Tv shows 2016 comedy

Tv shows 2016 comedy DEFAULT

TVLine’s Year in Review continues by tending to some funny business.

Having kicked things off by counting down the dramas that best made us gasp and cry during 2016, it’s now time to give kudos to the shows that pinged our funny bone hardest or, in some cases, offered smart serio-comic insight on today’s society.

Who ranked higher — a Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a horse named BoJack or some Difficult People? Does veep Selina Meyer still get our vote? And with Master of None MIA this year, who inherited its No. 1 spot?

Our staff reflected on the last 12 months, and then went through the painful process of whittling it down to the most innovative, most moving and most gasp-inducing of the bunch.

PHOTOSSummer TV Winners & Losers

Check out the gallery above for our picks — or click here for direct access— then tell us where you think we got it right, which shows we snubbed, and what comedy you’d put at No. 1.

Coming up soon, as TVLine’s Year in Review marches on: Worst Shows, Sexiest Scenes, Grossest Moments, the Most OMG Plot Twists, Quotes of the Year and so much more!

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TAGS: Atlanta, BoJack Horseman, Gilmore Girls

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The Best TV Comedies of the 21st Century, Ranked

A comedy on TV can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some see the genre in its basest form: a show that makes us laugh. Others have expanded the definition (along with the Emmy rules) to include the drama-comedy hybrids, as long as they clock in at around half-an-hour. Still others find comedy in black humor or extra campy nighttime soaps.

But over the last few decades, what makes for great TV comedy has changed just as much as the genre itself. We’ve seen it all, and yet, there’s always something new right around the corner. So before we get too far along, let’s remember the best of what we’ve see so far, across the ever-changing landscape of television.

READ MORE: The 20 Best TV Crime Shows of the 21st Century, Ranked

[Editor’s Note: The below piece was originally published on May 23, 2017. It was updated on February 24, 2021.]

[Selection Criteria: We’ve stuck to shows that aired a majority of their episodes after the year 2000, and we’ve only included scripted programming. Also, in an effort to highlight more live-action series, we’ve eliminated animated comedies from contention. Finally, while definition of a “comedy” is somewhat elastic, if the show was predominantly funny or widely considered a comedy, we deemed it eligible for this list.]



23. “Girls”



Upon its premiere in 2012 Lena Dunham’s “Girls” felt like a breath of fresh air. The series, focused on four friends growing up in New York, aimed to be a “Sex and the City” for millennial women. The stories focused on felt fresh and had humor in their awkwardness, like the misguided realization that only the most adventurous women had HPV. Along the way there were tears, bad decisions, and dancing to Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.”

22. “Spaced”

Channel Four


Though technically the first season of this Edgar Wright-created drama premiered in 1999, Season 2 didn’t launch until 2001. The series, giving us our first glimpse at the hilarity of Wright and actors Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, told the story of friends Tim and Daisy (Pegg and Jessica Stevenson) who become roommates. Their friends start to comingle with each other, leading to all manner of bizarre things. Their twentysomething shenanigans included a faux gunbattle, complete with finger-guns, confusion about pot or oregano, and a dog named Colin who Daisy clearly couldn’t tame. Along the way there was an inner sadness about knowing days like these were numbered, we all have to grow up sometime.

"The IT Crowd"

“The IT Crowd”

Channel 4

21. “The IT Crowd”

Channel Four


“The IT Crowd” was the perfect series for anyone who had ever experienced office culture. Jen (Katherine Parkinson) is sent to oversee the IT department of her company, only to find out it’s run by the bumbling pair of Moss and Roy (Richard Ayoade and Chris O’Dowd, respectively). The series hilariously poked fun at Jen’s complete lack of knowledge about computers; she presumed the actual internet was a black box. It also looked at just how awkward it is maintaining a friendship with the people you work with. Along the way it crafted some fantastic one-liners, including Jen’s exclamation of “the shoes,” in an episode dealing with her desire to wear a pair of posh shoes that are two sizes too small.

20. “Catastrophe”

Sharon Horgan and Rob Delany, "Catastrophe"

2015 – 2019

Sometimes chemistry leads to love, and “Catastrophe” puts that to the test and then some with this whirlwind rom-com in which a one-week stand leads to matrimony and parenthood. Co-creators, writers and stars Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney had us convinced that they were married to each other, so great was their chemistry and dialogue that’s far too filthy, raunchy and ultimately hilarious to be fake. (For the record, they’re not.) But that snort-inducing honesty is exactly why we also fall in love with the engaging characters Sharon and Rob, despite their many flaws. Each well-crafted, six-episode season is jam-packed with jokes with a stealthy side of soulfulness that makes you believe in love all over again. – HN

19. “Broad City”

Comedy Central
2014 – 2019

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s web series turned cult Comedy Central sensation started hot and is still burning strong; an impressive feat given how quickly Abbi Abrams and Ilana Wexler tapped into the cultural milieu. In the episodic scripts and individual character moments, this duo captured the ever-elusive combination of being utterly unique and in touch with the zeitgeist, while doing their damnedest to make each other laugh. And you better believe if they’re laughing, everyone is laughing. These characters are human, but extreme, sweet but oh so dirty, and always pushing back against the status quo. Through four seasons, “Broad City” has been a delight, through and through. May it never end. – BT

READ MORE: Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer on Their Favorite Comedic Performances on ‘Broad City’ & Beyond

18. “Party Down”

Party Down

2009 – 2010

This comedy by “Veronica Mars” creator Rob Thomas was cut criminally short after only two seasons, but in that time it was able to depict a side of Hollywood that we rarely see: the underbelly of disappointments, broken dreams and settling for second-best. That dreary outlook is perfectly incongruous with its premise of a happy catering business with crisp white shirts and jaunty pink bowties, and that’s exactly what makes it work. Underlying the caustic observations about Tinseltown superficiality is a genuine understanding of the combination of hope and bitterness that comes with unrewarded talent. The ensemble’s easy chemistry — especially between Adam Scott and the always-excellent Lizzy Caplan — makes this an enjoyable hang while we reflect on our own ambitions. – HN

17. “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

2000 – present

A follow-up to “Seinfeld” that ended up reuniting the cast, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” somehow still managed to stand on its own two curmudgeon-y feet. Larry David built an empire analyzing the awkward social cues of four observant New Yorkers, but playing himself on HBO freed up the behind-the-scenes co-creator of a classic NBC sitcom to be his own man — no matter how standoffish he wanted to act. What resulted was a painfully funny comedy, as David’s efforts were as cringe-inducing as they were admirable — and rarely did the two emotions coincide. We rooted (and will root for) Larry’s schlemiel character to avoid what always feels like his inevitable undoing, but we’re just as eager to learn from his insightful faux pas. – BT

16. “Modern Family”

MODERN FAMILY - "The Graduates" - In the season finale, Manny's father, Javier (guest-star Benjamin Bratt), shows up for his graduation and takes him out on a wild night of celebration, and then Jay steps in to pick-up the pieces. Meanwhile, the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan is getting ready for Luke and Manny's big day and dealing with the emotions that come with seeing your kids grow up and leave the nest. "Modern Family" airs WEDNESDAY, MAY 17 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Richard Cartwright)ED O'NEILL, TY BURRELL, SOFIA VERGARA, JULIE BOWEN, ERIC STONESTREET, JESSE TYLER FERGUSON

2009 – 2020

“Modern Family” may have started to feel a bit old hat by its fifth Emmys win for Outstanding Comedy Series, but Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan’s series doesn’t deserve to be disrespected because it earned (arguably) too much respect. Family comedy is hard to do well without becoming redundant or predictable, and the Dunphy-Pritchett families were never either for more than 100 episodes. Moreover, their exploits were told with a formal elegance adults could admire and by a cast no one can resist. “Modern Family” is one of the last, great broadcast comedies, and that’s something we hope never goes out of style. – BT

READ MORE: ‘Modern Family’ Cast & Writers Teach You How to Campaign For an Emmy

15. “Peep Show”

"Peep Show"

Channel 4
2003 – 2015

Setting aside the sheer high-wire balancing act of its formal trickery, “Peep Show” would merit inclusion on this list strictly on the samurai-sword-blade precision of its 21st century “Odd Couple” deconstruction. Over nine seasons of romantic turmoil, professional upheaval, and the general pitfalls of stagnant London life, Mark and Jez managed to be two of the most self-destructive protagonists in modern comedy. But even as the audience had the chance to literally listen in on their thoughts, David Mitchell and Robert Webb — along with writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain — still managed to find ways to move these two men into uncomfortable situations, born on the waves of an endlessly quotable string of insults, puns, and defeated proclamations. (The fact that this and “That Mitchell and Webb Look” aired concurrently is nothing short of a benevolent British comedy miracle.) – Steve Greene

READ MORE: Check Out ‘Peep Show’

14. “Community”

Gillian Jacobs and Joel McHale, "Community"

