The 80 Best TV Comedies of All Time

[Editor’s note: The below article was originally published on March 27, 2020. It has been expanded from the 50 greatest TV comedies of all time to 80, as of June 26, 2024.]

Comedy rules are made to be broken. If all laughter comes from some great psychological misdirect, then it follows that the funniest series are the ones that continue to take the unexpected routes. Some of the greatest comedies in contemporary television are arguably not comedies at all, but find moments of levity between nonstop tension and heartbreaking drama. FX’s “The Bear,” now premiering a third season, has fans and Emmy voters begging for the high-octane stress of a Chicago kitchen and clinging to the hope that any scene will end in laughter instead of tears (or an accidental stabbing).

More from IndieWire

Sometimes a comedy is memorable because of the rules that it inadvertently puts in place. Some foundational TV series have endured not because they were ratings or cultural juggernauts in their time, but because their spiritual descendants dotted programming lineups years — maybe even decades — after their cameras stopped rolling. As in other realms of entertainment, the TV comedies that endure and that are worth revisiting manage to speak to something brewing in their day and the audiences watching generations after. Sometimes it’s a matter of seeing how much the idea of good governance has changed since some starry-eyed optimists in Indiana closed up shop. Other times, it’s recognizing how a quartet of thankful friends in Miami are still providing comfort for viewers the same age as their great-grandchildren.

Of course, the platonic ideal of a TV comedy has changed over that time, too. The three-jokes-per-page maxim became gospel… and was then summarily tossed out the window as shows found more ways to be cathartic than a parade of laughs. There are the clever shows, the witty and the dry, the outrageous and the provocative, the ones that lean on your knowledge of all those others while delivering references with a wink and a nod.

So, in an effort to gather that unpredictable cross-section of over a half-century of TV comedies, we’ve tried to form our picks for the 80 greatest. We’ve tried our best to combat recency bias, while acknowledging that the explosion in quality TV of late has made it impossible to ignore that some all-time work is still unfolding in front of our eyes. The order of the list has also been retooled over time, reflecting shows that were not yet on the air or incomplete when we first compiled it. Those developments also extend into the world beyond the fictional ones, where once-vaunted series have become irreparably tainted by the conduct of their stars and creators. (You can guess which ones those are by their omission in the collection below.)

Given IndieWire’s existing list of Best Animated Series, as well as our regularly updated coverage of what elusive international shows are (legally) available, this list only consists of live-action, scripted comedies. No animation, international, or sketch/variety series are included. That being said, IndieWire understands animation is a medium, not a genre, so please do not take this exception as anything more than an attempt to preserve our sanity in culling thousands of contending shows. After all, even with those options eliminated, there’s still a shocking number of possibilities to choose from. (The IndieWire staff has considered hundreds of programs and determines finalists through a recurring series of votes.) At this point in TV history, 80 might be a representative sum, but it’s far from comprehensive. Still, it’s worth saluting the following shows, that range from the spectacular to the magnificent.

Libby Hill, Proma Khosla, Kristen Lopez, Liz Shannon Miller, Noel Murray, Hanh Nguyen, and Tambay Obenson also contributed to this list.

80. “The Bear” (FX, 2022 – present)

“THE BEAR” — “Sundae” — Season 2, Episode 3 (Airs Thursday, June 22nd) Pictured: (l-r) Ayo Ebebiri as Sydney Adamu, Jeremy Allen White as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto. CR: Chuck Hodes/FX.
‘The Bear’Chuck Hodes

Though its comedy classification may be debated (see also: “Barry”), Christopher Storer and Joanna Calo’s high-octane kitchen thriller (what a phrase!) is certainly an unforgettable entrée — um, entry — in the annals of the half-hour TV series. Jeremy Allen White plays Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, a supremely talented chef back home in Chicago to run his late brother’s restaurant. With the help of a boisterous and memorable team, sister Natalie (Abby Elliot), “cousin” Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), and newcomer Sydney (Ayo Edibiri), Carmy’s life and career aren’t exactly easier, but he’s got good company for a turbulent ride. —PK

79. “New Girl” (Fox, 2011 – 2018)

NEW GIRL, l-r: Jake Johnson, Zooey Deschanel, Brooklyn Decker, Max Greenfield, Brenda Song in 'Cooler'
‘New Girl’Patrick McElhenney/©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Elizabeth Meriweather’s “adorkable” comedy was marketed on star Zooey Deschanel’s manic pixie dream girl energy, but from the very start it was so much more than a cute girl moving in with a group of men. “New Girl” found warmth, humor, and depth in every single character, and while it stood by Jess (Deschanel) and best friend Cece (Hannah Simone), it also made space for new masculinity in the sitcom world through Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Winston (Lamorne Morris), and Coach (Damon Wayans, Jr.). From unforgettable gags like True American to endlessly quotable dialogue and delivery to an all-time will-they/won’t-they and kiss heard through space and time, “New Girl” is a spectacular evolution of “Cheers,” “Friends,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and the hallowed tradition of friends figuring life out together. —PK

Corporate TV show best comedy series
“Corporate”Courtesy of Comedy Central

78. “Corporate” (Comedy Central, 2018-20)

“Corporate” is the best-case scenario for a show that feels like a fever dream. Writers and creators Pat Bishop, Matt Ingebretson, and Jake Weisman were able to build a three-season long protest against the manipulations of capitalism, all without the show itself feeling like a commodity. It transformed office life drudgery — namely the exploits of cubicle-mates Matt (Ingebretson) and Jake (Weisman) — into jumping-off points for wild genre experiments. Some of those came on the backs of hopeless crushes or petty grudges. To move from small-scale office gossip to the geopolitical consequences of a massive mega-conglomerate was a trick that “Corporate” pulled off unnervingly well. And a crafty ensemble, led by a never-better Lance Reddick, made sure that the show never got bored even if Matt and Jake did. In a weird way, “Corporate” is kind of a period piece now, a perfect time capsule of a work structure that was collapsing even faster than the show’s creative team could have guessed. —SG

Read More: ‘Corporate’: Lessons on Finishing a TV Comedy as the World Collapses

Casual best tv comedies Hulu series
“Casual”Courtesy of Greg Lewis / Hulu

77. “Casual” (Hulu, 2015-18)

There’s not really a plot synopsis that can capture what’s great about “Casual.” Yes, there’s the cross-generational looks at complicated romances. But what made this an early Hulu series standard-bearer is that it understood its characters deeply. There was a confidence that it was worth it to hang out with Valerie (Michaela Watkins), Alex (Tommy Dewey), and Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) through bad dates and messy breakups and the rays of sunlight in between. It would have been easy for a malaise to set in as it sometimes does for shows built around very specific LA problems. As the show evolved, though, it became less about one family slouching through life’s doldrums and more about the people you choose to accept into your life, for however long that happens. —SG

Read More: How Hulu’s Overlooked Gem Became Timeless in a Transformative Final Season

American Vandal Netflix best tv comedies ever
“American Vandal”Tyler Golden / Netflix

76. “American Vandal” (Netflix, 2017-18)

With Netflix cranking out true-crime documentaries at an unprecedented rate, it was only a matter of time until the streaming service catering to everyone and everything would satirize its own subscribers’ favored genre. But no one could’ve expected such a comedy to be this good. Created by Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda, “American Vandal” is at-once a low-brow laugh riot and a high-brow dissection of a particular filmmaking style. Season 1 asks a simple, now-iconic question — “Who drew the dicks?” — but pursues answers with a disproportionate intensity and structure that keeps the investigation compulsive, even when it’s calling attention to its own machinations. With a boost from a pitch-perfect Jimmy Tatro, Season 1 set a seemingly unreachable standard. Yet Season 2 lives up to its predecessor, pushing into even more complex territory as Perrault and Yacenda push themselves to cover fresh ground. It’s just a shame “American Vandal” had to end there, long before the true-crime grind slowed down. There’s plenty more to parody, and these creators clearly have plenty more to give. —BT

Read More: How Two Guys Combined ‘Making a Murderer’ and ‘Freaks and Geeks’ to Get One of 2017’s Best Comedies

Will and Grace best tv comedies
“Will and Grace”Courtesy of Chris Haston / NBC

75. “Will & Grace” (NBC, 1998-2006, 2017-20)

Winner of 18 Emmy Awards, nominated for 83, and with memorabilia from the series featured at the Smithsonian, it’s hard to overstate “Will & Grace’s” impact on American culture, queer culture, and the culture at large. (Heck, even its 2017 revival sparked copycats.) Set in New York, the NBC sitcom (shot in front of a live studio audience) follows best friends Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing), a lawyer and interior designer (respectively) who may be the loves of each other’s lives but are still on the hunt for a comparable romantic partner. Their friends Jack (Sean Hayes), a sporadically successful actor, and Karen (Megan Mullally), a wicked socialite who spends her days as Grace’s “assistant,” join the central couple on their journey through life, along with a staggering list of guest stars including Gene Wilder, Molly Shannon, Woody Harrelson, David Schwimmer, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Bacon, Blythe Danner, Alan Arkin, Geena Davis, Janet Jackson, Bobby Cannavale, Wanda Sykes, Matt Bomer, Patrick Dempsey, Michael Douglas, and Matt Damon — not to mention recurring favorites in Leslie Jordan and Minnie Driver. “Will & Grace” will always be remembered for breaking barriers, but it also stood out by fitting in: This was a classic sitcom, through and through, that delivered big laughs week after week, on a ‘90s era broadcast schedule, and with top-tier talent (like James Burrows directing all 246 episodes) behind the scenes. All comedies should be so lucky. —BT

GLOW Netflix best comedy series Alison Brie Betty Gilpin
Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin in “GLOW”Courtesy of Ali Goldstein / Netflix

74. “GLOW” (Netflix, 2017-19)

Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch’s Netflix original series about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling had no business being as sharp, funny, and eminently entertaining as it was — and for that we can all be thankful. Set in Southern California in the 1980s, the half-hour comedy puts an undeniably layered and feminist lens on female wrestling with its multifaceted cast and storylines. Alison Brie stars as Ruth, a struggling actress who takes issue with GLOW’s treatment of women as originally conceived by a man (Marc Maron). The job tests her, not least because of her acerbic boss but also because GLOW’s star is Debbie Egan (Betty Gilpin), Ruth’s ex-best friend whose husband she slept with. Clashing personalities make for tension behind the scenes and sparks in front of the audience, bonding the women of GLOW together whether they like it or not. —PK

Read More: Saying Goodbye to ‘GLOW,’ Which Was Always Worth the Wait

SUPERSTORE Best Comedy Series ever Ben Feldman America Ferrera NBC
“Superstore”Courtesy of Greg Gayne / NBC

73. “Superstore” (NBC, 2015-2021)

