Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, I’m sharing results from the survey I conducted back in February. 273 readers of this blog answered, and after a month of reflection on 36 sitcoms (some of which weren’t on the survey, but suggested by you), I will be announcing the rest of the 1990s shows we’ll be covering this year, after Empty Nest (1988-1995, NBC), which will follow our current study of Roseanne (1988-1997, ABC).
The first question I asked, just to get an idea of your tastes, was which previously covered ’90s sitcom, of 19 selections, is your favorite? In first place, with 24% of the votes, was Seinfeld. That was followed by Frasier at about 20%, and then, after a big drop, Everybody Loves Raymond in third at 9%. Those would be my top three picks too — although, with Frasier just a smidge ahead of Seinfeld, and, since Raymond’s best years are in the early ’00s, I might prioritize the ’90s by bumping up Friends. (Incidentally, the series you selected the least was The John Larroquette Show.)
Another question asked you to rank your favorite decade for sitcoms from favorite to least favorite. The results, in order of favorite to least, were: the 1970s, 1960s, 1990s, 1980s, 1950s, 2000s, and 2010s. With the exception of potentially favoring the ’90s over the ’60s, my rankings would probably be the same. I say probably because I’m open to the possibility that the two decades in the 21st century could move up a tad, pending formal study.
Speaking of the 21st century, I asked where you wanted Sitcom Tuesdays to go after the 1990s, and while I fully expected you to say “On to the 2000s,” that was your third choice, behind “Back to the 1950s” and “Back to the 1970s.” Truthfully, I don’t know what I’m going to do after the ’90s yet, but that’s okay because we’re going to be here a while…
To that point, when asking you which ’90s sitcoms you thought I should cover, everyone got to pick up to five out of the following 14, and then tell me up to three that you wouldn’t want to see. I didn’t much consider the latter question in my personal research, but I was angling to get an idea of which shows inspired strong reactions, and which ones didn’t. In terms of the sitcoms that you MOST want to see here, the top five choices were, from last to first this time, Home Improvement, which 25% of you selected in fifth place; Cybill, which 35% of you selected in fourth; Becker, which 46% of you selected in third; The Nanny, which 52% of you selected in second; and in first place, with a staggering 55%… 3rd Rock From The Sun. (For the record, with only 8% of voters saying they’d like to see it here, Roc was in last place.)
Now, before I tell you which sitcoms I’ve decided to cover, let me add that in addition to the 14 options I gave you in the survey, I have also spent the last two months investigating 22 others for Sitcom Tuesday (or Wildcard Wednesday) treatment. They are: Anything But Love, Doctor Doctor, Major Dad, Blossom, Nurses, Hearts Afire, Martin, Living Single, Dave’s World, Grace Under Fire, The Wayans Bros., The Naked Truth, Caroline In The City, Cosby, Suddenly Susan, Men Behaving Badly, The Jamie Foxx Show, Spin City, Veronica’s Closet, Working, Two Guys And A Girl, and Jesse.
Of those 22 plus the above 14 in the survey, I have decided to cover SEVEN more ’90s sitcoms, and this will take us well into 2023. The seven shows I have selected — running in almost chronological order (I made a few tweaks) — are…
Evening Shade (1990-1994, CBS)
The Nanny (1993-1999, CBS)
Martin (1992-1997, FOX)
Living Single (1993-1998, FOX)
3rd Rock From The Sun (1996-2001, NBC)
Cybill (1995-1998, CBS)
Becker (1998-2004, CBS)
Additionally, I can confirm that I will be giving Wildcard Wednesday attention to Norm (1999-2001, ABC), and perhaps several others from the list above (not on the survey) that I am hoping to squeeze in at some point. As for the shows I’m not covering, I really hoped to feature all five of your top picks, but, frankly, after our 1980s study, I need a break from the family subgenre, and I just don’t have enough love for Home Improvement, or think it’s rhetorically interesting enough, to spend eight weeks on it. Another show I really tried with is Coach, because I appreciate a few of the characters (e.g., Luther). But I just don’t want to dedicate so much time to a series where half the ensemble is unhelpful (like we saw on Barry Kemp’s other major sitcom, Newhart). So, I’m afraid I won’t be getting to those this time around; maybe later…
However, I look forward to appraising Evening Shade, as I’ve been hoping to find a Linda Bloodworth-Thomason series suitable for coverage. I know Designing Women is her signature, but Evening Shade, I think, has the most individualized characterizations (also revealed in story), so it’s her effort that I can most genuinely commend. After that, I will be examining The Nanny, a popular favorite that’s broader than this era’s baseline but always boasts some big character laughs; Martin, a FOX staple with a sketch-like quality where humor is wonderfully prioritized; and Living Single, an early character-filled entry in the “Singles In The City” subgenre. Then, we’ll move on to 3rd Rock From The Sun, where high-concept silliness meets the ethos of NBC’s other contemporaneous rom-coms; Cybill, which was a tough choice, but I am eager to evaluate it as a nascent example of Chuck Lorre’s style (Dharma & Greg is likely more revealing for him personally, but you all are NOT interested in it); and finally Becker, a continuation of the type of ensemble workplace comedy descended from Cheers and Wings.
Honestly, it’s still possible that I’ll change my mind and add/remove a show from this lineup, but for now, that is what you can expect to see here in the immediate (and not-so-immediate) future. Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey and, as always, I appreciate your readership and support as we dive back into the 1990s! Stay tuned for more…
Come back next week for a new Wildcard! And get ready for another Musical Theatre Monday!