The 10 Best TV Comedies of 2016
Photo Credit: STARZ
Despite what you may have heard, TV comedies aren’t dying any time soon. Although the genre hit a pretty rough patch the last few years, especially on the broadcast networks. But now that the cable channels and streaming services are producing new comedies of their own, the comeback is in full force.
Of course, the most important aspect of any comedy is that it has to make us laugh. As much as we love dramas here at CraveOnline, we need an occasional break from that routine. The best comedy series allow us to briefly forget how screwed up the world has become while we enjoy the performances and the writing.
One of the other things we’ve come to appreciate is the return of the high concept comedy. For the better part of the last decade, the majority of comedy series have been stuck between workplace shows and stories revolving around friends and family. That’s incredibly limiting, and it’s why the new wave of shows that actually move past those limits have been so refreshing.
As part of our annual tradition, we’ve selected the ten best TV comedies of the past year. But as we often say, comedy is subjective and so is this list. In the era of Peak TV, we’re bound to have missed something simply because we can’t watch everything. No one can! So, feel free to share your picks of this year’s best comedy series in the comment section below. We’re always on the lookout for the next great TV comedy, and recommendations are appreciated!
Photo Credit: TBS
Admittedly, Wrecked is on this list largely because we loved Lost and this show seems to be a direct parody of that series. Remember, Lost was essentially inspired by Survivor, so it was long overdue for a comedy series to do the same thing to Lost. In fact, our only real complaint about Wrecked is that it doesn’t always go far enough with its Lost allusions.
Zach Cregger, Asif Ali, Rhys Darby, Brooke Dillman, and the rest of the cast play their roles well, and we love the more bizarre situations that they endured in the first season. We want to see more of that insanity in the second season.
9. BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Photo Credit: Fox
The actors and actresses of Brooklyn Nine-Nine are still one of the best ensemble casts on TV. From top to bottom, there’s nobody on this show who can’t steal a scene or deliver a laugh. But we have to give a special shout out to Andre Braugher, whose Captain Ray Holt is still the funniest straight man on TV. His hilarious reactions to Detective Jake Peralta’s (Andy Samberg) antics are more than enough reasons to keep watching.
Our favorite episodes this season revolved around the multi-part story of Peralta and Holt in witness protection while the precinct adjusted to the new captain, C.J. (Ken Marino). The series has even mined more comedy out of the fallout from that arc, which stuck the team on the night shift. We always appreciate a series that doesn’t simply reset immediately, and the changes have only made Brooklyn Nine-Nine even funnier.
8. PEOPLE OF EARTH
Photo Credit: TBS
TBS struck comedy gold again this year with People of Earth, which stars former Daily Show standout, Wyatt Cenac as a reporter who inadvertently discovers his connection to an alien abductee support group and a larger alien conspiracy. While the bulk of the funny moments come from Cenac’s interplay with the group (as played by Ana Gasteyer, Luka Jones, Brian Huskey, Alice Wetterlund, and others), the show also mines a lot of comedy out of the aliens themselves. Ken Hall’s Jeff the Grey is particularly funny as a really dickish alien.
People of Earth has a lot of deliberately strange and bizarre moments, but they’re in the service of an actual unfolding story. This show surprised us this year, and we’re eager to see where it goes in season 2.
7. MAN SEEKING WOMAN
Photo Credit: FX
Man Seeking Woman is one of the most surreal comedies in recent memory, and it definitely seems to exist in its own corner of the TV landscape. This past season, Jay Baruchel’s Josh chased his dreams and a woman named Rosa (Rosa Salazar), while encountering even stranger things than before. One of the highlights of the season was Fred Armisen’s guest appearance as Jesus Christ, but it was far from the only one.
The only real problem with Man Seeking Woman is that barely anyone is watching it on FXX. The show will have a third season, but it’s not going to be able last forever without an audience.
Photo Credit: HBO
As much as we love Veep and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ performance as Selina Meyer, we’d like to see some other shows and actresses get recognition from the Emmy Awards. That said, Veep and Louis-Dreyfus deserve the recognition for constantly delivering one of the funniest comedies on television. Season 5 pushed the series even further into absurdity and it even gave put Selina in a brand new status quo that challenges the premise of the series. Let’s just say that “Veep” is no longer an accurate title for Selina after the election.
