Ask Jackson: July 2020

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! About a month ago, I said I was interested in doing a Q&A, inviting readers here to submit questions for me to answer in a future post. Well, here’s our first go-round with such an entry. Thanks to everyone who submitted!


Nat asks… Since you’ve shared your favorite TV seasons of the 1950s – 1990s for sitcoms, what do you think is the best of the 2000s?

As usual, I think the best season of the decade has to be the one that best represents it. Since the 2000s is an odd mix of aging multi-cams and their less-than-satisfying successors, along with single-cam innovators and their hit-and-miss mainstream descendants, the season where they mix the most organically (or inorganically) is my pick. That would be 2005-’06, which has past-their-prime titans like Will & Grace and The King Of Queens, with the next generation, Two And A Half Men and How I Met Your Mother, and no-longer-new revolutionaries such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development, alongside the networks’ most rewarding play towards this new emerging style: The Office, from which the best of NBC’s late ’00s/early ’10s comedies sprung. So, 2005-2006 is the season that best tells the story of the decade.


Joey has a similar question… What do you think is the best multi-camera show to premiere in the 21st century?

Mom has some of the best character work and joke-writing of the 2010s, motivating serious issues like drug addiction and alcoholism through well-defined leads with well-defined relationships. It’s not as good as it once was (there are Christy problems), but I think at its peak, it was more consistent and more commendably written than most of the era’s other multi-cams, including Lorre’s earlier hits (Two And A Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, both of which I think were much more derivative and unoriginal — a horny Odd Couple with a kid and a quirky Friends but with nerds). Incidentally, I’d say two other standout multi-cams of the 21st century have been The Carmichael Show and One Day At A Time (both from the ’10s also).


esoteric1234 wonders…Any sitcoms you regret doing on sitcom tuesday?

Not officially, but I definitely admit to thinking coverage of both Dream On and The John Larroquette Show would be more exciting and revealing, informing our looks at other series — and that didn’t really happen. I think our study of the sitcom genre did not need them.


MDay991 wants to know… What sitcom do you think declined the most in quality over the years?

Of the sitcoms I’ve studied and covered for this blog, I think the series that had the greatest qualitative descent over the course of its run is All In The Family (and that’s not even counting the further decline of Archie Bunker’s Place). It went from being the best sitcom on television in 1971 to one of the most mediocre by 1979: a sin perhaps worse than plain rottenness.


Toby Griffith has a request… Love your post with Nielsen ratings and rankings from the 1960s and early 1970s. Do you have information from the rest of the 70’s, like say 1974-1979? There are some shows in there I’d love to see where they ended up!

Yes, I do. Please remember that the commonly cited Top 30 ratings data that we have claims to measure the stats of 1974-’75, 1975-’76, 1976-’77, 1977-’78, and 1978-’79 from “September 197X to April 197Y” for each season. Accordingly, there may be some discrepancies with these clippings, depending on the timeframe parameters cited and used.

Here’s Variety’s take on 1974-’75, from the “premiere” to April 20th.

Here’s Variety’s take on 1975-’76, from the “premiere” to April 18th.

Here’s Variety’s take on 1976-’77, from the “premiere” to April 17th.

Here’s Variety’s take on 1977-’78, from the “premiere” to April 23rd.


Here’s Variety’s take on 1978-’79, from the “premiere” to April 22nd, plus a correction.



Have a question for me? Submit your queries at the “Ask Jackson (Q&A)” link in the menu bar above. If I get enough responses, this could become a regular feature. 

Ask Jackson (Q&A)



Come back next week for another Wildcard! And stay tuned for more Andy Griffith!