December 4th, 2009
05:34 PM ET

From sitcoms to reality

Goodbye sitcoms, hello reality.

There can be few clearer examples of the changing of the TV guard than The Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 10 most-viewed series episodes of the ‘00s.

Tops on the list: the series finale of “Friends,” from 2004. Also in the top 10 are the series finale for “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the 2000 season finale for “Frasier” and the last “Spin City” with Michael J. Fox.

But other top audience grabbers indicate the rise of that once-new genre, reality TV. The first-season ender of “Survivor” makes the list, as does the first-season finale of “Joe Millionaire,” the sixth-season premiere of “American Idol” and a stray episode of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” during its 2000 peak.

Moreover, only one show in the top 10 dates from after 2006 – the “Idol” premiere – yet another indication of the continuing splintering of TV audiences. (Was it only a decade ago when a sitcom could garner more than 30 million viewers?)

What shows will you remember the decade by?

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soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Roy Mabe,Jr.

    What really makes me mad at the networks is every time one of them puts a good show on the air, they cancel it before it finds an audience,and thats the reason there aren't many good shows on anymore.

    December 8, 2009 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. The Truth

    Are people watching reality tv more because they like it or are normal shows quality declining to the point that reality tv is becoming more entertaining? Another good question is are the networks actually going cheaper and less quality on normal broadcasting on purpose so they can make the argument to shift to low cost reality tv to save money?

    December 8, 2009 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ashley

    Robert, I'm curious what those "few exceptions" are. Though YOU may not like every Television "show" out there, your taste is not everybody else's.

    December 7, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robert Laird

    Television has "Shows."? What I wil remember more than anything elses is the constant commercial barrage. I will also remember that most of the "shows" broadcast, with a few exceptions, were garbage.

    December 7, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ashley

    I miss the days of real Television shows. I'm not a "reality TV" fan but I guess they wouldn't produce the amount that is on the air currently if there wasn't a fan base out there and obviously money comes into play. I admit that I do watch a couple but I find myself ALWAYS lacking interest after a few episodes. The REAL TV shows are always set on my DVR..God forbid if I miss an episode of

    December 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. J.Crobuzon

    Flash-Forward, based on Rob Sawyer's brilliant book, and the 2 NCIS and 3 CSI shows, CRIMINAL MINDS and NUMBERS, and a couple of cooking shows and stuff. I'd watch the weather before I'd watch those dancing with the survivors reality shows.

    December 7, 2009 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. Chrus

    Reality TV is hardly a flash in the pan. It has been over 10 years now and it is still going strong. the golden age of the tv western only lasted about 15 ( late 50's to early 70's) , so a few more years and reality will have eclipsed it. In many ways reality tv goes back to the roots of tv , when you had the Ted Mack Amatuer hour, candid camera, even queen for a day.

    December 7, 2009 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tracy

    Monk. Always great quality, fun plot twists, and my entire family could watch it.
    It is one of the only shows whose finale brought tears to our eyes. We are very happy that USA does continue to show re-runs.

    December 7, 2009 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sarah

    I haven't watched much tv this decade due to no tv in college and too cheap to pay for cable now, major networks no longer being available after they killed the analog signal. But I have enjoyed catching up on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis via DVD, which both had their final episodes in the last few years. Definitely sci fi worth watching.

    December 7, 2009 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. Michael

    Kiefer Sutherlunds.......24.

    December 7, 2009 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. Kenny

    Oh wait, can't forget the best show Family Guy!!

    December 7, 2009 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. Kenny

    Lost, King of Queens, Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Survivor, Amazing Race.

    Bring back the sitcom, it has always been my favorite form of television programming.

    I also like how most everyone who has posted here "hates" reality TV. Someone is watching it or it wouldn't be so big. So some of you are lying, you know who you are.

    December 7, 2009 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  13. Debra R

    NCIS (the original), Law & Order (Orignial, Special Victims and Criminal intent), Lie To Me, Big Bang Theory, Dancing With The Stars, The Amazing Race, The Mentalist

    December 7, 2009 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. Fitzwilly56

    I don't watch so-called "reality TV." Moreover, I find myself watching less and less TV because of it. Right now I only watch Monday night on CBS–all sit coms–"How I Met Your Mother", Accidentally On Purpose, "2 1/2 Men" and "Big Bang Theory." Then, its either Leno or Comedy Central. After Adam Lambert got rooked out of the title on Idol, I've decided I won't even tune into that anymore. The TV generally is off until Friday nights when I watch Gwen Ifill on Washington Week. If I do watch anything its reruns of 2 1/2 men and The Daily Show. In my view, TV is dying because of "realty TV."

