The Ultimate TV Comedies Bracket -- Round Five, Day One
Take it sleazy.
My friends, we’ve done it. We’ve arrived at the Elite Eight of the Ultimate TV Comedies bracket. Most of the eight surviving sitcoms are among the top-seeded titles from the start of this 128-seed bracket, so I can’t say that there are too many surprises left.
In fact…I gotta say, there’s just one potential surprise left and it comes in today’s matchup. And for the new folks among you, we are scaling down to just one matchup per day until the big finale, so there’s only one potentially difficult decision for you today. The question is: …well, why am I asking the question here?
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(1) Cheers vs. (21) The Good Place: The question is, does influence matter more than innovation? Because if the answer is that influence matters more, I don’t see how you can vote for anything but Cheers. It’s not just that Cheers influenced so, so, so many sitcoms in the ensuing four decades. It’s that if you don’t get Cheers, you don’t get The Good Place.
I don’t just mean the fact that this specific battle is Danson vs. Danson, though in two very different roles. (And if you remember The Good Place, you know that one of its season finales featured a scene in which Danson’s otherworldly character portrays a bartender.) I mean that Michael Schur, who created The Good Place, and worked on such shows as The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, has spoken about his love of Cheers before. I obviously do not know Michael Schur outside of his work, but I feel safe in saying that without Cheers, there is no Good Place.
If you lean towards innovation, I can see how you might lean towards The Good Place, whose characters jumped between real life and versions of the afterlife sometimes in the span of mere minutes within the same episode. Cheers is almost aggressively lo-fi in its conception; as I have noted with awe before, its entire first season never left the bar. You want to talk about a bottle episode? How about a bottle season? The Good Place broke storytelling boundaries of its own, inspired by everything from the show about lovable losers in a bar to The Matrix and highfalutin philosophy.
So I can kind of see arguments for both of these shows. But I am voting (and you probably knew this already) for Cheers. It’s true that I don’t think each of its 11 seasons are fundamentally perfect (I like the Diane years more than the Rebecca years), but for the first season alone, I have to vote for something so flawless, so funny, so knowing, and so charmingly low-key as this pinnacle of the hangout sitcom.
But it’s not up to me. What do you think?
The Good Place