The Best Sitcoms on TV Today

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The Best Sitcoms on TV Today

Right now that title above says “the best sitcoms on TV today,” but it was initially going to be something else. It was going to be “the best sitcoms on the air today,” but then we thought about and realized “on the air” doesn’t even really mean anything today. Like, you probably watch all of these shows through your computer, or at least through a streaming service that only works when it’s connected to the internet. Hell, even saying that these shows are “on TV” might not make any sense to some of our youngest readers, who might just watch everything on their phones or tablets. What a future.

Still, stipulating that this list only considered shows that are currently in production is important, because that’s exactly what this is: a list of the funniest comedies that are still making new episodes. They might not be in season right now. We might be months away from new episodes premiering anywhere. But all of these shows were renewed and will be back at some point in the next year, and all of them wrapped up great, hilarious seasons at some point in the last year.

There are some shows that might still technically exist that weren’t considered because they don’t have any scheduled return. Louie is an excellent show that would definitely make this list if it was actively in production, but even though it hasn’t been cancelled, Louis C.K. hasn’t indicated when he’ll be interested in making another season. FX seems willing to let him take as much time as he needs between years, which should keep the quality up. Similarly there’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, which hasn’t aired a season in five years; although we found out this week that it would be returning for a ninth season, it hasn’t started production and hasn’t been scheduled. We’re probably at least a year away from that next year of Curb.

So we’re only looking at the present day. We’re only thinking of shows that still live on, that have new episodes coming our way within the next several months. These are the funniest sitcoms on TV today, and we’re glad they’re here for us.

20. Fresh Off the Boat

One of the strange things about storytelling is that the more specific and unique the details, the more universal a story feels. Fresh Off the Boat tries to be extremely precise about the problems of being first and second-generation members of a Taiwanese family living in suburban Florida during the mid-90s—and this pointed humor is what makes the show’s cast and jokes rise above so many other sitcoms. The fact is, the show cares about offering a more nuanced version of Asian-American life, and this keeps its laughs honest. At the same time it never tries to make the protagonists out to be model minorities or fit them into any equally reductive role.—Sean Gandert


19. New Girl

[New Girl] is a Seinfeld that wants (a bit too often) to be a Friends, but when the episodes just consist of these ridiculous people getting themselves into absurd situations through harebrained schemes that backfire on them, no show is funnier or sharper. At this point, the characters are so well-defined that the show can mine humor out of their quirks with the greatest of ease. Watching Nick teach Schmidt how to do laundry, and Winston how to use a ruler—all before they drink Sangria in a makeshift tent, whilst belting out “I Want to Know What Love Is”—all makes perfect sense, in the most hilarious way possible.—Chris Morgan


18. Difficult People

The current television landscape is filled with shows like Difficult People, half-hour sitcoms whose dialogue can be chopped up into 140 characters for easy tweeting or that features plenty of scenes perfect for being cut into YouTube-able chunks or turned into animated gifs. This is the modern marketplace: if your show can’t be shared in some fashion via social media, it’s not going to survive. Difficult People creator and star Julie Klausner knows this better than most, as does her co-star Billy Eichner. These real-life friends fill their Twitter feeds with pithy, off-the-cuff commentary about popular culture and celebrities. Impressively, Klausner and producer Amy Poehler found a way to tap into that wellspring of tweetable humor while shaping it into a narrative that is both fun to watch and damn hilarious.—Robert Ham


17. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

The idea behind Sunny is simple yet brilliant—bring together the most narcissistic and cruel characters imaginable and let them wreak havoc on the world. Dennis, Dee, Mac, Charlie, and Frank all run Patty’s Pub together, though that endeavor never seems to keep them occupied for long. To entertain themselves, the group hatches one scheme after another. “The D.E.N.N.I.S. System,” for example, is Dennis’ foolproof method for manipulating women’s emotions so that they’ll fall in love with him. To give you an idea of how it works, the strategic acronym begins with “Demonstrate value” and ends with “Separate entirely.”—Riley Ubben


16. You’re the Worst

You’re the Worst’s second season will be remembered as a bold swing that could have, quite literally, sunk the show, but instead transformed it. At the midway point, I was uncertain the darkness Falk drove us into was going to be worthwhile. Then “LCD Soundsystem,” the season’s ninth and best episode, aired and it was clear the comedy had become a more layered, more complex work of art. From that moment, it took off delivering a string of episodes that were among the most interesting on television. It lasted a half-hour too long, last week’s gorgeous “Other Things You Could Be Doing” would have served as a perfect closer, but You’re the Worst’s second season is nonetheless monumental for its truthful depiction of depression, relationships and the often stupid nature of the heart.—Eric Walters


15. Archer

Archer has succeeded as a hilarious parody of both James Bond and Mad Men with the comedic sensibilities of FX’s best. Season Two was full of surprising twists—like Archer’s breast cancer. The mini third season—the “Heart of Archness” trilogy following Archer’s revenge on the man who killed his Russian love—made Archer one of the few story-driven animated series that actually delivers.—Ross Bonaime


14. Black-ish

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This new ABC sitcom is hardly the first time that the experiences of an upper class black family has been brought to the small screen. Yet, Black-ish feels so much fresher than its peers, thanks to some smart writing that pokes at the still fresh wounds of race relations in our country (though, without pouring in a helping of salt). There’s also a sense of the absurd that feels akin to other great family sitcoms like Malcolm in the Middle and The Simpsons. The comedy is brought further down-to-earth by great performances, with particularly fine work coming from the four kids in the cast, and a nimble and irascible Laurence Fishburne.—Robert Ham


13. Broad City

For the last few years, Comedy Central has consistently presented us with great comedy duos: Key & Peele, Kroll and Daly, and now Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. Broad City gives us two unforgettable characters who are desperately trying to become the boss bitches they are in their minds. This epic friendship is instantaneously contagious, and the brilliant plots, centered on the two twenty-somethings scraping by in New York City, makes this one of the greatest [shows on TV today].—Ross Bonaime and Hudson Hongo


12. Bob’s Burgers

It’s weird to think that Bob’s Burgers, a show centered around a constantly failing business and the proprietor’s eccentric and unpopular children, has become a bit of an institution. Despite this fact, it’s barely beginning to show its age, and rather than becoming by-the-numbers Bob’s Burgers has become stranger and more willing to step away from the Simpsons-esque format that’s always centered its storytelling. The show’s cast keeps getting more distinct as time goes on, and as a result the humor has veered away from the inevitable broadening that’s occurred for just about every other animated show Fox has aired. There’s no attempt at making the Belchers into an every-family, and while that might explain the show’s declining ratings, it’s also kept its jokes and episodes remarkably consistent six years in.—Sean Gandert


11. Baskets

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Baskets, the brain child of Jonathan Krisel, Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K., follows a man named Chip Baskets. He’s an aspiring professional clown who, after failing out of clown school in Paris, moves back home to Bakersfield, California, where he has to face the frustrations of living with his mother and working as a local rodeo clown. While Chip’s passion in life is to achieve the high artistic value of being a classically-trained clown, he must face the realities of a loveless marriage, reliance upon the support of his family, and uncertainty over how long he can financially support himself while chasing his dream. Despite its less likely moments, Baskets is a true to life comedy. Nothing is ever completely serious, and nothing is ever taken as a complete joke. Something as mundane as a trip to the grocery store and waiting in a slow line could be a comedy scene if you look hard enough. That’s exactly the type of show Krisel and his colleagues set out to make—the kind where the absurdity of life is highlighted and the humor can be found in just about anything, including tragedy.—Christian Becker

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