Great TV Shows Taken Before Their Time: Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place

Pete, Sharon, and Berg = Best Friend Triangle

While it may be remembered as the sitcom that kick-started the careers of Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal) and Nathan Fillion, Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, which has since aired in syndication under its fourth season title, Two Guys and a Girl, was one of the better new comedies to bring in the 2000’s.

The series was originally centered around three 20-something college grads living in Boston who hang out at Beacon Street Pizza. The two guys, Pete (Richard Ruccolo, Rita Rocks) and Berg (Reynolds), are both grad school students who work at the pizza place, while the girl, Sharon (Traylor Howard, Monk), compromises her ethics for financial stability at one of the most notorious chemical companies in the United States. The three have been best friends since they were undergrads at Tufts University, and their relationship, especially in the first two seasons, is the focal point of the series.

The first season cast at Beacon Street Pizza

When Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place began its four-year run, the three leads were surrounded by a supporting cast that worked or hung out at Beacon Street Pizza. Among the two original supporting cast members that stood out were Mr. Bauer (David Ogden Stiers, M.A.S.H.), a middle-aged man who lived vicariously through popular movies, and Bill (Julius Carry, The Last Dragon), the pizza shop’s manager who lacked the ability to bite his tongue. When only the main characters were brought back for the second season, the non-invasive dynamic these characters provided was as notably absent as Berg having abandoned his trial experiments that would almost always go wrong.

With romantic relationships becoming much more of a focal point as the series progressed, the goofy, yet refreshing, original cast was shaken up, with Sharon meeting Johnny (Fillion) and Berg chasing after his med-school rival, Ashley (Suzanne Cryer). Once Jillian Bach was cast as Pete and Berg’s quirky neighbor Irene, it became apparent that ABC was looking to turn the series into a carbon copy of Friends.

Even when it was being taken in a direction that emulated the other popular sitcoms it competed against in the late-90’s and early 2000’s, Two Guys and a Girl maintained its creativity by being a sitcom that was willing to take risks during its four seasons on the air. Nevermind that the entire cast was killed off during a Halloween episode or the Charlie Chaplin homage featured zero dialog, this was one of the first television series to utilize the internet by having a campaign where fans voted on the outcome of major season four cliffhanger (though that episode ended up being the series finale after ABC axed it).

Three guys and two girls? This was a hilarious cast.

Throughout its first three seasons, Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place was among “The Alphabet’s” top-rated programs, holding its own on the network’s famed Wednesday night comedy block. However, the series saw a steep and steady decline in viewership when ABC moved the newly renamed Two Guys and a Girl to Friday nights in an attempt to reestablish the T.G.I.F. line-up by marketing it towards the 18-34 crowd. As anyone with a working brain would assume, none of the programs scored well in the demographic, which resulted in the network cancelling the other three sitcoms well before the 2001 television season ended.

ABC offered a halfhearted attempt to save Two Guys and a Girl by moving it back to Wednesday nights on March 7th. In what may have been the weirdest trial period in television history, the series was then put on a nearly two month-long hiatus before returning for May sweeps. The world of television has proven this old adage time and again, but networks just haven’t figured out that “if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t need fixin’.”
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