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Sitcoms of the Decade

Television, Year-End | By The Top 13 on December 14, 2009

As we near the end of the decade, The Top 13 is taking a look back at the best sitcoms of the 2000s. We're defining "sitcom" broadly here - any 30-minute TV show with story-driven situational comedy, whether animated or live action, network or cable. Since some shows span multiple decades, we chose to look only at the years 2000-2009 in considering shows for this list. So even classic shows like The Simpsons, which peaked last decade, are absent here. With that in mind, we present The Top 13 Sitcoms of the Decade.

Honorable Mentions: The Norm Show, Flight of the Conchords, Stella, Extras, and The Sarah Silverman Program

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Curb Your Enthusiasm

1

Curb Your Enthusiasm

2000-present

Part scripted and part improvised, Curb Your Enthusiasm gave Larry David the perfect vehicle to air all of his grievances. With the unlimited (and uncensored) premium cable platform, David's quasi-autobiographical show has provided years of biting observational humor that often has you nodding, ashamed, in agreement. This show was one of the first of many to use uncomfortable situations and awkwardess as a comedic device, and it does so better than any.

Arrested Development

2

Arrested Development

2003-2006

Arrested Development's cancellation was a travesty. This ensemble character comedy about an incredibly dysfunctional family is one of the funniest shows in the history of network television. After three years, Fox pulled the plug after the show failed to get better ratings than the competing reality TV slop. Arrested Development launched or resurrected many careers, most notably Michael Cera as the painfully awkward George Michael, Will Arnett as G.O.B., and Jason Bateman as Michael.

30 Rock

3

30 Rock

2006-present

30 Rock is currently the best thing network TV has going, but it still struggles for ratings as it tries to avoid a similar fate as Arrested Development. This absurdist comedy about the production of a fictitious SNL-style sketch show is propelled by razor-sharp wit, rapid-fire jokes, and the Emmy-winning turns of Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. The show's comedic pace is reminiscent of The Simpsons' glory days, combining clever stories with absurd situations and a constant barrage of pop culture references.

South Park

4

South Park

1997-present

Though South Park had several great years in the 90s, culminating with the 1999 feature film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, it has maintained its relevance and is still a mainstay in television comedy. That is due in large part to technological advances that have allowed episodes to be produced faster, sometimes commenting on news stories that are less than a week old. With the addition of Butters to the regular cast of characters in 2001 and an obvious hunger to stay relevant, South Park has beaten the odds and has aged like a fine wine.

The Office (USA)

5

The Office (USA)

2005-present

It is probably fair to say that NBC's adaption of the BBC's critically acclaimed The Office has exceeded expectations. It remains one of the most-talked about comedies on network TV after five seasons and is going strong, despite the breakout success of its cast, many of whom (including Steve Carrell, Jim Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, and Jenna Fischer) have gone on to lead motion-picture roles. This show is considerably kinder to its characters than its British cousin but still deftly employs that show's trademark awkward humor.

How I Met Your Mother

6

How I Met Your Mother

2005-present

Terrible title? Check. On CBS? Check. Cheesy frame story? Check. Built on a foundation of relationship and couples humor? Check. Laugh track? Check. Sounds like a lame show, right? Wrong. Somehow, How I Met Your Mother beat the odds and turned out to be one of the more culturally in-touch, earnest, and entertaining sitcoms of the decade. Its greatest asset is its cast, most notably Neil Patrick Harris as the hyper-heterosexual Barney Stinson and Jason Segal as the midwestern goofball Marshall Eriksen.

The Office (UK)

7

The Office (UK)

2001-2003

Ricky Gervais' original The Office for the BBC was a breakthrough hit that spawned imitators in America, Canada, France, Germany, and Russia. This show was revolutionary in its use of awkwardness as a comic device and produces more uncomfortable moments per episode than any show in recent memory. Although it was only on for two seasons (with a later one-off reunion special), the show's success propelled co-creator, writer, director, and lead actor Ricky Gervais to leading man status in Hollywood. Gervais' other show, Extras, barely missed the cut for this list.

Undeclared

8

Undeclared

2001

Judd Apatow's Undeclared had the shortest run of any show on this list, running for just one season. His follow-up to the similarly short-lived, hour-long Freaks and Geeks, this show was a relatively honest and funny take on life as a college freshman. The cast's comedy pedigree is strong, and featured performances by Apatow regulars Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segal, along with bit appearances by Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and The Office's Jenna Fischer in two different roles.

