The 10 Best Shows On Television 2011: Comedy

2011 was a good year for comedy on television. Some returning comedies really stepped up their game while, there were also some pleasant surprises with a whole new crop of shows hitting the air. Let’s take a look back at what 2011 had to offer in the world comedy on television as we count down 2011’s top ten comedy shows on television. Remember, the comments section is there for a reason. Share your own top ten and make sure you come back tomorrow for a run down of the ten most disappointing shows this year.


10: 2 Broke Girls

I wasn’t sure how I felt about 2 Broke Girls following the pilot. It made me laugh, I liked the characters and I enjoyed the premise but I wasn’t sure I was crazy over the writing. There were an awful lot of obvious one liners, especially on the part of resident tough chick, Max Black, but Kat Dennings’ delivery really saved the day. As the show progresses, it doesn’t feel as forced as it did in that first episode. It’s clear the actors are settling into their roles and everything is coming more naturally. There are still rather painful moments that seem hopelessly contrived, especially those involving Han and Oleg, but overall, it’s a rather enjoyable show and I have nothing but hope for where it will go from here.
Biggest Advantage: Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings. These girls have such great chemistry together and work perfectly as a team. Chestnut the horse also proved a valuable asset to the show. The sheer ridiculousness of a horse in the heart of the city provided some great moments and also allowed us the chance to see Max’s softer side later in the series.
Biggest Disadvantage: Oleg, Han and the easy one liners. This show has a great premise, has great characters and has a lot of potential but sometimes it gets bogged down in trying to make easy stereotypes. It also puts a little too much focus on Han’s attempts to be cool and Oleg’s pervy-ness. As the show progresses though, a lot of these things are getting worked out and the show feels a bit more natural.
Overall Rating Out of 10: 7


09: The League

I missed out on The League for the first few seasons because, quite honestly, I didn’t know it existed. I started watching after seeing previews for the show after two of my favorites from this year, Sons of Anarchy and American Horror Story and discovered quickly I had a new entry for this list. It takes a pretty simple premise – a fantasy football league – and turns it into an entertaining and fairly involved show. The self-improvised format of the show makes it highly unpredictable which is where I feel great comedy really comes from.
Biggest Advantage: A unique premise. There really isn’t another show on television like it and that’s definitely a major selling point. With a terrific cast of talented actors/comedians this show is a winner all around.
Biggest Disadvantage: The sports based premise really limits the target audience to people who care about sports – or so one would think without actually watching the show. Truthfully, I have zero interest in sports – never have and probably never will – but I still love the show. This one definitely isn’t just for the sports fans. The only other real disadvantage is that it can be a pretty hit or miss show. Some of the bits sort of fall flat but the ones that land are well worth watching for.
Overall Rating Out of 10: 8


08: Hart of Dixie

Sure it can be a bit corny and a bit cliché, but Hart of Dixie is a lot more than that. A strong cast of characters many can relate to, smart writing and entertaining plotlines overcome any shortcomings the show is still trying to work through. Sure it can feel a bit dated at times but that’s the whole point. Bluebell is a town stuck in the past and more than a little out of touch with the way things work now. The tragically low ratings of this one might not bring it back for another season and that would be a real shame. There’s a lot unfolding in Bluebell and I, for one, can’t wait to see how things wind up.
Biggest Advantage: Bluebell. I love that little town and I love the people in it. It’s the perfect setting for a good fish-out-of-water story. I also have to give serious credit to the writers for not taking the easy way out and having Zoë welcomed to town with open arms. The conflict really drives the show.
Biggest Disadvantage: With a show like this it can be hard not to venture into cheesy territory and occasionally, Hart of Dixie can’t seem to help itself. In addition, the convenient medical solutions Zoë comes up with sometimes feel a bit too forced but that’s a general problem I have with the whole medical show genre (crime shows too, for that matter) and not just Hart specifically.
Overall Rating Out of Ten: 8


