We’re moving along at a pretty good clip right now, it seems like every twelve months another year passes. Odd isn’t it? It’s the middle of the summer, in between the season finales and the upcoming season premieres which seems like a good time to take stock of what the Networks are offering us as far as programing.
A committee was formed to pick out all the top choices, the best situation comedies that the major networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and CW) have given us since the turn of the century. We took that list and wittled it down to a 16 show bracket challenge.
For those wondering, the committee was made up of two members, myself, and …. my dog. She was very vocal in her suggestions though, barking out orders left and right.
Some sitcoms were obviously brought over from last century, but in those cases their whole body of work wasn’t considered, just what they’ve given us since that ball dropped in Times Square at the end of 1999 (I actually spent NYE ’00 in Montreal, no way I was gonna be in that mob in case the world ended, me trapped for eternity with a bunch of New Yorkers? No way Jose)
So lets take a look at the matchups:
16) 2 Broke Girls vs. 1) Parks and Recreation
2 Broke Girls was a funny sitcom centered around the duo of Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs). A tough street smart waitress who takes a down on her luck former debutante under her wing. It ran from 2011-2017, and could have continued on longer.
But it is no match for the star studded power house that is Parks & Rec. Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Rob Lowe, Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, and any number of cameo appearances. It ran from 2009-2015 and is one of the most thought out scripted comedies ever. Bottom line, 2 broke girls arn’t knocking Ron Swanson off his pedistial. Winner: Parks & Rec
9) The Big Bang Theory vs. 8) Scrubs
The Big Bang Theory just ended their run this spring after first appearing on your television screen in 2007. An ensemble comedy that originally centered around 4 nerds and the pretty girl across the hall slowly expanded and developed. It’ll be interesting to see where the cast goes from here. Jim Parsons kinda sorta already as a spin off with Young Sheldon, but his appearances there are isolated to voice overs.
They’re matched up with the Bill Lawrence comedy Scrubs. The show ran from 2001-2010 and was absolutely hilarious. A bit over the top at times and whimsical it also contained one of, if not THE, ultimate bromance in all of television with JD and Turk. They get bonus poits for John McGinley’s outstanding portrayal of Dr. Cox and the absolute all star roster of cameos and short run appearances. This is a tight one, but we’re not giving points for recency bias, the nod here goes to the staff at Sacred Heart Hospital: Winner: Scrubs
13) 30 Rock vs. 4) Friends
For everyone doing a spit take right now, keep in mind that Friends ran from 1994-2004, So we’re looking at engaged Monican and Chandler, successful Joey, and Marcel was long forgotten.
On the other side, 30 Rock ran from 2006-2013. The “office” comedy centered at 30 Rockafeller Plaza and was written very well by SNL alumni Tina Fey (amongst many others), and had a terrific cast including Alec Baldwin, and Tracy Morgan.
As much weight as just 4 seasons of Friends carries, its not powerful enough to overcome a full series length for 30 Rock. Just like in March Madness, even if you are a blue chip program, if you only play 40% of the game, you can lose to a 13 seed. Winner: 30 Rock
12) Arrested Development vs 5) New Girl
This is a tough draw for #5 seed New Girl. The Zooey Deschanel led comedy brought us Schmidt (Max Greenfield), a fantastic character (and check out Neighbors a sitcom entering its second season this fall, Greenfield is terrific in that as well, playing off Cedric the Entertainer very well). The SoCal centered comedy ran on Fox from 2011-2018.
On the other hand, Arrested Development only went for 3 seasons from 2003-2006. We’re not counting the Netflix revival of this brilliant comedy as it isn’t on network television, which is what the parameters are for this exercise. Much like The Office, if you watch just a random episode of Arrested Development it is abolutely stupid. I mean dumb. You’ll feel legitimately dumber for having watched it. But just like The Office, the entire series put together, with its side comments, inside jokes, and the way it all wraps together is simply masterful.