NBC once again struck workplace comedy gold with Justin Spitzer’s long-running series about employees in a Walmart-esque megastore in the suburbs of St. Louis. Most of “Superstore” takes place inside the walls of Cloud Nine, where employee relations, eccentric customers, and squabbles with corporate headquarters provide endless fodder for comedy and catastrophe (often intertwined). The show delivers an immensely satisfying slow-burn romance with the laboriously woke Jonah (Ben Feldman) and no-nonsense working mom Amy (America Ferrera), as well as skillful storylines about sexual harassment, labor disputes, immigration, and more. Cloud Nine is filled with endearing, memorable characters, from the imperious Mateo (Nico Santos) to lackadaisical Garrett (Colton Dunn) to domineering Dina (Lauren Ash) to bumbling manager Glenn, giving it the instant feel of comfort TV, but with the added bite of a show about the working class, for the working class. —PK

Read More: ‘Superstore’ Ends as an Exceptional Office Comedy About What Makes America Work

72. “PEN15” (Hulu, 2019-21)

PEN15 Hulu series best comedy shows
Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle in “PEN15”Courtesy of Hulu

A cringe-comedy with a healthy dose of horror, “PEN15” takes viewers back to the most cursed time of all: middle school. Creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle star as 13-year-old versions of themselves going through preteen hell in the early 2000s — surrounded by actual preteen costars, which dials the awkwardness up to the max. Anna and Maya navigate friendship, hormones, peer pressure, and home life with naïve confusion, but also childlike warmth. The whole show aches with what makes that era so difficult to revisit — the yearning of its characters to be older and cooler while they don’t realize they have the rest of their lives to grow up. “PEN15” only got two seasons, but it was enough to leave a lasting (scarring?) impression on targeted millennial viewers, and to wrap up with a gut-wrenching finale about formative friendship as the truest form of love. —PK

Read More: The Final Episodes of ‘PEN15’ Provide a Beautiful Ending — and Help Explain Why It’s Time To Go

71. “Everybody Loves Raymond” (CBS, 1996-2005)

Everybody Loves Raymond CBS Ray Romano best comedy series ever
“Everybody Loves Raymond”Courtesy of Gale M. Adler / CBS

Ostensibly, “Everybody Loves Raymond” embodies many of the sitcom stereotypes that tend to turn off more modern audiences. The CBS comedy follows a working husband and stay-at-home wife, the former of whom avoids any domestic responsibilities and the latter of which is often reduced to nagging him about helping out. Add in a mother-in-law who constantly gives her daughter-in-law a hard time and a father-in-law who won’t stop talking about the war, and you’re well on your way to a Cliched American Family bingo win. But like so many great mainstream comedies, “Everybody Loves Raymond” knew how to infuse specificity — of humor, of character — into accessible situations. Ray (played by Ray Romano, who served as co-creator with Phil Rosenthal) may have been a sports writer by day, but comedy was his trade; the character’s dry wit paired with a refusal to take anything seriously elevated everyday scenarios to gut-busting extremes. Debra (Patricia Heaton) and Ray’s mom, Marie (Doris Roberts) developed a comic rapport built on attack and defense. Frank (Peter Boyle) knew just when to time his zingers, and Robert (Brad Garrett) proved an empathetic wild card, often softening any sharp-tongued misunderstandings with his deft sense of humor. Together, they formed an impeccable ensemble built on timeless jokes (OK, mostly timeless jokes), but an anthropological ‘90s family unit — a group that personified the best (and, sometimes, the worst) of the era’s white middle-class suburban life. Watch it to remember, watch it for fun, but do watch it — “Everybody Loves Raymond” knows what it’s doing. —BT

70. “Detroiters” (Comedy Central, 2017-18)

Detroiters Tim Robinson Sam Richardson best comedy series
Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson in “Detroiters”Courtesy of Comedy Central

“Detroiters” might be the purest depiction of friendship from any TV show of the last decade. Over two seasons, Tim Cramblin (Tim Robinson) and Sam Duvet (Sam Richardson) poured every last bit of goofiness and heart into their Detroit-area ad business. They helped sell wigs and tried to use local stars to help make new ones. They embraced the weirdness of their families. They gave Mort Crim the spotlight in an instant all-timer. At the end of the day, they were best buds who were never further away than the window next door. It wasn’t the first time Robinson and Richardson made magic together and it thankfully wasn’t the last. For the purest combination of sweetness and id that this pairing can offer up, look no further than this show that, in a just and righteous world, would have lasted far longer than 20 episodes. —SG

Read More: Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson on Ending ‘Detroiters’ — Yup, They’re Ticked Off, Too

69. “Catastrophe” (Prime Video, 2015-19)

Catastrophe Rob Delaney Sharon Horgan best comedy series
Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan in “Catastrophe”Courtesy of Ed Miller / Prime Video

When “Catastrophe” arrived in 2015, most comedies came laced with either arsenic or sugar. Combining the two wasn’t a novel concept, but Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney landed on a spirit that switched from one to the other with ease. Whether in Rob or Sharon’s early semi-romance or the marriage that would eventually bloom from a messy one-night stand, the sweet and the nasty found a way to coexist. Because the characters had a frankness with each other, big-picture ideas of parenthood or love or commitment became less precious. That matter-of-fact approach to talking about secret hatreds or dating taboos or the weird things that bodies do all made the show richer and stronger. Having Delaney and Horgan as world-class joke writers made for a show that was hilarious enough to change its own formula with each passing season. It wielded its situational humor like a knife, always knowing exactly how and where to cut. —SG

Read More: Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan on Depicting a Type of Alcoholism Rarely Seen on TV

68. “The Honeymooners” (1955-56)

THE HONEYMOONERS, Art Carney, Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, 'Head of the House', (Season 2, aired March 31, 1956), 1955-56
“The Honeymooners”Courtesy Everett Collection

Throughout Jackie Gleason’s long run as a star and producer of TV variety shows, he relied on a few recurring characters — including an irascible New York City bus driver named Ralph Kramden, in a sketch called “The Honeymooners.” The cornerstone of the Gleason legacy is the 39 half-hour “Honeymooners” episodes he shot on film, which have aired in syndication continuously for over 50 years. The premise is simple: Ralph Kramden is a perpetually luckless working man, trying to get ahead in life with the help of his loving-but-exhausted wife Alice (Audrey Meadows) and his dopey-but-loyal neighbor Ed (Art Carney). Unlike all those ‘50s and ‘60s sitcoms steeped in a milieu of mild middle-class comfort, “The Honeymooners” was rooted in desperate failure. But it’s entertaining nonetheless, in part because the show has the spontaneity of live theater. Gleason knew how to work an audience, milking laughs with a slow burn followed by a hilarious eruption. —NM

67. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox, 2013-18; NBC, 2019-21)

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE -- "Honeymoon" Episode 601 -- Pictured: (l-r) Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta, Andre Braugher as Ray Holt Brooklyn 99
Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”Courtesy of Vivian Zink / NBC

A workplace sitcom about cops? In this economy? Dan Goor’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” maneuvered its way through a national reckoning with law enforcement — not to mention a premature cancellation — to maintain its sterling reputation as a hilarious, self-aware, and quick-witted police comedy. Starring Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta and Andre Braugher as his captain, Jacob Holt, the early seasons quickly established a strong cast chemistry before latter episodes experimented with extended, serialized arcs and further formal gambits. (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s” Halloween Heights are the stuff of legend.) Featuring sharp edits and colorful design, so much of what elevated the series above other long-running comedies went nearly unnoticed — the jokes were so solid and the actors so strong, it’s easy to overlook just how much this network comedy got right. But the episodes’ near-endless rewatchability welcomes such scrutiny. Viewers will be finding more to cheer about for years to come. Nine nine! —BT

66. “Scrubs” (ABC, 2001-2008; NBC, 2009-2010)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC-TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5885414g)Judy Reyes, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, John C. McGinley, Ken Jenkins, Zach BraffScrubs - 2002NBC-TVTelevision

Nutty, uncommonly musical, and told from the first-person point of view on steroids, the medical comedy is such a mix of extreme optimism and fantastical moments that it really shouldn’t have worked — except Bill Lawrence’s vision was as strong as J.D.’s (Zach Braff) voice over. For eight seasons (plus a ninth season that signaled a narrative departure), earnest medical intern and eventual physician J.D. provided the slapstick and surreal lens through which Sacred Heart Hospital’s staff and patients lived, died, and even performed song-and-dance numbers. In some ways, it could be seen as an ancestor of The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” in how the show’s reality is shaped through its protagonist. “Scrubs” also brought together a diverse ensemble cast — Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, John C. McGinley, and Judy Reyes, among others — that were game for whatever lunacy Lawrence threw their way, ranging from a full-on musical episode to heartbreaking moments that rivaled any drama.

And all of this was done to a beautiful, indie soundtrack that set the trend for shows like “The O.C.” and “Grey’s Anatomy” to follow. If laughter is the best medicine, “Scrubs” consistently exerted its benevolent healing powers with style and heart. —HN
Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

65. “Eastbound & Down” (HBO, 2009-13)

Eastbound and Down Danny McBride HBO series
“Eastbound & Down”Courtesy of HBO

From would-be Vice Principal Neal Gamby (“Vice Principals”) to would-be head preacher Jesse Gemstone (“The Righteous Gemstones”), humility is the antithesis to every HBO character Danny McBride has ever played. The actor, producer, and writer has a way of embodying arrogance with such comedic swagger that the more infuriating the buffoon, the more appealing his struggle, and it all began with Kenny Powers. Forced out of Major League Baseball after pissing off everyone in the sport, Kenny returns to his North Carolina hometown to work in the only job he’s suited for: substitute P.E. teacher at the local middle school. After hitting bottom, Kenny tries to mount a comeback, aiming to reach the athletic heights of his youth without the personal lows of a youthful mentality. But that’s easier said than done. “Eastbound & Down” helped stretch HBO’s target audience beyond upscale coastal comedies like “Sex and the City” and “Entourage” through scathing satire from a crass, flashy, and unforgettable character. It also started a relationship between McBride (and fellow creators/producers Jody Hill and David Gordon Green) that’s still churning out outlandish comedy today. Unlike Kenny, Neal, and Jesse, McBride needn’t be humble about these accomplishments. Any one of them could be on the list next to “Eastbound & Down.” —BT

64. “Barry” (2018-present)


Bill Hader is one of the funniest sketch comics in the history of “Saturday Night Live,” capable of uncanny impressions and amusingly odd original characters. But his post-“SNL” work on “Barry” — which he co-created with Alec Berg — may be remembered as his masterpiece. Hader plays Barry Berkman, a psychologically disturbed ex-Marine and skilled hitman who suffers a crisis of conscience on a job in Los Angeles and decides to study acting with a ridiculous but kindly old drama coach named Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler). The show is partly about the sometimes pathetic aspirations of Gene’s students (including the promising ingenue Sally, well-played by Sarah Goldberg), and partly about the bloody dominoes that fall in the criminal underworld due to Barry’s defection. “Barry” is as dark and gripping as it is funny. —NM