07: 30 Rock

30 Rock has seen better days but it’s still one of the smartest most unusual sitcoms on television. Sure they take stunt casting to a whole new level (season five included cameos from Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Margaret Cho, Aaron Sorkin, Susan Sarandon, Queen Latifah, Paul Giamatti and even Condeleezza Rice along with Matt Damon, Elisabeth Banks, Sherri Shepherd and Will Arnet in their usual recurring roles) but that’s part of the charm of the show. I’m not a big Tracy Morgan fan but he couldn’t be a more perfect fit for the show. I can’t wait for 30 Rock’s return this January.
Biggest Advantage: Tina Fey. Series creator, actress, writer and a million other things, Tina Fey is 30 Rock. Throw in an excellent cast that delivers in each and every episode and storylines that can be a bit beyond ridiculous and you’ve got a great show. Alec Baldwin is another huge advantage. His timing is perfect and his delivery is always spot on. When Jack and Tracy stand on the roof of the 30 Rock building and Jack tells Tracy doing television is the best way to lose all respect in the industry, he’s practically winking at the camera but it never feels that way. There’s a reason Tina and Alec get so many awards for their performances. They deserve them.
Biggest Disadvantage: 30 Rock has a reputation for being a very left wing show which chases away a lot of potential viewers. It’s a shame really because it isn’t left wing or right wing. Yes they poke fun at republicans but they poke just as much fun as democrats. It’s about as far from politically correct as you can get but that’s the charm of the show.
Overall Rating Out of 10: 8


06: Raising Hope

I’ve always been a big Greg Garcia fan and am among those that feel his previous show, My Name is Earl, ended far too early. Greg has a special knack for bringing us comedies of a different kind and Raising Hope is no exception. Dark at times but always funny, this show might not be a ratings powerhouse but it’s always entertaining. By the time the first season came to a close, I had high hopes for what season two would hold and so far, I’ve not been disappointed. I can’t wait to see where this one is going.
Biggest Advantage: Martha Plimpton. The woman is incredible. Her performance in this show is truly worthy of all of awards it receives. The entire cast is tremendous but Martha really stands out.
Biggest Disadvantage: I’m not sure why, but not a lot of people are watching this one. Perhaps the premise (a man has to raise his young daughter, conceived after a one night stand, with the help of his rather dysfunctional family after the child’s mother is sent to prison for killing a bunch of ex-boyfriends) scares people off. Regardless, the biggest disadvantage for this one is that not nearly enough people are watching and there’s always the fear that this engrossing and entertaining show will get the axe.
Overall Rating Out of 10: 10


05: Modern Family

By now, everyone and their dog has heard of Modern Family but I have to admit, I only recently started watching. I really wanted to see what all the hype was about. I fell in love with this show almost immediately. Smart, wickedly funny and featuring a strong cast of very capable actors and actresses, Modern Family has quickly become one of my favorite comedies on television.
Biggest Advantage: The cast. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sophia Vergara, Ed O’Neill, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell and Sarah Hyland are all incredible. It’s hard to pick a standout. If I had to, I’d choose Ed O’Neill, who I’ve loved for just about forever, or Sophia Vergara. It’s also awesome to see Fred Willard, Shelley Long and Benjamin Bratt popping up from time to time. The writing is always spectacular, of course, but the cast really brings it all home.
Biggest Disadvantage: Hype. It’s hard for a show to be as hyped as Modern Family is without alienating some fans. To be honest, usually when critics are this crazy over something there’s a certain crowd that will automatically tune out. That would be a serious mistake with this one.
Overall Rating Out of 10: 10


