2004 brought many milestones and epic moments in TV. After the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy, American television saw itself heavily censored as the FCC tightened its rules on indecency. Taking a page from the epic 2004 film Mean Girls, the FCC deemed that “it only counts if you saw [Janet’s] nipple,” which, well, everyone did. Check out the final seconds of this clip:
Sex and the City aired its final episode, “An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux,” ending the HBO series’ six season run. I thought the show did a nice job reuniting Carrie, at long last, with Big. “I’m looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love,” Carrie told Aleksandr Petrovsky. This was a love that didn’t exist in their hotel room in beautiful Paris. In the closing moments, we learn where the women’s lives are headed, before their stories were semi-ruined by two feature films. “The most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself,” Carrie reminded us. “And if you can find someone to love the you, you love, well that’s just fabulous.”
Beloved, blockbuster comedy Friends came to a close as Chandler and Monica’s surrogate gave birth to twins, Rachel nearly moved to Paris before finally reuniting with Ross, and Joey moved to Los Angeles for the ill-fated spinoff, Joey. It was sad to see the show go but understand considering it had been on for a decade, the stars were all making bank, and the writers were running out of stories to tell. Still, seeing Monica’s grandmother’s apartment completely empty is jarring; it’s still comforting to see a repeat pop up in syndication or on Nick at Nite (!). Also, Frasier ended.
Fantasia Barrino was crowned winner of the third season of American Idol in 2004, and her performance of “Summertime” is still remembered as one of the greatest in the franchise’s 11 year history. After seventy-four consecutive wins, Ken Jennings finally lost on Jeopardy! to competitor Nancy Zerg. Jennings’ cash winnings total of $2,522,700 made him the richest winner in American television history. 2004 was also the year that TBS and TNT were officially branded as comedy and drama destinations, respectively. This helped pave the way for hit original TNT dramas such as The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles, and the new Dallas, not to mention Conan O’Brien‘s late-night TBS show on TBS.
With the departure of Jimmy Fallon from Saturday Night Live, Amy Poehler joined Tina Fey on “Weekend Update” as the two formed the first all-female duo at the anchor desk. Donald Trump’s The Apprentice premiered, as did mega-hits Lost and Desperate Housewives.
It would only last one season, but the WB rolled out Jack & Bobby, a drama from Executive Producer Greg Berlanti that chronicled the high school years of two brothers, one of whom would become President of the United States from 2041-2049. Christine Lahti played their mother, and this was the first time I remember encountering future star Bradley Cooper, taking the part of Lahti’s younger love interest. The show had a lot of heart, but it wasn’t the right fit for the struggling WB, which would shut down just a year and-a-half later to partially form the CW network.
Last, but certainly not least, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a clip from a cult favorite of mine (and probably yours): Drawn Together premiered in 2004 on Comedy Central. This show was so horribly wrong, yet so wonderfully good.
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Josh Kossack is a writer based in Los Angeles, California. When he isn’t cruising around with his convertible top down or reading to the blind, he can be found putting Sriracha on pretty much everything under the sun.