    December 7, 2009 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Collette

    Everytime they produce a good show, they cancel it the first year, Jericho, and in my opinion Life of Mars was one of the best shows I have seen, but alas, canceled.

    December 7, 2009 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  16. John_NM

    I watch comedies almost exclusively, if I want drama I watch CNN. Currently my favorites are the two Chuck Lorre shows; Two and a Half Men and the Big Bang Theory on CBS. 30 Rock on NBC and Better Off Ted on ABC. I do watch the original NCIS because of the cast chemistry and great writing, the new NCIS: Los Angeles is for the too-much-testerone, shoot-em-up crowd and has not earned the NCIS franchise name.

    December 7, 2009 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  17. LF

    I videotape or DVR with SageTV everything, and watch – usually months behind, so I'm pretty sure nothing I watch gets counted. News-related shows, like Olbermann, Maddow, Daily SHow, and Colbert, usually get watched within a few days; everything else is significantly delayed due to backlog. My favorites from the 2000's were West Wing and Buffy. I guess my #1 favorite current show is House. I watch several other current shows, but not with the same enthusiasm. I watch Project Runway, but nothing else in the "reality" genre. The rest of "reality " I'd love to see replaced by shows with better scripts and actors.

    December 7, 2009 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  18. Dexter

    The best television programming is being made by the mega-cable stations now and not the big three networks. Saving Grace, The Closer, Monk and Burn Notice are all great examples of this trend. Except for long-running established series, like CSI, NCIS, L&O, it's almost impossible to get the big three networds to commit to a new series long enough to allow it to find it's stride and that leaves viewers reluctant to bother investing their time watching anything new.

    December 7, 2009 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  19. Alex

    Virtually none of these reality shows of today will be remembered 50 years from now, except maybe as trivia questions. (Remember You Asked for It? Queen for a Day? Probably – but have you ever actually SEEN any of these shows. Unlikely.). I'll give American Idol a better than average chance of being remembered since it was introduced a number of popular acts - one of whom, Jennifer Hudson, won an Oscar - so it'll have staying power. The rest? Forget about it.

    Fortunately the decade did produce a number of quality scripted shows that will stand the test of time, from Deadwood and the revivals of Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica, to the CSI triplets and NCIS. Mad Men, The Sopranos, and of course The Simpsons. So I wouldn't call this decade a "black hole". But there may have been many more classic shows to be remembered in the future of reality hadn't nipped so much creativity in the bud, climaxing with the Jay Leno Show fiasco.

    December 7, 2009 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  20. greg

    The Middle has quickly become my favorite comedy on t.v.

    December 7, 2009 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  21. Jeffer65

    LOST, CSIs (all three), the reboot of Doctor Who, My Name is Earl, The Daily Show.
    Reality shows suck especially American Idol.

    December 6, 2009 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Bob

    Are Dirty Jobs or Mythbusters considered reality?

    The only reality show I ever watched was American Chopper and I soon quit watching it because it was so incredibly stupid (or do families really act like that?) Oh, Monster Garage wasn't bad once Jesse got the prima donnas under control.

    Faves: Monk, The Closer, CSI (the original), NCIS, Two and a Half Men, Leverage, Bones, House

    December 6, 2009 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Candy

    My favorite show of the new season is "Eastwick" on ABC. But I heard it was cancelled already. Why don't TV execs give new shows a chance? Please just move it to another night or finally get something good and then cancel it!!

    December 6, 2009 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Stormer

    I'm grateful to the broadcast networks for providing the unwatchable trash they call reality. I'm spending far less time in front of the tube and more time actually living my life. Keep on in this direction and I'll probably end up not watching TV at all.

    Boy, won't that make your advertisers happy!

    December 6, 2009 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Timothy Whittington

    Let's face it Hollywood has long been out of ideas. How many cop shows are on now? Sitcoms are old hat and talk shows are just the same ole same ole. I'm thinking about Lopez Tonight. When the advertising began for this show Lopez stated, "Late night like you've never seen it." I watch a couple shows and guess what it's late night like you've always seen it.
    Reality shows suck like a hoover. There is nothing constructive about them. The only thing one learns is how to hate your neighbor, or cheat your neighbor or spouse. Oh there is one thing that can learned from these shows and that is how to be self centered.