63. “The Other Two” (2019-present)

l-r Heléne Yorke as “Brooke Dubek”, Drew Tarver as “Cary Dubek”Photo Credit: Jon Pack
“The Other Two”©Comedy Central/Courtesy Everett Collect / Everett Collection

The too-little-seen gem “The Other Two” is the story of siblings Cary and Brooke Dubek (played by Drew Tarver and Heléne Yorke), who struggled for years to find a foothold in New York show business only to become mildly famous overnight when their teenage brother Chase (Case Walker) turns into a YouTube superstar. Molly Shannon gives a winning performance as Pat, the Dubeks’ can-do matriarch — a recent widow whose tragic backstory and sunny disposition keep “The Other Two” from tipping too far into acerbic cynicism. Created by Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider (the former co-head writers for “Saturday Night Live”), this show is both savvy and savage about the craziness of modern celebrity culture; but at its heart it’s a very human comedy, about some well-meaning people caught in the gears of internet fame’s perpetual motion machine. —NM

62. “The Andy Griffith Show” (1960-68)

The Andy Griffith Show best TV comedies all time
“The Andy Griffith Show”Courtesy of The Kobal Collection

This may sound counterintuitive, but the best sitcoms don’t have to keep you doubled over from start to finish — and I’m not talking about modern “comedies” that are just 30-minute dramas with one or two awkward moments. Sometimes, jokes support a general state of happiness, and alongside “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” it’s hard to imagine an American series that elicits greater serenity than “The Andy Griffith Show.” Credit the overwhelming sense of peace to Griffith, the reassuring actor and his upstanding central character, as well as the series’ wistful tone, which evokes nostalgia even older than its 1960s setting. (Griffith has said they approached the sitcom as an ode to “time gone by.”) But what ensures “The Andy Griffith Show’s” placement on any top comedies list is Don Knotts and his iconic deputy, Barney Fife. There’s a reason he took home five Emmys — one for every season in which he took part — and it’s not because they were easier to win back in the day. Knotts’ performance remains a prototype for aspiring comic performers, just as “The Andy Griffith Show” perseveres as a pleasing hangout comedy. —BT

61. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (2000-present)

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 11 Larry David
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”John P. Johnson / HBO

“Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David is often cited as the primary source of that show’s streak of dark humor; and that theory has pretty much been confirmed by his follow-up series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which takes the previous show’s observational comedy and complex plots and uses them for an unsparing study of social embarrassment. The show’s dialogue is semi-improvised by a cast of professional comics, which creates a unique rhythm. And David is playing a version of himself: a rich, idle comedy writer, dwelling among the Los Angeles upper-crust and seemingly constantly on the verge of offending either a friend of a friend or some member of the service industry. What results is a side-splitting and cringe-inducing distillation of David’s worldview, where nearly everything is irritating — including his sense deep down that he really has no right to be so cranky. —NM

60. “Fleabag” (2016-19)

FLEABAG, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, (Season 2, ep. 201, aired May 17, 2019). photo: ©Amazon / courtesy Everett Collection

Based on the British humorist and actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s one-woman show of the same name, “Fleabag” is part of the long tradition of UK sitcoms that deliver just a couple of short, perfect seasons and then wrap up, leaving fans satisfied. Waller-Bridge plays the title character, who frequently looks into the camera and turns her viewers into confidants, as she tells a hilariously raunchy and frequently surprising story about herself: a self-destructive young woman trying to regain the trust of her friends and family after several horrible mistakes. The tale is surprisingly twisty, and filled with memorable supporting characters — including a sexy priest (Andrew Scott), a long-suffering sister (Sian Clifford) and a less-wicked-than-she-seems stepmother (Olivia Colman). “Fleabag” is both funny and addicting, with a narrative that pulls the audience along quickly and inexorably, like a great page-turner novel. —NM

59. “Enlightened” (HBO, 2011-2013)

Enlightened Laura Dern Mike White HBO best comedy series
Laura Dern and Mike White in “Enlightened”Courtesy of Lacey Terrell / HBO

More than a decade before “The White Lotus” became an awards darling and pillar of HBO original programming, Mike White debuted his magnum opus: an antihero comedy that, if you can’t tell by those two words alone, was years ahead of its time. Laura Dern stars as Amy Jellicoe, an employee of Abaddonn Industries who goes through a nervous breakdown when she’s demoted by the boss she’s been sleeping with, likely to cover up their affair. The fallout spirals from there, and she seeks treatment at a holistic retreat, which helps flip her perspective on her corrupt place of business as well as the rest of her fractured life. “Enlightened” examines the ways society restricts women’s behavior (and opinions and career trajectory and so on) by letting Amy shatter those confines with wild abandon. Dern is incredible, giving herself over fully to Amy’s escalating conviction and allowing herself to be all the things female TV protagonists typically aren’t: unyielding, ambitious, and annoying in both pursuits. Along the way, she’s very, very funny — and the rest of “Enlightened” is, too, including strong turns from Luke Wilson, Jason Mantzoukas, Michaela Watkins, Molly Shannon, and White himself. There’s never a bad time to revisit “Enlightened,” but here’s hoping all these seasons of “The White Lotus” keep driving people back to White’s earlier, tragically short-lived triumph. —BT

58. “Boy Meets World” (ABC, 1993-2000)

BOY MEETS WORLD, Will Friedle, Ben Savage, Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong, Matthew Lawrence (1997-2000). 1993-2000. (c) Buena Vista Television/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.
“Boy Meets World”©Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

“Boy Meets World” became one of the staples of the legendary ABC Friday night lineup known as TGIF. The series follows Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) as he deals with middle school, high school, and college with the help of his next door neighbor and perpetual teacher Mr. Feeny (William Daniels), as well as his best friend Shawn (Rider Strong), brother Eric (Will Friedle), and girlfriend Topanga (Danielle Fishel). “Boy Meets World” was a perfect encapsulation of television aimed at teens and tweens in the mid-’90s, shifting tone and target demo as its characters inevitably grew older. The show subscribed to classic sitcom humor and hijinks, but occasionally took flights of fancy that included time travel, dream sequences, and a night-time wrestling tournament that you’ll have to see to believe. “Boy” also pulled a remarkable list of guest stars, from Adam Scott to Phyllis Diller to Olivia Hussey and many, many more (plus celebs like Robert Goulet and wrestler Vader as themselves). A handful of “very special episodes” dealt with sex, alcohol, and the infamous cult storyline, as well as memorable Halloween and Christmas arcs — and of course, the “Scream” episode. —KL

Stream on Disney+; purchase on Amazon.

57. “Daria” (MTV, 1997-2002)

DARIA, (from left): Brittany Taylor, Daria Morgendorffer, Jane Lane, (Season 5), 1997-2002. © MTV / Courtesy: Everett Collection
“Daria”©MTV/Courtesy Everett Collection

One of MTV’s most iconic series, animated or otherwise, “Daria” was the show for anyone who felt disaffected or removed from society (or who just want to be on top of what the cool kids were watching). The series followed Daria Morgendorffer (voiced by Tracy Grandstaff) who deals with her popular sister Quinn (voiced by Wendy Hoopes), cool kids, and the general world of being a teenager with a heavy dose of sarcasm and acerbic wit. The series was a groundbreaking, at the time, satirical look at high school life when being a teenager was a consumer company’s dream. The show initially started off as a spin-off of Mike Judge’s “Beavis and Butthead,” with Daria as a one-off character. But once the series took root on MTV, at the height of its powers, it became must-watch TV. There are current plans to do another spin-off of the series, involving the character of Jodie and to be voiced by Tracee Ellis Ross. —KL

Stream on Hulu; purchase on Amazon.

56. “The Nanny” (CBS, 1993-1999)

THE NANNY, from left: Nicholle Tom, Madeline Zima, Charles Shaughnessy, Benjamin Salisbury, Fran Drescher, 1993-1999. ph: Cliff Lipson /© CBS/ Courtesy Everett Collection
“The Nanny”©CBS/Courtesy Everett Collection

Actress Fran Drescher dominated the 1990s. Whether you watched her sitcom “The Nanny” or not, there was no escaping her unique voice and its litany of imitations. “The Nanny” was loosely inspired by Drescher’s own life and people in her family. It followed her character of Fran Fine who ends up taking on the titular role for three snooty children. The series was heavily influenced by previous nanny shows like “Nanny and the Professor” and the Clifton Webb character of Mr. Belvedere. Drescher herself would go on to be nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her role as Fran Fine. The cast reunited for a special in 2004. In 2018 Drescher hinted at a possible reboot for the show, which has gone on to spawn numerous foreign imitations, with an emphasis on how Fran Fine would be more keyed in to political and social issues of the day. There’s been no update on it, but the world could certainly use some more Fran Fine. —KL

Purchase on Amazon.

55. “The Addams Family” (ABC, 1964-1966)

ADDAMS FAMILY, [standing] John Astin, Jackie Coogan, Ted Cassidy, Blossom Rock, (aka Marie Blake), [sitting] Lisa Loring, Carolyn Jones, Ken Weatherwax, 1964-1966
“The Addams Family”Courtesy Everett Collection

Based on the cartoons of Charles Addams, “The Addams Family” was one of two horror-themed family sitcoms to debut in the late-1960s, the other being “The Munsters.” The Addams clan consisted of Gomez and Morticia (John Astin and Carolyn Jones, respectively), their children Wednesday and Pugsley (Lisa Loring and Ken Weatherwax), Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), and Grandmama (Blossom Rock). The family may have been mysterious and spooky, but their problems were relatable. Wednesday had to learn to interact with other children, and Frankenstein-esque butler Lurch (Ted Cassidy) sought love. But nothing trumped the sheer romantic entanglement between Gomez and Morticia. The two still embody relationship goals decades after the series went off the air. Where other onscreen parents might have lacked sexual chemistry, there was no doubt that Gomez and Morticia were into each other. Sadly, the sitcom never got the recognition it deserved, and ended up being canceled after just two seasons. It’s competitor “The Munsters” would be canceled the same year. —KL

Stream or purchase on Amazon.

