Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, I’m sharing results from the survey conducted here last month, where readers revealed what they’d most like to see on future Sitcom Tuesdays. 303 people answered, and after a few weeks of reflection, I’m happy to announce the major shows that you can expect to see covered here over the next several years!
But first, some answers to the other questions I asked. Like, for instance, “What is your favorite decade for TV sitcoms?” As with last year, the 1970s led the way (this time 40% of you put it as your #1 favorite), followed by the 1990s, the 1960s, the 1980s, the 1950s, the 2000s, and lastly the 2010s. The only difference from 2022’s ranking is that the 1990s has now managed to climb above the 1960s. Truthfully, I probably agree with this rundown myself — I would have put the two decades from the 21st century at the bottom as well, only because I have not been able to examine them with the same critical eye as the others. I imagine that the 2000s eventually will surpass the 1950s (at least), while the 2010s could maybe do the same. At any rate, here are the results (note that the confusing y-axis corresponds to the average number of points each decade received, with a #1 pick receiving seven points, and a #7 receiving only one).
The second question I asked was ‘Where would you like to see Sitcom Tuesdays go next?” Following the trend of a linear progression, “Move on to the 2000s” won — with approximately 43% of the vote. The second highest was “Stay in the 1990s” with 24%. In asking if there were any additional 1990s sitcoms you think I should cover, responders could write in requests. The five most popular write-ins (in ascending order of popularity) were Home Improvement, Two Guys And A Girl, Dharma & Greg, Spin City, and Ellen — the last requested by nearly 21%. That is a higher number than the 11% it received when explicitly listed as an option for coverage in 2022’s survey, meaning, there’s significantly more support for it now. The only other show that was written-in almost as much (in the final section’s opportunity to suggest shows from other decades) was MASH, which about 20% of you mentioned. I have no plans to examine it in the near future, but I’ll reconsider it (for the zillionth time).
Given these results, I have decided to, no surprise, move on to the 2000s — but before that, I will look at another sitcom that premiered in the 1990s, in addition to the previously announced Becker. We’ll begin immediately next week (ahead of Becker) with the most-requested Ellen, a mediocre ’90s offering that’s nevertheless affable and a big cultural reference point that I think will make for interesting analysis. I’ll also be covering Norm MacDonald’s Norm somewhere before we get to the next century — I don’t know yet if it will be on Sitcom Tuesdays or Wildcard Wednesdays — and the revival seasons of Will & Grace.
Speaking of the next century, here are the results of “Which 2000s sitcoms would you most like to see on Sitcom Tuesdays?” I gave you 14 options (all of which you could select) and the opportunity to write in some others. The top-five vote-getters, in order, were: 30 Rock (59%), Parks And Recreation (50%), The Office (48%), Arrested Development (47%), and Curb Your Enthusiasm (43%). They were followed — in order — by Modern Family (41%), Scrubs (36%), The Big Bang Theory (34%), Malcolm In The Middle (34%), The Middle (31%), Community (29%), Two And A Half Men (21%), How I Met Your Mother (16%), and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (14%). The most written-in request, with 7%, was the underrated My Name Is Earl.
Of those 15 sitcoms (including Earl), I have chosen to move forward now with 12. First, let me caveat this by saying that I may change my mind — I may drop shows, add shows, or swap some around. So, it’s subject to evolve. But today, I have decided to make plans, as we head into the 2000s, to cover every series listed above except Two And A Half Men, The Middle, and It’s Always Sunny. Now, only Two And A Half Men I am fully declining. It’s 12 seasons of recycled sex jokes, and a third of its run is nigh unwatchable. I just can’t commit nearly three months to it. However, I’m merely tabling The Middle and It’s Always Sunny. The former I will reconsider if/when we ever move into the 2010s (for even though it premiered in the same year as some others I’m preparing, I believe it belongs more in the next group), while the latter is still running and will be producing several more seasons worth of new episodes. I do find Sunny funny and I wouldn’t mind studying it at some point, but I’m not comfortable featuring a show still in production. My analysis requires the ability to look at each series in total.