2009 – 2015

“Community” is a show for misfits who find belonging in their very outsider-ness. The series may have been on the bubble for most of its existence (hence the consistent #sixseasonsandamovie hashtag plea), but it never faltered in how it approached its love of TV in all its glory. While a study group at a community college was the entry point for the series, these were just the players who would usher us into a world of puppetry, espionage, horror, stop-motion animation, musicals, documentary and so much more. Reality and rules are mere guidelines on this supremely playful show that never settled for the status quo or expectation. And isn’t six seasons of fan devotion the ultimate reward for a misfit show that made good? We’re still waiting on that movie. – HN

13. “Transparent”


2014 – 2019

Credit where credit is due to Amazon for the first scripted series that tackled a trans woman as a main character while finding the funny in her journey to embracing her true self. Beyond this groundbreaking territory, though, is an emotionally spirited story about a family in all of its unsubtle, messy glory. You need patience and understanding to deal with Pfeffermans, and it pays off in rewarding ways because they are pushing boundaries of gender, class and race that some would never even consider, yet happen every day. Watching “Transparent” is a transformative process not just for the characters on screen, but for the viewer who cannot help but be pushed to question one’s own beliefs and experiences. – HN

12. “You’re the Worst”

"You're the Worst"

2014 – 2019

Brash and wickedly funny, this FX comedy’s celebration of our worst tendencies was a joy from the start. But over the course of its first three seasons, it began to evolve and deepen in surprisingly heartfelt ways that allowed our shallow heroes to become more than their labels. Its exploration of depression and trauma in its many forms has been eye-opening, understanding and tender. The ability to move into trailblazing emotional territory and create real stakes in relationships that makes it one of the most romantic series out there. – HN

11. “Atlanta”

Donald Glover as Teddy Perkins in "Atlanta"

Donald Glover as Teddy Perkins in “Atlanta”


2016 – present

Nearly every episode of Donald Glover’s FX series “Atlanta” will bring up laughter, as well as a heavy dose of social criticism. The actor and creator has taken the time to skewer everything from Juneteenth, to the music industry, and even the men of Florida. Season 2 brought with it more standalone episodes, including the utterly terrifying “Teddy Perkins” entry. More importantly, “Atlanta” has been a playground for Black actors to be humorous and nuanced. It’s unclear when we’ll be able to see the highly anticipated third season, but no doubt it’ll be another sharply comedic look at the world we’ll want to consume again and again.

10. “Will & Grace”

Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally

1998 – 2020

Groundbreaking for all the right reasons, David Kohan and Max Mutchnick’s network multi-camera sitcom joined the ranks of NBC when their Thursday night lineup was still bonafide Must-See TV — and lived up to its slogan. The titular best friends played by Debra Messing and Eric McCormack made up half a winning casting combo, as Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally provided such iconic character work, it’s no wonder people still see them as Jack McFarland and Karen Walker to this day. Ellen may have made history by coming out on TV a year earlier, but “Will & Grace” opened more minds than we’ll ever know, and earned more laughs than anyone could count. – BT

READ MORE: ‘Will & Grace’: 5 Big Issues the Groundbreaking Sitcom’s Revival Has to Address

9. “Scrubs”


2001 – 2010

While this goofy medical comedy ascended to heights of lunacy and occasionally cartoonish fantasy, its humor should not be mistaken for off-color heartlessness. In fact, it was one of the shows that consistently wrung our emotions, mainly thanks to a deft hand by creator Bill Lawrence and Zach Braff’s charismatic take on the lead J.D., the earnest and puppy-doggish protagonist. Its unique vision perhaps is best encapsulated by its sound, a one-two punch of quirky voiceover and a killer soundtrack. Once the musical episode hit — with all original songs and ambitious choreography — its status as one of the top sitcoms of its day was cemented. – HN

8. “Sex and the City”

"Sex and the City"

1998 – 2004

This early feminist show was brash and unapologetic in how it presented modern women as fabulously flawed and sexual beings, who looked great… when they bothered to wear clothing. While there was some level of identification with its vibrant characters —Are you a Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda? — the show also allowed viewers to explore the boundaries of what we may deem acceptable in our daily interactions, in the workplace our in the bedroom. Starring the incomparable Sarah Jessica Parker as writer Carrie Bradshaw, this series wasn’t about breaking the glass ceiling but finding any line imaginable and crossing it with a well-placed stiletto. – HN

7. “Fleabag”



BBC/Amazon Studios
2016 – 2019

It’s hard to imagine a time before Phoebe Waller-Bridge and “Fleabag.” The series, originally airing as a single season in 2016 captured fans instantly, but it wasn’t until the series made its Season 2 premiere on Amazon Prime Video that it became a cultural juggernaut. “Fleabag,” and Waller-Bridge, were about showing people can be screw-ups, especially women. The character of Fleabag herself doesn’t have anything figured out, and didn’t seem to care for a majority of the season. It wasn’t until the arrival of a certain sexy priest, played wonderfully by Andrew Scott, that the season’s declaration of being a love story proved that everyone is capable of change and love.

6. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA Season 12 premiere "The Gang Turns Black" Glenn Howerton as Dennis, Charlie Day as Charlie, Rob McElhenney as Mac, Kaitlin Olson as Dee, Danny DeVito as Frank

2005 – present

Honestly, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” secured its spot on this list the second “Kitten Mittens” aired — but that’s a slightly simplistic stance for a show that’s only superficially straightforward. Objectively, no other satire has fruitfully tracked despicable people for as long as Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, and Glenn Howerton have told stories about the owners and employees of Paddy’s Pub. Even “Seinfeld” tapped out at eight seasons, while “Sunny” encompasses a city’s morally questionable reputation with consistent glee and endless originality. Mac, Charlie, Dennis, Dee (Kaitlin Olson), and Frank (Danny DeVito) love being bad, see themselves as good, and provide episode after episode of hilarity no matter where their low standards lead them. Season 12 was one of their best ever, and there’s still no end in sight. – BT

READ MORE: ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’: Inside The Show’s Creative Process, 12 Seasons Later

5. “The Office” (U.S.)

"The Office"

2005 – 2013

“The Office” did what many could not: It actually adapted a successful British sitcom for Americans and didn’t die swiftly. In fact, this iteration surpassed its predecessor in longevity and may be considered the better of the two, making a voice for itself and really establishing the mockumentary sitcom. While the dreariness of its environs may have seemed like a prison or trap, for some of these oddball characters, it was also a sanctuary, with co-workers who were just as out-of-place and maybe borderline incompetent as they. We all know a Dwight or a Jim or even a Meredith for that matter, and these relatable characters made for an immediate connection, thanks to a stellar cast and writing. The Office” allowed us to escape into a place where the biggest stakes were bittersweet laughter, but mostly it combined hilarity and heart in a way that felt honest. – HN

READ MORE: Steve Carell: An Unjust History of Emmys Losses For the Man Behind Michael Scott

4. “Arrested Development”

Arrested Development

2003 – 2019

Listen, we don’t know what “Arrested Development” will become, but we know this: Mitch Hurwitz upended network comedy in a such a profound way that millions of fans were clamoring for more episodes, more seasons, more of the Bluths, however they could get them, for seven years. Season 4 was a grand experiment with many highs and lows, but the untouchable original episodes exemplify so many bests it’s absurd — and they were great at that, too! From deft meta comedy at its finest and to family dynamics at their most intricate, “Arrested Development” found humor in every corner of an ever-expanding model home. We’ll always look forward to what comes next. – BT

READ MORE: Jason Bateman Characters, Ranked from Least to Most Put Upon

3. “Veep”

2012 – 2019

Even before the American political system exploded into a fiery ball of wafting orange flames, “Veep” was a cathartic outlet for our frustrations with Washington D.C. Scottish creator Armando Iannucci conveyed such a penetrating outsider’s perspective one would think he’d worked in the White House himself, and the cast remains addictively game to lambaste the greedy array of power hungry politicians. When Iannucci left after Season 4, many expected “Veep” to take a step back. But the cast and crew (under new showrunner David Mandel) redoubled their efforts just in time for when they were most needed. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the only actor powerful enough to keep us laughing as the world burns. – BT

READ MORE: The Top 10 TV Shows of 2016

2. “Parks and Recreation”

PARKS AND RECREATION -- "Win, Lose, or Draw" Episode 422 -- Pictured: (l-r) Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt, Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford

2009 – 2015

What started as a sisterly successor to “The Office” not only adapted into a different beast entirely, but it also surpassed its inspiration. Michael Schur and Greg Daniels’ inspiring political comedy followed a diverse group of small town government workers with little else in common besides one defining bond: the desire to help people. Few characters have reached the beloved cultural stature of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman); so much so that it speaks to the cast’s outstanding overall quality that picking a favorite is still an impossible choice. This wasn’t a workplace comedy. “Parks and Recreation” was a human story that just happened to be really damn funny. – BT

READ MORE: The Best Sitcoms That Need a Revival Now — IndieWire Critics Survey

1. “30 Rock”

Tina Fey in "30 Rock."


