2012 Best & Worst TV Comedy

Just like last year (and the prior two decades) television continues to be consistently better than films. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the comedy genre.

Try to name five decent, let alone great, movie comedies, or romantic comedies, this year. Pathetic, right?

But there are so many good comedies on television – network television at that – that not only couldn’t I limit my list to five, I couldn’t even limit it to ten!

And they’re so good, I didn’t need to modify my adjective. No “most enjoyed” here. For comedy, it’s the twenty best (and only the five worst … and compared to the best, the worst not only seem bad, but inexplicable).

It goes WITH saying that each of these efforts have great, large, casts of top notch performers who elevate everything their cadre of fine writers throw at them.

The mix of races and sexes involved in the productions speak for itself (imagine how long the list would be if I had/watched pay cable).


Commanded by Chuck Lorre
Spotlighting Jim Parsons
One of the few sitcoms in history that gets better as it goes along.

Commanded by & Spotlighting Rob Corddry
Anarchic in style and content, this fifteen minute (actually eleven minute) Cartoon Network live action Adult Swim self-satire brims with invention.

Commanded (in 2012) by Dan Harmon
Spotlighting Joel McHale
The most meta, yet geek-loving, comedy mash-up (barely) running.

Commanded by Bill Lawrence
Spotlighting Courtney Cox
A sweet, sun-drenched, wine-soaked, poorly titled, F*R*I*E*N*D*S-friendly follow-up.

Commanded by Nahnatchka Khan
Spotlighting Krysten Ritter
Madcap, just-this-side-of-R-rated battle of, with, and between the over-sexed sexes.

Commanded by & Spotlighting Seth McFarlane
Not Simpsons, not South Park, not nice, still funny.

Commanded by Scott Silveri
Spotlighting Matthew Perry
Much better than anyone imagined it would, or could, be, this sweet, smart, and insightful show plays like F*R*I*E*N*D*S if Monica had died and Chandler had gone to grief counseling group therapy.

Commanded by David Caspe
Spotlighting Casey Wilson
F*R*I*E*N*D*S meets His Girl Friday times six.

Commanded by Carter Bays & Craig Thomas
Spotlighting Neil Patrick Harris
High concept flashback of pa telling kids the title, with a supremely talented cast (who have each already cut quite a wide swath through the rest of the entertainment industry).

Commanded by Rob McElhenney
Chaotic and riotous (in every definition of the term) semi-improvisational attack on the traditional sitcom with a bunch of very likeable unlikeables.

Commanded by Keegan Michael Key & Jordan Peele
Insightful, surprising, inventive, and fun sketch series that both softens and hardens Dave Chappelle’s approach with a more nerd-friendly, inclusive, coating.

Commanded by Jackie Marcus Schaffer & Jeff Schaffer
More semi-improvisational likeable unlikeables (which makes sense since this shows follows It’s Always Sunny on Thursday nights), centering around a bunch of upper middle class fantasy football aficianados.

Commanded by Louis C.K.
The man (the legend), who’s now leading the way in the no-middle-man digital entertainment revolution, pours his heart, soul, brains, libido, and ego into a veritably auteur tour-de-force of unpredictable invention and insight.

Commanded by Elizabeth Meriwether
Spotlighting Zooey Deschanel
That Girl for the adorkable/feminist age, enhanced by three meta-men.

Commanded by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur
Spotlighting Amy Poehler
What started as an Office knock-off has matured into a loving tribute of good people trying to do good things in Indiana.

Commanded by and Spotlighting Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein
An engaging tribute/satire to/of the title Oregon town.

Commanded by Seth Green & Matthew Senreich
What a bunch of over-stimulated, over-sexed, pop culture kids would do with a bunch of toys and a stop motion animation camera.

Commanded by Matt Groening and James L. Brooks
Well-settled into its widescreen, longest-running-sitcom-ever, rut, it’s still always good for a smile and/or nod.

Commanded by Trey Parker & Matt Stone
The wild card of topical comedy animation, they can still turn around an entire inspired episode in two days.

Commanded by Emily Kapnek
Spotlighting Jane Levy
What started as a sharp satire of the leisure-soaked upper class has become a warm, telling tale of class war and peace.

Honorary mentions: Ben and Kate, MAD, The Middle, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, NTSF:SD:SUV::, Raising Hope, 30 Rock, The Venture Brothers


Commanded by Jimmy Fallon, Charlie Grandy, & Amy Ozois
Lot of good people involved with this. So why is it so clangingly ordinary?

Commanded by Chris Koch & Luke Greenfield
My Favorite Martian meets Mork and Mindy meets Alf meets Third Rock from the Sun meets The Addams Family meets strained scripting.

Commanded by David Kohan & Max Mutchnick
The men behind Will & Grace try to make lightning strike twice. They don’t.

Commanded by Rob Long & Steve Byrne
Let’s do Cheers, only with as many stereotypes and labored non-jokes as we can think of.

Commanded by Whitney Cummings
The real comedy behind this low-rated, universally panned That Girl wannabe is probably the true Hollywood story of how it got renewed and why it’s still on.