Sitcom writers in the 2000’s certainly had their work cut out for them. The 80’s saw such classic comedy TV shows as Cheers, The Cosby Show and Night Court. The 90’s followed up that success with juggernauts
like Seinfeld, Frasier and Friends. Not only did writers have to try and live up to the legacy of these legendary shows, but they also had to battle for viewer’s attention against a two-pronged attack that included the increasingly popularity of reality TV shows and the massive popularity of the internet as an entertainment medium. Considering the odds stacked against them, they did an admirable job, and though the best TV sitcoms of the 2000’s might not quite compare to the best of the decades gone before, there were certainly plenty of funny TV shows. Here are my picks for the top 21 television sitcoms of the 2000’s:
21 – Trailer Park Boys – This show might not be on the radar of a lot of television viewers in the United States, but this Canadian show has a cult following. The show follows the adventures of a group of petty criminals and social misfits living in a trailer park in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Ricky, Julian, Bubbles, J-Rock, Mr. Lahey, Randy and the entire cast deliver non-stop laugh in this mockumentary of trailer park living.
20 – Malcolm in the Middle – If you’ve been watching Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad then you might have a hard time imagining him making you howl with laughter. However, he showed great comedic timing in his role as Hal, patriarch of a family of four boys. A great family comedy, Malcolm in the Middle has plenty of humor for kids and adults alike. The only caveat would be the mischievous ideas that Malcolm, Reese, Dewey, and Francis might give your kids.
19 – My Name is Earl – Earl’s mustache alone makes this show worth watching. Seriously, facial hair aside this is a clever comedy about a career criminal who
“sees the light” after suffering a near death experience. After his close call Earl starts to believe in Karma and makes a list of all the people he’s wronged in his life, and sets out to right those wrongs. His intentions are good, but the results are often questionable. Brother Randy and ex-wife Joy are hilarious in support.
18 – King of Queens – If you’ve seen Paul Blart: Mall Cop then you might be leery of giving this sitcom a try. Trust me when I tell you that Kevin James is far funnier in 22 minute stints than he is in feature films, and his character Doug is a guy that almost every man can identify with. Leah Remini is perfectly cast as his wife, and as usual Jerry Stiller is a scene stealer as Doug’s father Arthur.
17 – Undeclared – Just because it only lasted a single season doesn’t mean it doesn’t merit consideration as one of the funniest shows of the 2000’s. Following up on the cult hit high school comedy Freaks and Geeks, creator Judd Apatow takes a shot at freshman college life. Jay Baruchel, whose recent work includes How to Train Your Dragon, The Sorceror’s Apprentice and The Trotsky, stars in the lead role as an awkward first year college student finding his way. Comedy movie fans will also recognize Seth Rogen and Jason Segel, who’ve since gone on to wildly successful comedy film careers.
16 – Entourage – Though this series is quickly running out of steam, during its peak it was easily one of the funniest shows on television. Jeremy Piven’s superagent Ari Gold might be the funniest sitcom character of the decade, and Johnny Drama is almost as quotable.
15 – How I Met Your Mother – Neil Patrick Harris has worked a long time to shed his Doogie Howser image, and with this clever comedy he might have finally succeeded in making people forget the pre-pubescent M.D. he once played. N.P.H. isn’t even the main character, but like Ari Gold he manages to steal every scene he’s in. The show has an embarrassment of talent with veteran film stars like Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan lending their fantastic humor.
14 – King of the Hill – Following up on the success of shows like The Simpsons and Futurama, King of the Hill is yet another animated Fox sitcom that is an exaggerated parody of the average American family. Like other
shows of its ilk KotH’s greatest strength is in its line-up of stereotypical characters. Hank, Peggy, Bobby, Luane, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer all have their own funny idiosyncrasies that have made them some of the most memorable characters on TV for more than a decade. One of the longest running animated series ever created, it was a true shame when the curtain finally closed on King of the Hill back in 2009.
13 – Everybody Loves Raymond – This one could show up on a list of the best sitcoms of both the 90’s and the 2000’s as it spanned half of each decade. Ray Romano moves from stand-up comedy to the small screen, much like Seinfeld had before him, and though Ray’s show might not have been quite as funny as Jerry’s it certainly delivered the laughs.