A treasure trove of talent, “30 Rock” could be goofily delightful one minute and incisively topical the next. Actually, that’s not true. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s clever mix of pop culture, political, and absurdist humor moved so quickly, its shifts have to be defined in seconds. “Laugh-a-minute” was too slow for this crew, as Liz Lemon’s ongoing crusade to “have it all” — and her regular conflicts with Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) — provided incredible momentum to her behind-the-scenes life on “TGS with Tracy Jordan.” The onslaught of humor set a high bar for the series’ many imitators, but it also embodied what the Netflix generation has come to demand of its favorite comedies: They’ve gotta be fast, they’ve gotta be funny, and and they have to be endlessly re-watchable. – BT

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The Best TV Shows of 2016

Clockwise from top left: Mary Elizabeth Winstead in “BrainDead”; Cuba Gooding Jr. in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”; Phoebe Waller-Bridge in “Fleabag”; Donald Glover in “Atlanta”; Michaela Coel in “Chewing Gum”; and Forrest Pusey and Sofia Pavone in “Stan Against Evil.”

Year-end lists are stories: They tell the truth by lying. The idea that a critic can watch all the television there is today, let alone isolate the 10 best works among wildly different genres, is a fiction. But play along with it, and you tell a larger tale about what mattered that year and why.

To whittle this story down to 10 titles required some little cheats. I left out ESPN’s revelatory documentary “O.J.: Made in America” because this publication reviewed it as a film. “Halt and Catch Fire” is as terrific as when I included it in 2015; I bumped it this year to make room. (Yet I repeated “The Americans,” “Transparent” and “Rectify.” Life is unfair.)

I didn’t number my list. (The best show of the year, if you’re asking, was “Atlanta,” but beyond that the order would have been arbitrary.) An improved “Better Call Saul” barely missed the cut, as did the best season of “Girls” since its first. There are series I couldn’t quite justify putting on this list but were crazy entertaining, like “Stranger Things.”

What remains is a sampler of TV as dizzying and agitated as the year we’ve just lived through. We live in interesting times, and we also get to watch them. — JAMES PONIEWOZIK

‘THE AMERICANS’ (FX) The direct heir to “Breaking Bad” may be “Better Call Saul,” but this 1980s spy drama also has a claim to that legacy. It uses a story of double lives (deep-cover Soviet spies) to create a sense of impending doom, with the added twist that its married protagonists are acting out of idealism, however misguided, not greed or bitterness. It’s a ground-level view of a Cold War chess match that has deep sympathy for the pawns.

‘ATLANTA’ (FX) For a series about people bumping up against limitations — a midlevel hip-hop star and his cash-strapped manager — Donald Glover’s comedy was limitless in its possibilities. Sliding from grit to surrealism, from pawnshops to mansions, “Atlanta” created a diorama of African-American life in its title city and a testament to the weirdness of existence.

‘BOJACK HORSEMAN’ (Netflix) The third season of this animated comedy follows the title character, a self-destructive movie-star horse voiced by Will Arnett, on the awards circuit for his new biopic, “Secretariat.” That journey, including a tour-de-force episode set at an underwater film festival, frames a hallucinatory but heartfelt story of one horse’s search for equine-imity.

‘CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND’ (CW) In a great year for complicated women on TV — “Fleabag,”“Lady Dynamite,”“Better Things” — this raunchy, self-aware musical did handsprings down the line between infatuated and insane. The creator-star Rachel Bloom started with a premise of lovestruck obsession, added lyrically gymnastic songs (“J.A.P. Battle,”“The Math of Love Triangles”) and dismantled romantic myths while using them as fuel.

‘FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTHA BEE’ (TBS) If we judge political comedy by its results — and god help us if we do — “Full Frontal” has no place here; the “screaming carrot demon” (to use one of Ms. Bee’s more printable insults for Donald J. Trump) won the election anyway. But comedically, “Full Frontal” arrived fully formed and furious, establishing an outrageous voice — shocking even within the constraints of basic-cable language — and an outraged sense of purpose.

‘HIGH MAINTENANCE’ (HBO) Along with “Black Mirror” and “Documentary Now!” (both of which nearly made this list) and Netflix’s uneven but adventurous “Easy,” this itinerant comedy of a Brooklyn pot dealer and his clients marked a creative resurgence of anthology TV. A move from the web to premium cable gave “High Maintenance” a production upgrade, but its humane curiosity remains pure and uncut.

‘HORACE AND PETE’ ( Louis C.K. released his barroom drama without warning, and it unfolded like a crawl through a dark attic full of musty crates and family secrets. It seemed to exist outside of time, pouring one out for angsty 2016 within the walls of a 100-year-old dive bar, using internet-era distribution to recall the crackling immediacy of early theatrical television.

‘THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY’ (FX) With crackling scripts and criminally strong performances, this mini-series made a much-told story feel new again. Not only did it speak to America’s ongoing racial tensions, but it also ended up foreshadowing an election whose result — like the Simpson verdict — exposed a country whose two halves saw reality entirely differently.

‘RECTIFY’ (Sundance) Beginning with an ex-convict’s return to his small-town home, “Rectify” expanded over four seasons into a story of forgotten people — in halfway houses, nursing homes, big-box stores — trying to make peace with the unfairnesses of the past and find faith for the future. Its final season had two more episodes yet to air when I finalized this list, but I couldn’t leave it off. Miracles must be witnessed.

‘TRANSPARENT’ (Amazon) You could easily label the story of transgender senior citizen Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) and her extended family as insular liberal-bubble TV. In fact it’s a deeply empathetic show that lets every character — from fundamentalist Christians to Jewish radical feminists — be flawed and complicated. Messy, diffuse and ever-expanding, it’s like a hippie prayer circle where every congregant gets a turn.

The Best International Shows

Not that long ago, making a list of the best international shows on American television would have been as easy, and pointless, as reprinting the PBS “Masterpiece” schedule. That handful of British imports was essentially the only foreign programming available.

But like everything else in TV, that’s changed. My initial list for this first international Top 10 contained more than 80 shows, and that was a small slice of the foreign series available on TV or streaming services in 2016.

A few notes. Five of the 11 shows on the list are British comedies. That might seem excessive, but it reflects my feeling that some of the best, most imaginative work in the world is being done in that place and genre. (Also the most energetic. American sitcoms are at a peak, too, but the best ones tend to have a muted, distressed energy — the sheer vitality of the Britcoms can be a welcome relief.)

There’s also an overall Anglo- and Eurocentrism to the list. That’s partly because American programmers still overwhelmingly favor English-language shows, though streaming services do make a wealth of non-Western series available. So why no Korean or Chinese dramas, for instance? Because as attractive as some of them are, I still can’t reconcile myself to the saccharine and melodramatic formulas that seem to be mandatory in their original markets.

Finally, five of the 11 entries were first shown in the United States by Netflix. Whether it’s a matter of taste or of aggressiveness and large acquisition budgets, no one matches Netflix in the breadth and quality of its international offerings, beginning with my No. 1 show. — MIKE HALE

1. ‘HAPPY VALLEY’ Britain (Netflix) The writer Sally Wainwright started out in soap opera and domestic drama before shifting into crime, and “Happy Valley” is both a tough, sometimes harrowing cop show and a meticulous, emotionally charged portrait of a community. Season 2 picked up the story of a gruff, weary uniformed officer (the terrific Sarah Lancashire) and her nemesis (James Norton), and found believably frightening and moving ways to extend it.

2. ‘DETECTORISTS’ Britain (Acorn) Mackenzie Crook’s melancholy comedy about the minor triumphs of a pair of friends who share a passion for metal detecting is the most delicate of shows — it feels as if it might float away while you’re watching it. In its second season, Mr. Crook and especially Toby Jones continued their marvelous work as small-timers who, most of the time, mask their frustration and rage in hilariously ineffectual diffidence.

3. ‘GOMORRAH’ Italy (SundanceTV) The first season of this series, a traditional Mafia saga set in present-day Naples, was an addictive blend of speed, tension, desolate atmosphere and stark violence. While it raided the histories of both Italian and American film and gangster mythology for its look and style, it felt distinctly European, with an operatic realism unlike anything on American TV.

4. ‘CHEWING GUM’ Britain (Netflix) The playwright and actress Michaela Coel created and starred in this raucous, filthy, wildly inventive comedy about a young woman in the London projects whose sexual curiosity is in dire conflict with her Pentecostal upbringing. Ms. Coel’s performance as a nerdy wallflower bursting out of repression is matched by those of Susan Wokoma as her angrily devout sister and John Macmillan as her supercilious and curiously asexual boyfriend.

5. ‘CASE’ Iceland (Netflix) This smart and extra-chilly example of Nordic noir — a reboot of an earlier Icelandic series, “Rettur” — begins with the apparent suicide of a young dancer. Then it slowly expands into a repellent panorama of exploitation, in which young women are taken advantage of by parents (foster and biological), pimps, lawyers, youth counselors, hackers, classmates, ballet teachers, fellow dancers and just about anyone else you can think of. Magnus Jonsson and Steinunn Olina Thorsteinsdottir, as an alcoholic lawyer and a dour detective, make an art of moody inexpressiveness.

