It is generally common knowledge that the M*A*S*H theme is actually called ‘Suicide Is Painless.” If you watch the movie, you can actually listen to the lyrics which were written by a teenager. You can always and often do sing along to these songs, but how often are the lyrics actually considered? After all, an upbeat sea shanty can be used to describe seven strangers stranded on an island together for an indeterminate period of time. The TV theme song can also be used to describe how the soul of your mother can possess a car like Christine. It can all be repackaged into a catchy tune. What follows is a listing of some of the best and the most soul crushing.


All in the Family “Those Were The Days”


all in the family

“A can of beans sure beats Watergate…”

There are actually very few scenes as memorable or touching in TV history as Edith and Archie sitting around the piano singing. The song that they sing ‘Those Were The Days’ touches on a simpler easier time when things made more sense. This would be until you actually look at the time in which Archie and Edith are actually waxing poetic for. When was the car the LaSalle made? When was Herbert Hoover President? When did Glen Miller play? What was that time directly before the ‘welfare state’ was created? Oh yeah, that was the Great Depression. The days of record unemployment and breadlines. Mostly, the Bunkers are complaining about dirty hippies running around in long hair and a sexually ambiguous culture. They are also saying that living under Richard Nixon is worse than the Great Depression. Now, that is a truly depressing thought. It would have been interesting to see if their sentiment carried over into the 1980s.


Cheers “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”



“Lets drink till we can’t feel feelings anymore…”

Have you ever stopped to consider the series of events that makes drinking until you can’t remember your own name seem like a good idea? Well, the next time that you are urinating in an open parking lot, you might want to consider the suggestions “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” gives. If you do not have enough cash to pay your own electric bill, this song suggests taking whatever money you do have and buying beer. If your psychiatrist gets tired of you and leaves the country, this song suggests washing away your depression in alcohol. How’s this for dysfunction? Your child commits an act of animal cruelty. Don’t talk to them. Simply slink off and get blitzed. It is almost as helpful as using spirits to avoid transgender issues in your own family, which the song also suggests. Maybe the Prohibition era isn’t looking so bad after all. The song is basically encouraging people to crawl in a bottle and then crawl out when Sam has a baseball career again.


Car 54, Where Are You?


car 54

“I literally could not be cattle prodded in every major and minor orifice into caring about your problem ma’am…”

A zombie apocalypse would quite frankly be preferable to the world postulated by “Car 54, Where Are You?” There is open rioting in the streets. Muggers are completely unafraid. Traffic is backing up and no one is in control. Foreign dignitaries are visiting and left to fend for themselves. Where are the police? Where is the presence of law and order? They are not actually busy. They just don’t care. The criminal element is well aware of this and actively exploiting it for their own whims. They are not even afraid. This attitude is not only present in one area. It is the entire police force seemingly taking constant siestas all at once. There is no mention of donut shop disturbances though. Honestly, they might have been better off actually giving a badge to Herman Munster.


WKRP In Cincinnati



“One of these four men has been through a hell they are only comfortable in discussing in verse…”

The subject of the WKRP theme song seems to be so distraught over a previous relationship that it might very well qualify as post-traumatic stress disorder. Basically, the relationship was filled with aimless drifting (read frequent unemployment), fighting, and passive-aggressive behavior. Yet even through it all, the singer seems to have some sort of feeling for their former flame. As a result of the relationship, they either went to a town they never been through or just kind of ended up at. They had to take an available job and rebuild their lives from there. Of course, they never saw their partner or even heard from them again. It is situation that they never really feel comfortable enough to discuss with their coworkers through the run of the show either. Smart money says that the song was not an ode to Venus Flytrap.


The Mary Tyler Moore Show “Love Is All Around”


mary tyler moore

“I actually need a lot of therapy…”

“Love Is All Around” is not singing to someone who is themselves spreading joy. The lyric is “Who can turn the world on with their smile?” It is not “Who is turning the world on with her smile?” The purpose of the song is not to stress someone’s good points. It is to try and either pry someone off the couch who has been there for two months or talk someone down from a suicide hotline. Originally, the premise of the show was that Mary Richards was divorced. It was amended to an ‘ended engagement.’ Every line that is discussed in the song is the opposite of what the character being sung to is currently doing. Examined through that lens, the girl being sung to is frowning, listless, lonely, and selfish. Or course, her constant moping is not exactly making her a fun date either. At the very least, people did not have to believe that she divorced Dick Van Dyke.


Good Times


good times

“This city make Bizzarro Superman happy….”

The message of the Good Times theme song is supposed to be to smile through the pain. However, the second verse properly spells out exactly what the pain is. People going through it might well be susceptible to morbid depression. Look at the laundry list of problems which is discussed. After being laid off, your credit rating destroyed, and waiting in line for food stamps, your only real options are to dejectedly have your soul crushed or just enjoy it. To its credit, the song does suggest that you do the latter. However, it is really just a seemingly mocking suggestion or attempt at dark humor. The interesting part is that the gospel soul is so upbeat throughout the entire song. It really has the feel of an old fashioned spiritual. Of course, those were intended to be sung during dark times for hope as well. The phrase Good Times becomes an ironic echo on what are actually described are bad times. The show itself focuses on comedy and being able to be happy through bad times, but the chorus really contradicts and seems to compound the agony.

Written by James Ciscell – Copyrighted ©

Image Sources

Image sources:

  • – All in the Family “Those Were The Days”:
  • – Cheers “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” :—season-7.jpg
  • – Car 54, Where Are You?:
  • – WKRP In Cincinnati :
  • – The Mary Tyler Moore Show “Love Is All Around”:
  • – Good Times :