Binge Watch: Network Sitcoms

This year I decided to under-take a couple year long explorations of media. In the first, I’m looking at some of my favorite series of all time. That will begin with a Top 10 in four different groups—Network Sitcoms, Network Dramas, Cable Series and Streaming Series. Ultimately, it will end in an overall Top 10. Periodically throughout 2022, I’ll be sharing these lists. Today, it’s a look at my Top 10 Network Sitcoms. If you want to catch weekly installments, visit here on Saturdays.

10. Scrubs (2001-2010)
About:
I always enjoyed the exchanges between J.D. (Zach Braff) and Turk (Donald Faison). This is a series that was strong at times but always seemed to be a little under-the-radar. I loved the soundtrack, the performances and the characters. It’s not surprise to me that creator Bill Lawrence went on to give the world Ted Lasso.

9. Arrested Development (2003-2019)
About
: This is a tale of two shows, really. The first is a FOX sitcom that was woefully rated but incredibly creative, running three seasons. The second is a two-season revival at Netflix. While I enjoy it all, it’s all about those first three seasons for me. I love the cast and the storytelling style in that initial run.

8. 30 Rock (2006-2013)
About:
Tina Fey is another writer with a unique style. Her writing was the win here, as was her performance as Liz Lemon, especially opposite Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin). There was a lot about the style I enjoyed, but the interplay between Liz and Jack was the heart of the series throughout its run and always helped endear 30 Rock to me.

7. Seinfeld (1989-1998)
About:
This takes me back some to my younger days, when I would watch Seinfeld as part of Must-See TV Thursday in high school. It was one of the first comedies I remember getting into and becoming attached to watching. It was a show about nothing, but nothing seemed to bring more joy than watching these episodes play out. This is a classic for a reason.

6. The Good Place (2016-2020)
About:
This is a high concept show that probably shouldn’t have worked. But Michael Schur created a four-season exploration that is goofy, funny, heart-warming and ultimately incredibly emotional. It’s a credit to the narrative, but also to the warm performances from the core cast. Ted Danson was great as Michael, Kristen Bell and William Jackson Harper were delightful as the heart of the show and the MVP, for me, was D’Arcy Carden as Janet. I loved this journey.

5. Friends (1994-2004)
About:
This is a show that’s grown in my esteem in the decade since I got married. It’s my wife’s favorite show, which means that I’ve listened to these episodes—a lot. I enjoyed Friends during its run, when I mostly watched it while it was “live.” But I’ve grown to appreciate it even more on the dozens of re-watches I’ve taken the past few years.

4. The Office (2005-2013)
About:
This began as a series starring Ricky Gervais in England. The American version, fronted by Steve Carell, ran longer and became even more wildly popular. It captured the mundanity of office life, something we can all identify with. I enjoyed the comedy and the characters. I never cringed or laughed more than during episodes of The Office, and that’s just as it was intended.

3. How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)
About
: This is another series for which I was an early adopter, sticking with it from the pilot on. I never expected it to last as long as it did, or to become as popular in the mainstream. And yet, it shouldn’t be surprising that this story and these characters ended up speaking to so many. It was unlike anything I’d seen, and while the titular mystery was an initial hook, it was the characters and journey that became the reward, even despite a finale that felt a bit underwhelming.

2. Sports Night (1998-2000)
About:
This is the shortest series on this list but one of the most powerful. Coming from creator Aaron Sorkin, it was set behind the scenes of a series like SportsCenter. As an avid sports fan, it was right in my wheel house. But the work of Josh Charles and Peter Krause in the lead, along with a fantastic supporting cast, are what pulled me in and kept me hooked. I love the storytelling in Sports Night, which was a sitcom unlike any other. I’ve seen it dozens of times and it always resonates with me.

1. The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019)
About:
A year ago, I don’t know if this show would be on this list. I hadn’t really seen it. I didn’t watch the show when it aired and had only a passing understanding of the series and its cast. In 2021, during the dry times of the pandemic, I decided to start a watch with my wife on HBO Max. I’ve seen the series through at least three times since, and it’s been a nearly daily part of our viewing since beginning it. The characters, humor and production are a delight. It quickly moved from a series I’d never seen to my favorite network sitcom. I love the journey and will never tire of the humor in this series 280 episodes. It was an easy pick to top this list at this point!

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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