Television in the 21st century is an endless buffet, with networks and streamers offering tastier deals that anyone could binge on. The spectrum can be overwhelming, so every once in a while those of us on the New York Times TV desk like to step back from the table and take a broader look at the medium and its most exceptional shows.
A few years ago, we took advantage of the 20th anniversary of the “Sopranos” to evaluate the best dramas of the previous two decades. This week, we are tackling comedies.
Our list of the 21 best comedies of the 21st century was, like most lists, the product of much discussion, disagreement and negotiation. (In a postscript, we’ve each named our most heartbreaking omissions.) But the result looks like a nice look at the defining shows of the time and how cable and streaming made room for that. TV comedy is becoming more idiosyncratic and diverse in its outlook – a departure from the sitcoms of the big tent network (many of which are also excellent) that dominated prime time viewing in the 20th century.
We have limited our scope to American sitcoms and sketches – so no British “Fleabag” or “Office” – which premiered January 1, 2000 or later. The beloved comedies that aired this millennium but debuted earlier – âFriends,â âSaturday Night Live,â a hundred more – were not eligible. (Anyone who still wants to fight over whether the 21st century began in 2000 or 2001 can do so elsewhere.)
Now it’s your turn to tell us: What have we forgotten? What do we love too much? What is your favorite American comedy of the 21st century, and why? As James Poniewozik, chief television critic for The Times, wrote in the intro: âWe don’t have absolute answers, only the arguments that resulted in this list. I’m sure you have plenty of them too.