Dr. H. Richard Hornburger and W. C. Heinz published MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors in 1968, detailing the darkly humorous antics of surgeons operating on wounded soldiers during the Korean War. When not saving people’s lives, the medical professionals stave off boredom by engaging in hijinks that would get them dishonorably discharged or thrown in prison if they weren’t so darn good at their jobs. The dark subject matter and unique insight into the lifestyle made the book a hit, spawning a 1970 film adaptation starring Donal Sutherland and Elliot Gould.
Two years after the movie, a television series was aired. MAS*H was a hugely successful sitcom, remaining on the airwaves from 1972 to 1983. A show doesn’t run for eleven years without some changes, however. Alan Alda, Jamie Farr, Loretta Swit, and William Christopher were a part of the cast throughout the whole run, but all other characters were swapped out eventually. Not only that, but the tone of the show shifted dramatically over time. The first several seasons had more slapstick humor, while the later seasons tackled heavier subject matter.
While 256 is a lot of episodes to watch, they will run out eventually. What does one do when that happens? Well, fear not, because this list will provide ten shows covering similar bases for those who like M*A*S*H. Only a few involve the military, but they all have something that makes them relatable to M*A*S*H.
10All In The Family
All In The Family is remembered for its serious episodes involving contemporary social issues like feminism, homophobia, racism, and the Vietnam War. The serious episodes often overshadow the many laughs and sometimes crude humor found on the show. After all, it was one of the first times people heard a toilet flush on television.
At its best, it mixed the humor with the social commentary. Archie Bunker was undeniably racist, and his character was used to show the ridiculousness of people who held such beliefs in real life. Over the course of the show’s nine seasons, his outlook on life softens, and his prejudices slowly fade.
This popular show never gets serious but uses its extreme nature to lampoon serious figures and institutions. Just like M*A*S*H made fun of the military and shined a light on the tragic absurdity of war, South Park takes serious ideas and makes certain viewpoints look silly. The later seasons especially make an attempt at tackling topical issues, making a statement while simultaneously never letting up on the laughs.
There’s a reason why Norman Lear, producer of several shows appearing on this list, holds South Park in high regard and even co-wrote an episode with Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Could M*A*S*H exactly be called a workplace comedy? Maybe not, but there are a few parallels to the sub-genre.
Just like the wartime sitcom is set in a place one would be hard pressed to find laughs in, Taxi is set in crime-ridden New York City, and its characters are all taxi drivers barely making ends meet in their tough profession. The ’70s in general did away with the family sitcom facade, instead opting for more relatable scenarios.
7Orange Is The New Black
Orange is the New Black is similar to the ’70s sitcom in that its characters are forced to be somewhere they really don’t want to be. It’s less about them making the best of it, however, and more about the audience learning about each of the inmates and the circumstances that led to their incarceration.
It’s grim, but it will make people empathize with those who society often deems unworthy of respect or any sort of attention.
6The Phil Silvers Show
Often called Sgt. Bilko, this show details the antics of a Master Sargent on an army post as he usually tried to scam people out of money or get out of doing work.
There’s no social commentary or very special episodes here. It’s all for laughs, and the laughs never let up. The show is encroaching on sixty years old, but the jokes still hold up.
Boston Legal is a spin-off of The Practice. While The Practice is a drama, Boston Legal goes full comedy, with the characters making flippant remarks and sometimes breaking the fourth wall.
However, the cases the lawyers tackle are no joke, and the later seasons have Denny Crane, played by William Shatner, dealing with mortality and an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Ernest Borgnine may seem like more of a dramatic actor, with one of his most memorable performances being from The Wild Bunch, but he could put on a comedic hat in a heartbeat, evidenced by his leading role in McHale’s Navy.
Like other service-based comedies, the show had little to do with their duties and was more about the characters trying to get some cash or a hot date.
The Jeffersons was a spin-off of All in the Family that followed the Bunkers’ neighbors, the titular Jeffersons, but it never became quite as serious as its older sibling.
The characters on this show still dealt with some serious issues, but the mere existence of the show was important enough. It featured a well-to-do black family and also one of the first interracial marriages on television.
2Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Gomer Pyle was a character on The Andy Griffith Show before getting his own series. Gomer is not the brightest man in the world, but always good-hearted.
It’s all laid back and feel-good vibes on this show, and Jim Nabors gets the opportunity to display his incredible vocal chops, too.
Bluestone 42 is a British comedy about bomb disposal experts in Afghanistan. Like M*A*S*H, its laughs are always juxtaposed with the seriousness of their duties and environment.
The fact that it is set in a more recent conflict makes the situations all the more dire to watch, but on the other hand, all the more relatable and sometimes hilarious.