Robin Williams

Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Network Sitcom Deserved Another Season

This unconventional series had an interesting mix of dynamics that should've been explored further.


  •  David E. Kelley’s The Crazy Ones brought together an unlikely pairing of Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar in a hilarious and endearing sitcom about a father and daughter navigating the world of advertising.
  •  The show may have lacked an overall arc, but with such a talented cast, each character’s role was well-defined, and the father-daughter dynamic between Sydney and Simon was focused on their synergy to keep the business afloat.
  •  The show had the potential to evolve in future seasons, mixing comedy and drama, and exploring the stories of the employees of Lewis Roberts and Roberts, but unfortunately, it was cancelled after only one season.

Sometimes I miss the surprises network TV sprung on us from time to time. One of the funniest, most endearing, and – ahem – crazy ones came in the form of David E. Kelley’s The Crazy Ones. In this CBS show, Kelley brought together an unlikely pairing – Sarah Michelle Gellar and Robin Williams – to tell the story of Sydney and her father, Simon, as they navigate the world of advertising in truly opposite ways. Sydney is centered and responsible, while Simon is a spontaneous man-child who somehow comes up with great ideas for the agency’s clients. Their father-daughter dynamic was one without grudges, focused on their synergy to keep the business afloat.

Although some criticisms highlighted how the show lacked an overall arc, the sitcom didn’t really require one, with such a talented cast just letting us know who each character was. Sadly, the show was cancelled after only one season,some months before Williams’s death. Reflecting on the series ten years later, it deserved better. Many great TV shows are known for struggling to find their footing in the first season. The Crazy Ones in particular had the potential to evolve in future seasons, mixing some drama with comedy and giving a full-fledged story for the employees of Lewis Roberts and Roberts.

Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar Have Brilliant Chemistry in ‘The Crazy Ones’

Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Simon and Sydney in The Crazy Ones
Image via CBS
Getting Williams and Gellar to costar on a TV show, a sitcom nonetheless, is no small feat. Although Williams had a prolific acting career, his last main role on the small screen was in the ’80s sitcom Mork & Mindy. Meanwhile, Gellar, since Buffy the Vampire Slayer, had limited her TV roles to guest stints here and there. A year before The Crazy Ones, she’d starred in the short-lived thriller Ringer. Kelley wrote Simon specifically with Williams in mind, and when Gellar learned that he’d be starring, she became fixated on getting the part of Sydney — fortunately so, as it stands as one of her greatest roles. The Crazy Ones meshes the two actors brilliantly, taking advantage of their off-the-charts chemistry, with Sydney mothering Simon 90% of the time, blending in some tender moments in which he shows he still has some things left to teach her.

Even when Simon lived a life of excess in the past, he’s now a rehabilitated and goodhearted man, but still a bit wacky. This makes him somewhat scattered and shows he wasn’t the best father when Sydney was young. Although a nepo baby, Sydney constantly proves she’s worthy of her position. She somehow dealt with her unconventional upbringing and managed to be prepared for life on her own. It’s a formula we’ve seen before, but the appeal stands in Sydney being empathetic and not holding a grudge against her father, shifting their dysfunctional dynamic into one full of love, laughter, and learning.

Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar Are Supported by a Great Cast in ‘The Crazy Ones’

Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robin Williams, Hamish Linklater, Amanda Setton, and James Wolk in scene from The Crazy Ones
Image via CBS

Though the father-daughter relationship is the heart of The Crazy Ones, it’s still a workplace sitcom. Leveling Simon and Sydney’s dynamic are their coworkers: smart but underestimated Andrew (Hamish Linklater), shallow but charismatic Zach (James Wolk), and clever-on-the-inside but sexualized-on-the-outside Lauren (Amanda Setton). Andrew is the dorkiest of them all, unafraid of being sensitive as he describes himself as “one of seven sisters.” He’s constantly trying to prove himself work-wise and life-wise, as he also has a will-they-won’t-they dynamic with Sydney. Spoiler alert: the finale shows them kissing, so maybe they did get their happy ending after all.

Zach and Lauren seem equally shallow at first, just being opposite-sex versions of superficial characters but, as the episodes progress, they diverge into their own person. Zach develops as a charming womanizer with a heart, whom Simon sees as his own son (at one point he even admits he wants grandkids, but he wants Zack more). Lauren is basically the glue of the office, the all-seeing assistant who digests and interprets all the craziness that happens at the agency. She’s at her most relatable when she realizes she’s outsmarting everyone and belittles herself into her stereotypical role. It’s when we get to know these characters that we realize Simon not only has Sydney, but two other sons and one additional daughter – his chosen family.

‘The Crazy Ones’ Environment Allowed for Hilarious Comedic Bits

Setting The Crazy Ones in the real world allowed the show to take a jab at real clients with excessive demands like UPS, Krispy Kreme, and Charmin. This in turn also brings cameos of celebrities playing exaggerated versions of themselves, comparable to those in The Other Two or What We Do in The Shadows. Some of the people forming part of the star parade are Kelly Clarkson wanting to sing about sex for a McDonald’s ad, Fred Melamed showing up twice as the agency’s go-to voiceover guy, Brad Paisley demanding a bust of himself made of cheese to do a jingle, and David Copperfield trying to imbue some literal magic in one of Simon’s dates. But not everything relied on real-life cameos. The show still had an extensive list of guest stars headed by Josh Groban playing Danny, Sydney’s ex-boyfriend who has a restraining order but who the agency needs for new jingles. Ashley Tisdale’s socialite Kelsi torments Sydney by begrudgingly becoming her assistant. The Crazy Ones even hosted a Mork & Mindy reunion with Pam Dawber playing Lily, Simon’s love interest.

The Crazy Ones started strong, but week by week its ratings dwindled, and it ended up being canceled after just one season. Perhaps the audience was expecting an Office type of sitcom, but this show turned out to be more of a family workplace sitcom that stressed the chosen family aspect of it, and that might not have been everyone’s cup of tea. Also, not having an overall arc and focusing mainly on the laughs might have hurt its performance. But comedy slowly started to give way to some really heartfelt moments, like Simon becoming worried about his legacy when tasked to give the eulogy of a former client. Following Williams’s death, the show had the potential to explore Simon’s departure with Sydney trying to fill in his shoes. That might have been the best tribute of all, especially with him watching (in painting form) from above (the office floor elevator) — but at least The Crazy Ones gave us one memorable season with both Williams and Gellar at the helm.

The Crazy Ones is available to purchase for streaming on Prime Video.

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