6. ‘FLEABAG’ AND ‘CRASHING’ Britain (Amazon, Netflix) Phoebe Waller-Bridge created, wrote and starred in both of these six-episode, London-set comedies this year, an impressive achievement. “Fleabag,” about a self-centered, often nasty but well-meaning young woman negotiating sex, love and family bonds, is the darker and more inventive of the two. “Crashing,” about the wacky-sad lives of a group of squatters in an abandoned hospital, is a more conventional sitcom. But both are sharp, funny and furiously up to date.

7. ‘MY HERO ACADEMIA’ Japan (Funimation) In the self-aware category of Japanese anime, this shrewdly written and dynamically drawn series posits a world in which 80 percent of humanity has developed some sort of special powers (not all of them super, and not all used for good). But it focuses on a fanboy who obsessively follows the new costumed heroes while having no abilities of his own — a perfect stand-in for the anime and manga audience.

8. ‘GLITCH’ Australia (Netflix) Dead people begin to claw out of their graves in a rural Australian town in this series that recalls the French show “The Returned,” but without the gloomy-doomy art-house veneer. It’s a solid, straightforward paranormal mystery that left plenty of unanswered questions for its second season (already announced as a Netflix coproduction).

9. ‘IN THE LINE OF DUTY’ Britain (Hulu) Season 3 of this cop drama about an anti-corruption unit (the equivalent of an American internal-affairs squad) in the West Midlands may have been slightly below the level of the taut, dread-inducing previous seasons. But it’s still the closest current analogue for the unadorned procedural pleasures of the early “Law & Order.”

10. ‘CATASTROPHE’ Britain (Amazon) Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney took their dark comedy of unexpected, not-quite-middle-age romance into new territory in a second season focused on the inevitable strains of parenthood. The writing wasn’t as seamless this time around — there were times when it felt as if the two were trying out stand-up routines on each other — but the best bits were still corrosively funny.

The Most Outlandish New Shows

Who has benefited most from the explosion of television offerings in the last decade or so? I would argue that it has been people whose tastes in humor run toward the bizarre, the scathing and the incongruous. Television had long decades when “out there” meant “My Mother the Car” or “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” Eventually shows like “The Simpsons” began pushing matters of taste, and now, with entire channels and streaming services devoted to outlandish comedy, there are shows unpredictable enough, scalding enough or ribald enough for almost any skewed funny bone. Of the new ones that turned up in 2016, here are my favorite 10. — NEIL GENZLINGER

1. ‘BAJILLION DOLLAR PROPERTIE$’ (Seeso) This isn’t the most demented show on this list, but it’s among the sharpest. A workplace comedy in the style of “The Office,” filmed with fake-documentary flourishes, it’s about a Los Angeles real estate company that deals in high-end properties. How the company stays in business is a mystery, since the staff is full of misfits preoccupied with personal problems and infighting. The core ensemble clicks beautifully, and high-profile guest stars in ridiculous roles complete the package.

2. ‘STAN AGAINST EVIL’ (IFC) The tiny New England town of Willard’s Mill put scores of witches to death centuries ago, and since then its constables and sheriffs have had very short life spans. The wonderful John C. McGinley plays the only sheriff to have made it to retirement; Janet Varney portrays the new one. They reluctantly team to battle the town’s lingering demons. It’s a gruesome, deadpan delight.

3. ‘DEBATE WARS’ (Seeso) There’s a reason that Seeso, the comedy streaming service, is on this list more often than any other outlet: It takes more chances. Who would have thought that a simple series in which comics take on topics like “Cats vs. Dogs” in high school debate style could be so funny? Not many shows make me laugh out loud. This one had me on the floor. It was introduced amid the presidential campaign; it has lost its topical aura since, which is the only reason it’s not my No. 1.

4. ‘DREAM CORP LLC’ (Adult Swim) A dream-therapy company employs some decidedly unorthodox treatments in this daffy series, a mix of live action and animation. When patients nod off, the lead doctor (Jon Gries) inserts himself into their dreams, not always to beneficial effect. A sassy robot voiced by Stephen Merchant adds to the fun.

5. ‘LEGENDS OF CHAMBERLAIN HEIGHTS’ (Comedy Central) The great television tradition of having animated characters voice thoughts that a human actor never could is furthered by this cheeky show about three vulgar freshmen, bench warmers on the basketball team, who are trying to establish themselves at their high school. Fat jokes, racial jokes and sex jokes abound; the series requires a high tolerance for raunchiness. But the reward is that it makes points bluntly that other shows can only dance around.

6. ‘FLOWERS’ (Seeso) This comic drama, which turned up on Seeso in May, is almost indescribably off kilter and anchored by a terrific performance by Olivia Coleman. The matriarch of the titular Flowers family, she teaches music and balances on the edge of sanity. Her husband writes children’s books that a drunk Dr. Seuss might have produced. Their 25-year-old twins, Donald and Amy, still live at home, and both have romantic designs on the female neighbor next door. It’s the kind of domestic tableau you might encounter in “The Twilight Zone,” funny, unsettling and enthralling.

7. ‘BRAINDEAD’ (CBS) Not many network comedies are going to turn up on a list like this, but the summer series “BrainDead” was one of the oddest shows of the year. A bug infested Washington: not the flu, but an actual bug that crawled into people’s ears, took over their brains and turned them into empty-headed automatons. The thing was, inside the Beltway it was hard to tell the infected politicians and staff members from the regular ones. The show was delightfully cast — Aaron Tveit, Nikki M. James, Danny Pino, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jan Maxwell, Tony Shalhoub — and everyone embraced the zaniness. Alas, they will not assemble for an encore; the show wasn’t renewed.

8. ‘MR. NEIGHBOR’S HOUSE’ (Adult Swim) This was a one-off special, but it was a small masterpiece of unsettling ideas and imagery. It was a parody of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” joining Mr. Neighbor (Brian Huskey) on his kiddie TV show as he prepared to celebrate his “31st annual fifth birthday party.” It soon became clear that this was a gentleman with an extreme case of mommy-issue-itis.

9. ‘WRECKED’ (TBS) This summer series, a humorous version of “Lost,” hasn’t received much attention, but it’s a well-made show with a sly sense of incongruity. A plane crashes on an island; the survivors try to, well, survive. Among the major issues they face: where to go to the bathroom and what movie to watch with the last bit of DVD battery. It’s broad, sometimes gross comedy, delivered with verve.

10. ‘VICE PRINCIPALS’ (HBO) To like this series, you need to be able to tolerate two very unlikable lead characters. They are vice principals played by Danny R. McBride and the great Walton Goggins, enemies who band together to take on their new boss. The humor is often crass, and the lead characters have exceedingly foul mouths, but over all the series is an amusingly caustic variation on both the teenage comedy and the bromance genre.

The Best in Culture 2016

More highlights from the year, as chosen by our critics:

Movies, Pop Albums, Pop Songs, Classical Music, Dance, Theater, Art, Podcasts and Performances


Throughout all the talent interviews we’ve done in the television world over the last year, one common thread is that, whether it’s press-speak or not, networks are loosening their grips on the creative process. Out of the box is the starting point and niche is the new norm.

We’ve called this the Golden Age of the TV Sitcom. It’s not just sitcoms, though. It’s dark comedy, it’s thriller-mystery comedy, alt-comedy, web series, broadcast sitcoms (yes those still made the list!), faux talk shows, animated series, and parodies. TV’s investment in the diversity of thought and talent in the comedy world has been years in the making, but it’s really starting to flourish across the entire medium.

The evidence is in the polls. When it came time for the Den of Geek writers to crown the top comedies of 2016, we increased the size of our electorate (10 writers, up two from the previous year) and it resulted in 36 different shows receiving votes. That’s 13 more shows than our 2015 list and it speaks to the volume and quality out there right now. It also speaks to the competition. The top four comedies of 2016 were separated by one vote each. Voting matters! Get out and vote, people! 

The top three comedies of 2015 as voted by Den of Geek staff–Comedy Central’s Review and Nathan for You and Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty–all went on extended hiatus and sat out 2016. They’ll return in 2017 (Review, sadly, for the final time), but that means we have an entirely new crop taking the coveted Gold, Silver, and Bronze on our list. Here we go… 

Honorable Mentions: 

Baskets (FX), Love(Netflix), Horace and Pete, Difficult People(Hulu), Speechless(ABC), Great Minds with Dan Harmon (History), Check It Out! with Dr. SteveBrule(Adult Swim), The Good Place (NBC), Vice Principals (HBO), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend(The CW), The Last Man on Earth(Fox), Younger(TVLand), People of Earth(TBS), Drunk History (Comedy Central), Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO), Haters Back Off (Netflix), Bob’s Burgers (Fox), Fleabag(Amazon). 

