×
Back to IndieWire

The 20 Best TV Comedies of the 21st Century, Ranked

We rank the best TV comedies of the binge era — a list of great shows you'll be savoring for decades to come.

Party Down 30 Rock Tina Fey Louie Louis CK

Starz/NBC/FX

Page 2: Shows 15-11

10. “Will & Grace”

Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally

NBC
1998 – present

Groundbreaking for all the right reasons, David Kohan and Max Mutchnick’s network multi-camera sitcom joined the ranks of NBC when their Thursday night lineup was still bonafide Must-See TV — and lived up to its slogan. The titular best friends played by Debra Messing and Eric McCormack made up half a winning casting combo, as Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally provided such iconic character work, it’s no wonder people still see them as Jack McFarland and Karen Walker to this day. Ellen may have made history by coming out on TV a year earlier, but “Will & Grace” opened more minds than we’ll ever know, and earned more laughs than anyone could count. – BT

READ MORE: ‘Will & Grace’: 5 Big Issues the Groundbreaking Sitcom’s Revival Has to Address

9. “Scrubs”

"Scrubs"

ABC
2001 – 2010

While this goofy medical comedy ascended to heights of lunacy and occasionally cartoonish fantasy, its humor should not be mistaken for off-color heartlessness. In fact, it was one of the shows that consistently wrung our emotions, mainly thanks to a deft hand by creator Bill Lawrence and Zach Braff’s charismatic take on the lead J.D., the earnest and puppy-doggish protagonist. Its unique vision perhaps is best encapsulated by its sound, a one-two punch of quirky voiceover and a killer soundtrack. Once the musical episode hit — with all original songs and ambitious choreography — its status as one of the top sitcoms of its day was cemented. – HN

8. “Sex and the City”

"Sex and the City"

HBO
1998 – 2004

This early feminist show was brash and unapologetic in how it presented modern women as fabulously flawed and sexual beings, who looked great… when they bothered to wear clothing. While there was some level of identification with its vibrant characters —Are you a Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda? — the show also allowed viewers to explore the boundaries of what we may deem acceptable in our daily interactions, in the workplace our in the bedroom. Starring the incomparable Sarah Jessica Parker as writer Carrie Bradshaw, this series wasn’t about breaking the glass ceiling but finding any line imaginable and crossing it with a well-placed stiletto. – HN

7. “Louie”

Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon, "Louie"

FX
2010 – present

This FX series hews so closely to Louis C.K.’s life as a single, stand-up comedian who’s trying to raise his two daughters in New York City that its mix of sad and sadder can get a bit much. But that’s the beauty of the discomfort comedy, much like C.K.’s own humor. It brilliantly throws a spotlight on human nature but thrives in the awkward, absurdist shadows that are created. Through this excruciating lens, the show takes you on some strange, sometimes fantastical paths to get at the truth, which is consistently compelling. – HN

6. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA Season 12 premiere "The Gang Turns Black" Glenn Howerton as Dennis, Charlie Day as Charlie, Rob McElhenney as Mac, Kaitlin Olson as Dee, Danny DeVito as Frank

FX/FXX
2005 – present

Honestly, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” secured its spot on this list the second “Kitten Mittens” aired — but that’s a slightly simplistic stance for a show that’s only superficially straightforward. Objectively, no other satire has fruitfully tracked despicable people for as long as Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, and Glenn Howerton have told stories about the owners and employees of Paddy’s Pub. Even “Seinfeld” tapped out at eight seasons, while “Sunny” encompasses a city’s morally questionable reputation with consistent glee and endless originality. Mac, Charlie, Dennis, Dee (Kaitlin Olson), and Frank (Danny DeVito) love being bad, see themselves as good, and provide episode after episode of hilarity no matter where their low standards lead them. Season 12 was one of their best ever, and there’s still no end in sight. – BT

READ MORE: ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’: Inside The Show’s Creative Process, 12 Seasons Later

Continue for Shows 5-1

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , , ,


Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox