March Madness! The Outstanding 1-2-8: Section A

Our first bracket could be a heartbreaker for many. It pits UK vs. US, recent vs. classic, a depressed middle-aged woman vs. a depressed middle-aged horse, man. Geographically, six{?!} are set in NYC, three in L.A., two in the London area, one each in South Jersey, Seattle, Atlanta, and the fictional towns of Highland and Pawnee.


So, without further ado, here’s the vote. See below for some quick thoughts on each show. You can also vote and discuss at GBOAT, an extremely fun all-purpose bracket page on Facebook.

16. Miranda (BBC: 2009-15) – While Miranda Hart’s UK cult favorite dabbled in some broad comedy and slapstick, at the center there’s a sweet tribute to all things awkward inside of us, channelled through the gangly, accident prone Hart. It’s the inspiration for Miayam Balik’s Call Me Kat–which has received some brutal reviews, but is still a lot of fun in the spirit of the original.

15. Keeping Up Appearances (BBC: 1990-95) – The ultra-grimy UK comedy centers on 50-something busybody Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced, as she will remind you, “bou-kay”), an all-time great character and original hot mess–a natural born gossip who takes house proud to an extreme. Her sweet, if henpecked, husband Richard bares the brunt of her diatribes as her rants get her into various misadventures.

14. Beavis & Butt-Head (MTV: 1993-97) – Heh heh! Mike Judge’s ’90s comedy about two vapid teen pranksters who mock music videos all day–intermittently grappling with the future Hank Hill–seems a bit less funny now that we’re so familiar with Eric & Don, Jr. However, in addition to belly laughs, it introduced people to bands like Transvision Vamp, KMFDM, and Soul Coughing.

13. Nurse Jackie (Showtime: 2009-15) – On one of t
he darker programs on the list, Edie Falco’s Nurse Jackie was addicted, acerbic and deeply flawed, but of course with a genuine heart once her defenses were down. It also introduced many to the versatile Merritt Wever, who won multiple Emmys–at which she gave classic non-speeches–as her wide-eyed yet weirdly worldly co-worker Zoey.

12. Girls (HBO: 2012-17) – How you feel about Lena Dunham–and maybe NYC itself–will likely color how you feel about this show. In any case, Dunham’s tales about her/Hannah’s struggles with life and love as a 20-something writer in the greatest city on Earth touched a nerve, and introduced the world to Adam Driver, to John Oliver’s infinite delight.

11. Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Adult Swim: 2000-15) – Just the universally related tale of a sociopathic milkshake, an abiding container of fries, and a Meatwad who share a humble flat. The bizarre and quintissentially Adult Swim animated program also introduced us to the Moonenites, Dr. Weird, and Jersey-born next door neighbor Carl Brutananadilewski.

10. It’s a Living (ABC/Syndicated: 1982-89) – This groundbreaking and hilarious sitcom always struggled to find its audience–in fact it may be the first show to find a home for new episodes on syndication. It starred Ann Jillian, Louise Lasser and others as cocktail waitresses trying to get through both their shift and their lives an unbruised as possible

9. Frasier (NBC: 1994-2005) – One of TV’s most enduring characters, persnickety psychologist Frasier Crane first appeared on screen on one of our top-seeded progams. He was introduced as a recurring Cheers character–Diane’s love interest–but became so popular he would hold a seat at the bar for over a decade. Then he moved from Boston to Seattle, settled in as a talk show host sharing his home with his brother Niles (David Hyde-Pierce) and father (John Mahoney).

8. Happy Endings (ABC: 2011-13) – Gone waaaay too soon, this quirkier take on the Friends template earned a ferocious fanbase. Sadly, their letters could not revive the low-rated comedy, and the tales of the L.A. friend circle of Brad, Jane, Alex, Dave, Max, and Penny came to an end. While it broke little new ground, it was one of the best written and funniest shows on TV while it lasted.

7. Futurama (Fox: 1997-2003, Comedy Central 2008-13) – Matt Groening’s passion project would never outlast his longest-running-show-on-Earth, but it hung on. 1990s ne’er-do-well pizza delivery guy accidentally finds himself in the year 3000 where his 104-year-old mad scientist great-great-great-great-etc.-grandson Professor Farnsworth tuns an interplanetary shipping company. Thus we met Bender, Laila, Amy, Hermes and everyone’s favorite lobster man Dr. Zoidberg.

6. Designing Women (CBS, 1986-93) – Linda Bloodworth-Thomason’s tales of the four Southern women (and one Mescach Taylor) of Sugarbaker & Associates boasted an amazing cast of Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Jean Smart, and Annie Potts. It also featured the craziest contract deal where the libertarian Carter was allowed one on-camera song for every liberal monologue she delivered.

5. Taxi (ABC: 1978-82, NBC: 1982-83) – The fictional mid-town Manhattan Sunshine Cab Company was the setting for this often edgy, always heartfelt Emmy-favorite sitcom. It launched the careers of Tony Danza and Danny DeVito, who was only an astonishing 33 when the show debuted, and featured one of America’s all-time oddballs as the inexplicable Latka Gravas, a goofball mechanic from an unnamed Eastern European country created by the late genius of the bizarre, Andy Kaufman. Try that one today.

4. Bojack Horseman (Netflix: 2014-20) – Newcomer Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s fanciful story of an aging alcoholic ’90s sitcom star dealing with his increasing obsolescence started slowly, but those who stuck with it were blessed with one of the most potently funny and unabashedly meta and pun-happy shows on television. More importantly, its crazy world of sentient animals mixed in with humans gave us one of the most honest and compelling stories of the nature of depression as its core group of an upbeat dog, a plucky cat, a guy, a girl, and the titular horse proved to be more real, relatable representations of humanity than most live action TV shows.

3. Friends (NBC: 1994-2004) – For many who came of age in the 1990s, this tale of six friends was there for them when the rain started to fall (eep, sorry about that). What else is to be said about the NYC misadventures of Rachel, Ross, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, and Chandler as they hopped from apartment to apartment (to Central Perk) and from relationship to relationship?

2. The Daily Show (Comedy Central: 1996-present) – From its humble beginnings as a talk show featuring Craig Kilborne and his five questions, this purveyor of “faux news” grew under Jon Stewart’s stewardship into one of the most vital half-hours of television. Stewart took aim at the hypocrisy in politics and media with a sarcastic lean that belied an endless fountain of love for his flawed country–and in the process even got another long-running show canceled with a 15-minute appearance. While successor Trevor Noah’s style is more subtle, it’s been no less effective.

1. Parks & Recreation (NBC: 2009-15) – Another classic that famously got off to a slow start, Amy Poehler’s post-SNL show tried to be too much like The Office (of which it was at one point planned as a spinoff). It took off by its second season when it found its heart, building a universe of unforgettable strivers and screw-ups in the fictional Indiana town of Pawnee. At its center was its pair of platonic icons, the unapologetic meat-eater and libertarian, and unlikely staunch feminist Ron Swanson, and appealingly goofy, but hyper competent future President(?) Leslie Knope. That Nick Offerman never was even nominated for an Emmy renders that whole award show meaningless. It’s also one of three shows in this tourney that spawned its own holiday that has become celebrated in the real world, but theirs even spawned a Lifetime movie.

This is not meant as an endorsement of Parks & Rec

So, please take the time to vote above… you can also vote on this FB page if you wish to double-dip. Happy watching

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