Best Comedy TV Shows of the 2010s – MovieWeb

The 2010s was a great year for comedies on TV, and these series were the highlights of the decade, providing the laughs that viewers needed.
When the discussion of the Golden Age of Television is brought up, it typically refers to dramas. When it came to the 2010s and the boom of streaming networks like Netflix and Amazon, along with networks like AMC, HBO, and FX, prestige dramas became a prime point of discussion. There has been so much discussion about series like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul, The Americans, the return of Twin Peaks, and many more that it felt like the era was defined by dramatic television that aimed for a cinematic feel.
Yet the 2010s also had an incredible run of comedy series. This makes a certain amount of sense, as with any decade, the serious issues around the world meant that sometimes viewers needed a break from the dreariness of reality and have a good laugh. The 2010s saw people reeling from a recession, growing global and political conflicts, as well as the much-needed push toward being more open-minded and accepting of gender, sexuality, and race, and the comedy of the 2010s reflected that.
These comedy series were the best of the 2010s, as they offered not only great humor and laugh-out-loud moments, but they also reflected the world in which they were created and spoke to a moment in time, while also being universal enough that they will endure with audiences long after they concluded their runs.
While Modern Family premiered in 2009, of its 250 episodes only 10 aired in that year, so it is a comedy series uniquely of the 2010s. The title lets the viewer know this is a modern update on the traditional family sitcom formula, exploring it not just through various generations but also genders, sexual orientations, ages, and cultural backgrounds.
Everybody is allowed a seat at the table in Modern Family, in a show that is both sweet but laugh-out-loud hilarious with the series perfecting the situational misunderstanding comedic storyline so well that it is not a surprise it won the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy five years in a row.
Another series that, while it premiered in 2009, had most of its run in the 2010s, Parks and Recreation truly found its footing and creative voice as season two aired through 2010 and Adam Scott and Rob Lowe joined the cast. What originally was conceived as an Office spin-off, Parks and Recreation quickly defined itself as its own series with well-defined characters that stood apart. These were characters and personalities that not only bounced off well with one another but made viewers want to return week after week because of how attached they became to the employees of the Pawnee, Indiana Parks Department.
One need only look at the cast that includes Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, Rhetta, Jim O'Heir, Jenny Slate, Ben Schwartz, and Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer to see how impressive and long-lasting the impact of Parks and Recreation has been.
The final series that premiered in 2009 but had a majority of its run in the 2010s, the impact on television that Community had can sometimes overshadow just how funny it is. The cast has broken out as major stars, leading a variety of other television series and movies (from the great Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs to Danny Glover and Joel McHale), and much of the creative team moved on to become artistic architects of some defining pop culture of the 2010s from movies, adult animation, and music (from Rick and Morty to Atlanta).
Related: Here's How Community Uses Homage to Deepen the Lives of its Characters
Yet Community not only holds up, but is still a great comedy. This is a series that was on the cancelation bubble its entire time on air and survived every time thanks to its cult fanbase. It both ironically mocks sitcom archetypes while also paradoxically being a full embrace of high-concept sitcom formulas that used to define television. This was a series that acknowledged its own absurdity with alternative timelines, episodes that were riffs on particular genres and even specific movies, and did so all with the fun-loving creative energy throughout more 'best episodes' than most shows. Community is not only a great comedy but a defining series that impacted so many aspects of popular culture.
Creative duo Dan Goor and Michael Schur, who worked on Parks and Recreation, collaborated again on the hit comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The series follows the detectives of the 99th New York Precinct, and is thus a comedic riff on the cop show format. Zany, wacky, and bursting with energy Brooklyn Nine-Nine features a well-stocked cast of great comedic talent who truly gel together. When the groundbreaking series was canceled by Fox, the outcry from fans and even some notable celebrities like Lin-Manuel Miranda saw the show move to NBC for three final seasons.
Then, following a string of troubling headlines about abuse of police power, Brooklyn Nine-Nine did not shy away from the issue and tackled it head-on, reworking itself and having many of the characters grapple with their profession. It was praised for its LGBTQ+ representation and its ability to blend captivating story with great comedic bits (the cold open where the lead cop has a prison line-up sing Backstreet Boys 'I Want It That Way' has become a viral sensation in its own right). Brooklyn Nine-Nine might be over, but audiences will still be laughing along with it for years to come.
While New Girl premiered in 2011 as a comedy vehicle for star Zooey Deschanel, the show eventually became the launching pad for several high-profile comedy stars like Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, and Lamorne Morris. The basic premise, where the lead character Jess finds herself needing to move into a loft with three male roommates after a bad breakup, updated old-school premises like Three's Company by tapping into very specific anxieties and fears young Millennials were having as they moved into the adult world.
