Why isn't 'Scrubs' a bigger hit?

162837__scrubs_lCongrats to Scrubs, which tonight airs its 100th episode, a milestone marked by no fewer than nine articles in today’s Variety. (The best are here, here, here, and here.) It’s an achievement all the more remarkable for the fact that the show’s never been a huge ratings success despite its critical acclaim and cult of fans. It hasn’t helped, of course, that NBC has shifted its timeslot seven times in five seasons.

Creator Bill Lawrence grumbles that NBC has little incentive to treat the show with respect, since the network doesn’t own a piece of it. Scrubs is produced by Disney’s Touchstone Television; in fact, Lawrence tells The Hollywood Reporter, he could imagine the show eventually moving to Disney’s ABC. To be fair, while NBC could have tossed the modestly rated show many times over the years, the network (which needs all the sitcom success it can muster) neither killed the show nor gave it away. Plus, the current timeslot seems to be working well.

So the question is: What can be done to make Scrubs a bigger hit? You wouldn’t want the producers to play down the show’s smarts and quirkiness; similarly, eye-candy guest stars like Heather Graham and Tara Reid haven’t really raised the show’s profile either. The current timeslot success may falter as American Idol picks up steam, but while the show might seem a more natural fit for Thursdays, could it withstand one more move?

If you ran NBC (or, for that matter, Entertainment Weekly), what would you do to attract viewers to Scrubs?

addCredit(“Scrubs: Dean Hendler”)


Comments (54 total) Add your comment
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  • Msally

    Not sure what’d I’d do with all that power, but I must make comment about Tara Reid and Heather Graham: I found both of their roles REALLY ANNOYING and wholly unentertaining. It might have something to do, however, with the fact that I don’t have a, ahem, third leg.
    Just my 2 cents, so please don’t attack the gentle poster.

  • jim

    Move it somewhere on Thursday night next season. THEN LEAVE IT ALONE.

  • Michelle

    I agree with Jim. It should’ve been moved to Thursdays when Friends went off the air. I was disappointed that when The Office and Earl were moved (and I like both of those shows) to Thursdays, but Scrubs wasn’t.

  • Christopher

    THURSDAY. Get the damn thing back to Thursday and stop neglecting the show that could cement another Must See TV era.

  • Frowny McBeard

    I have the specific organ you’re referring to, and I think Tara Reid’s gross and Heather Graham hasn’t been good since Drugstore Cowboy. I liked her on Scrubs, but I don’t quite suss her appeal either.

  • Clay

    It should have moved to Thursdays years ago. NBC has really sucked the past couple years, esp. since losing their Thursday night success. Hopefully, with Will & Grace and (presumably) Three Kings gone next season, Scrubs, Earl and The Office will be a Thursday powerhouse.

  • Allison

    Just keep it the way it is. After 100 episodes, I only started watching on episode 94 or so, when the new episodes started a few weeks ago. I think this is a funny show. Leave it as a cult favorite, and hope that FX or TBS will pick it up for syndication.

  • marjo

    I think that most audiences are so used to the lame aesthetic of the sitcom that newer, “kewl” comedies face a kind of learning curve. I had to watch The Office a few times to catch its rhythms and now I love it. I didn’t used to watch Scrubs but it’s starting to grow on me. Still can’t get “into” Earl or Arrested Development that much. Maybe I’m not used to the more broad comedies. Or maybe I’m just behind the curve. But I can see why people don’t like them. They kind of “over the top” compared to, say, Cheers or Seinfeld.

  • Matt

    Scrubs, Earl, and The Office on Thursday nights. Let that be the powerhouse, and then bring new “hit” comedies into the remaining timeslot to see how they fair and then spin them into a more appropriate spot in the week. Scrubs is too good to let it fizzle on Tuesday night.

  • california

    i would watch it on thursday, monday or even friday. my friends are all into american idol so now that that has started our tv is going to be on fox and there is nothing i can do about it. *grumble*. i’m sad, i wanted to watch it this year.

  • Jill

    I think Scrubs is one of the best comedies on TV. Such smart writing and acting. I can’t believe more of the actors on this show have not been nominated for more awards. When I see some of the stupid shows that stay on year after year(Yes, Dear, etc.), and the dialogue is just sound bites and sarcasm, I really wonder who is watching this crap. I don’t care what night they move it to, I always manage to watch. The show has a lot of smart, witty things to say!

  • anna kelly

    I totally love Scrubs. When it was off the air, my father stopped watching NBC. He says it’s the only good show on that network, and I agree. If NBC’s execs are too dumb to get the show, then they’re the ones who should be “let go.”

  • Ceballos

    I LOVE Scrubs EXACTLY the way it is…don’t change anything creatively. I thought it was a huge mistake a few years back when they moved it away from Thursdays at 9:30 (when NBC decided to dedicate the 9:00 hour to The Apprentice).
    I was excited when I heard NBC was going back to its Thursday night comedy lineup. I figured it’d have a place there, since they were kicking “Joey” out. So what do they do? Predictably disrespect “Scrubs”. I can handle putting the tired “Will & Grace” on there…it’s only gonna be around for a few more months. But how can you just hand an unproven (and mediocre at best) show like “Four Kings” a plum spot like that (althought it’s been happening for years at 8:30 Thursdays)
    I just hope Scrubs doesn’t get too crushed by being up against American Idol (and Commander-in-Chief, and House) that it gets canceled this year.
    If it survives, I propose moving it to Thursdays…either as a replacement for the weak “Four Kings”, but more likely as a replacement for the departing “Will & Grace”

  • dreadpirate82

    The Tara Reid and Heather Graham story arcs both occurred during high quality stretches for the show. Scrubs is the rare series that doesn’t make cameos and guest appearances feel like stunt casting. The writers seamlessly integrate short term characters into their bizarre little world, and we’re all much better off for it.

  • Andi

    Hey, EW, why don’t you put them on your cover?

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