The 40 Best Sitcoms on Netflix (2017)

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The 40 Best Sitcoms on Netflix (2017)

A comprehensive guide to the best sitcoms on Netflix.

So you’ve already seen every episode of Seinfeld and Friends a couple times over on re-runs and it’s time to find a new show to make you chuckle after a hard day at work—without the commercials. Netflix has some great sitcoms in its streaming library for that early evening wind-down. Some of these are classics that have aged well, while others are still pushing the boundaries of what a sitcom can do. We included animated comedies in the sitcom vein, but not sketch comedy (just go watch Portlandia if that’s what you’re looking for). Here are the 40 best sitcoms streaming on Netflix Instant.—Josh Jackson

40. Family Guy

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Original Run: 1999-
Creator: Seth MacFarlane
Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Mike Henry
Original Network: HBO

It’s the show that made Seth MacFarlane a household name, and unfortunately, the one it seems he’ll never top. This is with good reason. MacFarlane created a family that’s easy to relate to despite the fact that it includes a talking dog (sniff) and an inexplicably British, bloodthirsty infant. Combine the characters’ eccentricities with jokes that (sometimes literally) won’t quit, and you’ve got one of the most important cartoons to grace the small screen.—Austin L. Ray


39. The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret

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Original Run: 2009-12
Creator: David Cross
Stars: David Cross, Sharon Horgan, Will Arnett, Blake Harrison, Jack McBrayer
Original Network: IFC

From the unique premise to the comedy itself, there are plenty of reasons to admire The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, the IFC sitcom co-created and co-written by David Cross, who also stars as its titular character. Margaret is a go-nowhere dolt working in the U.S. who is inexplicably promoted to run a London sales team promoting an energy drink called Thunder Muscle. Through a series of—you guessed it—increasingly poor decisions, that the viewer only learns about over time as they occur, he slowly gets into deeper and deeper trouble, while the worst decision seems to have been made by whoever promoted him to London in the first place. Rather than rely on straight-up punchlines, the show manages to maintain a level-headed humor throughout, ably going off the rails at one moment, only to bring it back to a quintessentially British cringe the next.—Austin L. Ray


38. F Is For Family

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Original Run: 2015-
Creator: Bill Burr, Michael Price
Stars: Bill Burr, Laura Dern, Justin Long, Debi Derryberry, Sam Rockwell
Original Network: Netflix

Like the more celebrated BoJack Horseman, this animated Netflix original mines surprisingly stark and moving drama from its bitter comedy. Starring popular stand-up Bill Burr, F Is For Family is a jaundiced look at a broken family during the height of the 1970s malaise, but, y’know, funny, at least some of the time. There are only six episodes out now, but more should be on the way.—Garrett Martin


37. Don’t Trust the B—— in Apt. 23

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Original Run: 2012-2013
Creator: Nahnatchka Khan
Stars: Krysten Ritter, Dreama Walker, James Van Der Beek, Liza Lapira, Michael Blaiklock, Eric Andre, Ray Ford
Original Network: ABC

Krysten Ritter is pretty much good in everything, but before Jessica Jones her brief stint as the… difficult woman of this show’s title was probably her best performance. She’s a breezy blast as pure, unrestrained id, and she’s surrounded by a fine cast, including a pre-Adult Swim Eric Andre and James Van Der Beek as himself.—Carl Dexter


36. The Guild

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Original Run: 2007-13
Creator: Felicia Day
Stars: Felicia Day, Vincent Caso, Sandeep Parikh, Amy Okuda, Robin Thorsen, Jeff Lewis
Original Network: YouTube, Xbox Live

It’s no secret that we have a bit of a crush on Felicia Day. From her starring role in Joss Whedon’s straight-to-internet supervillain musical spectacular, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog, to her more than two million followers on Twitter, she’s an Internet force to be reckoned with. She’s also a writer/co-producer/actress/etc. for a well-known and industry-defying web series called The Guild. Turns out, we might also have a crush on The Guild itself. The web series follows the sordid on- and off-line lives of a band of gaming misfits as they go from being anonymous avatars to being present in each others’ lives. The ensemble that Day and other producers scrabbled together are not only incredibly funny in their own individual rights, but they work together well—from snarky Amy Okuda as Guild dissenter Tinkerballa down to Sandeep Parikh’s obsessive, sheltered and socially-deficient gnome warlock Zaboo. Every character seems almost tailored to each actor/comedian’s strengths, which maximizes the potential for hilarity.—Whitney Baker



