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The show originally ran from 2002 until 2009, spanning a grand total of 125 episodes across eight seasons. It was nominated for 18 Emmy awards and won eight of them. It also took home a Golden Globe in 2003 and remained a staple in the nominations list until it took its final bow with a record-breaking series finale, according to “The Hollywood Reporter.”
Now, thanks to the magic of streaming and its placement on Peacock, an entirely new generation of “Monk” fans can see Adrian Monk in all his quirky glory as he solves cases and seeks answers to the greatest mystery in his life: the death of his wife.
For those who may still be unconvinced, we're taking a look back at some of the many reasons people still love “Monk” to this day.
Although the show is centered around the titular Adrian Monk, a series is only ever as good as its supporting cast. For “Monk” that means Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram), Natalie Teeger (Taylor Howard), Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine), and Randall Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford).
When the series begins, Sharona is Monk’s practical nurse, attending to the various needs he has due to his obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, her duties often go above and beyond nursing as she helps him with his various cases. She was later replaced by Teeger, who came on as Monk’s personal assistant.
Meanwhile, Stottlemeyer and Disher are Monk’s go-to friends on the police force. Monk used to be a cop but something happened in his life that made him turn to the life of private investigating and consulting (more on that later). However, when the rubber meets the road and it’s time to legally slap some cuffs on a perp, he needs one of these two to back him up.
The general camaraderie between the group often takes center stage and makes the show far more than a simple procedural detective dramedy. Together, they're the special sauce that made “Monk” such an enduring show.
The Big Mystery
Every episode of “Monk” sees Adrian taking on a new case and using his propensity to look at the world’s finer details to solve crimes and help people. Although he lived his life as a brilliant detective before the first episode, it’s the tragic death of his wife, Trudy, that sends the larger story of “Monk” into motion.
The one mystery that Monk was never able to solve was the murder of his beloved wife. The loss triggered more severe bouts of his OCD and prevented him from continuing on the force. Each season, Monk learns a little bit more about what happened on that day and ultimately the show culminates with him finally solving the grand mystery of what happened to Trudy. However, it’s the eight seasons of tension, intrigue, and very minor clues that kept viewers locked into the story for so long.
The Guest Stars
If a show is going to tackle a new mystery every episode, it has to have a revolving door of new and exciting guest stars. As beloved as the main cast is, it would be pretty boring to just see them act against each other every week.
That’s why “Monk” went ahead and booked some top-tier talent to come on as one-off guest stars for various episodes over the years. What better boon to one’s binge-watch than suddenly seeing a beloved “Seinfeld” actor or acclaimed stand-up comedian show up out of nowhere?
Over the years, Adrian Monk has crossed paths with celebrity guest stars such as Jason Alexander, Sarah Silverman, Holland Taylor, Danny Trejo, Jams Brolin, Willie Nelson, Jon Favreau, Stanly Tucci, Howie Mandel, and, of course, Snoop Dogg — just to name a few.
Its Frank Depiction of Mental Health
One of the things that makes the character Monk unique is the fact that he lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder and it often plays a role in his wacky antics. However, the affliction is very real to many people and not a source of comedy at all.
So, one would think that controversy would go hand-in-hand with Monk seemingly making light of OCD. However, that’s not the case. Yes, the show does indeed often mine laughs out of Monk’s need to have everything clean and tidy, but “Variety” reported in 2008 that mental health professionals tend to agree that shining a positive light on OCD is beneficial.
“Even as a comedy, the show demystifies this mental illness respectfully and makes people aware of what someone suffering from OCD experiences. It also lets people know that if they have OCD, they are not alone and they can get help,” ADAA prexy-CEO Jerilyn Ross said at the time.
Meanwhile, it’s not as though the minds behind the show are coming from a place of ignorance. “Monk” co-creator David Hoberman has dealt with his own OCD and phobias for years and even served on the ADAA board.
Yes, “Monk” does indeed have its contingent of critics who don’t like its depiction of OCD, but many praise the show for what it’s done to spread awareness and reduce the stigma that surrounds it.
The Man Himself
At the end of the day, “Monk” works thanks to the immense star power of Tony Shalhoub and the minds behind such a unique character. Monk is unlike anything that’s ever been on TV before, let alone leading a show as the title character.
His mental illness is front-and-center, his comedic timing is effortless, and his ability to solve even the most complicated and downright bizarre mysteries is unparalleled. In short, there’s simply no one quite like Adrian Monk and that’s more than enough to create a worthwhile show with an appeal that spans decades even after its final airing.
You can watch all episodes of “Monk” on Peacock right now.
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