Dishonorable Mention:

All Three Televised Presidential Debates 

16. The Mindy Project (Hulu) 

From a drunken confession at her ex-boyfriend’s wedding to a romantic comedy expert Ob/Gyn, Mindy Lahiri is the perfect combination of comedy, charm, and a bit of ridiculousness (ok, a lot actually.) Mindy’s ability to always be herself adds a realness to an over-the-top, but hilarious, character. Her love for romantic comedies (similar to the real Mindy Kaling) such as You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally is often referenced whether blatantly or subtly and play a huge role in Mindy’s quest for love. She is always striving for that perfect “meet cute” and though it tends to put her in uncomfortable situations, they are memorable moments for audiences.

Every season has returning favorite characters and new cast members that bring a new element to Mindy’s journey. In season five, it’s clear there is no end for fresh plot lines. With new cast members Bryan Greenberg (Bessie, How to Make it in America) and Rebecca Rittenhouse, (Blood & Oil) Mindy and her support group (her co-workers) continue to fuel the heart of this show. Whether it’s the awkwardness or embarrassing moments, Morgan’s plentiful misunderstandings or Mindy’s unabashed trueness to be who she is—no matter how foolish she may seem—it will have you laughing on the floor. 

– Lindsay McGhee

15. Broad City (Comedy Central)

There is no series quite like Broad CityIf one hundred years from now the human race is no more and the Tralfamadorians come and take over the planet and the only remnant of us is Broad City, that would totally suffice.

The Comedy Central hit stands in a pot-hazed girl-power category all its own and nothing can even top it’s feminism, hilarity, and progressive nature. Even heading into its fourth season, Broad City still has all the gusto and appeal it did when it first hit the Comedy Central lineup back in 2014. 

Co-creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer managed to make a third season that topped all the other seasons in ridiculousness while having their characters grow and deal with real-life situations like new relationships, rent money, and unrealized dreams culminating in a “soul-searching” trip to the motherland of Israel, which turns into a hunt for a tampon. We can’t say we’re surprised. 

Broad City is best at shining a bright neon light unto the fact that it is okay to be flawed and have no idea where your life is going. Abbi and Ilana make no apologies for who they are and are pioneering this “hot mess” culture and owning it. They are both strong women with strong personalities who aren’t afraid to speak up and be a little weird.  

– Daniella Bondar

14. Blunt Talk (Starz)

Starz’s Blunt Talk began its existence last year primarily showcasing a surreal gimmick with the reverential Patrick Stewart playing a narcissistic, emotionally unstable, capricious, iniquitous television journalist Walter Blunt. Those weekly hijinks, complemented by Blunt’s eccentric show staff, worked out well enough for the inaugural season. Yet, with the initial shock of seeing Stewart cursing, drinking and picking up a transsexual prostitute settled, the second season had its work cut out.

Fortunately, Blunt Talk has evolved effectively in this year’s sophomore outing. While the whimsies of Stewart’s Walter Blunt remain the running gag, the supporting cast have stepped further into the limelight, building on the show’s delightfully demented dynamic. The exploits of Walter’s ludicrously devoted manservant Harry Chandler (Adrian Scarborough) shine the brightest. Additionally, staff member Shelly Tinkle (Mary Holland) has become one of the most curious characters on television. While quixotically pursing over-extended ambitions to host Walter’s show, Shelly’s also fielding unrequited romantic feelings for co-worker Celia (Dolly Wells), who’s dating co-worker Jim (Timm Sharp), regularly making feeble machinations to induce their breakup.

Blunt Talk does have its share of warts and there are still occasional moments when it seems to be trying too hard to push the characters’ idiosyncrasies. However, the show has managed to clear a rather sizable second season hurdle, becoming much more than its initial premise. I, for one, am keeping my fingers crossed for a renewal.

– Joseph Baxter

13. Always Sunny (FXX)

It’s hard to believe that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in its eleventh season could end up being as sharp and adventurous as the series’ formative years. 

I was particularly reluctant and concerned about some of the more outlandish episode titles from the season (“Charlie Catches a Leprechaun,” “The Gang Goes to Hell”), but I found it to be pretty flawless (although “Being Frank” was a total misfire to me, as much as I try to enjoy it).  Every episode offers up something new and absurd to this twisted gang’s tried and true formula, where something as pedestrian as the gang going skiing can end up turning into an homage of ‘80s cinema. Fan favorite episodes like “CharDee MacDennis” are satisfying follow-up installments, Guillermo Del Toro makes a bonkers guest appearance as a McPoyle, and there’s a two-part finale that really pushes the limits of just how rapey you can make Dennis (the answer is still very). 

Season 11 had some of my favorite material in years. “Charlie Catches a Leprechaun” is truly a feat of storytelling, with not only some inspired Charlie material, but great characterizations all around. And “Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs” is a too good dissection of their relationship that also throws a heavy dose of The Shining in to make things extra upsetting. Seriously, you could watch those two episodes alone and you’d still be getting more laughs there than from entire seasons of other shows. If nothing else though, the season has proven that this show still has plenty more stories to tell. With the Always Sunny gang under contract for several more seasons, we should be excited for the show’s future. 

– Daniel Kurland

12. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

In its second season, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was the best thing a comedy can possibly be: very, very funny. The 30-minute format on television is considered by default a comedy by the award shows but seems to be trending towards serialized dreamed territory with shows like Search Party and Transparent

Kimmy has its serialized, emotional-affection elements but at the end of the day it’s a comedy, pure and simple. Characters are larger than life and New York City is a bizarre funhouse where all the strangest people on Earth live and interact (ok, maybe that part is realistic) and creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock don’t let too many moments go by without an offbeat joke or two.

Season two starts a little slow but after a few episodes it’s back to it’s wild and irreverent self. Kimmy deals with the emotional fallout of her time in the bunker, meets a therapist (hey, it’s Tina Fey again!), gets a new job and learns what WiFi is. By the time the finale rolls around with Kimmy meeting her birth mother and Titus finding a new place just for him, the show firmly establishes itself as one of 2016’s funniest shows.

– Alec Bojalad

11. Jon Glaser Loves Gear (TruTV)

Anytime Jon Glaser heads up a project, it’s invariably the strangest and most inventive comedy of the season and Jon Glaser Loves Gear is no different. It’s arguably well-worn territory for Glaser as he plays an impossible jerk who pisses off and pushes away everyone around him (a la his Adult Swim show Delocated), but JGLG breaks comedic ground in other ways. Glaser is a master of parodying the reality TV format to create brilliant scripted television, but where Delocated had a clear narrative focus about a man and his family, JGLG is aping less obviously structured reality shows about things, shows more like American Chopper or Pawn Stars.

JGLG isostensibly about nothing more than Jon Glaser showing off his love for gear (which encompasses everything from sporting equipment to camping equipment to dog toys) but it actually ends up being a grand tragedy about the downfall of a man, not unlike Barry Lyndon or There Will Be Blood. In just this first season Jon was instrumental in a murder and there was one haunting episode that all took place inside his nightmare—and throughout it all the names and prices of the gear Jon was using continued to pop up onscreen. Insane.

– Joe Matar

10. Better Things (FX)

Better Things is a masterpiece. For fans of Louie, this Pamela Adlon-starring FX comedy is basically Louie through the eyes of a woman. The series, co-created by Adlon and Louis CK, follows single mother Sam as she navigates motherhood, relationships, and her acting career. 

There is a moment early on where Adlon’s character, Sam, attends her daughter’s woman empowerment meeting at school. When asked to speak, she gives a long monologue on women and young girls owning their womanhood and their periods. “Look, we’re all girls, and we’re all women and we all bleed and we all suffer. And then the bleeding stops and we still suffer. But you’re going to find your own path because we’re tough and we can take it.”

That moment marked the tone and trajectory for a series that would not shy away from important, and sometimes uncomfortable, issues.  

Better Things allows for the imperfect woman. More importantly, it allows for an imperfect mother. Sam is a woman who is trying to live and love and raise her daughters as happy strong independent women, which often makes her the enemy. Sam does everything for her children but can also just hate them sometimes or fuck up, and that’s okay too.  

This series deserves a long and vibrant future, and Adlon should be around always. 

– Daniella Bondar

9. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)

Now in its fourth season, some might accuse Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine of complacently coasting on a formulaic sea of gags and zany character quirks. Well, that’s partially true. After a clunky resolution to the season three cliffhanger that found Det. Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and Cpt. Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) hiding in the ass-end of Florida from a dangerous gangster, the returned status quo was given a bit a twist, initially leaving the show’s screwball cops stuck working the night shift at the behest of the absurdly inept Captain Stentley, played by Ken Marino, who, along with regular cast member Joe Lo Truglio, makes for a welcome mini reunion of the 90’s sketch comedy staple The State.

Admittedly, the show’s crucial plot waypoints are already crossed with things like the romance of Samberg’s Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), the impromptu fatherhood of the mawkish Charles Boyle (Lo Truglio), the monumentally messed-up relationship of Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) and the twitchy Adrian Pimento (Jason Mantzoukas) and the hilariously square domestic relationship of Holt (Braugher) and partner Kevin. Plus, Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) is still hulking and emotional while administrator Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti) is still lovably derisive. It’s all comfortably set on autopilot… and that’s fine.