54. “Russian Doll” (Netflix, 2019-present)

Natasha Lyonne and Oatmeal, "Russian Doll"
Natasha Lyonne and Oatmeal, “Russian Doll”Courtesy of Netflix

A comedy about characters repeatedly dying naturally lends itself to a celebration of life, and once “Russian Doll” gets into the nuances of its “Groundhog Day”-in-the-East-Village premise, creators Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland deliver a richly developed existential comedy. Nadia (Lyonne) keeps restarting the same night at the world’s worst birthday party, which forces her to face her inability to connect with the world around her — a problem complicated by the fact that the world around her is starting to disintegrate. Few shows let a woman’s existential crisis serve as its dramatic center, and “Russian Doll’s” honed mysteries and intimate feel makes its first standalone season addictive viewing. If it comes back, all the better, but what’s already streaming is elite TV. —LSM

53. “The Facts of Life” (NBC, 1979-1988)

THE FACTS OF LIFE, Mindy Cohn, Lisa Whelchel, Charlotte Rae, Nancy McKeon, Kim Fields, 1979-88.
Mindy Cohn, Lisa Whelchel, Charlotte Rae, Nancy McKeon, Kim Fields.Courtesy Everett Collection

It was all in the theme song: “You take the good, you take the bad. You take them both and then you have ‘The Facts of Life.'” “The Facts of Life” started off as a spin-off to the popular series “Diff’rent Strokes.” Charlotte Rae, who was the housekeeper on the previous series, would take her character of Edna Garrett to New York where she became the housemother of the Eastland School. The private all-girls school saw Edna take under her wing four girls: spoiled Blair (Lisa Whelchel), gossipy Tootie (Kim Fields), tomboy Jo (Nancy McKeon), and the impressionable Natalie (Mindy Cohn). The girls navigated the world of teen girldom, from dating to parental issues, with Mrs. Garrett always by their side. The series was groundbreaking in its day, particularly for the 12 episodes that starred stand-up comic and disabled performer Geri Jewell. As Cousin Geri, Jewell presented a fun young woman who was no different than anyone else, in spite of how her cousin, Blair, treated her. —KL

Stream on Amazon via IMDbTV; buy on Amazon.

52. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW, 2015 – 2019)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 3 Rebecca
‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’

Ahead of its time or an entire anomaly, we never deserved “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” — but it was truly an honor. Created by Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, the fantasy musical series began with New York City lawyer Rebecca Bunch (Bloom) experiencing or perhaps diverting a nervous breakdown to move back to California and her middle school camp boyfriend Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) — with plenty of musical numbers to let us into Rebecca’s mind. As Rebecca and Josh’s lives and friends grow entangled, the music and madness spread throughout West Covina (“Californiaaaa…”), with original songs and skillful genre parodies by Bloom and Adam Schlesinger. Over the seasons, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” revealed a knack for building and developing characters often subtly in plain sight; from Rebecca’s own neuroses to Darryl (Pete Gardner) exploring his sexuality, Josh maturing and looking outside of himself, Greg’s drinking problem, and more — every character is as detailed and critical to the story as Rebecca herself, with explicit moments to enter the spotlight through song and performance.

51. “Arrested Development” (Fox, 2003-2006; Netflix, 2013-2019)

"Arrested Development"
“Arrested Development”20th Century Fox TV

“Arrested Development” is one of the quintessential examples of bad TV timing. Its first three seasons, which each rank among the best collection of episodes any comedy show has ever aired, came too soon to capitalize on a world where streaming and intense fandom could have kept the show afloat. Up until recently, it wouldn’t be all that controversial to say that Season 4 would be a topic of debate for years to come, but with the tepid, almost silent response to the show’s fifth (and let’s face it, probably final) season, we might be overestimating its staying power. Still, in whatever venue the show exists, there’s so much that’s irreproachable in those first three seasons the series still merits placement on a list like this. With its sheer joke density and looping, concentric storylines, it might just be as close as we’ll ever get to a live-action cartoon. —SG

Buy on Amazon.

50. “Roseanne” (ABC, 1988-1997; 2018)


As several shows on this list can attest, maintaining a comedic legacy can be difficult. Sometimes a show overstays its welcome or its star turns out to be a racist gasbag. And sometimes it’s both. Built on the back of Roseanne Barr’s stand-up career, the first five seasons of “Roseanne” are unimpeachable comedy, a showcase for middle America’s middle class. The Conner family became an avatar for people who often felt lost in a country that had left them behind. In “Roseanne,” viewers could see their own financial concerns, family struggles, and job instability mirrored on the TV screen; this time, infused with a wicked humor that can be so difficult to find in our own experiences. Buoyed by a stacked cast of comedic players, specifically John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, the Conners are a TV family for the ages. Even after its too-long original run and infamous 2018 return, the sitcom remains vital to the TV comedy conversation for providing an unflinching look at a family that you may not always like, but you can’t help but love. —LH

Stream on Sling TV; stream on Amazon; buy on Amazon.

49. “Community” (NBC, 2009-2014; Yahoo! Screen, 2015)


One of the most malleable comedies in broadcast history, it still seems borderline impossible that Dan Harmon’s show was able to get away with as much as it did. With episodes that followed more conventional single-cam sitcom formats and ones that chucked all that out the window: chronicles of paintball death matches, a Ken Burns riff delivered via a pillow/blanket feud, and a chicken finger heist parody of “Goodfellas.” The volatility behind the scenes led to a few dips in quality at various points, but there’s a reason why the show’s devoted fan base fought so hard to help save the show and keep it alive on various sites in the half-decade since it went off the air. Any show that can develop its own lexicon and incredible background gags — like the Beetlejuice one or the episode that has Abed helping someone give birth over the course of a half-hour — is worthy of praise. —SG

Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

48. “One Day at a Time” (Netflix, 2017-2019)

"One Day at a Time"
“One Day at a Time”Netflix

We come here to bury the 2017 revival of the Norman Lear classic sitcom, not to praise it. That said, it’s such a special show, its own streaming service bemoaned its cancelation — even though it was the one dropping the ax. Reimagined for modern audiences, “One Day at a Time” introduced the Alvarez family, whose Cuban roots meant they looked different from any other family sitcom. But it’s not the family’s heritage that made them a cut above; it was the tremendous empathy infused at every turn. Tackling issues of racism and mental illness, immigration and homophobia, the series embraced an ugly and imperfect world with open arms and a curious spirit. Netflix cited low viewership numbers for why it ended the show’s run. I prefer to think that the series was just too pure, too beautiful for this brutish existence. —LH

47. “Pushing Daisies” (ABC, 2007-2009)

"Pushing Daisies"
“Pushing Daisies”ABC-TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Oh, to have Ned’s sweet touch of resurrection. “Pushing Daisies” only lasted two seasons, but Bryan Fuller’s self-styled forensic fairy tale is as marvelously morbid as that made-up genre sounds. Starring Lee Pace as Ned — a simple pie man with an extraordinary ability to resurrect the dead with one touch (but then send them to permanent rest with a second) — the series created a strange but ingenious device to solve murders. Kristin Chenoweth, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Swoosie Kurtz, and Ellen Greene join Pace in this madcap land known for its stunning visuals, bizarre sets, and deliciously gruesome puns. Director Barry Sonnenfeld helped set the style for the series and would later bring that eye to Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” This was the third series that Fuller, the master of macabre, created that flirted with the supernatural and it demonstrated in the most technicolor way what broadcast TV was capable of (and four years later, he’d do it again with “Hannibal”). No matter how one slices it, the show could be sweet or savory, but it was always satisfying. —HN

Buy on Amazon.

46. “Master of None” (Netflix, 2015 – present)

Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe, "Master of None"
Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe, “Master of None”Netflix

Based on the comedic viewpoints of Aziz Ansari, the series follows the personal and professional life of Dev, a 30-year-old actor in New York who has trouble deciding between life’s mundanities, not to mention its bigger challenges. Ambitious, amusing and cinematic, exploring various everyday themes, the series is simultaneously broad in scope and intensely personal. With oodles of heart and charm, it’s a refreshingly idiosyncratic take on an otherwise familiar premise that manages to outdo itself in its second of two seasons thus far, delivering an increasingly ambitious series of episodes. Boasting a diverse cast of eclectic characters, and beautifully shot on location in New York and Italy, it’s a remarkable undertaking in storytelling and demonstrates what a modern TV series can be. —TO

Buy on Amazon.

45. “Night Court” (NBC, 1984-1992)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nbc-Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5882810j) Charlie Robinson, John Larroquette, Harry Anderson Night Court - 1984-1992 NBC-TV TV Portrait
“Night Court”Nbc-Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

From the mind of “Barney Miller” and “M*A*S*H” writer Reinhold Wedge, “Night Court” presides over a group of misfits who work the night shift at a municipal court in Manhattan. Led by youth judge Harry T. Stone (Harry Anderson), whose penchant for amateur magic tricks are only exceeded by his love for Mel Torme, the ensemble staff is as colorful as the miscreants hauled in at the late hour. The standout was sex-obsessed, narcissistic prosecutor Dan Fielding, played with such smarmy gusto by John Larroquette that he earned four Emmys four years in a row and may have continued that streak had he not withdrawn his name in 1989. Markie Post, Richard Moll, Marsha Warfield, and Charles Robinson joined in the hilarious courthouse shenanigans that helped bring NBC’s Thursday night comedy block acclaim before “Must See TV” was even a glint in the peacock’s eye. —HN

Buy on Amazon.

44. “Maude” (CBS, 1972–1978)

And then there’s Maude. Like so many of Norman Lear’s shows, “Maude” gave voice to a new kind of protagonist, this time a loud-mouthed, unapologetic feminist, who had no problem voicing her political opinions and going toe-to-toe with her adversaries. Maude Findlay, portrayed by an absolutely iconic Bea Arthur, served as a perfect women’s liberation counterpoint to network stablemate Mary Richards (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”). If Mary had spunk, then Maude had snark, and between the two, CBS covered the breadth of the 1970s Women’s Movement. Beyond that, “Maude” was innovative, playing with form and construct even within the rigid limitations of sitcoms, staging several episodes as conversations between Maude and husband Walter, and a landmark episode featuring the eponymous lead visiting an analyst and showcasing only Arthur. The series embraced untouchable topics; suicide, alcoholism, domestic violence and, famously, abortion, just another show that made its mark by delving into those concepts we’re too frightened to discuss on our own. —LH

Buy on Amazon.

43. “Martin” (Fox, 1992-1997)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kassa Zakadi/Fox-Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5871192c)Martin LawrenceMartin - 1992Fox-TVTelevision
“Martin”Kassa Zakadi/Fox-Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

The African American comedy classic centered around Martin Payne (played by an animated Martin Lawrence, co-creator of the series), a brash radio personality who never met a confrontation he didn’t like, often to the frustration of his spunky wife Gina (Tisha Campbell). His best pals, the straight-laced Tommy (Thomas Mikal Ford) and the bumbling Cole (Carl Anthony Payne II), are always on hand to lend support, especially when Martin locks horns with Gina’s equally confrontational friend and co-worker, Pam, played by Tichina Arnold. Of course, not to be left out of the ruckus, there’s Martin’s overprotective mother, Mama Payne, his sassy next-door neighbor, Sheneneh Jenkins, and the overbearing womanizer, Jerome — all performed by Lawrence himself, sometimes in the same scene. It was the kind of comedic range that Eddie Murphy was praised for in “Coming to America” years earlier. Living on in re-runs, as well as references from today’s hip-hop artists and in series like HBO’s “Insecure,” new audiences continue to discover what was a cultural benchmark at the time, and a highlight of what is considered the golden age of black sitcoms. —TO

Stream on Amazon via BET+; buy on Amazon.