Three years removed from the great recession, New Girl highlighted aspects of young adults still trying to get their life together, while highlighting the importance of friendship and a sense of found family. With great characters that all had unique personalities and well-defined comedic personas, New Girl was a refreshing breath of fresh air that continues to draw in fans even after it ended in 2018, and was definitely contributed to the emerging 'comedy of kindness' trend.
Originating as a YouTube web series, Broad City premiered on Netflix in January 2014 and aired for five successful seasons until it concluded in 2019, and has been featured on multiple Best of 2010 television lists. Led by an incredible creative team from stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, Broad City is incredibly funny in its reflection of a uniquely millennial experience. A dirty, raunchy, mature show with a feminist comedic spin, Broad City puts a specific highlight on female friendship and succeeds as a result. Broad City is big, bombastic, and as the title implies, broad in its comedy, making it one of the best comedy series not just of the 2010s but of all time.
A remake of the 1975 series of the same name, One Day at a Time updates the formula of the original series by focusing on a Cuban-American family living in Los Angeles. The show balances the traditions of a typical multi-camera sitcom while also tackling real-world issues like mental health, immigration, racism facing Latin Americans, and sexuality that made the series a topical reflection of the world it was created in.
Related: These Are the Best Reboots and Remakes of Canceled TV Shows, RankedCarried by an incredible cast including Academy Award-winner Rita Moreno, One Day at a Time was a show that endured multiple threats of cancelation. After three seasons, Netflix canceled the series, which was then revived on PopTV, but quickly got canceled due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless, One Day at a Time's run from 2017 to 2020 came along when it was needed.
Who would have guessed that a small Canadian comedy series would become a breakout hit and eventually an Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Comedy Series? Breaking records for garnering 15 Emmy nominations in its final season, Schitt's Creek became a major hit thanks to the series hitting Netflix in season three.
Schitt's Creek follows the formerly wealthy Rose family after their business manager embezzles from them. The family loses its fortune and relocates to Schitt's Creek, a small town they once purchased as a joke. Anchored by an impressive cast that includes heavy-weight talents like Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara alongside Dan Levy and Annie Murphy as their spoiled kids, who became breakout stars. With an outstanding supporting cast and episodes that, in contrast to most comedy shows, actually get better as the series continues, Schitt's Creek is the rare TV show that knew when to quit. It's a sweet, charming, and witty series that makes for an incredibly comforting viewing experience.
The darkest mix of comedy and drama on the list, You're the Worst ran for five seasons from 2014 to 2019. The series is a deconstruction of the classic romantic comedy setup, focusing on what happens when two individuals with narcissistic tendencies fall for one another and how they work as a couple, if they can even work out.
You're the Worst is clever, cynical, and bitting series that also digs deep into complex themes of depression, anxiety, and the difficult aspects of relationships. You're the Worst was not afraid to get incredibly serious when it needed to be, but also knew when to deploy a joke that could lighten the tension while also providing insight into a character's psyche.
Airing for four seasons on Comedy Central from 2013 to 2017, Nathan For You was a unique docu-reality comedy series. Part prank show, part genuine documentary, part Undercover Boss, the series focuses on Nathan Fielder playing a fictionalized version of himself who goes to LA business and offers to help them with insane stunts.
Each episode runs about 20 minutes and in that brief amount of time, Nathan For You is filled to the brim with comedic gold balancing a great mix of cringe humor and over-the-top absurdity. The series set a template for Fielder, which he would carry over as a producer on the hit series How To With John Wilson and recently with the critically acclaimed HBO show The Rehearsal. All of that stems from Nathan For You, a series that might seem like just another prank show but quickly revealed itself as one of the defining comedies of the past decade.
Like Parks and Recreation (also from creator Michael Schur), nobody could have predicted how The Good Place would blossom when it first premiered in 2016. The central series focuses on the titular Good Place (basically heaven) and its residence, and through a series of twists reveals itself as a very different show that reinvents itself with each season to explore great aspects of human morality.
Sold as a return to television for Ted Danson and Kristen Bell, it also launched William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, and D'Arcy Carden into stardom, and featured an extensive, wonderful supporting cast (Adam Scott, Jason Mantzoukas, Maya Rudolph, and more comic actors are all fantastic).
The Good Place is not only funny but philosophically deep, which allows the audience to laugh at the absurdity of the afterlife while also pondering the deeper questions of what defines our existence, whether people can change, how to be a good person in an imperfect world, and what being 'good' even means. With what might be one of the most beautiful series finales, The Good Place shows a great balance of intelligent wit, absurdist visuals, and a real heart that ends on the perfect note.
Richard Fink is a writer who graduated from Arizona State University in 2016 with a degree in Film and Media Production. He loves the finer things in life, like cold Diet Coke on a hot summer day. Richard is a fan of all things Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and Film History.


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