It’s Garry Shandling’s Show (1986 – 1990)
A lot of things I watched as a child would have slipped through the net if we consumed television then the way we do now. It’s Garry Shandling’s Show was one of those things.
I watched It’s Garry Shadling’s Show as a teenager in the UK. It was on late, when most people were in bed, and on the channel with the lowest viewing figures, so it was never really given the best chance to survive and thrive. As good and as popular as it was in its homeland, it’s popularity overseas was limited to those who couldn’t sleep or had stumbled across it while channel hopping.
From the glorious self-referential opening theme song (really, go listen to it), to the constant breaking of the fourth wall throughout each episode, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show was meta before meta was part of our lexicon. The sitcom was effectively Garry Shandling playing himself – in much the same way that Jerry Seinfeld played himself in his own sitcom – except Garry didn’t play this traditionally.
Garry would often speak directly to the viewers at home, or even the studio audience it was filmed in front of. It meant that the show was extremely unpredictable and made even the most mundane of sitcom episodes fascinating because of the added depth that the format permitted.