42. “Murphy Brown” (CBS, 1988-1998; 2018)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1601096a) Murphy Brown , Charles Kimbrough, Robert Pastorelli, Candice Bergen, Joe Regalbuto, Pat Corlry, Faith Ford, Grant Shaud Film and Television
“Murphy Brown”Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

Featuring one of TV’s most iconic female characters, “Murphy Brown” came back for a 2018 revival that almost captures what makes the original run of this series so special. Thanks to creator Diane English’s sharp scripts and Candice Bergen’s determination, the sitcom let its fearless protagonist take on important issues with uncompromising relish, making her a part of the national conversation on a level few other shows will ever achieve. That, and it was always incredibly funny, thanks to the “FYI” staff’s eclectic energy. Balancing politics, humor, and even the occasional moment of heart is the war so many shows fight and lose; at its best, “Murphy Brown” always triumphed. —LSM

Stream via CBS All Access; buy on Amazon.

Derry Girls Netflix Season 3
‘Derry Girls’

41. “Derry Girls” (Channel 4, 2018 – 2023)

Lisa McGee’s comedy series was magnificent from the day it premiered on Channel 4 in 2018 — but the ’90s-set story about a group of Northern Irish teens received love from all over the world once it hit Netflix. Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), Orla (Louisa Harland), Clare (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), and James (Dylan Llewellyn) — English, a boy, but still a Derry girl — are in a near-constant state of misadventure, drawing scrutiny and confusion from the adults in their lives, especially schoolteacher Sister Michael (Siobhán McSweeney). Both the teen cast and adults are lethally funny, instantly memorable, and so wonderfully specific to ’90s Derry, making this one of those expert series that finds universal appeal by leaning enthusiastically into what it knows.

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by 20th Century Fox Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5880787c)Diahann CarrollJulia - 1968-197120th Century Fox TVTelevision
“Julia”20th Century Fox Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

40. “Julia” (NBC, 1968-1971)

“Julia” was an example of a major network television’s attempt to address issues of race during a period of elevated racial tensions in the country, as African Americans fought for civil rights, as well as on-screen representation. The landmark series was only the second to star a black woman in the lead role following “Beulah” 16 years earlier. Although unlike the latter, “Julia” wasn’t burdened by critiques of its caricatures of African Americans. The series revolved around the lives of Julia Baker (Diahann Carroll), a widowed black nurse and her young son, Corey (Marc Copage), after they move into a racially-integrated Los Angeles apartment building. Its atypical depictions of black people, who were not exclusively defined by race, were especially noteworthy. And Carroll plays the title role with elegance, having to balance a character that black audiences could embrace, while also appearing non-threatening to white viewers. Relatively innocuous, “Julia” was a funny, charming series that preferred to calm escalating racial tensions of the time rather than stoke or capitalize on them. For her performance, Carroll would become the first African-American woman to earn an Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series. —TO

39. “Living Single” (Fox, 1993-1998)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Joseph Viles/Warner Bros Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5874247e) Erika Alexander, Queen Latifah, Kim Fields, Kim Coles Living Single - 1993-1998 Warner Bros Television USA Television
“Living Single”Joseph Viles/Warner Bros Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

When it premiered on Fox, “Living Single” was one of the first sitcoms to portray the ordinary everyday lives of a group of young African American friends. It also arguably launched the acting career of rapper Queen Latifah (who performed the series’ theme song) on her way to becoming a bona fide movie star. The main setting was the New York apartment Khadijah (Latifah), editor of an urban-lifestyle magazine, shared with roommates Synclaire (Kim Coles) and Regine (Kim Fields). Khadijah’s friend Maxine (Erika Alexander) and squabbling best-friends from the apartment upstairs, Kyle (Terrence T.C. Carson) and Overton (John Henton), made frequent memorable drop-ins. From that simple setup came the warm-hearted storylines that allowed for lots of “Friends”-like bantering (although “Friends” didn’t premiere until a year later). A charming series with charismatic leads, “Living Single” picked up two Emmy nominations during its run. —TO
Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

38. “Sex and the City” (HBO, 1998-2004)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/Hbo/Darren/REX/Shutterstock (5886159bb)Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica ParkerSex and The City - 1998-2004Hbo/Darren Star ProductionsUSATelevision
“Sex and the City”HBO/Darren/REX/Shutterstock

During the early days of premium cable originals, Darren Starr and Michael Patrick King forged one of the earliest, most insightful models of an adult romantic-comedy ever put to air. With its direct-to-camera addresses and constant honing of Carrie Bradshaw’s punny narration, “Sex and the City” developed its voice steadily over time, but arrived with the bang it needed to hook viewers fast. Taking on unplanned pregnancy, abortion, and STDs all in the first season, the series addressed modern dating issues with a frankness and acceptance broadcast networks couldn’t. And it did so with style: Every one of the four principal leads became part of the cultural lexicon — representing various wanted and unwanted, but always identifiable, elements of everyday women — and Sarah Jessica Parker remains a fashion icon to this day in large part due to the visual statements she made on HBO. “Sex and the City” took TV to a place it needed to go, and the best episodes have an endlessly watchable quality that will never go out of vogue. —BT
Stream on Hulu via HBO Max; Stream on Amazon via HBO; buy on Amazon.

37. “Hacks” (2021 – present)

Hannah Einbinder and Jean Smart dressed in golf attire in Episode 6 of 'Hacks'
‘Hacks’Jake Giles Netter/Max

To paraphrase the razor-sharp series from creators Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky, a hack is someone who does the same thing over and over, and “Hacks” is anything but. When struggling, blacklisted Hollywood writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder) gets assigned to write for the legendary standup Deborah Vance (Jean Smart), they class instantly over ideology, sensibilities, and a other generational differences. But nothing draws in the viewer — or Ava and Deborah themselves — more than this unlikely duo’s shared love for finding the best punchline, a common goal that bonds them Tkly even as they butt heads in almost every other regard. Ruthless and loving, mesmeric and toxic, their relationship sustains “Hacks” through good times and bad, driving Ava, Deborah, and everyone in their orbit (special mention: Downs himself as manager Jimmy and Meg Stalter by his side as Kayla) toward new and exciting stories. —PK

36. “What We Do in the Shadows” (2019-present)

“WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS” -- “Private School” -- Season 4, Episode 5 (Airs August 2) — Pictured (L-R): Natasia Demetriou as Nadja, Matt Berry as Laszlo, Kayvan Novak as Nandor. CR: Russ Martin: FX
“What We Do in the Shadows”Courtesy of Russ Martin / FX

What happens when you turn Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s 2014 cult hit into a series? Only one of the best shows of the 21st century and maybe ever. On paper, “What We Do in the Shadows” is a mockumentary about vampires in Staten Island, but in practice it is a show so convoluted, so lovable, so riotously funny that it feels disrespectful to ever reduce it to a logline. Kayvan Novak, Natasha Demetriou, Matt Berry, Mark Proksch, and Harvey Guillén comprise the ensemble of a lifetime — or several — a dysfunctional chosen family that will live forever in darkness, bloodlust, and good old-fashioned narcissism. From the inner workings of the vampiric council to the werewolves, djinns, and wraiths, to everyday minutiae like faulty plumbing and putting your kid in school, “What We Do in the Shadows” keeps its total insanity grounded, providing a guaranteed hit viewing experience every time we step inside that crumbling mansion. —PK

35. “The Bernie Mac Show” (Fox, 2001-2006)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Wilmore/20th Century Fox TV/REX/Shutterstock (5879429f)Dee Dee Davis, Bernie MacThe Bernie Mac Show - 2001Wilmore Films / 20th Century Fox TelevisionTelevisionTv Classics
“The Bernie Mac Show”Century Fox TV/REX/Shutterstock

Created by Larry Wilmore, the sitcom starring comedian Bernie Mac as a fictionalized version of himself encapsulates the push-and-pull of loving your children yet being tempted to “bust [their] heads ’til the white meat shows.” In the series, the gruff standup comic steps up to foster his sister’s three kids — teenager Nessa (Camille Winbush), anxious Jordan (Jeremy Suarez), and baby terror Bryana (Dee Dee Davis) — and this sudden guardianship creates combative, hilarious, and ultimately heartwarming interactions. Known for regularly addressing “America,” Bernie invites the audience to be his confidants and share in his woes, no matter how wrong-headed he might be. Full of colorful insults and bizarre parenting strategies, the comedy reveals just how ill-equipped adults can feel while still doing their best. This empathy earned the series widespread critical acclaim, an Emmy, a Peabody Award, and the Humanities Prize. America, you’re welcome. —HN
Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

34. “The Good Place” (NBC, 2016-present)

THE GOOD PLACE -- "Everything Is Fine" Episode 101-- Pictured: Kristen Bell as Eleanor
“The Good Place”Justin Lubin/NBC

Making a network sitcom rooted in the tenets of morality and philosophy is a difficult enough task. Making it sing with the same engines of empathy and a celebration of silliness is a grand achievement. With an ambitious first season that not only challenged assumptions about serialized comedy but built to one of the most satisfying conclusions of any season in recent memory, it’s also a great example of a creator using cachet to avoid doing more of the same. Taking advantage of the same fundamental striving to be good that powered “Parks and Rec” and employing a large assembly of writers who worked on both shows to help do it, Michael Schur’s most recent TV effort is another example of how great comedy and human decency so often go hand-in-hand. Also, it’s just really funny to hear Ted Danson say phrases like “hanging bits.” —SG
Buy on Amazon.

33. “All in the Family” (CBS, 1971-1979)

Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by Snap/REX/Shutterstock (390858gn) FILM STILLS OF 'ALL IN THE FAMILY - TV' WITH 1977, CARROLL O'CONNOR IN 1977 VARIOUS
“All in the Family”Snap/REX/Shutterstock

Norman Lear’s first hit — and one of the biggest success stories of all-time — only marked the beginning of a prolific career, but the endearing and award-winning CBS sitcom was even more important for what it did with the spotlight. Breaking ground on television for its deft approach to dicey issues like racism, LGBTQ issues, abortion, war, and more topics many sitcoms shy away from even mentioning, “All in the Family” used its seemingly prejudiced family patriarch Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) to ease white working-class families into difficult discussions on a wide array of diverse topics. Though certain archetypes are outdated today — a husband mocking his wife every week doesn’t (or shouldn’t) fly so easily now — the series was a perfect balm for fractured generations. It healed the divides and ushered in even more outstanding programs from Lear, who continues to celebrate kindness and understanding through families to this day. “All in the Family” started it all, and deserves recognition for it. —BT
Buy on Amazon.