35. Wilfred

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Original Run: 2011-2014
Creators: Jason Gann, Adam Zwar
Stars: Elijah Wood, Jason Gann
Original Network: FX

Based off an Australian comedy series of the same name, Wilfred stars Elijah Wood as Ryan, a young man who’s having trouble keeping his life together. After a botched suicide attempt, Ryan begins seeing his neighbor’s pet, Wilfred (Jason Gann), as a man in a dog suit. Don’t let the initial introduction fool you; Wilfred is a buddy comedy in dog’s clothing. The show combines dark humor with an outlandish premise for a result that’s irresistibly charming and downright hilarious.—Megan Farokhmanesh


34. Schitt’s Creek

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Original Run: 2015-
Creator: Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy
Stars: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Chris Elliott, Daniel Levy, Annie Murphy, Jennifer Robertson, Emily Hampshire, Tim Rozon, Dustin Milligan
Original Network: CBC

Now’s the time to catch up with father-and-son duo Eugene and Daniel Levy’s winning sitcom. Season One mined plenty of laughs out of its fish-out-of-water conceit, with [bankrupt millionaires] the Roses transplanted to a poor, rural town run by Chris Elliott’s slovenly Mayor Roland Schitt, but its successive half hours go that much further beyond the title’s slapstick wordplay. The Roses, despite themselves, are assimilating to life outside La La Land, and incrementally coming to appreciate each other’s company. Schitt’s Creek isn’t particularly trenchant, nor is it simple or sentimental. Rather, it hits a sweet spot of ensemble humor that happens to offer a satisfying answer to post-presidential election rhetorical grousing about what would happen if middle and bicoastal Americans really could get along.—Kenny Herzog


33. Real Husbands of Hollywood

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Original Run: 2013-
Creator: Kevin Hart, Chris Spencer
Stars: Kevin Hart, Nick Cannon, Boris Kodjoe, Duane Martin, Nelly, J.B. Smoove, Robin Thicke, Cynthia McWilliams, Dondré Whitfield
Original Network: BET

Somehow Kevin Hart’s reality show parody feels less fake than most reality shows. Hart and his costars play themselves, or at least versions thereof, as they navigate work, life and relationships in Hollywood, mimicking the hyper-edited style and blatantly artificial narratives of most reality shows. Hart’s shallow braggadocio only becomes funnier when he’s playing himself, but J.B. Smoove and, surprisingly, Alan Thicke during its first season might steal the show.—Kenny Herzog


32. How I Met Your Mother

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Original Run: 2005-14
Creators: Craig Thomas, Carter Bays
Stars: Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris
Original Network: CBS

Very few shows are able to teeter on the tightrope of daytime soap opera and a laugh-out-loud sitcom without going overboard. For over half a decade HIMYM has spun a hilarious tale of how Ted met his children’s mother without growing stale. Sure, fans were starting to grow weary, but since the dramatic and uplifting turn in Marshall and Lily’s life and the return of the Ted-Robin-Barney love triangle, the show is back in top form and geting more like Friends than ever. We’re closing in on a lot of mysteries, but so much more has developed to keep us intrigued. —Adam Vitcavage


31. My Name is Earl

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Original Run: 2005-2009
Creator: Greg Garcia
Stars: Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly, Nadine Velazquez, Eddie Steeples
Original Network: NBC

My Name is Earl’s high concept couldn’t really support a show over the long haul, but it was blessed with a cast with a casual, easygoing charm that fit the material. It could be a little cartoonish in its depiction of a vaguely Southern blue collar town, but when it wasn’t condescending it was one of the few places anywhere on TV to see that kind of world.—Garrett Martin



30. Malcolm in the Middle

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Original Run: 2000-2005
Creator: Linwood Boomer
Stars: Frankie Muniz, Bryan Cranston, Jane Kaczmarek, Justin Berfield, Erik Per Sullivan, Christopher Masterson
Original Network: Fox