Despite its occasional indulgences in larger storylines, Brooklyn Nine-Nine remains purely a sitcom. Like the great sitcoms of days past, this one has had time to settle its components into place, running a well-oiled comedy engine of tongue-in-cheek quips and stealth sarcasm smoothly as ever.  

– Joseph Baxter

8. South Park (Comedy Central)

This was South Park’s second serialized season, telling one continuous storyline over all ten of its episodes. I admired the drastic shake-up of the series’ format when they attempted the same thing in Season 19, but it didn’t entirely pan out; it took some odd contrivances to wrap up some of the plotlines and the climax wasn’t as satisfying as I’d hoped it would be. This season refines the formula and Trey and Matt deserve credit for just how incredibly good they’ve gotten at utilizing the structure of a Hollywood blockbuster. Season 20 plays out like a techno-action thriller (with gross-out gags) and I was genuinely eager to find out what was going to happen next. 

A criticism often leveled at South Park is how reductive it is in its treatment of societal issues, presenting everything as equally worthy of ridicule, but here Season 20 also demonstrates an evolution, being less dismissive and more considerate of how complicated the world is. For example, you might assume Trey and Matt would view online trolling as something not worth freaking out about, but, while they do poke fun at online drama to an extent, they also acknowledge its potential for real-world harm. (Final thought: this season gave Cartman a girlfriend and had him actually trying to be nice for a change and it was one of the best character arcs he’s ever had.)

– Joe Matar 

7. VEEP (HBO) 

VEEP should not have been this good in 2016. In its fifth season it is practically geriatric by premium cable comedy standard. That’s not even to mention that its original creator and showrunner, the brilliant Armando Iannuncci, decided to step aside and hand over the reigns to David Mandel. Then there’s the fact that what once started out as a satirical political comedy is now a sobering documentary of modern political dysfunction as Julia Louis Dreyfus pointed out in her Emmy acceptance speech.

Against all these odds, VEEP turned in what might be its best season yet in 2016. Part of this is, of course, how purely hilarious it is. This is the show that inspired our Jokes Per Minute obsession after all. But beyond that, season five has a wonderfully propulsive plot that doesn’t let up. President Selina Meyer (Dreyfus) is embroiled in a brutal re-election campaign where no one, not even her Vice Presidential nominee (Hugh Laurie) wants her to succeed. The levels of stress and political absurdity are so high that they can’t help but bring out the best in each character. And it all culminates in a deeply bizarre, deeply satisfying conclusion.

– Alec Bojalad

6. Silicon Valley (HBO)

Silicon Valley may be where the world’s smartest tech minds reside, but if you examine the bubble closely, the whole enterprise seems a bit silly. HBO’s hit comedy only fictionalizes the strange nature of it all. Creator Mike Judge has made a career pointing out absurdities, whether it’s poking fun at the excesses and self-seriousness of ‘90s era MTV and music videos (Beavis and Butthead), the inane bureaucracy of a corporate job (Office Space), or the slippery intellectual slope our country is heading down (Idiocracy). With Silicon Valley, Judge skewers the fickleness of the tech boom and the egos of inflated former geeks.

Season three of the series saw things get dark for most of the ensemble, even as the jokes became more hysterical than ever. Richard and his crew get their very own boss from hell and a taste for the unglamorous corporate side of software development. Meanwhile, Big Head and Erlich are served a major lesson in money management. Throw in some graphic horse fertilization, Jared’s inexplicable ability to score chicks, and the continued unraveling of Gavin Belson and you’ve got another memorable crop of episodes in HBO’s best comedy series (until Curb returns, of course).

– Nick Harley

5. The Eric Andre Show (Adult Swim) 

Of all the shows on this list, The Eric Andre Show leaves you the most susceptible to a YouTube binge. Eric Andre not only embodies the best of Adult Swim’s brand of alternative comedy, but he can grab your attention like no other performer can in an increasingly fractured media environment. Whether you watch a full episode, a clip of him getting his ass kicked by Sopranos star Steve Schirripa, or find Eric by GIF or Instagram, he’s made his impression on you in some completely manic, grotesque way. 

His late-night faux talk show was unhinged in its fourth season. At this point, it’s safe to assume most guests have an idea of what they’re walking in to when they agree to appear on the show. They responded by turning his set into a literal nightmare. Eric made guests squirm from the moment they sat down in his uncomfortable guest chair. Hannibal Buress, the “comedic relief,” threw guests off with his dry, aloof humor. And then you had surprise moments like when a zombie popped out of the floor to attack T.I. and basketball star Roy Hibbert had to grab a bat in self-defense when Eric destroyed his set in the nude for the 5,000th time. 

There are shows that took risks in 2016, and there’s Eric Andre, who claims he didn’t bathe, wear deodorant, comb his hair, or cut his finger nails, and put his body in the way of physical harm, all in the name of comedy. There’s no one individual in this medium more deserving to appear on this list. I say that for Eric Andre’s own safety, because who the fuck knows what he’d do in 2017 if he didn’t make it this year. 

– Chris Longo

4. BoJack Horseman (Netflix) 

BoJack Horseman is one of the funniest, most intelligent programs on the medium, but it’s also sad as hell at times. BoJack’s third season expands their universe by focusing on BoJack’s position in the Oscar race regarding his recent star-making role in “Secretariat,” but everyone’s relationships get complicated and enrichened throughout the season. This comedy has discussions about the things that other shows won’t. It’s kind of crazy that a show starring a talking horse is willing to go to these dark places.

Part of what makes BoJack Horseman so distinct is how it pushes its protagonist and what it can say about the human condition. Beyond that, season three also does a fantastic job at proving just how damn funny the show is, too. There’s a confidence in the storytelling and joke telling and some of the results—like the all-silent episode, “Fish Out of Water”—are a true explosion of creative talent.

– Daniel Kurland

3. Atlanta (FX) 

Atlanta is the anti-Empire. While the latter relishes in the extravagance and opulence of sitting atop the food chain in the music business, the former shows just how decidedly meager the lifestyles can be for rappers trying to make it in the industry. Atlanta feels like the magnum opus of creator and star Donald Glover, who knows a thing or two about making it as a rapper. Though for the sake of this article we’ve classified it as a comedy, it feels unfair to pigeon hole the series into one genre.

Glover stars as Earnest Marks, a smart, but underachieving new father who believes he can steer his cousin Alfred Miles’ (Brian Tyree Henry), aka Paper Boi’s, rap career to success for the both of them. Stuck between the realities of the ATL’s streets and the glass ceiling of the music industry, Atlanta plays on the surreal nature of everyday situations like trying to pay for a date when you’re flat broke, or being noticed by neighbors for your music while you’re still living modestly. The series is intelligent, moving, and most of all, frequently funny, helping it become one of the best new series of 2016.

– Nick Harley

2. Search Party (TBS) (Best New Comedy Series) 

Search Party for me was the second television show of 2016 (Stranger Things was the other) where it felt like an instant cult classic was glossing over my eyes just halfway through season one. Whereas the culmination of Netflix’s nostalgia-driven horror-mystery was a slight let down, Search Party completed the most air-tight first season of any show in recent memory. 

The Brooklyn-set dark comedy from creators Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, and Michael Showalter follows Dory (Alia Shaukat of Arrested Development fame), an aimless twenty-something consumed with finding a former college classmate after she mysteriously vanishes. Dory ropes her boyfriend Drew (John Reynolds) and friends Elliot (John Early) and Portia (Meredith Hagner) into a series of twists, dead-ends, and a shocking payoff.

TBS made the wise decision to release all the episodes at once. The binge-friendly format all the more highlights the lean direction of Violet-Bliss, Rogers, and Ryan McFaul and their ability to weave an engaging thriller around four personalities that jump through the screen. Search Party is a show that constantly brings up tough questions in life, love, and self-worth. Based on where television is heading, Search Party is this year’s best new comedy because it rebuttals with clever, yet complex answers, finding fun ways to goof on millennials and say something serious about them, too. 

– Chris Longo

1. Documentary Now! (IFC)

In a year where we had far more than the 36 named comedies worthy of this best-of list, I don’t see it as a shock that a niche series like Documentary Now! takes the grand prize. IFC’s documentary parody series went from an honorable mention in 2015 to the mountain top in 2016, and that’s a clear sign that we’re demanding more of our comedies than ever before. 

Each self-contained parody is equal parts style and substance. Directors Rhys Thomas and Alex Buono are the true engine behind the series, solidifying the look and feel of each installment with an attention to detail that should make every great documentary filmmaker proud. There’s an unmatched wit in the show’s writing, from John Mulaney’s nearly shot-for-shot ribbing of the political doc The War Room,to the liberties Seth Meyers took in cooking up his chicken and rice version of Jiro Dreams of Sushi

It would all be for nothing if not for Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, who anchor these larger-than-life parodies that are simply the best possible evolution of all their great character work on Saturday Night Live. Hader in particular shines as he bookends the season with his James Carville impression in “The Bunker” and his memorable take on the life of Hollywood executive Robert Evans in “Mr. Runner Up: My Life as an Oscar Bridesmaid,” a play on the documentary The Kid Stays in The Picture. Part of the fun of Documentary Now! is everyone finds a different entry they connect with. Bill Hader’s endless, free-associating monologue in “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything” stood above the rest for me, proving that Doc Now could be as laugh-out-loud funny as it is sophisticated satire. 

