The list of my favorite shows in the sidebar might seem a tad eclectic—dramas and comedies for adults and young adults, and settings ranging from small towns to big cities or, in some cases, stories set primarily in a single building. I’m not saying these are the best shows on TV. They’re simply the ones that have a struck a chord for me.
Different as they may seem, I see lots of similarities. Gilmore Girls (even though it’s been cancelled, it’s still a favorite), Men in Trees and October Road are set in small town America. To me, those communities are like secondary characters in their respective stories. But communities don’t have to be towns and cities. In The Office and Grey’s Anatomy, communities exist within the walls of a building. The Office’s boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell) has almost as much affection for the building as he has for his staff. Seattle Grace is practically home for the surgeon and interns of Grey’s Anatomy. In Degrassi: TNG, the community is a high school and, for the first time last season, a university.
Home and family are important factors in most of these shows. The contrast between Lorelei’s home and her parents’ home was a major story element in Gilmore Girls, and Rory eventually leaving home became a major part of the show. In Men in Trees, Marin Frist leaves her home in New York and finds a new one in the unlikely town of Elmo, Alaska. October Road is about a character returning home after a long absence and having to come to terms with what has changed and what has stayed the same. The relationship between two very different brothers and their father is an important element of NUMB3RS and for me it’s one of the things that sets it apart from most other crime shows on television. Their family home is a retreat from the chaotic, albeit predictable according to Charlie, world around them.
Brothers and Sisters is all about family. I didn’t watch it during the regular season last year, but I caught the summer reruns. At first I thought it might be too political for my taste, but that’s overshadowed by each family member’s individual story arc and the adult children’s relationships with their, um, slightly neurotic mother, Nora Walker (Sally Field).
I’m still debating which new shows I’ll watch this year. I saw the first episode of Gossip Girl and will definitely check out a few more before I make up my mind about that one. Since The Practice is a spinoff from Grey’s Anatomy, I’ll give that one a chance, too.