show enthusiasm was infectious regardless. In subsequent years, everything from Kids in the Hall to 30 Rock would satirize the anything-for-a-laugh desperation of show business. The Muppet Show did it with wocka-wocka sunniness.