(Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from its original form and updated to include new and more timely information. Originally published on TVAsylum.com)
The super cool thing to do these days is to talk bad about NBC, right? To call them out for all of the times that they cancelled shows like Perfect Couples to keep shows like Whitney. Gah. Get it together, NBC. (While it WAS enjoyable, out of the three, six-person friend group comedies that premiered during the 2010-2011 season, Perfect Couples was the most mediocre. I can’t really give you an excuse for Whitney though.)
But here’s the thing. I kind of love NBC. Not in the gross, secret way that I love The CW (get out of my head, Hart of Dixie!) It’s not even the way that I love AMC because I’m supposed to. No, my love for NBC comes from years of them providing a place to watch my favorite shows. And I just can’t quit them.
I think we can all agree that NBC has made some poor decisions in the past few years – you don’t get to be the last place network by making the best choices – but I also think that there’s a lot to be said for what they choose to broadcast. Here are a few reasons why I think you should cut the Peacock some slack:
Must See TV – Thursday night’s Must See TV on NBC was what I graduated to after I outgrew TGIF. This block of programming boasted such shows as The Cosby Show, Cheers, A Different World, ER and most famously Seinfeld and Friends. Despite your feelings on either of those sitcoms, you can’t deny that they are two of the highest rated (and most dearly beloved) sitcoms of all time. Must See TV might be a thing of the past, but it definitely paved the way for future Thursday night comedy programming on NBC. Which brings me to:
The Office –When The Office premiered in 2005 it was clearly a major departure from NBC’s standard comedy fare. And even though it only garnered mediocre ratings in its freshman season, NBC renewed it and it went on to become the show that redefined the way that we expected sitcoms to look and feel. (So it wasn’t great after Michael Scott left. But, it was a moneymaker for NBC and the final season was a little better, right? RIGHT?) Regardless, if it weren’t for The Office, who’s to say we would have ever been introduced to Leslie Knope, Liz Lemon or Troy and Abed? Pop Pop!
30 Rock/Community – Okay, let’s get serious for a second. There was often a brouhaha surrounding the sort-of, almost cancellations, short season orders and scheduling shifts with 30 Rock and Community. As someone who was majorly outraged that Veronica Mars was canceled, I FEEL YA.
But look, 30 Rock is notorious for having less than stellar ratings, yet it ran for SEVEN seasons. Hold on, let me repeat that: SEVEN. While NBC was plummeting from the first place to the last place network, they continued to broadcast a show that wasn’t doing much for them other than earning brownie points with television critics, hipsters, you and me. This same argument can be applied to Community. It’s only been on for four seasons (three excellent, one mediocre), but NBC keeps it on the schedule despite its poor ratings performance.
Shouldn’t NBC get some credit for picking up these shows in the first place?
Friday Night Lights – If you haven’t watched Friday Night Lights (FNL), then I just want to stop you right here. You can try to convince me that my opinion is wrong, but there is absolutely no way anything you say to me will hold any merit until you rectify this situation immediately. And we can discuss all day long whether Breaking Bad or Mad Men is the best show ever, but let’s just not argue about this anymore. FNL wins at television. Thank you, NBC, for bringing such joy into our lives.
Awake/Chuck/Grimm/Heroes/The Cape/The Event – This will be brief. For every edition of Law and Order they broadcast, NBC seemingly picks a risky drama series with some sort of fantastical element. It’s true that some of these shows had more promise than others (Awake) and some lasted longer than they should have (lookin’ at you, Heroes), but at least they were different.
Unfortunately for those of us that love Parks and Recreation, Community and Parenthood, the majority of the American public prefers Two and a Half Men and CSI to virtually ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD. Which means that when the month of May rolls around and the networks start announcing their cancellations, we will always have to hold our breath, cross our fingers and pray that this won’t be the year that we have to bid farewell to the Bravermans or the city of Pawnee.
But you know what? If that’s the price that I have to pay for creative storytelling and television shows that make me feel, I’ll gladly pay it. And in the meantime, I’ll be grateful that for several years, NBC cared a little bit more about those things than about winning the game.
Thank goodness this won’t be the year we have to say goodbye.