Motherhood changes you: your body, your priorities, your relationship with your significant other. And not all of them are drastic or even negative. But in Lois’ case, after raising five particularly unruly, rambunctious boys, her personality has adapted to her parental struggles. Once a happy-go-lucky, free-spirited mother after the birth of her first child, Francis, she grows into the dark, paranoid, tough, sometimes cruel disciplinarian she is at the premiere of the show. Her loving relationship with her husband, seems, curiously enough, largely untouched. Their marriage has survived the changes parenthood has brought because they’re a pretty solid team, with an us-against-the-boys mentality. While Lois’ intentions are usually good, there’s also an odd side of her that does relish in punishing her children, and it’s the same side of her that allows her to be pretty successful after all in the raising of her children.—Anita George


29. Green Wing

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Original Run: 2004-2007
Creator: Victoria Pile
Stars: Sarah Alexander, Sally Bretton, Oliver Chris, Olivia Colman, Tamsin Greig, Michelle Gomez, Pippa Haywood, Mark Heap, Katie Lyons, Stephen Mangan, Lucinda Raikes, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Karl Theobald
Original Network: Channel 4

Forget about ER and Grey’s Anatomy, Green Wing introduces a hospital that is more of an amusement park than anything else, and it wouldn’t surprise me if people would actually want to check themselves in voluntarily, whether they are sick or not. Starring some of the best actors known to British comedy such as Mark Heap, Tasmin Greig, Stephen Mangan and Michelle Gomez, this is the wackiest “hospital show” you will ever come across.—Roxanne Sancto


28. Friends

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Original Run: 1994-2004
Creator: David Crane, Marta Kauffman
Stars: None
Original Network: NBC

Unlike its Must See TV neighbor Seinfeld, which intentionally tried to break traditional sitcom rules, Friends was the apex of the network comedy machine. It had a cast of young, attractive, capable actors, hand-picked by network executives, slinging out rapid-fire wisecracks and rejoinders as a studio audience roared along. During its decade on the air, no show better defined what networks wanted sitcoms to look like, or inspired more shameless knockoffs. The fact that it was pretty funny, and had characters viewers grew to care for, is what made it not just slick and popular but a legitimately OK show. If it wasn’t for its stature, longevity and sheer importance, though, it probably wouldn’t rank so high on this list.—Garrett Martin


27. Scrubs

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Original Run: 2001-09
Creator: Bill Lawrence
Stars: Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke, Donald Faison, Neil Flynn, Ken Jenkins, John C. McGinley, Judy Reyes
Original Network: NBC

J.D. and the gang gave a completely absurd (and yet often the most realistic) look into the world of hospitals. Each episode didn’t center around some outlandish disease that everyone thought was lupus, only to find out it was something else in the last five minutes of the show. Instead Scrubs was character-driven. It was consistently overlooked by the Emmy Awards, and viewership dwindled throughout the seasons. Still, the witty writing and off-beat characters deserved more. When NBC canceled the show, ABC was confident enough to pick it up for two more (laborious, unwatchable) seasons. But in its prime, it was one of the best sitcoms on TV.—Adam Vitcavage


26. Black Books

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Original Run: 2000-2004
Creator: Dylan Moran, Graham Linehan
Stars: Dylan Moran, Tamsin Greig, Bill Bailey
Original Network: Channel 4

If you like grumpy, drunken Irish bastards, Bernard Black (Dylan Moran) will soon become your new hero. His constant bed-headed, chain-smoking self is a thing of pure beauty, even more so when he highlights his unbothered talents by pissing into his book shop’s sink rather than making the long way out of his chair and into the bathroom. He has no interest in selling his books whatsoever and rather hates people on a grand scale. The only one welcome in his shop is his oldest friend Fran (Tamsin Greig), who owns a bric-a-brac shop full of “wank” next door to his. [Black and Fran] spend their hours getting up to no good and leave [shop assistant] Manny (Bill Bailey) to clear up their mess more often than not.—Roxanne Sancto



25. Better Off Ted

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Original Run: 2009-2010
Creator: Victor Fresco
Stars: Jay Harrington, Portia de Rossi, Andrea Anders, Jonathan Slavin, Malcolm Barrett, Isabella Acres
Original Network: ABC

Better Off Ted is a sharp parody of corporate culture driven by a fantastic performance from Portia de Rossi. It’s a more pointed show than Victor Fresco’s previous underrated sitcom, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, with brilliant fake commercials that are frighteningly believable as the tone-deaf messaging of a multibillion dollar company, and great performances from a game cast. It’s been gone for years and its satire of technology companies and big business is still prescient.—Garrett Martin