04: The Big Bang Theory

There have been a few patchy spots this season but overall, The Big Bang Theory has remained consistent. I wasn’t a huge fan of how the writers chose to rap things up between Penny and Raj – seemed like a bit of a cop out – but it did make for some great comedic moments so I suppose I can let it slide. I love the fact that Amy and Bernadette have been promoted to series regulars although I know not everyone agrees with me there. The writing for Amy occasionally is a bit over the top but I suppose that’s really what makes it so enjoyable while Bernadette is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters on the show. Thus far though, I have to admit my favorite scenes involve guest star Laurie Metcalf as Sheldon’s mother. Anytime that woman appears on the show magic happens.
Biggest Advantage: The sharp writing and talented cast. Everything about this show works. The characters are well developed and have great chemistry with each other while the actors deliver their lines with razor sharp timing. You buy into these characters thanks in no small part to how well the actors portray them but also because the writing for them is always spot on. Sheldon’s run in with a blue jay, the visit from his mother and Leonard’s awkward attempt at cyber sex with girlfriend Priya are all great examples of why this show still works and perhaps why it works better than it did in the first season.
Biggest Disadvantage: There really isn’t one, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not sure about the direction the writers occasionally take with Mayim Bialik’s Amy Farrah-Fowler but even when I think they go a bit too far (especially with her Penny fixation) I always find myself laughing.
Overall Rating Out of 10: 10


03: Suburgatory

Smart, witty and a tad absurd, Suburgatory is, hands down, the best new comedy on television. I know some if not most will disagree with me on this one but I refuse to back down. From the very first episode, the show has delivered solid episode after solid episode. The only thing close to a low point was the Halloween episode and even that one delivered plenty of laughs. With a great cast (including one of my all time favorite but tragically under appreciated actors, Mr. Alan Tudyk) and always entertaining plotlines, this show presents a fairly honest, if not slightly exaggerated, look at life in the suburbs through the eyes of a teenage girl homesick for her life in the city.
Biggest Advantages: The Thanksgiving episode offers the best example of why this show works when Lisa Shay, tired of her mother’s strict, controlling ways, chooses to opt out of the dress her mother is trying to force her to wear and instead chooses to wear her birthday suit to Thanksgiving dinner. Feeling victorious and empowered, she heads out the front door still stark raving naked, ducking into the Altman family car to avoid the police. It was perhaps my favorite scene out of any comedy show this year.
Biggest Disadvantage: Suburgatory isn’t perfect. There were a lot of things I wasn’t crazy over in the Halloween episode and there are a few other things here and there I wasn’t a big fan of but as the show progresses it’s really working out the kinks and is, overall, the best new comedy of the year.
Overall Rating Out of 10: 10


02: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

It was hard to find a low point for this one. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is one of the few shows on television that gets progressively better each and every season. Even “Frank Reynolds’ Little Beauties”, the season’s low point in my opinion, was an enjoyable episode, just not quite as good as some of the others. I’m quite certain this season offered some of my favorite episodes of the entire series. I’ve watched many of the episodes several times and they just never get old. I’m thrilled to see this show is finally getting the ratings it deserves.
Biggest Advantage: The cast, the characters, the writing, the stories – everything about this show is so wrong but it works so well. It’s offensive and none of the characters are the slightest bit likeable yet somehow you love them all the same. Episodes like “The Gang Gets Trapped”, “CharDee MacDennis: The Game of Games”, “The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore” and “How Mac Got Fat” helped propel this show to one of its best seasons to date. Not bad for a seventh season.
Biggest Disadvantage: Once you accept that the characters are constantly reaching new depths of terrible behavior, there really are no disadvantages. It works in the same way All in the Family worked – by making the bad behavior look absolutely idiotic. You’re laughing at them, not with them.
Overall Rating Out of 10: 10


01: Happy Endings

It absolutely kills me that Happy Endings doesn’t do better in the ratings. There are certain comedies at the top of the ratings ladder that are infinitely less entertaining than this gem and I don’t just say that because I’ve been a gigantic Elisha Cuthbert fan since the beginning of time. When I heard Happy Endings had been renewed for a second season, I was a little surprised but absolutely thrilled. If you only listen to one piece of advice I offer, let it be this one – watch Happy Endings. It’s one of the best comedies on television and desperately needs more support.
Biggest Advantage: Everything about the show.
Biggest Disadvantage: Happy Endings is often grouped with ‘relationship sitcoms’ and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. After Friends, it’s been hard to find a relationship sitcom that works. This show is a lot more than that though. It’s well worth checking out.
Overall Rating Out of 10: 10


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