For a few seasons NBC’s Thursday night Must See TV sitcom line-up consisted of my favorite sitcoms of all time. This was during the time when 30 Rock, Community, The Office, and Parks And Recreations ran in a single two-hour block. It was fantastic and, even when some the shows were re-shuffled or ended, there were usually still two or three of them airing together. Outside of the rare gem like The Good Place, I’ve not found any network sitcoms that I find truly worth watching. Luckily, Peacock made it their business to populate their catalogue with some fine descendants of those shows. There are currently three sitcoms available on Peacock that brought over the 30 Rock/Office/Parks And Rec pedigree with them – mainly by employing a number of creative team members from those shows.
Rutherford Falls came along first, and plays on the optimistic premise that “people are basically good, even if they don’t seem that way at first” that was one of the primary themes of The Office and Parks And Rec. It also has the same sort of small-town setting as those shows, but it does a great job diversifying its cast wider than those earlier shows had. About half of the primary cast are of Native American descent, as are a number of the behind-the-scenes crew, which makes for more genuine representation of the characters. That being said, most of Rutherford Falls’ beats and character archetypes will be familiar to fans of the previous generation of shows. The entire second season just dropped a few days ago, and I’ll be binging my way through it shortly.
Girls 5Eva comes from some of the minds behind 30 Rock and Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and the mile-a-minute rapid fire jokes make that genealogy very clear. It follows the members of a one-hit-wonder girl group from the early 2000’s as they find themselves thrust back into the spotlight when their song is sampled in a chart-topping new hit. Most of the comedy is mined from the women’s continual adjustment to what it means be relevant, and stay relevant, as celebrities in the 2020’s. But all that showbiz comedy is balanced out by the family lives of several bandmembers, and their ever-evolving relationship to one another outside of the spotlight. Also, every episode has at least one really clever original song featured, and that alone worth tuning in for. The second season of Girls 5Eva dropped on a weekly basis, and the finale just aired about a week ago. It was every bit as delightful as the first season, and I hope it’s renewed for a third season soon.
Killing It was the most recent of these shows to debut, as its first season made its way onto Peacock just this past March. This one also comes from some Office and Parks And Rec alums, but actually has a sharper edge than either of those shows, or the other new shows that I’ve discussed. Big picture has some down-on-their-luck Floridians looking to win a $20,000 prize for a snake hunt in the infamous year 2016. But Killing It manages to Trojan Horse a barbed, poignant commentary on social inequity right through its core. Some of the ways this is accomplished by delivering both gut-laughs and gut-punches at the same time. But there is a lot of heart, even if some of it flies under-the-radar until toward the end of the season, that encourages those lower on the societal food chain to hold onto their dreams and look out for each other, since no one else will. It was just recently renewed for a second season, as well.
Up until now, none of these shows premiered at the same time, so I haven’t really been able to assemble a full nightly slate on-par with The Office – 30 Rock – Community – Parks And Recreations, though each of the shows are very enjoyable on their own. But, if you have not yet checked out Rutherford Falls, Girls 5Eva, or Killing It, then I highly recommend building that line-up for yourself, and basking back in a new era of Must See TV.