And to that end, it leads us to the winner of this match up. The bracket isn’t about individual episodes, its about the series as a whole (well, the portion of the series that debuted this century as a whole) Winner: Arrested Development
15) Two and a Half Men vs. 2) The Office
It really should be called Three and a Half Men, as it really was 2 shows, one with Charlie Sheen, and one with Ashton Kutcher. As tiger blood crazy as Sheen was, the show was simply much better with him. I’m not anti Ashton Kutcher, hell, I love That 70’s Show and The Ranch is FANTASTIC, but in terms of how the show was with Sheen vs without, its not even close. If it were all Charlie, all the time, this likely wouldn’t be a 15 vs 2 matchup. But alas, that isn’t the reality of the situation, and the reality is that this is a BLOW OUT, so much so that I’m not even going to get into the Dunder-Mifflin squad before I declare a winner. Winner: The Office
10) Will and Grace vs 7) That 70’s Show
Will and Grace was so nice they played it twice. The show originally ran from fall 1998 until its “final” season in 2006. So as a reminder, we’re not taking into account the first season and a half. The “couple” comedy features another terrifc character, Karen Walker, played by Nick Offerman’s (Ron Swanson) real life wife Megan Mullally. The show was brought back 11 years later in 2017 and didn’t miss a beat and will be going into the 3rd season of its encore performance.
On the other hand, while that was all nice and good, That 70’s Show has Mila Kunis… Mila Kunis. Do I need to say anything more? Do I need to put my foot in your ass? How about a cast of then no names that have gone on to be all over hollywood? Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher, Laura Prepon, Danny Masterson, and Wilmer Valderrama have all gone on to further make names for themselves following the end of their run. The show ran from 1998-2006, so the first season and a half don’t count, same as Will and Grace. So you have to ask yourself, do you have eyes? Mila KUNIS! Winner: That 70’s Show
14) Everybody Loves Raymond vs. 3) How I Met Your Mother
The Long Island set Everybody Loves Raymond ran from 1996-2005, so the later half of their run fell into this century. The affable Ray Romano led comedy helped launched the careers of Brad Garret (now a star on Single Parents, a sitcom coming off its freshman season, give it a chance this fall, you’ll enjoy it), Patricia Heaton, Doris Roberts, and the fantastic Peter Boyle. Everybody Loves Raymond was a fairly wholesome, safe for all ages show. A perfect Nick at Nite script.
Unfortunately for them, they ran into a buzzsaw, a buzzshaw named Robin Sparkles! This ensemble comedy centered around Josh Radnor’s Ted Mosby character brought us some terrific characters from Neil Patrick Harris’ brilliant Barney Stinson to Jason Segal’s Marshall Ericksen. From Alyson Hanigan’s Lily Aldrin to Cobie Smulders’ Robin Scherbatsky, this show was a treasure. The inside jokes, the flashbacks, the flashforwards, and the planning that went into it. Winner: How I Met Your Mother
11) Last Man Standing vs 6) Frasier
Tim Allen’s right wing comedy has survived a move to Fox after having been pulled off the scrap heap. The fun, politically incorrect sitcom does have its issues. The re-cast of Mandy Baxter from Molly Ephraim to Molly McCook following the lay off just doesn’t feel right. But ultimately Tim Allen continues to carry this cast.
Frasier has some continuity issues itself that I’ve taken exception too. The show is a spin off from Cheers, where Dr. Frasier Crane has moved back to Seattle from Boston. Back in Seattle Frasier is portrayed as someone who seemingly has never been around blue collar, steak and potatoes, athletes before. This is a man who hung out every day with a former major league ball player. A man who has been around when Wade Boggs was pants, a man who has played basketball with Kevin McHale. That in itself is tough to swallow. The issue is when central characters on Frasier were played by Peri Gilpin and John Mahoney who had made cameos on Cheers as different characters. Ultimately though that isn’t what decides the issue. Frasier ran from 1993-2004, and so the shortened portion we’re working with isn’t enough to knock him as Tim Allen once again shows why he is the Winner: Last Man Standing
8) Scrubs vs 1) Parks and Recreation
A tough second round draw for John Dorion and friends. Both shows have somewhat of a cult following. And as much as I’d love to see this decided by a Dr. Cox vs. Ron Swanson steel cage death match, we’re ultimately giving Parks and Rec the edge simply because the last season, Season 9 where the show jumped the shark.
