(Alas, they took away King of the Hill, a traitorous act. In lieu of its splendor, here are some valid substitutes).
The IT Crowd
So you know nothing about computers or geek culture? Doesn’t matter. If you have a soul, or if you like British humor (but I repeat myself), you must watch this show. There are only three seasons of pure joy, and you will be so addicted that it will only take two days.
The basic idea is that Jenn, who says she knows “a lot about computers” on her CV, is assigned to manage the nerds in the unappreciated, dismal IT department in the basement of an enormous, profitable London corporation. (We never learn what it does). Her coworkers are Moss, a brilliant, socially inept hard worker whose mum packs his lunch, and Douglas, a slacker Irishman, also brilliant and slightly more socially adroit. And Richmond, featured below.
Malcolm in the Middle
It’s a longer-term investment, but the rewards are worth it. Among other things, it’s unexpectedly the most pro-life show I’ve ever seen. In season four, the parents discover that Lois is pregnant. Not only are they broke and exhausted from parenting four wild boys, but this is right after her sociopath mother calls a lawyer to sue them after she slips in their driveway. At first, the boys are furious at the parents, and can’t believe that they will be even poorer and more crowded than they already are. And then Malcolm complains that he won’t be able to go to college because of their stupid brother. The word “brother” makes them realize that this is a real person, not just an inconvenience, and in a rare show of kindness they assure their parents that they are happy to share beds and make sure the new kid is welcome.
Unlike that saccharine piece of crap called Seventh Heaven, the few warm-hearted moments aren’t cheap. The boys spend most waking moments trying to kill each other, and the show is realistic about bills, debts, and the nightmare of living from paycheck to paycheck. When a real emotional moment comes, it actually means something. (It’s also hilarious).
If you like mad-cap humor, you can’t miss Tina Fey’s delightful romp as Liz Lemon. The characters feed off each others’ idiosyncrasies, with even the straight characters being a bit… off. Tina Fey’s writing is crisp and never predictable. The only problem I have with the show is hating her boss Jack, but that’s supposed to happen.
Bar none, Scrubs is the best show in the history of television. Doctors think it’s more accurate than any other show, showing what it’s actually like to be a resident. It’s got it all: comedy, character development, tragedy, romance. No other show has made me turn from laughing to sobbing so much, and no other show has made a greater impression on me, even when it comes to ethics. If that seems like a strong statement, then you haven’t watched the show. Don’t just jump in and watch some here and there: watch the whole shebang from beginning to end.
However, if you limit the field to comedy, Arrested Development takes the cake. The show about “a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together” is brilliant and hilarious. The characters are outrageous, with beautiful chemistry, but it’s the narration by Ron Howard that really brings it together. Michael Cera had his start on the show, and it’s where he perfected the “sweet but awkward kid who just wants to survive a wild ride” theme. It’s the kind of show that makes you want to share quotes with random strangers.