32. “M*A*S*H” (CBS, 1972-1983)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by 20th Century Fox/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5886039be)Mike Farrell, Alan AldaMash - 1972-198320th Century FoxTelevision
Mike Farrell and Alan Alda in “M*A*S*H”20th Century Fox/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Arguably the most popular program ever created, “M*A*S*H” spun off from the Oscar- (and Palme d’Or) winning Robert Altman film of the same name, but it put the movie to shame in terms of sheer audience. While Altman’s black comedy earned accolades around the world, Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds’ half-hour sitcom managed to sustain the source material’s tricky balance between absurd comedy and sobering drama while hooking viewers week in and week out — all while a real war was raging overseas. Using sly humor to implicitly question America’s role in Vietnam, the 4077 surgical unit made a star of Alan Alda (as Hawkeye) and endeared a generation to Hot Lips Hoolihan (Loretta Swift), Radar (Gary Burghoff), and Klinger (Jamie Farr). Moreover, it predated the rise of “dramedies” still dominating TV’s golden age by spending its first five seasons blending the elements within the same episodes and later years (steered by Alda) consciously guiding episodes toward one genre or the other. “M*A*S*H” showcased ingenuity, perseverance, and intelligence, all within a broadcast sitcom, and throughout a now-unimaginable 256 episodes. —BT
Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

31. “Sanford & Son” (NBC, 1972-1977)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nbc-Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5874605b) Redd Foxx, Demond Wilson Sanford and Son - 1972-1977 NBC-TV Television
“Sanford and Son”Nbc-Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

“Elizabeth! I’m coming to join you, honey!” Those were the words often heard coming from 9114 South Central, in Watts, home to Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) and his son Lamont (Demond Wilson) — known more affectionately to each other as “Pop” and “Dummy” — and their junkyard business. “Sanford and Son” was the second TV series from Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, who created the groundbreaking “All in the Family” the year before. It was an astute, socially conscious comedy, where much of its more caustic commentary was expressed with nimble creativity. It was a sitcom with heart, and a big hit for NBC, introducing cultural diversity to a largely white middle America, and serving as a forerunner to other biting comedy series centered around black families that would follow. It earned seven Emmy and six Golden Globe nominations during its run, with one Globe win for Redd Foxx as Best Television Actor in a Comedy or Musical Series, in 1973. —TO
Stream on Hulu; stream via Starz on Amazon; buy on Amazon.

30. “Broad City” (Comedy Central, 2014-2019)

Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson in "Broad City" Season 3
Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson in “Broad City”Comedy Central

Friendship has rarely been captured with such exuberance and creativity. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s web series turned Comedy Central gamechanger chronicles two twenty-somethings coming into their own in the greatest city in the world and appreciating every second of it. Whether traveling to a secluded FedEx outpost helmed by a mush-eating old lady named Garol, or discovering a secret alter ego singing underground club music to adoring fans, Abbi and Ilana turned their struggles into propulsive entertainment and their joys into endearing calling cards for anyone who ever thought about moving to the big city with their best friend. The half-hour cable comedy exudes empowerment, millennial positivity, and earnest experimentation (often through a lot of weed), all to find yourself at a place and time when so many get lost. Enjoy the search, and keep a buddy close by. —BT
Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

29. “The Larry Sanders Show” (HBO, 1992-1998)

The Larry Sanders Show
“The Larry Sanders Show”Sony Pictures Television/HBO

Garry Shandling’s legacy isn’t limited to this HBO series — his career as a writer and performer stretched across decades, and “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” is another critically acclaimed favorite. But “Larry Sanders” is one for the ages, a brilliant groundbreaking series featuring celebrities like Jeff Goldblum, David Duchovny, Jon Stewart, Illeana Douglas, Ellen Degeneres, Courteney Cox, Sharon Stone, and more making fun of their own images while tearing down the very system that makes them famous. The show-within-the-show might have been a relatively unremarkable “Tonight Show” clone, but the Machivellian politicking amongst its staff (featuring one of TV’s all-time great ensemble casts, including Jeffrey Tambor, Megan Gallagher, Jeremy Piven, Penny Johnson, Janeane Garofalo, Rip Torn, Scott Thompson, and Mary Lynn Rajskub) has an epic feel. Shandling himself is never afraid to reveal the darkest, ugliest parts of Larry Sanders’ soul — and find within them gut-busting comedic moments which make this one of TV’s most memorable showbiz satires. —LSM
Buy on Amazon.

28. “The Bob Newhart Show” (CBS, 1972–1978)

In comedy, there are straight men and then there’s Bob Newhart. With his stammering, buttoned-down demeanor, Newhart is the perfect comic foil for the increasingly surreal antics of his friends, family, and patients. The series was a forerunner for so many legendary sitcoms that followed in its wake, pitting a central, stable influence, in this case Dr. Bob Hartley, amidst a chaotic cast of characters, including “NewsRadio,” “Arrested Development,” and, yes, the comedian’s later series “Newhart.” The show was so influential, in fact, it managed to underscore the most celebrated series finale of all time, when the final moments of “Newhart” revealed that its entire run had been merely a dream of Dr. Hartley’s, as evidenced by him waking up beside Suzanne Pleshette, his wife on “The Bob Newhart Show.” —LH
Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

27. “Malcolm in the Middle” (Fox, 2000-2006)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Lavine/20th Century Fox Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5880502b)Christopher Ke Masterson, Bryan Cranston, Frankie Muniz, Jane Kaczmarek, Erik Per SullivanMalcolm In The Middle20th Century Fox TelevisionUSATelevision
“Malcolm in the Middle”Michael Lavine/20th Century Fox Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

One of the all-time great family comedies, “Malcolm in the Middle” stands out for its well-honed anarchic streak, which keeps the antics of this lower-middle-class family from ever straying into sappiness. Focused on Malcolm (Frankie Muniz), whose natural brilliance sets him apart from his otherwise average family, creator Linwood Boomer made sure to emphasize how daily life for a family without means is a constant struggle — but one that offers up its own sorts of joys. Plus, Jane Kaczmarek and Bryan Cranston are one of TV’s greatest parental couples; occasionally prone to being selfish, but still fiercely committed to doing the best they can for their children… within limits. —LSM
Stream via Hulu; stream via Amazon.

26. “You’re the Worst” (FX, 2014; FXX, 2015–2019)

"You're the Worst"
“You’re the Worst”FX

Being in love is a horrible idea. It has a terrible return on investment, with most relationships ending in tears. It demands you be all-in, to make a huge bet on a proposal that has awful odds. It’s hard and boring and exhausting and thankless. Even if you get a happy ending — which may be temporary — you’re still a gambler at heart and somewhere in the back of your head, you’ll wonder if you really won, or if you walked away from the table before making that last big score. This is all true. And “You’re The Worst” is one of the few shows in television history that understands. Its love story between two damaged, misanthropic assholes illustrates that yes, the heart is a dumb-dumb, but life is a roller coaster best lived with another dummy by your side. —LH
Stream on Hulu; stream on Amazon.

25. “Police Squad!” (ABC, 1982)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Paramount Television/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5879852i) Alan North, Leslie Nielsen Police Squad - 1982 Paramount Television On/Off Set
“Police Squad!”Paramount Television/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

What makes a joke is something that comedians and philosophers will continue to debate long after comedy is delivered straight into our brain via nanobots. But for shows that deliver the execution of a joke more efficiently than any other in history, “Police Squad!” would have an extremely strong case. With jokes that stretch from strong wordplay to sight gags that brought a bit of vaudeville slapstick goodness to network primetime, “Police Squad!” is a masterpiece painted in many colors.

Shows like “Angie Tribeca” have proven that this brand of comedy wasn’t just a product of its time, but helped pave the way for a lightning-quick arsenal of jokes that tap into something elemental about the form itself. Playing with conventions beyond dialogue — episode title cards like “Act II: Bruté” and those chapter-ending fake freeze frames — gave future writers a pathway to experiment with what a TV show could set it sights on. And that would be the case even if the show didn’t go on to spawn a film franchise that was able to deliver some of those quintessential jokes to an even wider audience. —SG
Buy on Amazon.

24. “Frasier” (NBC, 1993-2004)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nbc-Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5881783d) David Hyde-Pierce, Kelsey Grammer Frasier - 1993 NBC-TV USA Scene Still

It would be needlessly provocative to say that “Frasier” is a better show than “Cheers,” the sitcom from which it spun off. Both are excellent; but both are doing their own thing. In the case of “Frasier,” a handful of “Cheers” writers took Kelsey Grammer’s fussy, outspoken psychiatrist character Frasier Crane out of that series’ format and dropped him into a snappily paced domestic farce, surrounded by colorful colleagues and family members (including, pivotally, David Hyde Pierce as Frasier’s priggish brother Niles). Set in the then-hip city of Seattle — but rarely trading on the town’s reputation as a cultural trend-setter — “Frasier” offers classy, timeless comedy, built on wordplay, communication breakdowns, and the hilarious blunders of a lovably pompous blowhard. Each episode is like an impeccably crafted and perfectly paced one-act play. —NM
Stream on Hulu; stream on CBS All Access; buy on Amazon.

23. “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (NBC, 1990-1996)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nbc/Stuffed Dog/Quincy Jones Ent/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5884676w) Will Smith The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air - 1990-1996 NBC/Stuffed Dog/Quincy Jones Ent TV Portrait Tv Classics
“The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air”Nbc/Stuffed Dog/Quincy Jones Ent/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

When rapper Will Smith hailed that cab to Bel-Air and into people’s homes, he changed the way America thought of what the black sitcom could be, and it’s such a beloved show it even inspired a gorgeous parody movie trailer. On the surface, this Quincy Jones-produced comedy brought hip-hop style to the mainstream and presented a fish-out-of-water tale, but over the course of the show it also addressed black-on-black prejudice, class differences, racial profiling, sexuality, and identity issues. Smith, who hadn’t acted previously, became an instant star with his natural comedic chops and surprising dramatic skills, presaging his catapult into movie stardom. The show had a sense of looseness to it as well and would occasionally break the fourth wall just because it could. More than just neon blazers and Carlton dances, the substance in “Fresh Prince” flipped-turned upside down the TV landscape for audiences everywhere. —HN
Buy on Amazon.

22. “The Comeback” (HBO, 2005; 2014)

HBO The Comeback Lisa Kudrow
“The Comeback”HBO

Created by Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King, this HBO series encompasses at least four different genres as it documents the career of Valerie Cherish (Kudrow), a television star whose personal and professional ups and downs are the foundation for some of TV’s most cringe-y comedy moments of all time. At times silly fun, at times pitch black and almost impossible to watch, “The Comeback” soars thanks to Kudrow’s brilliant, committed performance, which showcases the ways in which the brutal realities of Hollywood can warp a human soul. It’s a searing meta take on the industry, but one that doesn’t lose sight of the humanity of its characters, at their worst and best. The supporting ensemble includes standout performers like Malin Åkerman, Lance Barber, Robert Michael Morris, and Laura Silverman, but it’s Kudrow’s fearless work which makes “The Comeback” one for the history books. —LSM
Stream on Hulu via HBO Max; stream on HBO via Amazon; buy on Amazon.