Veep’s not-so-secret weapon is that the supporting cast can more than hold their own with Louis-Dreyfus. Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh, and the rest are just about perfect. We’re not sure how Veep will keep everyone involved with the series after the events of the fifth season finale, but we’re always game to see this cast perform.
5. YOU’RE THE WORST
Photo Credit: FX
You’re The Worst is another FXX comedy series that desperately needs an audience. FX really didn’t do itself any favors by banishing some of its best shows to its lower rated sister network. It’s unfortunate, because You’re The Worst is one of the more unique comedies on television and it deserves more fans.
After the second season explored the severe depression of Gretchen (Aya Cash), the third season took a harder look at Jimmy (Chris Geere) by forcing him to confront his life choices and his extremely strained relationship with his family. Make no mistake, Jimmy and Gretchen are still pretty terrible people, but they’re terrible in a relatable way. The amazing thing about this series is that Jimmy and Gretchen are allowed to be so flawed, and yet still sympathetic. They’re perfectly imperfect for each other, and us.
4. BOJACK HORSEMAN
Photo Credit: Netflix
If you’ve missed the way that Futurama managed to mix animated comedy and pathos, BoJack Horseman has really stepped up to become TV’s funniest heartbreaker. Now in its third season on Netflix, BoJack Horseman gave its leading characters a taste of greater success in Hollywood while crushing their hopes and dreams in unexpected and often hilarious ways. What other show could get away with almost ending the season with the near suicide of the title character?
BoJack Horseman isn’t only TV’s best animated comedy, it’s one of the best comedies, period.
3. STAN AGAINST EVIL
Photo Credit: IFC
Who knew that what we really wanted to see in a comedy was Dr. Cox fighting unholy creatures from Hell? IFC’s Stan Against Evil definitely seemed to be a bit inspired by the success of Ash vs. Evil Dead, but comedian Dana Gould brought his own flavor to the series and John C. McGinley’s Stan is a national treasure. Janet Varney is also quite funny as Evie, Stan’s replacement as the Sheriff and his closest ally in the fight against evil.
At only eight episodes, the first season of Stan Against Evil was over way too soon. But fortunately, there’s a second season on the horizon.
2. ASH VS. EVIL DEAD
Photo Credit: STARZ
Ash vs. Evil Dead topped last year’s list of the best TV comedies, it didn’t land at number 2 on this year’s list because it did anything wrong. In fact, it was arguably better than the first season. Adding Lucy Lawless to Team Ash (a.k.a. the Ghostbeaters) only gave Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, and Dana DeLorenzo more opportunities to show off their comedic skills while pushing the story forward.
The biggest standout in this year’s cast was Lee Majors as Ash’s dad, Brock, which unexpectedly added a few new layers to Ash…especially early in the season. But the greatest thing about this series is that no matter how gross it gets, it always makes us laugh. It’s just a terrific series, and we love it.
Photo Credit: FX
Donald Glover has arrived, and Atlanta was the best TV comedy of 2016.
It’s not as if Glover hadn’t already made his name as a writer on 30 Rock, an actor on Community, or as Childish Gambino. But Atlanta was the first time that Glover has channeled all of his talents into a single project, and the result was a comedy unlike any other currently on television. Atlanta had more than its share of absurdist episodes, like Austin Crute’s guest appearance as “Justin Bieber” or Paper Boi’s unexpectedly satirical appearance on the talk show “Montague.” However, the more breathtaking moments of Atlanta came when it offered a bleak glimpse into the lives of the main characters and the world in which they live. It’s our world, and it’s not always pretty.
Atlanta’s surreal touches didn’t make the struggles of Glover’s Earn any less real. If anything, the show was even more powerful because it didn’t shy away from depicting a sense of financial desperation in Earn and his inner circle of friends and family, as well as their individual issues. There aren’t any easy answers or quick solutions on Atlanta, but that’s part of what makes it so compelling.