The form is so elemental, so basic, that we have difficulty imagining a time before it existed: a single set, fixed cameras, canned laughter, zany sidekicks, quirky family antics. Obsessively watched and critically ignored, sitcoms were a distraction, a gentle lullaby of a kinder, gentler America—until suddenly the artificial boundary between the world and television entertainment collapsed. In this book we can watch the growth of the sitcom, following the path that leads from Lucy to The Phil Silvers Show; from The Dick Van Dyke Show to The Mary Tyler Moore Show; from M*A*S*H to Taxi; from Cheers to Roseanne; from Seinfeld to Curb Your Enthusiasm; and from The Larry Sanders Show to 30 Rock. Each sitcom episode is a self-enclosed world, a brief overturning of the established order of its universe before returning to the precise spot from which it had begun. In twenty-four episodes, Sitcom surveys the history of the form, and functions as both a TV mixtape of fondly remembered shows that will guide us to notable series and larger trends, and a carefully curated guided tour through the history of one of our most treasured art forms. Saul Austerlitz is the author of Another Fine Mess: A History of the American Film Comedy, named by Booklist as one of the ten best arts books of 2010, and Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes. His work has been published in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Slate, and elsewhere.