As this year comes to a close, we start looking back at the best we have seen, not just for the year, but for the decade. TV comedy has come a long way in this time frame, approaching often complex contemporary issues that were formerly unapproachable, in a format of simplicity. In essence, making the every day complexities that an audience, or even actors and actresses, may face in true life (yet will just as often not talk about) the subject of a show.
In looking at some of the best TV comedies, one will find that some of the best writing and shows on TV are in this genre. All of the shows on this Top Ten list are award winning, most have won in multiple categories.
So here is the list of the top ten TV comedies of this decade, in order by last original air date.
Friends – 1994 to 2004
This is a comedy focusing on the social lives, sometimes on the work lives, and overall on the relationships of a group of young Manhattan room mates and, of course, friends. Shot in a home-like setting, the greater part of each episode took place in the characters’ apartments and in their favorite coffee shop.
Characters display a sense of being people we can related to, with the struggles and joys of making it in the real world brought out in a heartfelt, yet still comical manner. Although the series was cancelled, it has continued to be an immensely popular show, and reruns still successfully retain its audience.
Will and Grace – 1998 to 2006
This show revolves around a former couple turned room mates and their core group of friends. Grace lives with Will, who’s coming out as a gay man had ended their former relationship as a couple. Both are professionals. The cast of characters sports its own quirks and imbalances, yet all are also quite big-hearted and basically accepting of one another’s short-comings.
To the attentive eye, the talent of this cast deploys some outstanding orchestrations in its acting and choreography, in some particularly funny scenes, displaying a level of excellence and organization that would be difficult for most to achieve. Unique plots and characteristics also make this comedy stand out.
That 70’s Show –1998 to 2006
A show about a group of fun loving teenage friends and their middle-aged parents living life in the 70’s. Situations that cloak a reality not necessarily bygone. Friends teasing and cajoling one another, parents being stuck with them, neighbors taken in through hard times, are all done with the humor it takes to make it, yet with that 70’s style.
Another multi-talented cast who could pull something off that most would never attempt, yet they’ve done it with an award winning style. Witty and sharp, with kids being kids (for the most part), and parents being human, its comedic household antics are uniquely entertaining.
Reba – 2001 to 2007
A sharp-edged woman copes with raising a family that was broken up by her husbands affair. Her husband stays deeply involved in her household, and in raising the children, as does the bubbly woman he had the affair with and since has married. A daughter who gets pregnant as a teenager also brings her boyfriend into the household, adding more fuel to the fire.
Although this was a comedy that some revered, yet some even hated, it did too well to get passed by. Sharp and cutting humor, along with caring and affectionate ribbing, helped this family to cope with a number of difficult situations. It took the drama of a real-life situation out of the way, and made it something to face up to, thus putting it on the cutting edge of being near-reality based Television.
My Name is Earl – 2005 to 2009
A man who has come to believe in karma, through his own profound set of circumstances, sets out to balance the nasty things he sees he’s done to others throughout his lifetime. He creates a list of things to set straight, and systematically works through each one, crossing it off his list when he’s through. A colorful cast of characters (including his brother, ex-wife, friends, and others) gets involved in his capers, helping him to set things straight and to relieve his conscience.
The characters of this show take the cake… sometimes southern style, often trashy, blatantly human – even if outlandish. Entertaining and fun in its creativity, emulating to an extreme so many of the funny things we would even see in so much of everyday life… had we been there.
Saturday Night Live – 1975 to Present
Presented with flair, each episode of this widely popular show offers various satirical sketches, seemingly poking fun at the gamut of human foibles. Presented in an on stage setting, a variety of stars, political leaders, and other well-known, often iconic guests host the show, with a large array of talented musical guests giving it well-rounded artistry.
The satire of this show displays its expertise, offering its on-stage players a platform that has given it a huge name, even in the political arena, where it often points out current political issues and blunders in a such a humorous manner that it can’t help but exact attention. Talented regulars and guests carry it off with unequated finesse, a style uniquely its own. Each sketch clearly makes a point, yet it’s often the subtle innuendos that make it so memorable, and even hilarious. Camaraderie makes it stick.
The Simpsons – 1989 to present
An animated comedy set in the imaginary (or is it?) town of Springfield. A dysfunctional but [supposedly] everyday cartoon family exploits itself in nearly any way imaginary, yet still displays the love for one another that’s needed to survive it, even if in an unconventional manner. This sitcom also has a movie, released in 2007.
Another satirical comedy that has made it to the top, its characters becoming well known to nearly any household in America, and more. Encompassing what the everyday could bring in an imaginary world, and what its imaginary, yet reality-based family could do to thwart the onset of the ordinary, it clearly has its own type of humor. Followed by a huge mass of fans, this show has reached a wide enough audience to retain a place in TV history.
Scrubs – 2001 to Present
The staff of a hospital copes with the rigors and stresses of hospital occupations and relationships. Interns and students learn initiatory lessons, as the more experienced staff members show them the ropes in an off beat way.
Unique and original in cast and performances, yet at the same time, touching and still brilliant. This show has recently been going through some changes, so the future will likely be bringing some news.
Two and a Half Men – 2003 to Present
Two single brothers (Charlie and Alan) with opposing, yet strikingly similar personalities, humorously teach and rib one another about the subtle, and yet humorous melodramas of life, brotherhood, and more-or-less of women, all the while artfully raising Alan’s son and living a nearly rich Malibu lifestyle.
With its tongue-in-cheek style, the slightly roughshod, yet still true-to-life casting of characters bring out a host of undeniably funny, albeit predominantly male-slanted scenarios (as its title would entail). No fluff here, just a fun-loving and artistic cast that makes it so funny… of course, overall good writing helps the cast to do the job well.
30 Rock – 2006 to Present
A show about the behind the scenes sagas of working within comedy television. Something of a fictional rendition of reality offers an array of characters and situations, originating from its creator’s experience (SNL writer and actress Tina Fey).
Although this show is still relatively young in the ratings game, it has still accrued a loyal fan base, and has already received numerous awards. Actors and actresses abound with genius in their portrayals, presented with enough strength of character to make the humor of a not-too-distant reality stand out above all else.