New sitcoms are bringing viewers back to NBC

by Ian Stephenson, Sports Editor

The cast of Superstore outside Cloud 9, where the show takes place (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Just five years ago, NBC had one of the best lineups on television, with Thursday nights consisting of 30 Rock, followed by The Office, and then Parks and Recreation. These were some of the most popular sitcoms on television, with well-established names, such as Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Steve Carrell, and Amy Poehler in the lead roles. However, in 2013, both 30 Rock and The Office ended, while Parks and Rec was moved to Tuesdays for its final season in 2015. This took primetime comedy away from NBC for about ten months, leaving the top sitcoms on television as Modern Family and Black-ish on ABC, and The Big Bang Theory on CBS. However, that changed when Superstore premiered in November 2015. The first season, which consisted of 11 episodes running from November to February averaged just under 6.6 million viewers per episode, more than any season of Parks and Rec and all but one season of 30 Rock. The series is produced and created by Justin Spitzer, a former writer for The Office , and the two shows have drawn comparisons.

However, it is not just Superstore that has brought the network back to the spotlight. The Good Place, starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, and created by Michael Schur, a former executive producer for Parks and Rec and The Office, won a Critics’ Choice Award for most exciting new series. The series has received positive reviews and was renewed for a second season following the end of season one in January. Great News, which was created by 30 Rock writer Tracey Wigfield, and produced by Fey-toncic star, creator, and executive producer of 30 Rock, debuted in April.

However, it hasn’t been all good- Powerless, a sitcom set in the world of DC Comics and starring Vanessa Hudgens, had its final three episodes pulled from the NBC schedule, and its premiere-the most viewed episode- only drew 3.1 million viewers, lower than every episode of The Good Place, with ratings eventually dipping to 1.8 million for episode six before going up slightly for episodes 7-9 before the show was pulled.

For NBC, moving comedy back to Thursday nights has been a mostly successful move so far. “Super Good Thursday,” as it was known in the fall, or “Super Power Thursday” has drawn in many old viewers who previously tuned in to watch The Office, Parks and Rec, and 30 Rock back-to-back-to-back.

However, more than anything else, it was probably bringing old faces behind the scenes to work on the new shows that made the biggest impacts. For Superstore, The Good Place, and Great News, bringing in executive producers who worked on the signature NBC sitcoms of the first decade of the 21st century has proven to be a good move, boosting the network’s ratings, and returning the top sitcoms to the network. In addition, with shows like The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family likely in their final seasons, NBC will soon have a great opportunity to rule the world of sitcoms with Superstore, The Good Place, and Great News soon to be in their primes.