    December 6, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Kym in Kanada

    True Blood! Everything else is mediocre,

    December 6, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  27. mrnatural

    It's always sunny in philadelphia.

    December 6, 2009 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Justin

    The shows I will remember this decade by: 30 Rock, Arliss, Arrested Development, Big Bang Theory, Big Love, Community, Cougar Town, Family Guy, Freaks and Geeks, Flight of the Conchords, Friends, Gary Unmarried, How I Met Your Mother, My Boys, My Name is Earl, Real Time with Bill Maher, Scrubs, South Park, Two and a Half Men, Wonder Years

    You may wonder, "Aren't some of these shows pre-2000?" Why, yes they are. I watch them on DVD so as to skip commercials. I DVR the network shows because I hate putting up with the commercials. The business plan needs to change for these networks before they completely lose touch with their public.

    December 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  29. CH

    The Office (back when it was good)
    Arrested Development

    Also, Frasier ran till 2004, not 2000.

    December 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  30. bri

    The best shows I saw in the past decade were not from American studios, but from the BBC – The Office (not NBC's version) and Coupling. As a former TV station exec I have to say that the networks are in a very sad state right now and I'm not sure they can change their direction.

    December 6, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Danes Basilisk

    It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Arrested Development, House, Fringe, Battlestar Galactica, Lost.

    December 6, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Carney

    In the last 10 years I've only watched Monk, 6 Feet Under, and Everybody Loves Raymond. All others have been too self-referential.

    December 6, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  33. G. Matthews


    December 6, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Dave

    The 00s were a vast network wasteland. Cable, on the other hand, offered some of the best television in almost all genres. Mad Men, Curb, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, South Park, and Breaking Bad. We have not watched -one- network program more than once since Frasier left the air. Come to think of it, we only watched Seinfeld and Frasier on network television the decade before that.

    Reality television and the recycled drek that the networks offer shows that simply cater to a population that seems to need a social outlet without the social contact.

    I call Reality television "attention spam".

    December 6, 2009 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  35. Maryann Rose, Orlando FL

    I don't watch much network tv anymore. i'm very selective with my choices.

    MAD MEN, Lost, Big Love, and this last season i've liked Glee and Modern Family. Always been a fan of the Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

    DWTS reminds me of the old variety shows, so I do enjoy it – Tom Bergeron IS the show – without him as host, it would most likely suck!

    I have to admit my one reality show: Big Brother. But that's only because I can watch the hamsters 24/7 on the internet. If there was no internet component I wouldn't even watch the show, which is kinda cheesy.

    Other than these, I watch CNN!

    December 6, 2009 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  36. Dave

    College and NFL football is the only time my TV ever gets near channels in signal or double digits. Live or DVR, 90% of the shows I watch are on channels 269 to 287. You can't trust any of the News outlets these days, so you have to check a large number on the internet and make up your own mind.

    December 6, 2009 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  37. Dork

    For so many people that don't watch TV there sure are a lot of opinions about it.

    December 6, 2009 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  38. lazrusad

    I watch as little of the corporate/government sponsored fear and drama pablum as I can these days.
    It has always been called "programing" but the term certainly has gained new meaning after the last decade of injecting pro government, pro military, pro police, pro corporation, anti drug, abstinence etc. etc.messaging into our entertainment for their moral / psychological / financial gain.
    Rolling Stone Magazine did an excellent exposé of this activity back in the late 90's, too bad no one digs deeper these days.
    TV is, and has always been an unhealthy activity that should be used as a light additive to life, not a replacement!

    December 6, 2009 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
  39. VivLee

    I happen to LOVE reality TV. I LOVE Survivor, Big Brother, Bachelor, DWTS and other shows. And evidently there are plenty of others that love reality shows also. However, I also love to watch other shows such as Lost, FastForward, CSI, NCIS, Medium, Rescue Me, The Closer, White Collar, The Diva show on USA (forget the name, it's new and good), Mad Men, Damages, Modern Family, and more.
    I know, I know, just because I love reality TV I must be trash and dumb. Well, you are so wrong. I certainly am not trash as I am very well do to, and I certainly am not dumb. I shouldn't have to defend myself that I watch reality but it appears many think they are so above reality. Ha!

