Monk aired from 2001 to 2009. It achieved the requisite hundred episodes to enter into the afterlife of syndication, so you can find it today in the cable/satellite tv world as well as on some streaming services.
Monk is a police procedural show, a dramedy, but mainly it is about Adrian Monk. He had been a detective with the police department, but then he lost his wife in a car bombing and his world imploded. He lost his job, and his quirks, compulsions, and phobias (which had been under control), went off the rails. It’s all exquisitely captured in the show’s opening where Randy Newman sings It’s a Jungle Out There as Monk walks down the street with his eccentricities on full display. He has to touch each parking meter as he goes by it and then must immediately wipe his hand off on his coat because he has a thing about cleanliness. That’s Adrian Monk— like us, he is a collection of contradictions—his are just more obvious and easier to laugh at.
He has 313 known fears. He is afraid of heights and harmonicas, dentists and driving, mixed vegetables and x-ray machines, milk, and of course he is a world-class germaphobe. He has an assistant who carries around sanitizing wipes. (And yes, Monk made an appearance during the pandemic in a short clip from Peacock that showed him wearing gloves on his and feet, running his fruit through the dishwasher, microwaving his mail, etc.).
But Monk’s biggest problem is that Randy Newman is right—it is a jungle out there! And Adrian Monk is no lion. He’s more of a possum—fearful and likely to curl up and play dead at the first sign of trouble.
Can you relate to Monk? Probably not at the extreme level, but my guess is that most of us can see a little bit of ourselves in him. After all, even if we’re lions, we’re vulnerable. Life is unpredictable. It can change in the blink of an eye. You don’t know what might be around the next corner—it could be something good or something not-so-good. How do we live with such uncertainty? How do we live in what has been referred to by many people as an age of anxiety?