5 TV opening credits that bring us joy whenever see them

I watch a lot of TV. As you read this, I bet I’m watching TV. It’s probably not even something good, like a rerun of Modern Family or an episode of Love it or List it that I just realized I’ve already seen but will continue to watch anyway. The point is, I love television, I watch it constantly, and, so, I hear a lot of TV theme songs. And while people might find them annoying or repetitive, I love them almost as much as I love the shows themselves. For me, a good television theme song is a comfort, a grounding tool — it sets the mood for what you’re about to watch. They are a point of consistency that assures me that I’m about to partake in 22 minutes to an hour of something wonderful. And since TV theme songs bring me so much joy, here are the five happiest TV theme songs of all time in no particular order:

1.  Friends


The Friends theme song is just over-the-top exuberance in the best possible way. The catchy tune, the heart-warming lyrics, the quick clips of each character doing something hilarious. And of course, the clap. If you have ever watched the Friends theme song and not clapped along with the swift four-clap pattern, you are not a real human. (Actually, in the future, when we must distinguish between human and robot human imitators bent on world domination, those who cannot clap along in perfect rhythm to the Friends theme song will obviously be the robots.) I clapped along in the gym yesterday, and half expected the person on the treadmill next to me to lean over and clap, too. Plus, the shots of the gang having more fun then you will ever have in a fountain make the entire thing almost too happy to exist. Is there anything happier than a group of friends trespassing on city property to dance in a fountain, and at various times pretend to be pieces of the fountain and/or various sea creatures and beach-goers inside the fountain, all within the vicinity of an out-of-context couch and lamp? There isn’t. I mean, maybe if they were all wearing matching black and white outfits — OH WAIT.

2. Parks and Recreation

It took me a little while to love Parks and Recreation, but it took me 0.0005 seconds to be in love with the theme song. The upbeat tune makes me just want to swing my arms like an exaggerated parade leader and march around my living room. Sometimes I do. I love the quick cuts of each of the characters doing something typical of their nature intertwined with bland clips of office tools and documents, and stock footage of the parks of Pawnee, Indiana (or, more likely, stock footage of any park, anywhere). But that’s the beauty of Parks and Rec — these could be people you know, in your town, who just happen to be hilarious. The theme song conveys this sense of normalcy, while pepping you up for the delightful romp that every second of Parks is.

3. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

These listings are in no particular order, but if pressed, I might argue that Fresh Prince has the happiest theme song of all time. It’s happy for so many reasons: the outrageously bright colors and faux-graffiti lettering, the wildly over-acted scenes of Will Smith being swung around the shoulders of the least menacing street gang of all time, the delightful swirl of his neon-capped head as he knocks on the door of his aunt and uncle’s mansion. But most important of all is the fact that it is the world’s easiest theme song to know all the words to and still feel like you’re accomplishing something when you sing it out loud. Try it. I’ll wait. (See — I bet you didn’t even know you knew every single word.)

4. Gilmore Girls

The theme song of Gilmore Girls is so happy that in high school, I had it on a CD and listened to it over and over. Not even the whole Carole King and Louise Goffin (who, by the way, are mother and daughter themselves) song, but just the, like, minute of it that actually appears in the show. It’s the perfect song for the show — a harmonious mix of sentimental lyrics mixed with a slow, soft tune carried by the pair’s lovely voices. Plus the clips of the characters are so heartwarming: giggles and hugs between Lorelei and Rory, Lane dancing, Sookie cooking, Luke. . . standing. It’s somehow even funny, with the clip of Rory being passed the newspaper by her grandfather. And then to end it all with the iconic long shot of the girls in the diner is just pure joy. Even the off-colored, red-hued tones make it seem cheery and crisp, like autumn. If I could live in a theme song, I’d choose this one.

5. Arthur

It’s probably unfair to cite a children’s show, as all children shows probably by law have happy theme songs, but Arthur’s theme song is especially happy. The lyrics are upbeat and inspirational (it is a wonderful kind of day to get along with each other!), and the images are sweet and silly (friends and family hanging out, the mean Mr. Ratburn is mistaken for a shark in the pool because of his pointy head shape). But it’s also sung by Ziggy Marley, the son of Bob Marley, and it has an amazing reggae beat sprinkled with crashing symbols and popping xylophones. The whole concept of the opening credits is super meta: Arthur, who was once only a character in a book, is now a TV show character, who is turning the pages of a book about himself within the television show. Then, at the end, he appears on a television within a book, within a television show that began as a book. It’s like the Inception of opening credits, and if that many layers of fictional existence within a television show opening sequence doesn’t make you happy, nothing will. Plus, at the end he falls off his own logo, which is just pure comedy.

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