24. The Bernie Mac Show

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Original Run: 2001-2006
Creator: Larry Wilmore
Stars: Bernie Mac, Kellita Smith, Jeremy Suarez, Dee Dee Davis, Camille Winbush
Original Network: Fox

For five seasons the king of the Original Kings of Comedy had his own family-ish sitcom on Fox, and it was good while it lasted. Bernie Mac’s stand-up persona translated seamlessly to the small screen, as he played himself, only with the sudden, unexpected arrival of his sister’s three kids. The formula of “old grump with young kids” might feel tired and overdone, but that’s only because it works so well so often, as this show proves.—Garrett Martin


23. The League

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Original Run: 2009-2015
Creator: Jeff Schaffer, Jackie Marcus Schaffer
Stars: Mark Duplass, Nick Kroll, Stephen Rannazzisi, Paul Scheer, Jon Lajoie, Katie Aselton
Original Network: FX

Don’t let all the fantasy football talk deter you if you’re not into sports. For all its NFL-star cameos and inside-baseball terminology, The League, at its heart, is really just a show about a group of friends who like to compete with and talk smack about each other. It’s basically Friends, if Ross and Chandler were allowed to call each other “shit-sippers” on primetime network TV. This semi-improvised show is wonderful, weird and features a bunch of people who are very funny but usually relegated to more bit roles in TV and movies (Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Katie Aselton, etc.). And when it comes to the show’s smack-talking bros, there’s a favorite for everyone, be it crass, sex-obsessed loose cannon Rafi or Kevin and Jenny, who despite occasionally playing the goofy-dad/smart-mom TV-cleaning-product commercial dichotomy, will remind you of all the things you liked about the good relationships you’ve been in. The shortened first season plays more like a TV miniseries and will take you less than an afternoon. It’ll be worth it.—Lindsay Eanet


22. Lady Dynamite

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Original Run: 2016-
Creator: Pam Brady, Mitch Hurwitz
Stars: Maria Bamford, Fred Melamed, Mary Kay Place
Original Network: Netflix

Lady Dynamite’s opening episode is such a whirlwind of hyperactivity, even those viewers accustomed to Maria Bamford’s idiosyncratic brand of comedy may feel like they’ve overdosed on E numbers. But make it through the utterly exhausting pilot and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most weirdly wonderful sitcoms ever to grace the screen. Indeed, despite lurching wildly from showbusiness satire and surreal flights of fancy to painfully raw depictions of mental illness, Lady Dynamite‘s organized chaos soon becomes far more palatable and increasingly poignant. A game cast, including Fred Melamed as Maria’s strangely lovable but highly incompetent manager, Ana Gasteyer as her ghastly, no-nonsense agent, and former Supermen Dean Cain and Brandon Routh as her boyfriends past and present all add to the show’s random bizarre appeal. And if that hasn’t sold you, there’s also an adorable talking pug that sounds like Werner Herzog.—Jon O’Brien


21. New Girl

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Original Run: 2011-
Creator: Elizabeth Meriwether
Stars: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone
Original Network: Fox

When New Girl started it was a sharp hang-out sitcom for the 21st century, updating the basic template of Friends into the modern day, but with a looser, more improvisational feel to the humor that makes it seem at least a bit less artificial. Like Friends, the show’s greatest strength is less the writing than the performances and chemistry of its cast—few shows can milk as much out of its characters lounging around a living room, or drunkenly playing a made-up game with no clear rules. Its best days might now be behind it, but they’ll live on through Netflix forever, or until the current rights agreement runs out.—Garrett Martin



20. Trailer Park Boys

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Original Run: 2001-2008; 2014-
Creator: Mike Clattenburg
Stars: John Paul Tremblay, Robb Wells, Mike Smith, John Dunsworth, Patrick Roach, Lucy DeCoutere, Sarah E. Dunsworth, Tyrone Parsons, Jonathan Torrens, Jeanne Harrison
Original Network: Showcase, Netflix

After 10 seasons and 16 years, Trailer Park Boys is an institution. For those completely unfamiliar with it, the show centers on the antics of Ricky and Julian, two idiot schemers, and their weird friend, Bubbles. The three live in a trailer park, where a whole bunch of other misfits, lunatics and drunks reside. Everyone fights and fucks up to laughter, the titular “boys” go to jail at the end of each season, and it all restarts once they’re released.

