TV monkeys through the decades -- We skimmed through the eras and found plenty of simian love, from The Monkees to ''Friends''

Forget that Darwin guy. We’ve got our own theory of evolution. And it goes like this: Monkeys aren’t just a wacky television staple, they’re revealing symbols that epitomize each decade in TV history. Think about it: Nothing sums up the 1950s’ vaudeville vibe better than Today mascot J. Fred Muggs. Note these other prime primates:

THE SIXTIES Archetypal simians: The Monkees. Okay, so they’re not actual monkeys. But these pseudo-rock stars were almost as evolved as your average lemur. Much like Laugh-In and The Mod Squad, the unthreatening prefab groovesters showed TV’s remarkable ability to co-opt a social revolution.

THE SEVENTIES Archetypal simian: Bear, from B.J. and the Bear. Bear (played by a grinning chimp named Sam) rode shotgun in B.J.’s rig as the two crisscrossed the country, fighting police corruption and wooing hot lady truckers. This was classic disco-decade monkeying around: unironic and gloriously cheesy.

THE EIGHTIES Archetypal simian: Late Night With David Letterman‘s monkey-cam. It was a decade of TV-transforming gadgets and goofy gimmicks (see MTV and Miami Vice‘s slick editing). But no innovation was more illustrative of this trend than Dave’s chimp with a camera strapped to his head. Even better, no union wages.

THE NINETIES Archetypal simian: Marcel, David Schwimmer’s pet capuchin from Friends. He lived in New York, hung out with beautiful people, and was totally self-involved (he loved to dance with himself to The Token’s ”The Lion Sleeps Tonight”). That’s ’90s Must See TV in a furry nutshell.