7 sitcom theme songs that were secretly disturbing

By 09.05.13
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If you’ve ever taken a moment to stop and listen to the lyrics of a sitcom theme song you’ve noticed that many of them are hilariously depressing or disturbing. This makes sense when you consider that without the laugh track most of these shows are celebrations of sociopaths and insane people. There is a certain desperate sadness underlying every sitcom, a sense that something just isn’t quite right and that at any moment the whole thing could descend into maudlin tragedy and while it never quite happens – except for in very special episodes involving Gary Coleman almost getting molested – the theme song lyrics are always there to remind us that it could. This is especially true when it comes to these, seven of the most secretly depressing or disturbing sitcom theme songs of them all.

On the surface, the Family Ties theme song is a warm, gentle celebration of family but if you really pay attention they sort of sound like the deluded ramblings of a stalker. Check it out:

I bet we been together for a million years,
And I bet we'll be together for a million more.
Oh, it's like I started breathing on the night we kissed,
And I can't remember what I ever did before.
What would we do baby, Without Us?
What would we do baby, Without Us?
And there ain't no nothing we can't love each other through.
What would we do baby, Without Us?
Sha la la la.

It reads like the love note of a jilted boyfriend who just can’t take a hint. “It’s like I started breathing on the night we kissed” is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect a dude to moan to the poor lady he has tied up in the crawlspace. These are the sort of lyrics that the police find scribbled all over the walls of the apartment over and over and over again after they break down the door because the neighbors start complaining about the smell of a dead body.

The Friends theme song is famously uplifting and right now it’s going through your head while you picture them dancing like goofs in front of a fountain. Don’t lie. And the “I’ll be there for you” refrain speaks of togetherness and, wait for it… friendship. Awww, isn’t that nice? Sure, but let’s not forget that the reason the singer is being reassuring is because of the first verse:

So no one told you life was going to be this way.
Your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's DOA.
It's like you're always stuck in second gear,
Well, it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.

Fun! Or how about the third verse:

You're still in bed at ten, the work began at eight.
You've burned your breakfast, so far, things are going great.
Your mother warned you there'd be days like these,
But she didn't tell you when the world has brought you down to your knees.

Other than summing up David Schwimmer’s post-Friends career, these lyrics describe the life of someone on the verge of dropping a toaster into the bathtub. Forget about dancing, with these lyrics the opening montage should have been the gang trying to keep Chandler from trying to drown himself in the fountain.

Everybody laughs at the Frasier theme song because of the ridiculous “tossed salad and scrambled eggs” part but really, the entire thing comes across like the nonsensical raving of a mental patient.

Hey baby, I hear the blues a-callin',
Tossed salad and scrambled eggs

Oh My
Quite Stylish

And maybe I seem a bit confused,
Yeah maybe, but I got you pegged!
Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!

But I don't know what to do with those tossed salads and scrambled eggs.
They're callin' again.

The seemingly random sequencing of words, the weird laughter in the middle… somebody get this man some help.

Man, the entire Cheers/Frasier universe was kind of fucked up, wasn’t it? Yes, before Frasier Crane went nuts in Seattle and started gibbering about scrambled eggs, he was a regular at Cheers, that venerable Boston pub where all the customers were depressed losers with nowhere else to go. Just check out the theme song:

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.
You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
your name.

The whole song can basically be summed up as “Life sucks and we’re all in this together. Now let’s get hammered and maybe this week Norm will have a heart attack or Cliff will get arrested for killing his mother.” But hey, what else do you expect from a show whose main character was a sociopathic alcoholic womanizing sex-addict?

Bosom Buddies launched Tom Hanks’ career and also featured an upbeat theme song that made you think “Hey, good times!” Yeah, not so fast:

Got a call from an old friend
We used to be real close
Said he couldn't go on the American way
Closed the shop, sold the house
Bought a ticket to the West Coast
Now he gives them a stand-up routine in L.A.

I don't need you to worry for me cause I'm alright
I don't want you to tell me it's time to come home
I don't care what you say anymore, this is my life
Go ahead with your own life, and leave me alone
I never said you had to offer me a second chance
I never said I was a victim of circumstance
I still belong, don't get me wrong
And you can speak your mind
But not on my time
They will tell you you can't sleep alone
In a strange place
Then they'll tell you you can't sleep
With somebody else
But sooner or later you sleep
In your own space
Either way it's okay
You wake up with yourself.

The whole thing is basically a tale of seedy desperation, which makes sense when you consider that the show’s plot involved Hanks and Peter Scolari dressing in drag just so they could fool their landlord into letting them live in an apartment for women only. Also, the “Either way it’s okay, you wake up with yourself” final line is dark as hell. Like, that’s some genuinely hopeless “everybody dies alone” shit right there. Then again, the song was written by Billy Joel and if anyone knows about dark times and dying alone it’s our boy Billy.

The theme song to Good Times starts off encouragingly enough:

Any time you meet a payment. - Good Times.
Any time you need a friend. - Good Times.
Any time you’re out from under.
Not getting hassled, not getting hustled.
Keepin’ your head above water,
Making a wave when you can.

Yeah! Good times! We’ll figure this thing out and stay one step ahead of the world and… oh, wait, not so fast my friend. Here’s the second verse:

Temporary lay offs. - Good Times.
Easy credit rip offs. - Good Times.
Scratchin’ and surviving. - Good Times.
Hangin in a chow line - Good Times.
Ain’t we lucky we got ‘em - Good Times.


Well, that just went to shit in a hurry, didn’t it? You mean being a poor inner city family in the ‘70s wasn’t a good time after all? Shocking! It’s almost like that’s a situation that isn’t even funny! Imagine that.

The M*A*S*H theme song was so depressing and disturbing that the show cut the lyrics entirely and just went with the instrumental version. Which makes sense given that the actual name of the song is “Suicide is Painless.” Yeah. But whether or not they actually chose to air the lyrics, they still exist and here they are in all their fucked up glory:

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see...

[Chorus]: That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but now I know that it's too late, and...

[Chorus]

The game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.

[Chorus]

The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I'm beat
and to another give my seat
for that's the only painless feat.

[Chorus]

The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn't hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger...watch it grin, but...

[Chorus]

A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
'is it to be or not to be'
and I replied 'oh why ask me?'

'Cause suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
...and you can do the same thing if you choose.

Jesus Christ! If this would have aired the whole country would have gone nuts. The church lady groups would have started boycotts, the President would have been forced to give a special address about suicide and Congress would have had the FCC execute people. After all, this is a country that lost its collective mind over Janet Jackson’s semi-bare titty. A theme song advocating suicide would have probably gotten television itself banned.

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TAGSArbitrary RankingsCheersfeaturedFrasierFriendsfriends theme songGood TimesListsMASH

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