There are any number of things that can explain the enduring popularity of Trailer Park Boys. In a weed-friendly 21st century culture, its willingness to revel in the joys of pot smoking struck an early chord. There are the countless Rickyisms, puncta which enter the personal vocabularies of viewers. There’s the plain fact that faux drunk slapstick is always, always funny. And it’s got heart, clichéd as that is—the boys love the trailer park, their drunk nemesis Jim Lahey loves the trailer park, and so does everyone else there, even if nobody outside understands why.—Ian Williams


19. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Original Run: 2015-
Creator: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock
Stars: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, Carol Kane
Original Network: Netflix

NBC has made any number of mistakes over the years, but few bigger than shelving Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s 30 Rock follow-up, before punting it over to Netflix. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt wound up becoming one of the highlights of a great year for TV comedy. The fast-paced and flip sitcom featured breakout performances by Office vet Ellie Kemper as the titular former “mole woman” trying to make it on her own in New York, and Tituss Burgess as her flamboyant and put-upon roommate, Titus Andromedon. (NBC has recently tried to make it up to Kemper for dropping the ball on this by planting her in the guest host chair at Today—too little, too late, peacock peddlers.) Throughout the first season’s run, some writers and critics seemed dead set on finding some kind of flaw to pounce on with the show, zeroing in on how the minority characters are represented. This may be a wild generalization, but I think this was a natural reaction to one of the most overtly feminist sitcoms ever produced. Kimmy Schmidt is most certainly upsetting the natural order of your typical network sitcom. The show’s titular character is defining her life on her own terms and by her own standards. For some reason that still freaks some people out so they dismiss it or find some way to poke holes in the vehicle for that idea. That is what makes the prospect of a second season so exciting. Just as the show can go in a myriad of different directions, so too can Kimmy Schmidt. Now that she has put the awful time in the bunker to bed, she can face a new day with that infectious smile, bubbly attitude, and enthusiastic embrace of life experience. Sorry nitpickers and network executives; Kimmy Schmidt is going to make it after all. Robert Ham


18. Futurama

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Years: 1999-
Creator: Matt Groening
Stars: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr, David Herman, Frank Welker
Original Network: Fox

Totally underappreciated in its original run, which just caught the tail end of the ’90s, one gets the sense that Futurama at first suffered from misplaced expectations. Knowing it was coming from Matt Groening, perhaps people expected a futuristic version of The Simpsons, but Futurama is fundamentally different in quite a few aspects. Although it was similar in its satirical lampooning of modern (or futuristic) daily life and media, it was also capable of being surprisingly—even shockingly—emotional at times. Just ask anyone who remembers the end of “Jurassic Bark” or “The Luck of the Fryrish,” among other episodes. Likewise, its self-contained continuity was unlike almost every other animated sitcom, with events unfolding in both its first and second run on TV that fundamentally affected the viewer’s perception of earlier plot points. It’s now rightly recognized as one of the best animated comedies ever.—Jim Vorel


17. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

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Original Run: 2015
Creator: Michael Showalter, David Wain
Stars: Michael Showalter, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, Lake Bell, H. Jon Benjamin, Michael Ian Black, Josh Charles, Bradley Cooper, Judah Friedlander, Janeane Garofalo, Ken Marino, Christopher Meloni, Marguerite Moreau,
Original Network: Netflix

When a follow-up comes along for any project with a huge cult audience, it seems doomed to disappoint. Arrested Development’s fourth season’s breaking apart of the cast was bound to frustrate, and Anchorman 2 could never reach the surprising joy of the original. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp obviously came with a certain amount of trepidation. But instead of trying to recreate the glory of the last day of camp, as seen in the 2001 film, First Day of Camp added a considerable amount of depth to the original film and explained aspects of Camp Firewood that never needed to be understood, but make the entire history of these characters feel more whole. The Netflix series managed to redefine these characters that we fell in love with over a decade ago, all while giving us laughs and immense heart as well. Ross Bonaime


16. The IT Crowd

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Original Run: 2006-2013
Creator: Graham Linehan
Stars: Chris O’Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkinson, Matt Berry
Original Network: Channel 4

Stuck in a small, chaotic basement office, IT nerds Roy Trenneman (Chris O’Dowd) and Maurice Moss (Richard Ayoade) are always happy to help—well, Moss is, Roy is a lot happier sitting on his arse doing nothing. Head of the IT department Jen Barber (Katherine Parkinson) really has no idea of what she’s doing and is convinced that typing “Google” into Google will “break the internet”. Moss is your typical school-yard-bully victim. While he’s extremely articulate and proper in his way of speaking and dressing, he seems to have been overly coddled by his mother with whom he still lives. You might not necessarily want these guys to take a crack at fixing your computer, but you should definitely reserve them a place on your screen.—Roxanne Sancto



15. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

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Original Run: 2005-
Creator: Rob McElhenney
Stars: Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito
Original Network: FX

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


14. Archer

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Original Run: 2009-
Creator: Adam Reed
Stars: H. Jon Benjamin, Jessica Walter, Judy Greer, Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell, Amber Nash
Original Network: FX

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


13. Master of None

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Original Run: 2015-
Creator: Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang
Stars: Aziz Ansari, Noél Wells, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe, Kelvin Yu, H. Jon Benjamin
Original Network: Netflix

Like its creator and star, Master of None is stylish, smart and clever—a half-hour comedy that ranks as one of Netflix’s best efforts in original programming. Following the trend set by Louie, Transparent, You’re the Worst and many other modern sitcoms, Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang built a show that doesn’t mind the occasional laugh hiatus. Instead of pushing the joke quota to astronomical levels, Master of None is content to find poignancy amid the humor, and if the former outshines the latter, so be it. The result is a show that is fun to watch, emotionally satisfying and thought provoking. It’s also been paramount in furthering the discussion about race and representation on television, both with its own casting and the topics it addresses. There is so much to say about this show, and these few hundred words are a pathetic attempt to do it justice. Master of None is not only one of the best shows of 2015, but one of the most important in a long, long time. Eric Walters


12. Frasier

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Original Run: 1993-2004
Creators: David Angell, Peter Casey, David Lee
Stars: Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves, John Mahoney, Peri Gilpin, Moose
Original Network: NBC

So many of the sitcoms of the ’90s are paeans to blue-collar family life, but Frasier was the odd show that made cultural elites and eggheads somehow seem like lovable characters to a mass audience. Both Frasier and his brother Niles can be infuriatingly snobbish, but audiences soon found that when their petty jealousies were directed at each other, they could also be hilarious. The show soon became an off-hand representation of the idea of “smart comedy” on TV, but it was also still a sitcom full of relationship humor. Viewers waited a hell of a long time in particular for the long-teased relationship between Niles and Daphne to finally come to fruition (seven full seasons). Frazier, on the other hand, is never really lucky in love, but he was always better as a semi-depressed single, turning his probing mind on himself.—Jim Vorel


11. Bob’s Burgers

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Original Run: 2011-
Creator: Loren Bouchard
Stars: H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, John Roberts
Original Network: Fox

Bob’s Burgers, from creator Loren Bouchard, runs the risk of being shoehorned into the middle ground between its brethren: The Simpsons, now more American institution than mere TV program, and Family Guy, the rat-a-tat gag factory devised by Seth MacFarlane. That it nonetheless manages to carve out a distinctive identity—with the Belchers goofily surviving crisis after crisis at the titular diner through a heady brew of whip-smart puns, witty musical numbers, gross-out humor, and real, true kinship—is only surprising if you’ve never seen it. Once you have, its warm, sentimental streak, so deftly balanced with its zanier elements, is impossible to miss: As Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) says in the Season Two finale, reading a review of the titular diner, “We did did have a rather unique and strangely inspiring experience while we were there. This shabby little dive seems to hold a special spot in the dingy town’s heart.” Matt Brennan



10. The Office (US)

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Original Run: 2005-2013
Creator: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant; Developed by Greg Daniels
Stars: Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, BJ Novak, Craig Robinson, Mindy Kaling, Ed Helms
Original Network: NBC

At its peak, the US version of The Office could be the best show on this entire list. Seasons two through six or so comprise one of the genuinely great sitcom runs, a body of work up there with the best of Seinfeld or The Simpsons. It had a weak start, and became a sad parody of itself over its last few seasons, but during that sweet spot The Office was both hilarious and able to wring genuine emotion out of Michael Scott’s insecurities and Jim and Pam’s relationship. And in terms of sheer size and consistency, it might have had the best extended cast of any sitcom. It might not have the precision or laser focus of the original, but that’s the difference between American and British TV.—Garrett Martin


9. 30 Rock

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Original Run: 2006-12
Creator: Tina Fey
Stars: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander
Original Network: NBC