Documentary Now! pulls the upset in the year of the underdog, but you should have seen it coming. As Bill Hader’s Teddy Redbones said, in tears, during his victory speech: “We changed the way that election narratives are hijacked.” Flawless. 

– Chris Longo


Comedy tv shows 2016

2016 Was the Year Comedy Was the Best Drama

When you think of half-hour comedies, most likely you're thinking of: clichéd sitcom situations; the set-up/punchline formula; and of course a laugh track (in case your sense of humor needs a little direction).

But in 2016, sometimes the best "comedies" didn't even elicit a laugh. In many of the best comedies of the year, jokes felt almost perfunctory, as stories and points of view took center stage over non-stop gags. This has been a trend of comedies in recent years, but 2016 saw it become the norm in almost every half-hour; at least the ones higher up on your cable guide and streaming online, though frequently on network television, too.

Many sitcoms returned with their emphasis on serialization and important messages. HBO's Silicon Valleycontinued its nail-biting high-pressure story of fumbling through the tech industry, CBS' Mom handled addiction issues as well as any drama, and ABC's Black-ish was arguably the most socially conscious show of the year.

One of the best network comedy episodes of the year was Black-ish's "Hope," which was 30 minutes of insightful conversation about police brutality against unarmed black youths, told from the point of view of an African-American family. It's an episode I remember well for how it made me think, but I can't recall laughing once or even if there was a single joke in it.

That's part of the power of comedy nowadays; it doesn't have to always be light, and can be as important to the social conversation as the most serious of dramas. Conversely, when comedies choose to go heavier, there's an ingrained sense of lightness to it which helps gets its message across. If Game of Thrones or The Walking Deadwants to comment on an important topic, you can bet it'll be a difficult, grim hour.

New series in 2016 picked up on the changing comedy landscape. FX's Atlanta brought in creator and star Donald Glover's fresh point of view for one of the year's best series. The network also gave us Better Things, which crashed the white-guy auteur party with a series showing us what it's like to be a working single mom.

The heavier themes continued with Netflix's brilliant and kooky Lady Dynamite, Maria Bamford's manic look at her own battle with mental illness; Amazon's Fleabag, an unapologetic British import tackling sexuality (and the mistakes that come with it) from a woman's point of view; HBO's Insecure, which explored the "black female experience"; and Seeso's Flowers, a dreary and odd English sitcom about a dysfunctional family dealing with suicide, divorce and other subjects usually reserved for hourlongs. This was a banner year for perspectives in comedy, for all colors, sexes and situations.

And when things in comedy weren't serious, they were serialized -- another TV characteristic formerly reserved for dramas. Comedy used to press the reset button after every episode for easy viewing of reruns and to make extra cash from syndication sales. But with the emergence of streaming -- which is better suited for quick consumption of comedy than any other genre -- season-long stories of comical drama are becoming the norm.

FX's Baskets became one of the best shows on TV not just for Zach Galifianakis' Chip Baskets knocking over a pyramid of champagne glasses, but for his heartbreaking relationship with his mother Christine (Louie Anderson) and twin brother Dale (Galifianakis). NBC's The Good Place gave us the most imaginative network comedy in maybe forever, but it's impossible to drop into midway through because of its riveting, season-long story. And TBS, which had an incredible year of rejuvenation built on the backbone of cable-level comedy, delivered Search Party and People of Earth, two shows notable for their gradual storytelling rather than goofy antics.

True, 2016 also gave us classic style comedies like CBS' Kevin Can Wait; but as we continue to try to classify everything into tidy categories, the definition of "comedy" is becoming more amorphous. It's not a crime against nomenclature: it's the evolution of a genre that's changing as our viewing habits change, and as television becomes more than simply a diversion.

We're witnessing comedy's change into its final form, and it's never been better.

Top 10 Comedy TV Series of the 2000s

44'Ted Lasso'

Original run: 2020-Present

Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Phil Dunster, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed, and Juno Temple

Why it makes the list: Hello, have you seen these pics of Jason Sudeikis? Aside from that, Sudeikis masters his character as an American head coach of an English soccer team.


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Original run: 2019-Present

Starring: Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle

Why it makes the list: Erskine and Konkle's characters hilariously depict what it was like to be a middle schooler in the 2000s, including all of the cringeworthy moments like first kisses and awkward crushes.


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42'New Girl'

Original run: 2011-2018

Starring: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Damon Wayans Jr., Lamorne Morris, and Hannah Simone

Why it makes the list: One word: Schmidt. If you've never laughed out loud at a show before, New Girl will change that with its incredible one-liners from an array of lovable characters.


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41'The King of Queens'

Original run: 1998-2007

Starring: Kevin James, Leah Remini, Lisa Rieffel, Patton Oswalt, Larry Romano, Victor Williams, Jerry Stiller, Nicole Sullivan, and Gary Valentine

Why it makes the list: Raise your hand if you watched this with your dad when you were younger who cackled significantly every episode. *Raises hand.* The main character is a UPS dude and his wife has a short temper. That's really all you need to know!


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40'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'

Original run: 2015-2019

Starring: Rachel Bloom, Vincent Rodriguez III, Santino Fontana, Donna Lynne Champlin, Pete Gardner, Vella Lovell, Gabrielle Ruiz, David Hull, Scott Michael Foster, and Skylar Astin.

Why it makes the list: This CW musical comedy used humor (and catchy AF songs) to bring attention to issues like mental health, addiction and recovery, bi-erasure, and more.


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39'You're the Worst'

Original run: 2014-2019

Starring: Chris Geere, Aya Cash, Desmin Borges, and Kether Donohue.

Why it makes the list: Sometimes being the worst can actually be kind of the best. This show, about two selfish, self-destructive humans trying to navigate a relationship is hilarious and wonderful in all the right ways.


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38'Dear White People'

Original run: 2017-present

Starring: Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, DeRon Horton, Antoinette Robertson, John Patrick Amedori, Ashley Blaine Featherson, Marque Richardson, DJ Blickenstaff, and Giancarlo Esposito.

Why it makes the list: This Netflix comedy tackles issues of race and privilege through the stories of college students studying at a fictional Ivy League university.


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Original run: 1993-2004

Starring: Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin, and John Mahoney.

Why it makes the list: Like so many sitcoms from the '90s and early '00s, there's just something kind of comforting and simple about Frasier. Plus, Eddie the dog is one of the greatest actors of the 20th century—fact.


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36'Never Have I Ever'

Original run: 2020-present

Starring: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Jaren Lewison, Darren Barnet, and John McEnroe.

Why it makes the list: This coming-of-age comedy created by Mindy Kaling is hilarious and heartfelt and has been praised for challenging Asian stereotypes.


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35'Malcolm in the Middle'

Original run: 2000-2006

Starring: Frankie Muniz, Jane Kaczmarek, Bryan Cranston,Christopher Kennedy Masterson, Justin Berfield, Erik Per Sullivan, and Catherine Lloyd Burns.

Why it makes the list: This show defined the early-aughts family comedy and its fourth wall-breaking style was a welcome break from the usual mainstream comedies of the time.


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Original run: 2005-2007

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ashley Jensen, Stephen Merchant, Shaun Williamson, and Shaun Pye.

Why it makes the list: Ricky Gervais will definitely forever be remembered for The Office, but his brief series Extras deserves recognition too. The show follows an aspiring actor who's struggling as an extra as his career begins to take off. The real genius comedy comes courtesy of the guest stars though, as A-list stars like Kate Winslet, Orlando Bloom, and Patrick Stewart play bizarre fictional versions of themselves.


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33'Monty Python's Flying Circus'

Original run: 1969-1974

Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam.

Why it makes the list: From the comedic minds that brought us movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life, this BBC sketch series shaped a generation of comedy. In fact, the comedy troupe's humor was so groundbreaking that fans and critics coined a new term—"Pythonesque"—to describe it and projects and comedians influenced by it.


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32'Just Shoot Me!'

Original run: 1997-2003

Starring: Laura San Giacomo, George Segal, Wendie Malick, Enrico Colantoni, David Spade, Chris Hogan, and Rena Sofer.

Why it makes the list: If you're of a certain age, Just Shoot Me! was one of those shows you watched in the afternoon on TBS when you were supposed to be doing your homework and it's now ingrained in your brain as a happy place. That happy place is now accessible via Hulu and this show holds up more than you would probably have expected.


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31'Happy Endings'

Original run: 2011-2013

Starring: Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans Jr., and Casey Wilson.

Why it makes the list: File this one away under the "gone too soon" category, for sure. This short-lived Chicago-set sitcom was the victim of a changing schedule that made it hard for it to find an audience, but we dare you not to binge the entire series in a week once you start streaming. The comedy is smart, character-driven, and genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious.