    December 6, 2009 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
  40. Everette

    I don't even watch live TV anymore for entertainment, only for news once in awhile, but even then it is either tainted left or right it seems. The success of Reality TV is a veritable indication that we as a society seem to be so caught up in ourselves we can't even sit down for a half hour and get away from it. It's like people need more and more of the oppressive world. No, I'll take a rerun of Jeannie, or MASH, or Hogan over anything on TV today.

    December 5, 2009 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  41. James Pearce

    Battlestar Galactica; ER; Heroes; Lost; Monk

    December 5, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  42. SR

    My TV died 2 years ago. Haven't replaced it because I can't justify the cable expense. Get everything I need online.

    December 5, 2009 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Art

    The only reality show I watch is, "Extreme Makeover-Home Edition". I do not watch any others, ever and won't ever watch them. I would rather watch re-runs of "Family Guy" than reality shows.

    December 5, 2009 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  44. gus


    December 5, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Steve

    American network TV is dead. I'd rather watch re-runs of Spaced or Father Ted than any of the garbage peddled from 8-11pm. If it weren't for live sporting events, I wouldn't watch any TV at all.

    December 5, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Owen

    Battlestar Galactica. Probably the best tv show of the decade. It's too bad there is such a stigma against sci-fi.

    December 5, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  47. wow I'm old

    Definitely the Sopranos. That was must see tv for my husband and I when we were dating.

    December 5, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  48. WandaJ

    Battlestar Galactica and True Blood.

    December 5, 2009 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Chris

    I love all the "haunted" type shows. How fun is it to sit on my sofa and argue with my daughter about "is it real?", "no it's scripted..." Either way, the best part about these shows is that you get an inside tour of some pretty famous buildings, ships, prisons, etc. And... when you think about it, the are on networks like SyFy, TLC, etc. Of course they're scripted! But it is also fun to watch...

    December 5, 2009 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Herb R

    CSI's minus the Miami spin-off; both NCIS; all Law & Order; Bones; House.

    Reality TV and talent competion shows are mindless drivel.

    December 5, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Doc

    Just curious.....what shows are anagrams? Did you mean acronyms?

    December 5, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Erik

    For the last decade my picks would be House, Battle Star Galactica (New One), How I Met Your Mother, That 70's Show, Bones, CSI, The Unit, My Name is Earl, Dexter, Sopranos, Burn Notice. The list goes on...

    Don't forget the Writer's Strike had a lot to do with the proliferation of "Non-Scripted" shows... Oh, and "reality" shows are cheap to produce...

    December 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  53. KarenB central Florida

    It's sad state that we are glued to the tube, and I've been one of them. I'll remember the decade by the CSI's/NCIS's, Law and Orders, early 2-1/2 mens (later ones are not so hot), House, Lie to Me, early Ghost Whisperers/Mediums, Bones, Cafferty in the mornings, LOU DOBBS,
    Cash in the Attic; BBC America Shows: Dr. Who, various detective shows; Antiques Roadshow-USA & BBC, History Channel presentations, Travel Channel & other informative channels – and probably most missed will be my precious Monk (last show was last night!)

    December 5, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Sandy

    Six Feet Under: Series finale was PERFECT !!!! The best TV I"ve ever seen.

    Newhart Series finale, waking up with Suzanne Pleshette was brilliant !

    December 5, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Bob

    Reality shows are a perfect example and proof that America has not just gone down the toilet it has been flushed.

    December 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  56. J.

    The more reality tv there is, the less of it I will watch.

    December 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Duke

    Dick Clark's New Year's Rocking Eve 2002, The Ghost Whisperer, Mad TV, C-SPAN, Britney and Kevin: Chaotic, and that show with that guy about those kids with the alien.

    December 5, 2009 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  58. colleen

    House, SVU, and NCIS. It's the decade of anagrams adn reality showx (which I hate and consider real drivel). If not for the success of Survivor and American Idol we won't be assailed by all this reality show crap. I did watch Srvivor for two seasons, but it got old after that, and all these find you rlove in 10 weeks make people look catty and pathetic.

