It’s not surprising if you haven’t heard of Ground Floor, even though it’s co-created by Scrubs‘ Bill Lawrence and is beginning its second season tonight. It airs on TBS, home of Friends reruns and a handful of original programs that aren’t good enough to talk about, and it spent its first season putting out ten increasingly strong episodes that only a few people watched and virtually no one talked about. This isn’t because of the quality of the show but because of everything stacked against it: TBS, a weak-sounding premise, relatively unknown actors (save for John C. McGinley and Pitch Perfect‘s Skylar Astin), and a multi-camera setup. That said, it’s an underrated, truly charming sitcom, and it’s the best show to catch up on while your other favorites are on break for the winter holidays.
Ground Floor is a combination workplace sitcom and romantic comedy that achieves a good balance between the two genres. Its central couple, Brody (Astin) and Jenny (Briga Heelan, doing double-duty with fellow Doozer production Undateable), work in the same building but are separated by their respective jobs: He is a rich big-shot executive on the top floor of a skyscraper, and she is a lowly (but smart) worker on the ground floor, surrounded by an (inevitably) eclectic group of friends/coworkers (including Rory Scovel as Harvard, who has a hopeless crush on Jenny). Ground Floor is nothing if not formulaic: Brody and Jenny fall in love almost immediately, they clash often for a number of reasons, Brody’s boss (McGinley) is a hard-ass who occasionally reveals a heart of gold, the top-floor executives sometimes act like douchebags, and the people on the ground floor are predictable weirdos.
Despite all of this, Ground Floor is proof that formulaic sitcoms can still work, and that they can work well. It is, without a doubt, the best scripted show that TBS has had to offer in recent years. The cast has wonderful chemistry that’s nearly infectious — it’s impossible not to root for Jenny and Brody, and also impossible not to swoon over their cutesy romance (even when it occasionally involves singing). The supporting cast are all solid comedic actors and work well together, in the same way that all of Bill Lawrence’s casts work well together, and are able to deliver somewhat tired jokes in a way that makes them feel surprisingly fresh.
At the end of the first season — spoiler alert — Brody chooses love over work, and it results in him getting fired. At the beginning of the second season (two episodes were screened for critics), he struggles to win back his job (and his boss, who doubles as a father figure) and eventually has to start from the bottom. He’s now on the ground floor of the skyscraper, working his way back up, effectively switching up the dynamic of the show in a way that doesn’t lower its quality but actually amps up the humor. It is, no doubt, similar to Jack Donaghy’s storyline in later 30 Rock seasons, when he finds himself back in the mail room, but Ground Floor knows that it can borrow extensively from other sitcoms if it continues to find funny ways to shake up their scenarios a bit.
Nothing that happens in Ground Floor is new or remarkable, but that is what makes it sweetly comforting, an easy-to-digest sitcom that effortlessly brings love into the workplace. Ground Floor doesn’t need to be complex because it succeeds in its old-fashioned feel. It’s a nice blend of any number of your favorite sitcoms that are currently on break, so much so that it will definitely fill the void — there are ten episodes in the first season to catch up on on; new episodes will premiere every Tuesday this month — and you might find yourself a new favorite comedy.