Top 15 Comedies of 2015
For the past several years, I have made it a point to rank my favorite shows of the year. Most of the critics I follow have made their lists much longer for this year because there are so many good shows out and they're available in every medium possible! I'm adding a few more than usual, so it's 15 this year. Feel free to agree or disagree. I welcome your comments as always.
Parks and Recreation – Parks and Rec continues to be my favorite comedy ever to air on TV and they had a pretty incredible final season. At the end of the previous season they did a time jump three years forward to see Leslie and Ben's children grown, her hair longer and having a great team behind her. Most of the Parks and Rec team came with her to her new job and they quickly explained and resolved where the others were. Ann and Chris left town in the previous season and I was pleased to see them back for one final appearance in the final season. The final season was its best yet in my opinion and it's unfortunate that NBC burned them off on Tuesdays for several weeks last winter. They had a very well written and executed series finale led by the incomparable Amy Poehler. I wish she won more awards for this amazing show. I miss Pawnee very much.Brooklyn Nine-Nine – This show continues to get better and better. I love this ensemble so much and each character has their own quirks and funny lines. Amy and Jake finally kissed in the season two finale, and although it's usually death for a show when a couple is happy, this show has kept them together this season and it's great. They work very well as a team, which the show has been able to showcase well but at the same time still highlight others on the team as well. It highly entertains me every episode.
The Goldbergs – I've really enjoyed this series for the last two seasons and and it continues to improve in its third season. It continues to mine the nostalgia of the 1980s but in a way that really works. It's another great family show that has really shown in the Wednesday night ABC block. The family is funny and weird, the nostalgia is great and it's very entertaining. My week is significantly better because of this family.
blackish – This family comedy continues to shine. This season they have really focused not just on family issues, but many more issues present within the African American culture (guns, the n-word, religion, etc). Each issue has been handled exceptionally well, and not just played off for laughs. The show continues to be very funny and the kids are hilarious. The casting for the kids is incredible and Jenifer Lewis as Dre's mother continues to be a genius decision.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – I was fully onboard for this show from the trailer. It looked like so much fun. I checked it out within a few weeks of the first season dropping on Netflix and I was hooked right away. Ellie Kemper is so entertaining in this fish-out-of-water story but the supporting cast is also great (Titus Burgess and Jane Karkowski especially). I had every intention of only watching the first few episodes, but I just couldn't stop watching. I absolutely loved it and can't recommend it highly enough. I can't wait for season 2!
About a Boy – This show was such a gem on NBC. I absolutely love the dynamics between David Walton, Benjamin Stockham and Minnie Driver as Will, Marcus and Fiona on this show. I caught up with season 1 after it finished airing because I heard such great reviews about it. I caught up in time for season 2 and was very glad that I did. Season 2 was even better in developing the characters and showing how much all of them (including other supporting characters) have grown since the first episodes of season 1. NBC unceremoniously cancelled this amazing show last Spring and never aired the final six episodes. NBC released them on iTunes last summer, but although I liked the show a lot I was not going to pay that much for them. Luckily, Netflix has recently dropped all of season 2 so if you've been waiting to see how the story ends you now can. The last episodes were well worth watching and it has a very sweet and satisfying last episode.
Fresh Off the Boat – Very rarely does a comedy premiere in the midseason to such success as this one. It has been many years since a comedy involving an Asian family has aired on network TV and this one is great! Constance Wu is hilarious as the straight shooting mom Jessica by always speaking her mind about the culture their family is growing up in Orlando in the 1990s. Supporting her through it all is her best friend and neighbor Honey, who could be written as stereotypical blonde golddigger, but they write her with a lot of layers, brains and heart to balance out Jessica's sometimes neurotic tendencies. The three kids are so well cast. The younger two don't get that many stories, but they steal every scene they are in. I am waiting for the day when they have their own webseries of their adventures. Eddie as the older brother is still trying to find his way through middle school and has a great group of trying-to-be-cool friends who are also very fun to watch. I'm glad ABC has stuck with it and I look forward to many more wacky adventures with this family.
Galavant – I am a huge fan of musicals and of Alan Menken's in particular, so when I heard that the two would be combined in this midseason show last season I was fully on board. It is campy, over the top and I couldn't love it more. It makes fun of itself, doesn't take itself too seriously and it is a fun little romp. I was fully entertained by all of it last season and I'm so glad that ABC will soon debut season 2. Season 1 is still currently free on iTunes (only 8 short episodes) and I would highly recommend it (but not for the whole family.)
The Mindy Project – This is a show that has been a favorite of mine for a few years now. I started watching it at the beginning of season 1 but I dropped it after a few episodes. Towards the end of the season, I continued to hear great reviews about it, so I caught up with the last several episodes. Although I didn't understand all of the plot that had taken place, I had a pretty good idea of the story. I continued watching the next two seasons on Fox, and thoroughly enjoyed it. When Fox cancelled it last Spring, I was pretty upset but was so happy to hear that Hulu would pick it up for at a full next season. (The way the viewing has been, it might be the only renewal it gets). The look of the show hasn't changed and the stories and characters still engage me. I'm currently very frustrated by the writing for Mindy and Danny, however. They recently had a baby, and Danny is obsessed with Mindy not working and staying home with their son. This would be fine, if this had not completely come out of left field and Danny seems to written his line in the sand. Mindy likes her freedom and now I don't know what will happen. Mindy is now having doubts and I am too! I don't know what is best of them anymore and I have loved them as a couple for so long. I hope they can resolve this is a way that makes sense so that I can enjoy them again.