21. “Moonlighting” (ABC, 1985-1989)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Abc-Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5880624g) Cybill Shepherd, Bruce Willis Moonlighting ABC-TV USA Television

Inspired by “Remington Steele” and “Hart to Hart” before it, “Moonlighting” is the most boisterous of the romantic duo crime-solving comedies, providing Bruce Willis with his big break and Cybill Shepherd her career-defining role. The chemistry between the Blue Moon Detective Agency partners David (Willis) and Maddie (Shepherd) is electric, only matched by their rapid-fire, often overlapping dialogue that channeled “His Girl Friday.” Oh, and of course, the show’s popularity is what led to Willis singing and swaggering as Seagram’s growly voiced pitchman. However, it’s also one of the best-produced and elaborately crafted shows of the day, often breaking the fourth wall or delivering fantastical adventures. In fact, the show was so ambitious it was notorious for not delivering episodes on time, forcing reruns to air in place of the promised new ones. Nevertheless, its legacy still lies in the mesmerizing TV couple that defined the tension of the “will they, won’t they” romantic dynamic. —HN
Buy on Amazon.

20. “Nathan for You” (Comedy Central, 2013-2017)

Nathan for You Season 4 Hats
“Nathan for You”Comedy Central

Nathan Fielder is probably as close to a real-life Bugs Bunny as we’ll ever get. None of this show’s episodes actually featured this outside-the-box comedy expert looking into camera and asking “Ain’t I a stinker?” But this show still manages to find a beating heart in even the most absurd small business schemes Rube Goldberg himself would be proud of. Though the fake viral clips and Starbucks of varying intelligences grabbed a great share of the show’s headlines, its series finale “Finding Frances” was the best example that these wacky manufactured success stories were really just an elaborate Trojan horse to get people to care about strangers. As a character, Nathan‘s search for some meaningful human connection may have seemed like a joke at first, but in an incredible trick, that pursuit ended up mattering more than any of the expertly crafted hair-brained schemes. —SG
Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

19. “Taxi” (ABC, 1978–1982; NBC 1982–1983)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1650176a)Taxi , Judd Hirsch, Jeff Conaway, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, Christopher Lloyd, Andy KaufmanFilm and Television

There is a quiet brilliance in the finest workplace comedies, that allows a familial allegiance to grow amongst people unrelated by blood but forced together by circumstance and capitalism. That’s particularly true of “Taxi,” where the garage of Sunshine Cab Company serves as a parking lot for the deferred dreams of employees that would rather be anywhere else. Starring Judd Hirsch and Danny DeVito, the series perfectly captured that loose camaraderie between coworkers, particularly as it moved beyond courtesy and into lasting affection. So vivid was the world created by James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, David Davis, and Ed. Weinberger, that it’s not a stretch to imagine those same characters puttering around the garage, still shooting the breeze and marking time on their dreams. —LH
Stream on Hulu; stream on CBS All Access.

18. “Review” (Comedy Central, 2014-2017)

Review Series Finale
“Review”Comedy Central

The recent five-year anniversary of “Divorce, Pancakes, Divorce” provided the opportunity to highlight one of this Andy Daly-led series’ greatest achievements. But when viewed in full, the descent of Forrest MacNeil into a madness of his own making plays out like something closer to a tragedy worthy of the literary canon. Some segments are hilarious; after spending hours with Forrest, you know exactly how he’s going to fail (or succeed, by his own warped sense of logic). Other episodes are the product of some crazy alchemy where three random topics converge in a magical tornado of misfortune. But whether the task at hand is reviewing “being Irish,” cocaine, joining a cult, or straight-up murder, “Review” found an impossible way to keep making all of these funny while tapping into an obsession as real as anything else on this list. —SG

Stream on Amazon via Comedy Central; buy on Amazon.

17. “Party Down” (Starz, 2009-2010)

Party Down
“Party Down”Starz

Following the same group of people through wildly different settings and situations is a time-tested formula for a TV comedy. But there’s something about the way that this central group of caterers found everything to care about except their job that makes it such a satisfying comedy even for people who’ve never had experience in the service industry. With a look unmistakably of its time — that small-budget digital feel is so true to what these people are going through — “Party Down” is a sharpened product of a show and character with very little left to lose. —SG

Stream on Hulu via Starz; Stream on Amazon via Starz; buy on Amazon.

16. “Freaks and Geeks” (NBC, 1999–2000)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1579702a)Freaks And Geeks , Linda Cardellini, John Francis Delay, James FrancoFilm and Television
“Freaks and Geeks”Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

The upside of being a one-season wonder is that a series never has the opportunity to grow into something bloated and distorted, a blight on its own legacy. So it goes for “Freaks and Geeks” the critically-beloved hybrid of drama and comedy that couldn’t — getting canceled by NBC before all its episodes had aired. Yet the series remains one of the greatest depictions of the awkward, often absolutely hilarious realities of adolescence. Fueled by a crackerjack collection of young actors, including Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, and Busy Philipps, created by Paul Feig and executive produced by Judd Apatow, the series remains an empathetic high water mark for comedy and one of the greatest single-season series of all time. —LH

Buy on Amazon.

15. “I Love Lucy” (CBS, 1951-1957)

“I Love Lucy”Globe Photos/REX/Shutterstock

Historians cannot dispute the impact that “I Love Lucy” had on TV. It was the first scripted show to shoot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience, feature an ensemble cast, an interracial marriage — and pregnancy — on TV. But the true trailblazing contribution was the depiction of a woman that no one had seen before in a starring role. Lucille Ball, as the troublemaking Lucy Ricardo, exploded the image of the typical conforming woman and housewife. Lucy is able to be a devoted wife and mother and yet still have ambition, and most of all, fun. Her relationship with Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance) still stands as one of the best examples of female friendship on TV. Nearly 70 year later, Lucy and Ethel’s adventures at the chocolate factory, making wine, and more are still some of the most iconic comedic scenes to hit television. People still love Lucy. —HN

Stream on CBS All Access; stream on Amazon via CBS All Access.

14. “Friends” (NBC, 1994-2004)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Warner Bros TV/Bright/Kauffm/REX/Shutterstock (5886065a)Lisa Kudrow, Matt Le Blanc, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew PerryFriends - 1994-2003Warner Bros TV/Bright/Kauffman/Crane ProTelevision

Really, it’s all there in the theme song. Repeating the refrain, “I’ll be there for you,” The Rembrandts’ now iconic intro set the stage for a delightful, jubilant, yet extensive examination of friendship. Sure, Monica (Courteney Cox) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) never could’ve afforded that apartment without her grandmother’s rent control, and no, most friends aren’t lucky enough to find neighboring rooms above a coffee shop with a couch that’s always available, but the wish-fulfillment aspects of Marta Kaufman and David Crane’s landmark NBC sitcom only served to make the characters more accessible, which in turn drew you into their struggles with loyalty and love, support and sustainability. Setting the unparalleled cast chemistry aside, “Friends” engaged with every conceivable challenge friends could face: spurned romance, long distance, money troubles, losing loved ones, job changes, and so much more. The timeless jokes prove “Friends” to be an extremely well-written comedy — new generations continue to discover the 10 strong seasons — but how beautifully it captured the essence of friendship is too often ignored. —BT

Buy on Amazon.

13. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (FX, 2005-present)

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA Season 12 "The Gang Turns Black" Charlie Day as Charlie, Glenn Howerton as Dennis, Rob McElhenney as Mac
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”Patrick McElhenney/FXX

A family and their friends own a bar. That’s pretty much the entire baseline for FX’s long-running sitcom, and yet despite keeping the same setting, avoiding any cast overhauls, and no notable shifts to the show’s dynamic (aside from Rob McElhenney’s extreme weight fluctuations, that is), 13 seasons of inspired comedy have ensued. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is like the darker second cousin of “Seinfeld,” spawning from the NBC series’ trademark “show about nothing” premise and growing rapidly into darker satire with more sinister characters. No topic is off limits, and no idea is too absurd — from dumpster babies to performing “Lethal Weapon” in blackface, the bold creative minds behind the series (including stars and EPs McElhenney, Charlie Day, and Glenn Howerton) continue to find fresh new ways to skewer the worst instincts, practices, and beliefs of American society. Come to think of it, what better place to do that than a bar in Philadelphia? —BT

Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

12. “Better Things” (FX, 2016-present)

BETTER THINGS "Nesting" Episode 3 (Airs Thursday, March 14 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX
Pamela Adlon in “Better Things”Suzanne Tenner/FX

To describe Pamela Adlon’s exceptional FX comedy as a tone poem to single parents everywhere might send some verse-skittish readers sprinting for the hills, so let’s take a different tact: “Better Things” is classic rock put to prose and captured with a camera. Following Sam Fox and her three daughters of varying ages, each episode consists of a few choice notes, shifting melodies with graceful tempo between beautiful vignettes of life as a Los Angeles mother, actor, and friend. The songs build to create a rhythm you can’t shake; that you’ll dwell in even when the record stops spinning, and play again and again to catch different notes until you know every beat by heart. Each season is an album, and each album evokes a new appreciation of this growing family. Through three seasons, it’s impossible to imagine a world without Adlon’s voice guiding you through chunks of it, as the writer, director, producer, showrunner, and star puts on a bravura artistic showcase and runs her set, her show, her world like a mother. It’s no wonder “Better Things” features indelible musical moments — the whole show is an unforgettable classic we’ll be listening to forever and a day. —BT

Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

11. “The Office” (NBC, 2005–2013)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by NBC-TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5886251cz)Phyllis Smith, Paul Lieberstein, John Krasinski, Oscar Nunez, Jenna Fischer, Angela Kinsey, Mindy Kaling, Bj Novak, Creed Bratton, Steve Carell, Brian Baumgartner, Kate Flannery, Rainn Wilson, Melora Hardin, Leslie David Baker, David DenmanThe Office - 2005NBC-TVUSATV PortraitDocumentary
“The Office”NBC-TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the U.K. version of “The Office” is one of the finest TV sitcoms of all time. It was ridiculous to think that adapting it for U.S. audiences would be successful and unthinkable that, in the process, said adaptation could become arguably more beloved than it’s source material. And yet, here we are. Greg Daniels pulled off the impossible in 2005 with his take on Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s workplace series and the key, it would seem, lay in his handling of the central character. Where U.K. boss David Brent (Gervais) was a messy Brit who lived for drama, U.S. boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell) was a kindly simpleton, whose heart of gold made his inappropriate behavior easier to swallow. The key to so many American workplace sitcoms is getting audiences to buy into the idea that your coworkers can be your family. You may fight, snipe, undermine, and prank each other but, at the end of the day, you always have each others’ backs. In that way, “The Office” serves as both relatable and aspirational. Every one office has a cat person (or three), a micro-manager (or assistant to the micro-manager), or someone who always knows the right questions to ask (“No. 1: How dare you?”), but in reality, it’s rarer that those disparate personalities coalesce into something akin to family. It’s that element that makes the U.S. “Office” so indelible. It’s your humble workaday dream and nightmare. —LH

Buy on Amazon.

