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The 65 Best TV Comedies of All Time

From "Frasier" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" to "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Martin," these scripted TV comedies have proven to be magnificent cultural mainstays.

The best TV comedies of all time.

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

“Taxi”

Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

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)

LUCILLE BALL, DESI ARNAZ, WILLIAM FRAWLEY AND VIVIAN VANCE IN THE TELEVISION PROGRAMME 'I LOVE LUCY'VARIOUS

“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

“Friends”

Bright/Kauffman/REX/Shutterstock

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.

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