Mom – This show continues to tow the line between drama and comedy. The comedic timing of Anna Faris and Allison Janney continues to dazzle me and they play so well off of each other. They also have the ensemble characters from the AA group to interact with which bring both comedy and heart. Mom really deals so well with dramatic themes on the show. Last season's story arc for Bonnie really shows why she won her Emmy in the Fall. She dealt with the death of Christy's dad (who she had recently reconnected with) and her subsequent spiral back into drinking in such a gut-wrenching way. It wasn't until Christy threatened to cut her off from her family that she realized that she needed to rethink what she was doing. At the beginning of this season, Bonnie got even more drama to play when she met her birth mother many years since she was abandoned by her. It is a comedy that doesn't shy away from these difficult topics and finds a way to balance this with a lot of heart.
Playing House – Playing House is a show that I heard a lot of positive praise about from critics, but it wasn't until after the season was over and it was renewed that I finally checked it out. USA made the smart decision of making season 1 available on demand on their website, so I quickly binged the short season. Like Kimmy Schmidt, I was immediately sucked in by the awesome. Stars and co-creators Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair have incredible comedic timing and their real-life friendship shines through on this show. It's very obvious that they write what they know and they know how to make an entertaining comedy. I really hope that USA renews this gem of a show so that we can finally see what with happen with Mark and Emma (I ship them so much!)
The Grinder – When Fox announced this new show for the Fall, it sounded a lot like Rob Lowe playing Chris Traeger again (his character on Parks and Rec). Not that there's anything wrong with that because he was great on that show. I wasn't sure about this show in the beginning, but it did have something special. Unfortunately, I had so many other shows on my docket at that time that I had to drop it. I kept hearing great reviews about it, so I used the holiday break to get caught up. Fox has the entire first episodes of the season of this and Grandfathered (which is okay but not great) available on demand so I caught up with the episodes I missed. It is highly entertaining and the interaction with Rob Lowe and Fred Savage (as his put-upon brother) is great. The character of Dean Sanderson is definitely full of himself and trying to learn how to live like a regular person, but he has grown to be a much more interesting character than he started out as. I'm in the rest of the season.
Undateable – Undateable started in the summer of 2014 with little fanfare. The critics knew it had the makings to be a great show (full of real-life comedians who are friends in real life and produced by Bill Lawrence) but they failed to make much of an impression ratings-wise. I watched it and loved it. It's an ensemble similar to Brooklyn Nine-Nine where there are standouts, but each brings something unique to the show. The show was great and was awarded with another season. It again struggled in ratings despite the strength of the ensemble and comedic timing of the actors. In the Spring of 2015 something incredible happened. They took a risk and did an hour-long live episode. A comedy hadn't done that in a very long time and no one knew how this would go. It worked very, very well. They did lots of gimmicks and had lots of stunt casting and it was the best episode they've ever had. NBC obviously saw this as a great success and so they renewed it for a third season, but decided that every episode would be live. Judging by the success of the May episode, I knew this could be great. Unfortunately, NBC is getting out of doing comedies so they decided to put it on Fridays and pair it with a terrible, terrible new comedy. This combination and the scheduling has not been good news for this great show. They continue to do extremely well every week and while they have toned down the stunts a bit, they continue to churn out good comedy. Give it a chance and thank me later.
Young & Hungry – I hadn't watched many ABC Family comedies with success before this one started in the summer of 2014. The ones I tried were way too corny and not funny. Young & Hungry has one thing that those others did not. This show has a few actors/actresses who have been successful in previous comedies and bring great energy to the ensemble. Here we have the delightful Emily Osment playing Gabi who is funny and a great chef working with Rex Lee as Elliott (although his character is too over the top at times) and Kym Whitley as Yolanda. They work for the adorable Jonathan Sadowski as Josh. The will they/won't they between Josh and Gabi is very tiring, but their interactions are still great. Also filling in the ensemble is Aimee Carrero as Gabi's best friend and roommate Sofia who also has great comedic timing. It's fun and light and doesn't try to be more than it is. It's just great.
Younger – I will ride or die for Sutton Foster. I came to love her on Bunheads (I still miss that show!) and so when I learned she would be headlining this new show I was all in. Yes, the premise is pretty ridiculous (Foster's Liza who is 40 poses as a 26-year-old for a job) but she pulls it off surprisingly well. If this were real life, I probably wouldn't buy her as a young woman but of course this isn't reality. Liza has to live the life of a 26-year-old and at the same time learn the lingo of a younger person. She also gets a super-hot 26 year-old boyfriend and by the end of the season, she finally confesses the truth to him. It's only a matter of time before everyone at her work (including the lovely Hilary Duff as Kelsey) find out the truth. Until then, I'm in for some entertainment.
Honorable Mentions –
The Jim Gaffigan Show
Again, it's only my opinion. I welcome yours..