10. “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (CBS, 1961-1966)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5862585b)Dick Van DykeDick Van Dyke (c1961)Portrait
“The Dick Van Dyke Show”Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

The rollicking opening notes of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” is all the viewer needs to understand that they’re in for an utterly delightful time. Despite wholesale recasting (the original version of this Carl Reiner-created sitcom starred Reiner himself) and almost getting canceled after its first season, this domestic-workplace sitcom is now revered as one of the best TV shows of all time. The wildly talented Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, in her breakout role, command envy and attention as ideal couple Rob and Laura Petrie, who are just as likely to smooch as they are toss out a song-and-dance number. That variety element continues at the office where Rob riffs with Buddy and Sally (vaudeville veterans Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie) in the comedy writers’ room as the art of crafting jokes is more entertaining than the jokes themselves. Inventive stories range from the bottle episode “Never Bathe on Saturday” to the bizarre fever dream of “It May Look Like a Walnut,” but always, Van Dyke and Moore’s mastery of dialogue and physical humor are at the forefront despite the ongoing lunacy. This sitcom is much like Rob’s trip over the ottoman: comical, exciting, but inevitably landing the joke perfectly. —HN

Stream on Hulu; stream on Amazon via IMDbTV.

9. “Atlanta” (FX, 2016-present)

ATLANTA Robbin' Season -- "Money Bag Shawty" -- Season Two, Episode 3 (Airs Thursday, March 15, 10:00 p.m. e/p) Pictured: Donald Glover as Earnest Marks. CR: Guy D'Alema/FX
“Donald Glover in Atlanta”Guy D’Alema/FX

“Atlanta” provides a distinct starring vehicle for the talents of multi-hyphenate Donald Glover, who also created the series. Refreshingly profound, two seasons in, Glover uses his peculiar brand of humor to make topical, incisive statements, while undermining assumptions, especially in its even more eccentric second season, “Atlanta: Robbin’ Season.” It’s an essential portrait of African American life full of well-drawn characters — played by Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Lee Stanfield, and Zazie Beetz — offering the kinds of ruminations that could only come with allowances for rich interior lives. A love letter to the title city, it’s also a dynamic chronicling of its underground hip-hop scene. Glover called the series “‘Twin Peaks’ with rappers.” And like David Lynch’s critically-acclaimed curio, “Atlanta” has developed a cult following of its own. The series has won two Golden Globes, as well as two Emmys, and Glover’s Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series was the first ever awarded to an African-American. —TO

Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

8. “The Golden Girls” (NBC, 1985-1992)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Touchstone Tv/Whitt-Thomas-Harris Prod/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5882932j)Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty WhiteThe Golden GirlsTouchstone TV/Whitt-Thomas-Harris ProdUSATelevisionTv Classics
“The Golden Girls”Touchstone Tv/Whitt-Thomas-Harris Prod/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Just from reading the title, you have the theme song stuck in your head and a craving for cheesecake in your mouth. Defying the idea that Americans only want to watch TV shows about the young, the perfectly balanced ensemble of Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty made the retiree life look like a laugh riot — so long as you were hanging out with Sophia, Dorothy, Blanche, and Rose. The punchlines are as endless as these women are full of life. Creator Susan Harris let her characters laugh and love for six seasons, embracing every facet of a culture typically experienced on TV by naive youths, and here put through the insightful lens of women facing their sunset years. The formula proves enduring because as much as these women might poke fun at each other, in the end they were pals and confidants. —LSM

Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

7. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (CBS, 1970-1977)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover UsageMandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (3377011i) Mary Tyler Moore Mary Tyler Moore Show - 1970s
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

From the moment that Lou Grant growls, “I hate spunk!” at Mary Richards, the audience gets an inkling of how different Mary Tyler Moore’s new sitcom, about a 30-year-old single woman who starts over in Minneapolis, will be. More than just a liberation of the woman from onscreen domestic drudgery, the show also allowed television to grow up and progress from its usually silly and unsophisticated fare. The show’s challenging and realistic topics — such as addiction, infidelity, equal pay for women, and homosexuality — plus its smart dialogue, let its complex and now-iconic characters shine. Mary and her fellow WJM newsroom team set the standard for workplace relationships on TV and became so beloved that the show inspired three spinoffs. After a whopping 29 Emmys and firmly establishing itself as one of the most influential TV series, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” really made it after all. —HN

Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

6. “Parks and Recreation” (NBC, 2009-2015)

Parks and Recreation
“Parks and Recreation”NBC

It takes a special set of characters and a finely-tuned atmosphere to create the kind of comedy that balances the encroaching, caustic nature of life and a healthy streak of sincerity to drown it out. With Leslie Knope (a never-better Amy Poehler) at the center, “Parks and Rec” reveled in the tiny goofiness of everyday life. Whether it was the crazy guy at the town hall meeting or the insane amount of binder-based preparation for each new Pawnee policy proposal, this NBC series knew how to carve out the best jokes from props, puns, and people alike. By balancing reality with hope, Michael Schur’s endearing sitcom made its small town story as timeless as any political tale, large or small. —SG

Stream on Hulu; stream or buy on Amazon.

5. “30 Rock” (NBC, 2006-2013)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ali Goldstein/NBC-TV/REX/Shutterstock (5886031ae)Tina Fey30 Rock - 2006NBC-TVUSATelevision
“30 Rock”NBC-TV/REX/Shutterstock

“30 Rock” didn’t begin life as a surefire hit. The first few episodes of Tina Fey’s fictionalized, behind-the-scenes look at an NBC sketch comedy show take some time to find their footing. But as Liz Lemon (Fey), Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), Tracy Jordan (Tracey Morgan), Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski), Kenneth the Page (Jack McBrayer), and the other men and women who work on “TGS” begin to gain definition, their beautiful weird world becomes a living, vibrant thing. Legendary for its catchphrases (“I want to go to there”), incredible guest stars (Elaine Stritch!), and singular point-of-view, “30 Rock” is a show so packed with jokes that a decade later, we’re still unpacking them And they’re all delivered by characters that, by the end of its seven-season run, had come to capture our hearts. —LSM

Stream on Hulu; stream or buy on Amazon.

4. “Veep” (HBO, 2012-2019)

Veep Season 6 Episode 9 Julia Louis-Dreyfus Sam Richardson Tony Hale Anna Chlumsky
“Veep”Colleen Hayes / HBO

Bossy. Nasty. Hysterical. All of these represent coded language often used to denigrate women — especially women in power — and yet, when turned on their head, each word also provides an astute assessment of HBO’s exquisite political satire led by Emmy Queen Julia Louis-Dreyfus. For one, she’s the boss — the best, the top dog, the No. 1 honcho in all of television, and her turn as the vicious, take-no-prisoners Selina Meyer proves it. So magnificent is the former VP’s unquenchable thirst for power, let her be known as an honorary “Game of Thrones” character from this moment forward. (House Meyer, for the win.) Selina was also the original nasty woman before Hillary drew power from the careless condemnation, dropping f-bombs with such artistry they belong in a library (or a vagi-brary, if you will). Finally, Selina and all her “Veep” cohorts are hysterical to the funniest extreme. Armando Iannucci and (later) David Mandel’s comedy is an onslaught of well-orchestrated humor, from the careful blocking eliciting excellent visual gags (just look to Tony Hale’s Gary in any scene he’s not speaking) to relentless monologues building to a comedy crescendo. “Veep” takes anything you can throw at it and spits it right back in your face with 10 times the force. It’s the bossiest, nastiest, most hysterical comedy ever written, and should be damn proud of it. —BT

Stream on Hulu via HBO Max; stream on Amazon via HBO; buy on Amazon.

3. “Seinfeld” (NBC, 1989-1998)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nbc Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5885737c) Michael Richards, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander Seinfeld - 1990-1998 NBC TV Television
“Seinfeld”Nbc Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

This so-called Emmy-winning “show about nothing” is anything but, and it proved exactly that for nine glorious seasons as Jerry Seinfeld, playing a fictionalized version of himself, examines life’s minutiae through his unique observational lens. In this social satire that broke most sitcom conventions, Seinfeld and Larry David created their own specific New York world in which unsentimentally and selfishness rule, especially among Jerry’s core friends: the weak-willed George Constanza (Jason Alexander), exuberant ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and oddball neighbor Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards), whose talents created some of the most classic and inane repartee on TV. Full of pop culture references, the show became a comedy ouroboros, creating its own rich world that began to turn back and reference itself. Because of this, it’s still one of the most quotable, syndicated, and spongeworthy comedies of all time. —HN

Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

2. “Newsradio” (NBC, 1995–1999)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Brillstein-Grey/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5872789e)Maura Tierney, Joe Rogan, Phil Hartman, Stephen Root, Dave Foley, Vicki Lewis, Khandi Alexander, Andy DickNewsradio - 1995-1999Brillstein-Grey EntertainmentUSATelevision

It’s difficult to analyze what makes “NewsRadio” one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. There are so many moving parts and the series serves as an impeccable amalgamation of so much comedy that came before: from traditional workplace sitcoms to Bob Newhart’s straight man in the face of absurdity, to classic vaudeville timing. But really, the explanation is this: It’s funny. So funny. Side-splittingly, spit-take, tears of joy funny. The brainchild of creator Paul Simms found lightning in a bottle with a cast of unlikely comedy co-conspirators including Dave Foley, Phil Hartman, Stephen Root, Maura Tierney, Vicki Lewis, Khandi Alexander, Andy Dick, and Joe Rogan. Comedies live and die on cast chemistry and “NewsRadio” may be the alchemical triumph of the known television world. Always existing on the renewal bubble, thanks to low ratings, “NewsRadio” was the hidden jewel on a network already boasting four other comedies on this list. In an age of rediscovering shows on streaming services, a lack of consistent provider means the series is on the verge of being forgotten by audiences no longer dependent on the comforts of cable reruns. This comedy for the ages deserves better. —LH

Buy on Amazon.

1. “Cheers” (NBC, 1982-1993)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1539446a) Cheers 1982-1993, Nicholas Colasanto, Ted Danson, John Ratzenberger, George Wendt Film and Television

A love story. An office comedy. An ode to the after-hours lives of America’s working men and women. “Cheers” means something different to each person who watches, but it’s something special no matter what. Marshaled by national treasure Ted Danson, the iconic presence of Shelley Long, and Rhea Perlman’s category-defining supporting player — modern sitcoms wouldn’t be the same if so many didn’t find their own Carla Tortelli — the long-running NBC comedy survived a central romance switcheroo and plenty more cast turnover by keeping its comedy consistent and killer. You never question the live audience laugh-track because, if anything, they’re not laughing hard enough. Created by the power trio of James Burrows, Glen Charles, and Les Charles — not to mention home to soon-to-be producing stars like Dan O’Shannon, David Angell, and Sam Simon — the 11-season series thrived on goodhearted humor with a balanced mix of characters and smartly-sourced drama. “Cheers” could be whatever you needed it to be, any given night, but you always, always knew its name. —BT

Stream on Hulu; stream on CBS All Access; buy on Amazon.

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.