The Downfall of the NBC Comedy

Once upon a time, NBC ruled the comedy roost. Now, well, when was the last time you even tried to laugh at an NBC show that was actually trying to be funny? In the immortal words of Harvey Kurtzman, “Wha– happened?”

parks-and-rec-640x426by Nick Cannata-Bowman

The climate for comedy television in just the last few years has seen a massive shift, as shows have gone off the air and been replaced by other inferior offerings. No network has seen this happen more though than NBC. There was even a time in their history when The Office, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, and Community were all on in the same two-hour block Thursday nights. Since then, The Office, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation have all come to a satisfying end, while Community was unceremoniously canceled, only to be picked up by Yahoo! for its streaming service.

The aftermath following what amounted to a golden age of NBC’s comedy lineup hasn’t been pretty. There’s a veritable laundry list of quickly axed shows that make up their programming graveyard, leading one to ask: What in the name of all that is holy happened? The answer is that CBS happened. Somehow, CBS has made itself into the single most-watched network in the country, on the strength of shows that no one will ever describe as smart comedies. It’s been carried on the backs of three-camera sitcoms like Two and a Half Menand The Big Bang Theory, as well as dramas like The Mentalist and NCIS.

This has left NBC scratching its head, with its history of critically acclaimed comedies that no one watches, in favor of the more mindless offerings over at CBS. This has left them attempting to duplicate that success to no avail, tanking both their ratings and the quality of their programming.

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