The spiritual successor to Arrested Development, 30 Rock succeeded where its competition failed by largely ignoring the actual process of creating a TV show and instead focusing on the life of one individual in charge of the process, played by show creator Tina Fey. 30 Rock never loses track of its focus and creates a surprisingly deep character for the its circus to spin around. But Fey’s not the only one that makes the series. Consistently spot-on performances by Tracy Morgan—whether frequenting strip clubs or a werewolf bar mitzvah—and Alec Baldwin’s evil plans for microwave-television programming create a perfect level of chaos for the show’s writers to unravel every week. 30 Rock doesn’t have complex themes or a deep message, but that stuff would get in the way of its goal: having one of the most consistently funny shows on TV. Suffice to say, it succeeded.—Sean Gandert


8. BoJack Horseman

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Original Run: 2014-
Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Stars: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins, Aaron Paul
Original Network: Netflix

BoJack Horseman is one of the most underrated comedies ever made, and it almost pains me that it doesn’t earn more praise. Right from the title sequence, which documents BoJack’s sad decline from network sitcom star to drunken has-been—set to the beautiful theme song written by the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney—this is one of the most thoughtful comedies ever made. Which doesn’t mean it’s not hilarious, of course. Will Arnett is the perfect voice for BoJack, and Paul F. Tompkins, who is in my mind the funniest man on planet Earth, could not be better suited to the child-like Mr. Peanut Butter. This is a show that isn’t above a visual gag or vicious banter or a wonderfully cheap laugh, but it also looks some very hard realities of life straight in the eye. There are times when you will hate BoJack—this is not a straight redemption story, and the minute you think he’s on the upswing, he will do something absolutely horrible to let you down. (There’s a special irony in the fact that a horse is one of the most human characters on TV, and the unblinking examination of his character makes “Escape from L.A.” one of the best episodes of TV this year.) So why isn’t it loved beyond a strong cult following? Maybe it’s the anthropomorphism that keeps people away, or maybe it’s the animation, but I implore you: Look beyond those elements, settle into the story, and let yourself be amazed by a comedy that straddles the line between hilarious and sad like no other on television.—Shane Ryan


7. Louie

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Original Run: 2010-2012
Creator: Louis C.K.
Stars: Louis C.K.
Original Network: FX

When life gives you lemons, you can make lemonade. But as comedian-turned-divorced dad Louis C.K. proves on a week-to-week basis, you don’t have to be happy about it. Louie offers a painfully real but hilarious look at Louis C.K.’s fictional, jaded version of himself and explores the humor in divorce, aging and parenthood. Louie’s laughs are always cringe-worthy, but more often than not, it’s because C.K. makes it easy for the audience to step into his shoes. Mix the tough moments in with incredible guest stars—Jerry Seinfeld, David Lynch, Sarah Silverman, to name a few—and you’ve got a show that mixes laughs with true life lessons.—Tyler Kane


6. The Andy Griffith Show

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Original Run: 1960-1968
Creator: Sheldon Leonard
Stars: Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Ron Howard, Frances Bavier, Jim Nabors
Original Network: CBS

Don’t scoff. Sure, The Andy Griffith Show is exceedingly old-fashioned, and its utter lack of black characters (in North Carolina!) or any recognition of the horrible racial climate of its day might be unforgivable today. But! This is both an important show, and more importantly, a deeply entertaining one, that remained fundamentally decent—and fundamentally about decency—while rarely falling to mawkishness. Despite its glaring failure in the most central moral issue of its day, it remains one of the most moral shows in TV history, but never feels preachy or didactic. It is a show that you can learn something from, no matter your age, station or background, without feeling like you’re being lectured to. And it only works because of its comedy, from the iconic fecklessness of Barney Fife, to the diverse idiosyncrasies of Mayberry’s citizens. (In its cultivation of an entire town full of vivid characters, Andy Griffith is a clear influence on The Simpsons.) Unlike most of CBS’s other “hick” shows, like The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Ares, Andy Griffith never made fun of rural, working class Southerners. If it had held them more accountable for the society they lived in at the time, or acknowledged the existence of the massive population of non-white Southerners that it pointedly ignored, it might seem less problematic today, but that failure doesn’t make the lessons the show does present, or the performances that did make it onto the camera, any less significant.—Garrett Martin



5. The Office (UK)

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Original Run: 2001-2003
Creator: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Stars: Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Crook, Lucy Davis, Oliver Chris
Original Network: BBC Two