13) 30 Rock vs. 12) Arrested Development
A match up of the underdogs! Gosh I love tourney time, this is MADNESS!!! 13 versus 12. Seven seasons of 30 Rock over three seasons of Arrested Development? The madness of Jack Donaghy or the lovable Bluth clan? Ultimately it comes down to this, genius is rarely appreciated in its time, and in that respect Arrested Development was genius. There were SO MANY small inside jokes, which I think ultimately led to its cancelation. If you didn’t start from the beginning and tried to pick up the show a month in, it’d seem like lunacy. But if you binge it, start to finish, it was hilarious, and it wins this matchup and moves on.
7) That 70’s Show vs. 2) The Office
Fabulous ensemble casts. Depth of characters. Long runs. Central characters leaving towards the end of the runs, leaving them floundering to figure out how to replace them. This is a tough 7-2 match up. How do we figure out which way to go?
It comes down to this, Dwight, Jim & Pam, Michael Scott, hell, even Andy could have carried their own shows, where as I don’t think Kelso, Fez, nor Hyde could have led a series on their own.
11) Last Man Standing vs. 3) How I Met Your Mother
It feels like its time for an intervention. Last Man Standing has made it far enough. Which show will be strong enough to mount a challenge in the final four? The show that’s still running, or the wrapped up How I Met Your Mother. Squaring off against The Office will be tough. This will be tougher than winning the regional Laser Tag Finals in Paramus.
we have a 12 vs. 1 and a 3 vs. 2! Who doesn’t love a Cinderella story?
12) Arrested Development vs. 1) Parks and Recreation
The advantage that Arrested Development has had during this run was the intelligence of the show and the nuance of its writers. That’s nullified in this round as the writers of Parks and Rec were no slouches themselves.
A longer run and an iconic character in the form of Ron Swanson lead to us sending Arrested Development back home. But don’t cry for them folks, theres always money in the banana stand.
3) How I Met Your Mother vs. 2) The Office
This is TOOOOOUUUUUGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH. A deep cast of characters. The ability to sprout off if given the opportunity. Tell me you wouldn’t watch a show centered around Barney Stinson, or a prequel called Robin Sparkles? Lord knows a show called Schrutte Farms would be an instant success. Both shows had long runs, and loyal audiences.
At the end of the day, we’re giving the nod to the show that became a cult classic.
AND YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH, THE HEAVY WEIGHT BOUT WE’VE ALL BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO!
THE OFFICE vs. PARKS & RECREATION
Who do you love more? Jim and Pam or Andy and April? Michael Scott, or Leslie Knope? We’re talking Chris Pratt and Rob Lowe vs. John Krasinski and Ed Helms. This is a match up for the ages.
Both shows are at their best when watched from start to finish. There are numerous small jokes and inferences throughout that are best understood by binge watching.
I will admit I didn’t watch either show while they were airing, but binge watched each on Netflix down the line. About mid-way through The Office, I tried watching and thought it was stupid. But as I heard more people preaching the gospel of Dunder Mifflin, I decided to watch the whole thing. And there in lies the beauty of the Office. If you watch just a single random episode of the show, it is idiotic. But from start to finish it is BRILLIANT. A masterpiece.
There was a blip though. When Steve Carell pulled out, it just felt empty (That’s what she said!), leaving the office to flounder a bit with a long line of cameos trying to fill the void. There in lies the advantage of Parks & Rec. It was smooth flowing from start to finish. It was smart, funny, heart warming, and tied together nicely. And that ladies and gentleman is why we’re going to celebrate with waffles for dinner.
PARKS AND RECREATION
* Written by Jason Sullivan
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