Futurama

9

Futurama

1999-present

Futurama must have come to Simpsons creator Matt Groening in a fever dream. How else can you explain the decision to create a new animated sitcom set 1,000 years in the future? This show was cancelled by Fox in 2003 but it refused to die - it spawned four feature films while thriving in syndication on the Cartoon Network, and then was picked up by Comedy Central for a full new season that will air in 2010. Futurama is chock full of funny and downright bizarre characters, such as the Robot Devil and the Space Pope (who is a crocodile).

Reno 911!

10

Reno 911!

2003-2009

Having just wrapped up its final season this year, Reno 911! had a pretty good run for a show that started as little more than a COPS parody. Mostly improvisational, the show's humor comes equally from its cast of ridiculous keystone cops, led by Thomas Lennon's sublime Lt. Dangle, and its steady stream of comedians playing suspects in cameo roles. The show was parlayed into a feature film, Reno 911!: Miami, which was released in 2007.

Scrubs

11

Scrubs

2001-present

One of the anchors of NBC's primetime lineups during its first seven years, Scrubs became one of the few popular sitcoms to change networks when it moved to ABC for its eighth season in 2009. Until the current season, the show told the story of the lives of a group of doctors at a teaching hospital, known as Sacred Heart. Most of the story was told in unique fashion through the bizarre daydreams of the show's main character, Dr. John "J.D." Dorian, played by Zach Braff. This season, this fast-paced, slapstick comedy is undergoing a significant reinvention, as it moves from Sacred Heart to a medical school, where a new cast of characters are replacing many of the originals, including Braff.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

12

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

2005-present

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is certainly the rudest and least remorseful show on TV. It's also one of the funniest. This show follows a gang of five miscreants, including Danny DeVito, and their adventures in owning a dive bar in Philadelphia. Everyone in this ensemble cast is capable of big laughs, but Charlie Day's deranged janitor character is the standout. The cast kicked off this season by performing their stage show The Nightman Cometh live on tour.

Trailer Park Boys

13

Trailer Park Boys

2001-2008

This gem from Canada chronicles the adventures of Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles, three petty criminals from Sunnyvale Trailer Park. Made for Canadian premium network Showcase, Trailer Park Boys ended a successful run of seven seasons last year. It also spawned two movies, a feature film that recapped the series in 2006 and a new feature, Countdown to Liquor Day, which was released this year. For those in the know, Ricky and Mr. Lahey are two of the best hidden comedic treasures of the past ten years.

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Comments Leave a comment

rjasonf 

I guess it's just me, but I don't get the love for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Hear about it from several friends and have tried, but can't get into it. I might have put Andy Richter Controls the Universe on there.

8:41 AM   Dec 14, 2009

stillathreat ★★

Agree on Andy Richter and on Always Sunny. I just don't get the latter.

4:04 PM   Dec 14, 2009

Dayman 

Anyone who doesn't like It's Always Sunny...try this...GET A FUCKING SENSE OF HUMOR.Seriously this is one of the funniest shows i've ever seen.Have showed it to all my friends and they have ALL thought the same..glad my friends aren't as lame as you.Always Sunny FTW

2:05 PM   May 20, 2010

ajay ★★

Well done. You included the best possible 30 Rock clip.

10:29 AM   Dec 14, 2009

oshoney 

your 2 and 3 are my 1 and 2, but then again i still need to watch Curb.

10:52 AM   Dec 14, 2009

holmessss 

Family Guy! I also think My Boys is pretty good as sitcoms go, thought perhaps not top 13. The League and Community are very funny, but prob too recent to make this list. Flight of the Conchords and Extras make my top 13 from the Hon. mention list. And well done including HIMYM, which is a fantastic show.

1:33 PM   Dec 14, 2009

jason ★★

Family Guy? But one of the criteria is that the comedy be "story-driven." Just kidding, Family Guy is horrible anyway. I do agree that there are a lot of good new shows this year, though. Eastbound & Down and Modern Family are two other good new ones.

3:59 PM   Dec 14, 2009

stillathreat ★★

I agree with Jason. Family Guy is the absolute worst.

4:05 PM   Dec 14, 2009

hulk 

The top two are right on.

4:54 PM   Dec 24, 2009

loltim 

Top 4: Spot on.
Futurama should be higher.
And THANK YOU for knowing about TRAILER PARK BOYS. I was beginning to think I was the only one...

2:50 PM   May 06, 2010

Dillsnufus 

non newsradio? i say bullshit

5:02 PM   Jul 08, 2010

Dillsnufus 

o of the decade. my bad

5:02 PM   Jul 08, 2010

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