If you thought Section E had some evil matchups, I can’t help but feel you will not be relieved with this group of 16. Personally, I have multiple beloved shows up against each other, even the 2-15 matchup pits my current favorite against a show which I will be starting a re-watch of here this week. It’s brutal, but it’s FUN, right?
Here’s the ballot. There’ll be posts for comments at GBOAT. Vote away. And I’m really sorry (but also not sorry)!
16. Home Movies (UPN, 1999, Adult Swim, 2001-04) – OK, this one is a bit of a personal sentimental indulgence, but it is significant as the first Adult Swim series (although it started on network TV) and fans did revive it twice, so it has a definite cult following. Originally a Paula Poundstone project, after her controversy (which turned out to be nothing, btw) the show evolved to give creators Brendon Small and Loren Bouchard (the main man behind Bob’s Burgers) more power and became about the children making mostly really bad movies.
15. Shrill (Hulu, 2019-21) – One of the funniest new series ends this year. Aidy Bryant breathed life into the stories of Lindy West, a Seattle writer who wrote a powerful memoir about dealing with the slings and arrows of trolls, editors, and mediocre boyfriends. Bryant is brilliant, as is John “Hedwig” Cameron Mitchell as her narcissistic boss who both is and isn’t columnist Dan Savage.
14. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS, 1960-68) – Maybe a low seed for the classic tales of Mayberry, North Carolina, and its widowed sheriff, but it’s been off the air so long that it’s really hard to tell. That said, Andy Griffith, Barney Fife, Gomer Pyle, and Opie have all become the stuff of American lore, and the episodes surprisingly hold up.
13. Master of None (Netflix, 2015-present) – Whether it’s creator Aziz Ansari’s alleged misdeed or just the fact that it’s off-the-air, it’s easy to forget just how critically popular this chronicle of a NYC man and his friends of various colors, creeds, and sexual orientations as they try to find happiness, love, and great eats, not always in that order. It’s also not done as its third season comes out in just over a week.
12. Family Guy (Fox, 1999-present) – One of the most polarizing programs in history, at its best, Seth MacFarlane’s show kills idols and creates some of the most downright hilarious cutaway gags seen on television. The problem is that South Park is not wrong–as it has aged, a lot of its ideas could be written by a manatee and MacFarlane can be preachy and unlikeable. That said, I’d argue that the Y2K episode is one of the top 100 episodes of television ever.
11. Big Mouth (Netflix, 2017-present) – This animated show about Nick Kroll and Adam Goldberg (the latter voiced by John Mulaney) “going through changes” is populated with talking penises, hormone monsters, ghosts of past musicians, and one Shame Wizard, yet like fellow animated comedy Bojack Horseman it is one of the most relatable shows on the small screen. it captures the horrors of trying to navigate puberty, but does so in such a grotesquely funny manner.
10. Silicon Valley (HBO, 2014-19) – Does Mike Judge’s perfect run continue with his live action series about a bunch of misfits trying to create the startup Pied Piper while evading the Googles and Facebooks of the world (in this case, embodied by Hooli and its insane CEO/founder Gavin Belson). While it’s been a bit tarnished by two of its lead men behaving badly and after a while the formula of Pied Piper losing it all before being saved at episode’s end (or vice versa), it was still one of the most oddball collections of human frailty on television, and at its best was ultra-satisfying farce. If anything comes out about co-stars Zach Woods, Martin Starr, or Kumail Nanjiani, I’ll just be sick.
9. The Colbert Report (Comedy Central, 2005-14) – Stephen Colbert had been a Daily Show correspondent since before Jon Stewart was its host. When he got the chance to spin-off of, the comedian decided to go deep undercover as a conservative pundit modeled after Bill O’Reilly and for almost a decade, it was the perfect pairing with its lead-in, until the actor/pundit/comedian went on to some other gig.
8. Freaks & Geeks (NBC, 1999-2000) – Perhaps the most notorious of one-and-done TV shows, Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s tales of the difficulties of attending high school outside of the cool crowd is not only a beloved cult classic, but spawned the careers of so many major comic figures of the last two decades. Unfortunately, one of the biggest campaigns ever to save a show failed. However, beyond Feig and Apatow, the show featured Seth Rogan, James Franco, Martin Starr, Linda Cardellini, Jason Segal, Busy Phillips and many others.
7. Insecure (HBO, 2016-present) – One of two shows in this section spawned by a successful webseries, Issa Rae became internet famous for her series Awkward Black Girl. With the help of Larry Wilmore, it earned her a chance to showcase her character on HBO where she fleshed it out into one of the best written shows on television as semi-fictional Issa and her best friend Molly try to balance success with giving back to their community, while also longing for love.
6. Broad City (Comedy Central, 2014-19) – And here’s the other show–Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson produced their series of the same name about trying to make it as young creative women in NYC. Amy Poehler noticed how funny the show was, hopped on as producer, and got the pair a deal with Comedy Central. Its premises were usually simple: the duo struggle to overcome an obstacle while trying to figure out whether they were happy. It’s long past cliche to call NYC a character in anything, but few have used the city as their canvas quite as effectively as Glazer and Jacobson did for five seasons.
5. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS, 1970-77) – Yet another show that was created as a showcase for a comic presence that would grow into a great ensemble, Mary Richards found herself thrust from a broken engagement to accidental producer of a Minneapolis evening news program. While the show ended over 40 years ago, it still feels like Mary’s hat is hanging up there above the trees.
4. Chappelle’s Show (Comedy Central 2003-06) – Few hit shows have ended as dramatically and abruptly as Dave Chappelle’s groundbreaking sketch show. Right or wrong, we have to respect someone who walks away from 55 million dollars because he is worried about the effect his comedy would have in his community. In its two-plus seasons, Chappelle gave us Black KKK member Clayton Bigsby, Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Story, the Racial Draft, and got Wayne Brady to poke fun at his squeaky clean image with one of the funniest sketches ever made.
3. Party Down (Starz, 2009-10) – Here’s another show whose legend belies its short life. Rob Thomas (not that Rob Thomas) cribbed some of the craziest tales from his catering days and enlisted some of his famous-ish friends like Adam Scott, Martin Starr (he’s all over this section), Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, and Lizzy Caplan and created ten farcical stories about different gigs. Despite low ratings, he got the green light for a second group of ten, which critics loved as much as the first, but that was that. Or was it? Rumor has it, the show is on its way back with the entire cast. Fingers crossed.
2. Community (Fox, 2009-14, Yahoo! Screen 2015) – There’s no shortage of shows in the high seeds of this tournament whose ratings never matched the passion of its fans. Dan Harmon’s show about incompetent Greendale Community College and seven people who formed a study group there had to sweat every season. In fact, “six seasons and a movie” became a running gag as well as a clarion call for its fans. And even when it got its sixth season (no movie as of yet), those episodes arguably brought down a whole streaming service. That said, no show has as gleefully embraced meta and made concept episodes a central part of its ever-expanding universe.
1. Cheers (NBC, 1982-93) – While the most famous half-hour spent in a Boston bar also was immediately critically acclaimed but struggled to find its audience at first. However, that didn’t last and quickly the story of a 30-something ex-Red Sox pitcher who buys a bar while planning a comeback, and all the loveable kooks who worked and/or drank at the tavern where “everybody knows your name” caught on and would become one of the great programs of all-time, despite its bizarre no-frills promo (seriously, click the title and watch it).