I also prefer some distance. In fact, when this blog began in 2013, the latest sitcoms I imagined covering ended in 2006. That seven years of breathing room is a standard that I would like to maintain, although I am making exemptions for the last season of Arrested Development (I consider the Netflix run an unnecessary postscript to the more creatively vital FOX original), along with the ends of both The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family — which were at their best in the early 2010s and therefore aren’t really so indicative of the second half of that decade that it would be inappropriate to discuss them now. That is, even though they wrapped fairly recently, their sense of identity evokes an earlier moment, so I’ve agreed to queue them for this batch. As for Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is also still running, I have made the choice, for now, to only highlight the first eight seasons — those that ran from 2000 to 2011, with never more than two years in between episodes. The six-year disruption from 2011 to 2017 is a more significant gap — a literal break in the idea that this is an ongoing “series” — such that it feels more like a revival of the original than a semi-annual continuation. And since my preference right now is to not get ahead of 2016/2017 (outside of those exceptions), it makes sense to draw a line here. Of course, I will aim to cover the remaining seasons at a later date — my hope, quite frankly, is that the show will conclude (for real) in the not-to-distant future.
Regarding the others, I have a lot of affinity for The Office, 30 Rock, and Parks And Recreation. They were pretty much guaranteed inclusions, and I wasn’t shocked to see them in your top three either. Meanwhile, the entries that, I admit, I am coming into this post personally enjoying the least are Scrubs, Malcolm In The Middle, Community, and How I Met Your Mother. But I am starting to cultivate an appreciation for all of them — particularly, at this juncture, Scrubs and Malcolm, and I think they’re all necessary exhibits in a study of the American sitcom’s trajectory. However, How I Met Your Mother is the show that I currently feel is the most expendable of the 12. What’s keeping me interested at this moment is merely the fact that I’d like to find viable contenders for “the top five sitcoms” of every single TV season. And on those terms, I believe there is a year or two where How I Met Your Mother, simply due to a sheer lack of competition, would probably make its way into that esteemed grouping. And, as with everything, I am presently trying to cultivate more of an appreciation for it as well…
So, with that said, here’s the list of what I intend to cover over the next few years here on Sitcom Tuesdays (order subject to change), following Ellen and Becker…
Malcolm In The Middle (2000-2006, FOX)
Scrubs (2001-2010, NBC/ABC)
Curb Your Enthusiasm — Seasons 1-8 (2000-2011, HBO)
Arrested Development (2003-2006, FOX; 2013-2019, Netflix)
My Name Is Earl (2005-2009, NBC)
The Office (2005-2013, NBC)
30 Rock (2006-2013, NBC)
How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014, CBS)
Parks And Recreation (2009-2015, NBC)
Community (2009-2015, NBC/Yahoo!)
The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019, CBS)
Modern Family (2009-2020, ABC)
For the record, I also considered about a dozen other 2000s-premiering sitcoms that were recommended during the survey. Some of the ones I most seriously looked at include: The Bernie Mac Show, Everybody Hates Chris, Reba, According To Jim, Yes Dear, Still Standing, 8 Simple Rules, Grounded For Life, The George Lopez Show, My Wife And Kids, ‘Til Death, Less Than Perfect, Rules Of Engagement, and The New Adventures Of Old Christine. I’m not committing to any of them at this current time, but I’m always open to positive persuasion in the comments below. (And by “positive persuasion,” I mean I’m interested in arguments in favor of a series and why it should be discussed.) I can tell you right now that I have a bit of an affection for Reba, despite not considering it essential coverage. Would you like to see it here? Let me know.
Oh, and I want to note that many other recommended shows have already been highlighted in Wildcard entries where I also cited favorite episodes. I’m proud to say that this blog has indeed spotlighted The Joey Bishop Show; I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster; Petticoat Junction; My Living Doll; Happy Days; The Tony Randall Show; Archie Bunker’s Place; Bosom Buddies; Best Of The West (it was technically a bonus Sitcom Tuesday); Buffalo Bill; The Powers That Be; Flying Blind; Bob; The Single Guy; LateLine; Thanks; Action; It’s All Relative; Out Of Practice; Back To You; and in the weeks since this survey went live, High Society, Style & Substance, and Almost Perfect.
Thanks again to every reader and subscriber who participated in this annual feedback-fest! The 2000s shows I cover here on Sitcom Tuesdays will presumably take over two years — so I’m sure there’s something for everybody. I’d love to hear what you’re most excited about below!
Come back next week for a new Wildcard! And stay tuned Monday for a musical rarity!