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Early history (1960–1986)
The Flintstones, which debuted in 1960, is considered the first example of the animated sitcom genre. The similar cartoon The Jetsons, which took place in the future rather than the past, followed in 1962.
Animated sitcoms have been adult-oriented and more controversial than traditional cartoons from the onset. The Flintstones was originally oriented at adults, as an animated version of The Honeymooners, though it was primarily popular with teenagers.
Rise of The Simpsons (1987–1992)
In 1987, The Simpsons shorts debuted on Fox's The Tracey Ullman Show. The first full-length episode, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", debuted on December 17, 1989. By the later part of 1990, The Simpsons were already iconic.
Expansion of the genre beyond The Simpsons (1993–1999)
The success of The Simpsons led to a boom in the animated sitcom genre. The Simpsons, already controversial in itself for its sometimes crude humor and animated violence, inspired the creation of the much more adult-oriented and controversial Beavis and Butt-head, in 1993 on MTV.
South Park, which debuted in August 1997, pushed the envelope even further than Beavis and Butt-head. South Park features controversial religious and racial humor, black comedy, extreme graphic violence, and profanity, almost unseen in any other cable television show prior to or since South Park's debut.
Continued success (2000–present)
Though many animated sitcoms have only lasted several years or as little as several episodes, the three most popular, The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park, all debuted before the year 2000 and are still making new episodes as of 2014.
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- A Brief History of Flintstones Vitamins | Mental Floss
- Wait Till Your Father Gets Home | Retro Junk
- The Debut of the Simpsons - 1987 | Nonstop 80s
- The Simpsons (TV Series 1989– ) - Episodes - IMDb
- South Park: HUMANCENTiPAD Cast & Crew - TV.com