I think what makes the show brilliant is because of how it treats Monk-as-a-jerk. People around him don't coddle him too much. They push back. If nothing else, no one thinks it's cute.
But the reason I think it really works is because of how both the show and Shaloub portray Monk as being in chronic, debilitating pain. And sometimes people in chronic pain don't always treat people as well as they should. There were moments where Monk would almost completely break and the pain was so obvious. There were also the episodes, like when Monk joined the cult, when he was happier when he