    December 5, 2009 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  59. Mark Orsted

    I think the CSI Trifecta, Family Guy, and House should all be in that list. Heroes has come on strong and Criminal Minds & Numbers are both great series.

    December 5, 2009 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  60. duane

    i hate reality tv! give me two and a half men. the big bang theory. or everbody loves raymond!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 5, 2009 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  61. Bubble of Sanity

    I will remember this decade because of "Monk," the excellent series that ended last night. No one even watched USA Network before "Monk," and I only found the series because ABC borrowed a few of them during the first season.

    Monk has been the springboard for several other series, as well as its famous "Characters Welcome" logo. The show will be missed.

    December 5, 2009 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  62. Steve

    I don't watch much network TV anymore. I hate those insipid "reality" shows. I see a time when the networks will be gone.

    December 5, 2009 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  63. Larry C Wilson

    I only use my TV to watch movies I've rented from Netflix.

    December 5, 2009 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  64. Caitlin

    WHen you set your DVR it is seT to that channel and the signal a signal is sent that is read for a census such as this to make sure accuracy is ensured. However, those numbers also include households that have the TV on but are not at home

    December 5, 2009 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  65. mytabloids

    Reality TV is like visual gossip - and I have no stomach for it.

    I'll remember the decade for watching reruns of "Laura," "The Letter," "The Thin Man" and a thousand more classic movies....

    December 5, 2009 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  66. Megan Spradlin


    The West Wing

    Networks will have to start competing with the internet in terms of viewers. I have no DVR and cable is simply not within my budget. I am fortunate that my roommates and I can afford the internet. Where do I go for the shows that pique my interest? If they're not on Hulu – I go to network websites and see if they have full episodes available.

    December 5, 2009 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
  67. Mike

    I think network TV still has a lot of great stuff, and they have been making great strides in taking their content closer to what cable shows have in their favor. They still can do more, though. I like The Jimmy Kimmel show, and I think ABC ad CBS have a lot of good stuff.

    December 5, 2009 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  68. SilentBoy741

    Uh, Todd, "American Idol" isn't a reality show. It's a talent contest. If you're counting "Idol" then do you also include "Star Search" or "The Gong Show" as reality? And "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" isn't reality show. It's a game show. If you count "Millionaire", do you also include "Match Game" or "The Price Is Right" as reality?

    You only list 2 shows in the top 10 that even remotely qualify, "Survivor" and Joe Millionaire", though IMHO shows that involve the "voting off" process are more game than reality. 80% of the top 10 shows are something else, invalidating the gist of your entire post.

    December 5, 2009 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  69. MsAthena

    M*A*S*H.....of course!

    December 4, 2009 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Woolf

    All three CSI. Two and a half Men. That's all.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Jack

    Better Off Ted, The Office, Modern Family, Community, Weeds... these are the shows i watch, as well as such canceled classics as Arrested Dev, My Name Is Earl, Mahattan Az, and a slew of other shows cut off in their prime by moron execs. My other choices are all dramas like Lost, Deadwood, Fringe, etc... I don't watch a single reality show, and am disgusted by the entire genre.

    Guess I don't count. Not like I ever really did....

    December 4, 2009 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Kelly

    I DVR EVERYTHING I watch, and wish that it counted for the actual viewing. Can't wait until "reality" TV is seen as the "flash in the pan" that it really is. Ten years from now, people will be laughing at the fact that "Dancing with the Starts" was popular!

    December 4, 2009 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Tom N

    Reality TV isn't.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  74. angela

    The Game

    December 4, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  75. John

    Gary, the network does capture DVR viewing as part of the ratings. Anything viewed on DVR within 3 days of the original program date (and where the commercials are not skipped) are included as part of the Nielsen C3 ratings system.

    December 4, 2009 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Bobert

    Hardball with Chris Matthews. I laugh more at the original than I do the satire version on SNL.

    December 4, 2009 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Neil

    I like reality and drama, but would enjoy some good comedy and movies. Television doesn't produce many good movies anymore, and many of the comedies are just stupid, there is a difference between funny and stupid.

    December 4, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Gary

    I'm not sure networks know how many people watch anything at this point. The numbers will always be unreliable until the networks figure out how to include DVR and online viewing numbers. I don't watch anything live, I DVR everything and then watch at my convenience, or watch it online if I miss something.

    December 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  79. R Taylor

    The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy,Fair Exchange

    December 4, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |

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