I consider Ricky Gervais’ version of The Office to be a perfect sitcom for the way it balances cynicism and sentimentality. The comedy is heartbreaking, dark, brutal and oppressive—it stares into the deadening abyss of modern capitalism, which for so many people takes the form of dreary office jobs that eat up our time and slowly kill our souls, and it viciously attacks the entire structure. At its heart is David Brent, the incompetent, pompous narcissist who is one of the least lovable, most insecure leads in sitcom history. He fancies himself a kind of guru, but is in fact a moron, and his interactions with his deadly serious underling Gareth are beyond delightful. And even in this bleak setting, Gervais manages to reach our heartstrings with the awkward, slowly budding romance between Tim and Dawn, which stops short of the soap operatic smaltz of the American version (for one thing, Gervais has the balls to cast average-looking leads in his show, which would never happen over here) and has the capacity to actually make you ache. This seminal comedy gives up nothing too easily—its default setting is disappointment and ennui, always striving to undercut its principles—and that fact makes each move toward something brighter feel truly beautiful and truly earned.—Shane Ryan


4. The Dick Van Dyke Show

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Original Run: 1961-1965
Creator: Carl Reiner
Stars: Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews
Original Network: CBS

Before Dick Van Dyke became the toast of Disney live-action films and the star of every senior citizen’s favorite crime procedural Diagnosis: Murder, he was the titular star of this fantastic sitcom. The classic half-hour gave viewers two shows in one: a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a TV variety show and a warm-hearted family comedy. The former allowed for plenty of sharp dialogue and fast-paced jokes courtesy of show creator Carl Reiner and co-stars Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie, all playing comedy writers. The latter took full advantage of the winning chemistry between Van Dyke and former dancer and TV bit player Mary Tyler Moore.—Robert Ham


3. Parks and Recreation

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Original Run: 2009-2015
Creators: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur
Stars: Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones
Original Network: NBC

After a short, shaky first season as a too-familiar Office protege, Parks & Rec quickly adjusted into one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. When you talk about the classic sitcom casts, where every actor was perfect for the role, and every role was equally important, Parks & Rec has to be near the top of the list. With equally strong writing and the most fully developed sitcom town this side of Springfield, Parks & Rec was the ideal sitcom during its six year run.—Garrett Martin


2. Arrested Development

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Original Run 2003-13
Creator: Mitch Hurwitz
Stars: Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Tony Hale, David Cross, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Alia Shawkat, Ron Howard
Original Networks: Fox, Netflix

Mitch Hurwitz’ sitcom about a “wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together” packed a whole lot of awesome into three short seasons. How much awesome? Well, there was the chicken dance, for starters. And Franklin’s “It’s Not Easy Being White.” There was Ron Howard’s spot-on narration, and Tobias Funke’s Blue Man ambitions. There was Mrs. Featherbottom and Charlize Theron as Rita, Michael Bluth’s mentally challenged love interest. Not since Seinfeld has a comic storyline been so perfectly constructed, with every loose thread tying so perfectly into the next act. Arrested Development took self-referencing postmodernism to an absurdist extreme, jumping shark after shark, but that was the point. They even brought on the original shark-jumper—Henry Winkler—as the family lawyer. And when he was replaced, naturally, it was by Scott Baio. Each of the Bluth family members was among the best characters on television, and Jason Bateman played a brilliant straight man to them all. And after years of rumors, the show returned to Netflix for a fourth season—different in both construction and tone, but nevertheless, a gift to fans who had to say goodbye to the Bluths all too soon.—Josh Jackson


1. Cheers

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Original Run: 1982-93
Creator: James Burrows, Glen Charles, Les Charles
Stars: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, Nicholas Colasanto, John Ratzenberger, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, George Wendt
Original Network: NBC

The idea of place where everybody knew your name was central to the success of Cheers, even as Coach (Nicholas Colasanto) was replaced by Woody (Woody Harrelson), Diane (Shelley Long) was replaced by Rebecca (Kirstie Alley) and Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) found his own stool at the bar. This was the idea of a “third place,” after home and work, where a community could gather to socialize. Tackling sometimes serious issues in an always hilarious manner, the show created a place without class, where Frasier could grab a bar stool across from Norm and Cliff with an equal sense of belonging. Anchoring it all was Sam Malone (Ted Danson), the womanizing former ball player, who grew a little more with each passing season.—Josh Jackson

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