12 Sitcom Theme Songs That Do Nothing More Than Explain What the Show Is About

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12 Sitcom Theme Songs That Do Nothing More Than Explain What the Show Is About

While the goal of a theme song should be to get you in the mood for a show, sometimes it’s also used to explain the show’s premise in surprisingly specific detail. Otherwise, you might make the mistake of assuming that Gilligan’s Island is a police procedural.

Here are 12 such theme songs that aren’t taking any chances on you not knowing what the show is about…

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Gilligan’s Island

The Gilligan’s Island theme is perhaps the most obvious example of what I’m talking about. Over 60 seconds, it covers how its characters were on a three-hour tour aboard a boat that crashed on an island and explains who all the characters are, including their professions — assuming that being a millionaire’s wife and a woman named Mary Ann count as professions. 

My Mother the Car

My Mother the Car was a short-lived, infamously bad sitcom about a man whose mother dies and then gets reincarnated as a car. In case you didn’t get that from the show title, the theme song explains the premise verbatim as well as the entire concept of reincarnation — you know, so the non-Buddhists in the audience can understand what’s going on.

Green Acres

Green Acres is the place to be / Farm livin’ is the life for me / Land spreadin’ out so far and wide / Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.” 

Okay, so we already know that this guy lives in the country, which he prefers over the city. What else do we need to know? 

“New York is where I’d rather stay / I get allergic smelling hay / I just adore a penthouse view / Darling I love you, but give me Park Avenue.” 

Oh! So his wife doesn’t like the farm. I get it now. Anything else? 

“The chores / The stores / Fresh air / Times Square / You are my wife / Goodbye, city life / Green Acres we are there!” 

I’m all caught up, thanks. So glad they threw in that “You are my wife,” otherwise I never could have discerned the nature of their relationship.

The Brady Bunch

Just in case you couldn’t figure out the show’s premise by all the matching hairdos to the kids’ respective parents, The Brady Bunch informed you that this lady with three daughters fell for this guy with three sons. Poor Alice gets left out, though, which sucks because she’s the one cleaning up after all these kids.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The rap song that leads off The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air explains that this cool-looking kid in a rotating chair is only going to take a minute of our time to tell us all about how his life got flipped and turned upside-down. Next, he explains that he was born and raised in West Philadelphia — where he both maxed and relaxed — only for these guys who were up to no good to start making trouble. His mom got mad, then shipped him off to Bel-Air to live with his auntie and uncle. There’s also some stuff about a cab driver, which is kind of extraneous.

The Jeffersons

Not only do we learn that the Jeffersons are “moving on up,” but we get some helpful kitchen tips as well — stuff like “Fish don’t fry in the kitchen” and “Beans don’t burn on the grill.” Which, honestly, is good to know.

The Nanny

As far as premise-explaining theme songs go, The Nanny puts them all to shame. Like with My Mother the Car, it’s already all there in the title, and yet, The Nanny’s theme still crams in this whole fast-talking biography about where she was born and raised and her past relationships and what a great fucking nanny she is.

Cheers

Cheers is my favorite sitcom ever, but I’m not too blinded by fandom to admit that its theme song is a saccharine little ditty that doesn’t do much more than say, “Hey, here’s this bar that you really want to go to.” 

New Girl

It’s really important that we know the main character’s name before this show starts, so much so that the question “Who’s that girl?” is asked four times before her name is revealed (it’s Jess).

Beverly Hillbillies

The title Beverly Hillbillies is a fairly clever-ish play on words. But just in case it’s too clever, the opening theme puts it all out there: “Come and listen to my story ‘bout a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer” who “barely kept his family fed.” Next it explains that he found oil — or “black gold, Texas tea” — before recounting how he got into his truck and drove his family to “Beverly — Hills, that is. Swimming pools, movie stars.” 

Oh, thanks for that last part, I thought you meant Beverly Hills, New Jersey.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

The first season theme for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend both subverts the explain-y opening while simultaneously making good use of it. It rapid-fire tells us the main character’s backstory, how she moved across the country to follow her ex-boyfriend and addresses the show’s purposefully sexist title. It’s pretty great,

It’s Garry Shandling’s Show

It’s Garry Shandling’s Show might be the funniest opening theme in sitcom history. Not only does it explain the show, it explains that it’s a theme song. The first line is, “This is the theme to Garry’s Show,” and it continues by saying, “Garry called me up and asked if I would write his theme song.”

Halfway through, it offers, “I’m almost halfway finished,” before asking, “How do you like it so far?” It also includes the lyric, “This is the music that you hear as you watch the credits.” Before the singer gets to the bridge, he says, “We’re almost to the part of where I start to whistle. Then we’ll watch It’s Garry Shandling's Show.” 

As promised, he whistles and tells us one more time, “This was the theme to Garry Shandling’s show.” It’s brilliant.

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