12 – Two and a Half Men – This is one of those shows that seems to elicit a love it or hate it response in its audience. The humor tends to come from sarcastic quips rather than pure situational comedy, and there isn’t a lot to differentiate one episode for another. However, if you like that sort of biting, mocking humor then there is no shortage of classic one-liners, particularly from Charlie Sheen, to keep you laughing.
11 – The Big Bang Theory – One of the most underrated shows of the 2000’s, in my opinion, this is a comedy that probably only appeals to a niche demographic – namely young male technofiles who will get many of the obscure sci-fi, computer and video game references in the show. However, those who “get” the humor will be vastly entertained.
10 – The Simpsons – It seems appropriate that this animated classic would mark the entrance into the top 10 best TV sitcoms of the 2000’s. The best animated show over the last 20+ years kept going strong in the 2000’s and creator Matt Groening manages to keep the adventures of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and the rest of the characters of Springfield fresh after more than 400 episodes.
9 – Scrubs – Though this show may have overstayed its welcome, during the first few seasons this medical comedy was one of the freshest, most creative shows on TV. If you tuned in late definitely go back and grab the first couple of seasons on DVD to see what made this show so popular.
8 – That 70’s Show – If you are a fan of the movie Dazed and Confused then you will no doubt like this cool comedy about a group of teens growing up in Point Place, Wisconsin. The show produced some of TV’s most
memorable characters of the decade, including Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), Fez (Wilmer Walderrama), and Red Forman ( Kurtwood Smith), and also some of pop culture’s most popular quotes. Like any show set in a specific time period it eventually fizzled out. They made a brief attempt at a transition to the 80’s, but couldn’t recapture the same magic and the show quickly fizzled out.
7 – South Park – Forget The Simpsons or Family Guy, this boundary-pushing comedy from creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone is the most irreverent animated show on television. The show pulls absolutely no punches, and over its time on the air has poked fun at just about every demographic out there, regardless of race, religion and political affiliation. This is definitely not a show for everyone, but if you have a thick skin, and are almost impossible to offend then the antics of Cartman and his school mates will have you cracking up.
6 – 30 Rock – Imagine a show that went behind the scenes, into the day to day workings of Saturday Night Live and you have a pretty good idea of what this show is about. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are both brilliant in leading roles, and have earned plenty of personal accolades while helping the show become one of the most critically acclaimed sitcoms of the decade.
5 – Family Guy – To say the Griffin family is dysfunctional would be a massive understatement. Peter, Lois, kids Meg, Chris, Stewie, and dog Brian are the polar opposite of The Waltons. Take a cross between Homer Simpson and Archie Bunker, lower his IQ about 50 points, and make him crasser and you have Peter Griffin. Much like South Park the show pokes clever fun at pop culture, though manages to be a little less controversial and mean-spirited along the way. Many people will be turned off by the crude humor, or by the dumb humor, but much like Alexander Keiths beer, those who like it, like it a lot.
4 – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Lots of people reading this list will have never heard of this show, and that is a shame, because it is one of the funniest shows to come along in a very long time. The reason for its relative obscurity is the fact that it airs on the FX Network, rather than NBC, ABC, CBS or Fox. Still, airing on FX allows its creators to push the envelope more than they could on network television, and that creative license paves the way for some truly refreshing original comedy. If you don’t get FX on your TV package then definitely go out and rent the DVDs.
3 – The Office – This #3 spot on the list of the funniest TV shows of the 2000’s belongs to both the U.S. and the UK versions of the show. Though the theme of the two shows is
very similar the presentation of the material and the characters are vastly different and you can watch both and still feel like you are watching two completely different programs. Ricky Gervais and Steve Carrell are equally excellent in their respective lead roles, and the supporting cast, particularly Dwight and Gareth are all brilliant as well.
2 – Curb Your Enthusiasm – Seinfeld co-creator Larry David proves beyond a doubt that he is exempt from the so-called Seinfeld curse. Curb Your Enthusiasm can best be described as an R-rated version of Seinfeld, and main character Larry David is an eccentric blend of Jerry and George. The show is the funniest program currently on the air, and is reason enough alone to subscribe to HBO.
1 – Arrested Development – It is almost criminal that this brilliant show only lasted 3 seasons. Due to poor marketing by Fox the show never caught the mainstream public’s attention. Ultimately poor ratings would be its demise, despite a cult following who bewailed the show’s cancellation. Despite its relatively short run this show is, for me, a no-brainer for top spot on the list of the best sitcoms of the 2000’s.