The Iron Throne, seen here with Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and her brother, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), acted as a literal double-edged sword, with recent Westeros rulers inflicting pain on their foes before dying their own horrible deaths in HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones.’ (Photo: HELEN SLOAN / HBO)
With the “Friends” couch now seating fans’ behinds on its 25th anniversary tour, we thought it was high time to acknowledge the unsung performers that carry all the weight on so many TV shows: the furniture.
So we’ve compiled a top 12 list of upholstered all-stars, each with custom-crafted credentials that earn them seats in the TV furniture showroom of fame. (Feel free to lounge on the exhibits.)
Chairs, desks, a bed and even an ottoman are represented, but the couch is such a vital centerpiece in the family sitcom that it’s held to a higher standard for inclusion. (Sorry, “Full House,” “Modern Family” and “Seinfeld.”)
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The definitive ranking of the domestic dozen:
John Goodman, sitting up, and Roseanne Barr get comfortable on the iconic “Roseanne” couch. (Photo: ABC)
12. Couch, “Roseanne” and “The Conners”
The worn brown couch, accented with an afghan throw, epitomizes the TV family that lounges on it: fashion-unconscious, and proud of it. It proved to be a team player, moving seamlessly from “Roseanne” to “The Conners” during the Roseanne Barr controversy without uttering a word.
Comfort factor: Family-friendly with sprawl appeal.
11. Bed, “The Brady Bunch”
Sure, that iconic staircase is the most memorable feature of the Brady house – the subject of HGTV’s “A Very Brady Renovation” (premiering Sept. 9) – but it’s not the most significant and it’s also not furniture. Mike and Carol Brady’s bed, however, marks an advance in TV wedlock, because they were one of the first married couples to share a bed, after years of single-bed separation for the Ricardos, the Petries and others.
Comfort factor: Not much, because Mike and Carol were usually worrying about the children, frequently waking each other up as part of the “Brady” shtick.
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Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) always had her WJM-TV desk organized just right on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” (Photo: Handout photo)
10. Desk, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”
Mary Tyler Moore’s iconic CBS comedy broke new ground by transporting the family sitcom to the workplace. Organized Mary’s perfectly laid-out desk was front and center – make that left and center – for hundreds of hilarious scenes involving the budding producer and her WJM-TV colleagues. Decades later, desks took command on “The Office,” becoming the dominant furniture on the main set and expanding on the “Moore” workplace-family theme.
Comfort factor: Just perfect on “Mary,” as long as she had her desk blotter, flowers and pencils arranged just right. On “The Office,” not so much, especially if you were Dwight Schrute being victimized by a Jim Halpert prank.
9. Chair, “Pee-wee’s Playhouse”
Not only does Pee-wee Herman’s pal, Chairy, have the best name for a piece of furniture, it’s the only all-star with an actual name. Chairy also gives the best humanlike performance, probably because it’s alive. (Single-seat category, honorable mention: Martin Crane’s old tape-covered recliner on “Frasier,” and Norm’s trusty barstool on “Cheers.”)
Comfort factor: None. How would you feel sitting on a living chair?
8. Couch, “The Big Bang Theory”
If there were an Emmy for creating drama in a comedy, this piece of furniture would be a winner. Woe to anyone who sits in finicky Sheldon’s literal seat of authority, as he claims “eternal dibs” on a spot that maximizes temperature comfort during summer and winter and allows for the ideal TV-viewing angle.
Comfort factor: Intolerable, if Sheldon doesn’t get his spot.
7. Spinning chairs, “The Voice”
The bright red chairs deliver the most moving performances of any piece of TV furniture, in that they actually move when the coaches whirl around to choose singers during the blind auditions.
Comfort factor: Low, based on the potential for whiplash. This may be the only piece of TV furniture that should come with a seat belt.
6. Command chair, “Star Trek”
Talk about a seat of power. Captain James T. Kirk – and, later, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and others – ordered phaser attacks, evasive maneuvers and life-saving (and life-taking) actions from this futuristic command position on the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Comfort factor: Great, if you like to blow things up.
5. Couch, “Friends”
In the words of Chandler Bing: Could it be any oranger? This literal supporting character was always there for the “Friends” gang at coffee hangout Central Perk. The seventh Friend, as the inanimate object is known (at least here), gained such fame on the hit series that it’s now enjoying its own international tour. Take that, Monica’s apartment sofa!
Comfort factor: Friendly, if a bit overcaffeinated. What did you expect?
Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) seeks comfort in his familiar living room chair on “Archie Bunker’s Place,” the sequel to “All in the Family.” (Photo: CBS)
4. Living room armchair, “All in the Family”
Archie Bunker’s beat-up living room throne may not look classy, but it enjoys high status as a prized exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. How do ya’ like them apples, Meathead?
Comfort factor: Irascible Archie may have been comfortable, but nobody around him was.
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3. Couch, “The Simpsons”
Nothing tops “The Simpsons” couch for acting range. It can move, come to life; and even be ironic – by sitting on Homer, Marge and the kids. The always changing opening segment even spawned its own term, “couch gag” (there are now more than 500). Now that’s character acting!
Comfort factor: Deadly, at least in the one where the couch monster eats the Simpsons. But they always seem to be OK the next week.
2. Ottoman, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”
The high-profile opening-credits player brought glory to the lowly footstool clan at the start of every “Van Dyke” episode. It’s the most versatile piece of live-action TV furniture, at least in concert with dance partner Dick Van Dyke. In three credit sequences that opened seasons of the sitcom, Van Dyke trips and somersaults over the ottoman, stylishly sidesteps it and bumps into it but does not fall.
Comfort factor: Ouch!
Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) takes on a spiky look while sitting on the Iron Throne in “Game of Thrones.”
1. Iron Throne, “Game of Thrones”
Some A-list actors get their names above the title. The Iron Throne goes them one better, getting its name in the title. And, no piece of TV furniture has sacrificed more than the Iron Throne, melted down by Dany’s dragon in the series finale.
Comfort factor: Too hot, in its most recent state. Too pointy before, as it was made of sharp blades. Too deadly overall, as every ruler who sits in it dies a horrible death.
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