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Original run: 2009-2015

Starring: Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong, Chevy Chase, and Jim Rash.

Why it makes the list: Communitydeveloped a cult fanbase thanks to its smart, meta humor and creative event episodes. Fans have long called for six seasons and a movie, so we'll keep our fingers crossed for a feature-length reunion down the line.


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29'Fresh Off the Boat'

Original run: 2015-2020

Starring: Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Ian Chen, Lucille Soong, Chelsey Crisp, and Ray Wise.

Why it makes the list: The show follows an Asian-American family and it's the first show to do so since 1994 (which is just bonkers on its own). Jessica Huang is amazing. She's the TV character we need, not the one we deserve.


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28'Sex and the City'

Original run: 1998-2001

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon.

Why it makes the list: Saying which of the show's characters you identify with most is still shorthand for explaining what kind of a person you are.


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27'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'

Original run: 2013-present

Starring: Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti, Andre Braugher, Dirk Blocker, and Joel McKinnon Miller.

Why it makes the list: Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of those shows that starts out funny and quickly escalates to hilarious as you get to know the characters and their quirks. Never has crime-solving been so fun.


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26'Curb Your Enthusiasm'

Original run: 2000-present

Starring: Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, Susie Essman, and J. B. Smoove.

Why it makes the list: The show's plots are outlined, but the actors improvise much of the dialogue. The result is a totally unique comedy series.


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25'South Park'

Original run: 1997-present


Why it makes the list: When it comes to biting, razor-sharp social commentary satire, it's hard to find a team who does it better than South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.


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24'Broad City'

Original run: 2014-2019

Starring: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer

Why it makes the list: If anyone ever claims that women aren't funny in your presence, just show them a clip from Broad City and that will be the end of that nonsense.


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23'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'

Original run: 1990-1996

Starring: Will Smith, James Avery, Janet Hubert, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid, and Ross Bagley.

Why it makes the list: Admit it: The Fresh Prince theme song and images of the Carlton dance are already playing on a loop in your head at the very mention of this show. That's how you know it's iconic.


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22'Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23'

Original run: 2012-2013

Starring: Krysten Ritter, Dreama Walker, Liza Lapira, Michael Blaiklock, Eric Andre, James Van Der Beek, and Ray Ford.

Why it makes the list: Krysten Ritter is at her comedic best as conniving It Girl/grifter Chloe and James Van Der Beek's performance as a fictional, self-obsessed version of himself deserved all the Emmy awards.


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21'Silicon Valley'

Original run: 2014-2019

Starring: Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Josh Brener, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Christopher Evan Welch, Amanda Crew, Zach Woods, Matt Ross, Suzanne Cryer. Jimmy O. Yang, Stephen Tobolowsky, and Chris Diamantopoulos.

Why it makes the list: This comedy from Office Space scribe Mike Judge is the perfect skewering of tech culture in Silicon Valley—and it gets major bonus points for catapulting Kumail Nanjiani into the mainstream, of course.


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20'The IT Crowd'

Original run: 2006-2010 (plus a 2013 special)

Starring: Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkinson, and Matt Berry.

Why it makes the list: While we're on the subject of TV's great, computer-loving nerds, we have to mention The IT Crowd. Yes, that's IT as in information technology. The British comedy, which aired originally on Channel 4, doesn't have a lot episodes (just 25 total, including the 2013 special that wrapped up the series), but each one is gold. The series focuses on the basement-bound, IT department at a big corporation, computer experts Roy and Moss, and their technologically-illiterate manager, Jen.


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19'Schitt's Creek'

Original run: 2015-2020

Starring: Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Dan Levy, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Jenn Robertson, Chris Elliott, Tim Rozon, Sarah Levy, Dustin Milligan, Noah Reid, Karen Robinson, and John Hemphill.

Why it makes the list: The show follows the formerly-wealthy Rose family as they try to start their lives over in the small town of Schitt's Creek—and executes some perfect commentary on wealth and privilege in America in the process.


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18'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'

Original run: 2005-present

Starring: Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, and Danny DeVito.

Why it makes the list: This underdog sitcom has proven its staying power as one of the longest-running series in TV history. And, if you like shows about terrible people being consistently terrible, you won't find a show that does that better than It's Always Sunny.


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Original run: 2016-present

Starring: Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield, and Zazie Beetz.

Why it makes the list: Yes, Atlanta mixes in more drama with its comedy than a lot of the entries on this list, but the show's heart is a lot of what makes it magic.


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Original run: 2012-2019

Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh, Sufe Bradshaw, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole, and Sam Richardson.

Why it makes the list: Because Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a comic genius and a national treasure.


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15'The Simpsons'

Original run: 1989-present

Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer.

Why it makes the list: This animated series is the longest-running in sitcom in history, which has to count for something. Recently, fans have started to challenge some of the more dated jokes and characters on the series, and how the producers respond will likely determine the series' ultimate place in TV history.


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14'The Golden Girls'

Original run: 1985-1992

Starring: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty.

Why it makes the list: These woman are still who we want to be when we grow up.


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Original run: 1982-1993

Starring: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Nicholas Colasanto, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger, Kelsey Grammer, Woody Harrelson, Bebe Neuwirth, and Kirstie Alley.

Why it makes the list: Who doesn't want to go where everybody knows your name? It's a classic.


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Original run: 2014-present

Starring: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin, Jeff Meacham, Jenifer Lewis, Deon Cole, and Peter Mackenzie.

Why it makes the list: The show features an incredible ensemble cast and manages to balance all-out hilarity with tackling important social and cultural issues.


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11'30 Rock'

Original run: 2006-2013

Starring: Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander, and Alec Baldwin.

Why it makes the list: The cast is incredible. They made even the weirdest, most off-the-wall plots work, and pushed the envelope with jokes aimed at entertainment industry insiders.


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10'The Office'

Original run: 2005-2013

Starring: Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B. J. Novak, Ed Helms, James Spader, Melora Hardin, David Denman, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Kate Flannery, Angela Kinsey, Oscar Nunez, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein, Creed Bratton, Craig Robinson, Ellie Kemper, Zach Woods, Amy Ryan, Catherine Tate, Clark Duke, and Jake Lacy.

Why it makes the list: Mostly for the pranks between Jim and Dwight. And the one-liners. And the funny-because-it's-true commentary on soul-sucking work.


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9'Modern Family'

Original run: 2009-2020

Starring: Ed O'Neill, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, and Jeremy Maguire.

Why it makes the list: The ensemble is strong. The jokes are smart and laugh-out-loud funny. It's won a mountain of Emmys and it deserves them.


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8'Arrested Development'

Original run: 2003-2006

Revival run: 2013-present.

Starring: Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jessica Walter.

Why it makes the list: The show redefined the idea of a dysfunctional family comedy and is, to this day, one of the best ensemble shows out there.


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Original run: 1989-1998

Starring: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, and Jason Alexander.

Why it makes the list: Seinfeld regularly places high on lists of the best TV shows of all time. The "show about nothing" changed the game for sitcoms and paved the way for character-driven (rather than premise-driven) series.


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Original run: 2015-2021

Starring: Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji, Jay Ellis, Lisa Joyce, Natasha Rothwell, Amanda Seales, Y'lan Noel, Alexander Hodge, and Kendrick Sampson

Why it makes the list: Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji's characters get real about all of the insecure moments their characters have as Black women in the best, funniest way.


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Original run: 1994-2004

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer.

Why it makes the list: It shaped a generation of viewers and perfectly captured that weird time in your twenties when your friends are your family. It's also required viewing for millennials who want to understand weird references made by the rest of their generation.


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4'The Good Place'

Original run: 2016-2020

Starring: Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D'Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto, and Ted Danson.

Why it makes the list: First of all, no show will make you think more about ethics, morality, and mortality. None. Watching it is like taking a college-level philosophy class that's actually fun. Second, the completely serialized show manages to blow up its own premise time and again and keep going (and, more impressively, getting better).


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3'Parks and Recreation'

Original run: 2009-2015

Starring: Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Paul Schneider, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Jim O'Heir, Retta, and Billy Eichner.

Why it makes the list: It's smart. It's hilarious. It's satirical. It's ridiculous. It's heart-warming. It's everything you could want from a series and then some. Plus, Leslie Knope is a feminist icon in her own right.


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2'Saturday Night Live'

Original run: 1975-present

Starring: So. So. SO many people over the years.

Why it makes the list: SNL has good years and less good years. Sometimes the cast and the writers just click and the result is comedy gold. Over the years, SNL has produced some of the most biting political satire around and launched the careers of some of the biggest comedians in the world.


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1'I Love Lucy'

Original run: 1951-1957

Starring: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley.

Why it makes the list: Without I Love Lucy, we wouldn't have the sitcom as we know it today. The show has also aged incredibly well—it is just as hilarious today as it was in the 1950s, which is really saying something.

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We ate in silence, each zealously busy with his meal. When the king was full, he called out to me, and I realized that it was time to talk. Ignore my sons words.

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