The Best Sitcoms of the Decade
After we end another decade, it’s fun to look back on how we spent most of our free time: watching TV. With Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, cable channels and other options at our fingertips, it often felt like a challenge to keep up. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t try! Choosing what to watch became a task unto itself, but we’ve narrowed down the best television sitcoms to grace our screens during the 2010s.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
After over a dozen seasons on the air, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is still wreaking havoc on TV week after week. The series follows the gang, a group of five codependent narcissists who run an ailing bar in Philly. They’re usually working on some scheme that fails in the most hilarious way possible.
This show is consistent in its hilarity. It’s a dark comedy that pushes the boundaries of what’s acceptable. Year after year, we keep coming back to see what the gang will think of next.
Though the show first aired in 2006, 30 Rock remained a fan favorite until it ended in 2013. The sitcom centered on Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon, the head writer of a fictional sketch show, as she dealt with work, love and “having it all.” The cast was rounded out by Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Alec Baldwin and Jack McBrayer.
30 Rock remains one of the funniest shows of the decade because of its excellent writing. The clever jokes and storylines that verged on the absurd made the show the memorable and still-quoted masterpiece it is today.
At first glance, Bob’s Burgers seems to be just another animated series about a weird family, but it’s so much more. The show focuses on the Belcher family as they go to school, celebrate holidays and try to keep their burger restaurant afloat.
The surreal comedy and wild antics that are common in adult animation are balanced with genuine warmth and realistic familial relationships. The unconditional love that these characters feel for each other is evident in every episode, no matter how out of hand things get. Plus, Bob’s Burgers consistently produces some of the best original music on television.
Modern Family takes an honest, comedic look at being a parent, growing up and what it actually means to be a family in today’s age. It focuses on three related families: Jay Pritchett, his new wife Gloria and her son Manny; Jay’s son Mitchell and his partner Cameron; and Jay’s daughter Claire Dunphy, her husband Phil and their three children (Haley, Alex and Luke).
Over the past decade, we’ve spent so much time with the Pritchett and the Dunphy families they’ve begun to feel like our own (much more entertaining) family. And for that, we’re grateful.
Parks and Recreation
Running for seven seasons on NBC, this workplace comedy follows the members of the parks and recreation department of a small Midwest city as they attempt to turn an abandoned pit into a park. The cultural impact of the show, though, is immeasurable.
Where would we be without the wisdom of Ron Swanson, reminding us to “Never half-a** two things. Whole-a** one thing”? Would we know how to prioritize self-care without Treat Yo Self Day? And would Guardians of the Galaxy exist as it does today if we hadn’t first fallen for the goofy yet lovable Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt)?
No sitcom better encapsulates the 2010s as well as Veep does. The political comedy centers on Vice President Selina Meyer, following her through the ups and downs of her career as a politician. Meyer navigates the pressures of the office with the aid of her staff — Amy, Dan, Mike, Sue, Kent, Ben and Gary.
While being one of the funniest shows on television, Veep offered viewers a less-than-idyllic view of politics in America today. It’s a timely satire that warns about the corrupting nature of power, with more than a few witty jokes and risqué insults thrown in.
YAS, kween! Of course Broad City is one of the best sitcoms of the decade. The show follows the everyday lives of best friends Abbi and Ilana, two twenty-somethings living in New York City. With these two, even the smallest and most menial of tasks becomes entertaining and hilarious to watch.
Broad City was, first and foremost, amazingly funny. But what made the show so strong was Abbi and Ilana’s friendship and their undying loyalty to each other. Plus, the supporting cast was made up of some of the funniest comedians of the day, like Hannibal Buress and D’Arcy Carden.
Atlanta is a show that’s hard to define. Much like Donald Glover himself, the show doesn’t neatly fit into one box. It is at once a dark comedy, a riveting drama, a coming of age story and much more. The show follows Earn and his cousin Alfred as they try to make their way in the Atlanta rap scene.
Atlanta tackles issues like parenting, poverty, status, race and relationships with the gravity they deserve while still remaining entertaining and enjoyable to watch. Do yourself a favor and add this to your watchlist if you haven’t already.
Rick and Morty
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Back to the Future was an animated series? Well, thank goodness someone did, otherwise we may not have ended up with Rick and Morty. The show focuses on Rick Sanchez, a genius scientist and alcoholic, and his grandson Morty, an anxious and ordinary boy, as they go on adventures throughout the universe.
With its high-concept sci-fi elements, juvenile fart jokes, nihilistic despair and inventive plotlines, the rabid fanbase cannot get enough. All we can say is, thank you, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon.
The Good Place
When The Good Place premiered in 2016, nobody knew what it would become. During the first season, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) wakes up in “The Good Place” after her untimely death. She’s greeted by an otherworldly being named Michael (Ted Danson), but quickly she comes to realize that she doesn’t belong.
Aside from its creative premise, the thing that makes this show stand out is its heart and the important questions it poses. The flawed yet relatable characters do their best to help each other and learn what it means to be good.
Few sitcoms experienced as much success in the past decade as Black-ish has. The series follows an upper middle class African-American family living in a mostly white neighborhood. In each episode, the characters tackle familial, personal and sociopolitical issues.
The show’s success can be attributed to its excellent writing and its willingness to tackle the big issues of the day without making light of them. Plus, with Tracee Ellis Ross at the helm, you can’t go wrong. Black-ish has even become something of a cultural phenomenon, spawning two spin-off series, Grown-ish and Mixed-ish.
2019 was the year of Fleabag. And with this show, all the hype was justified; Fleabag might be one of the greatest comedic shows ever made. It centers on Fleabag (yes, that’s her name), an unapologetic mess of a woman who’s navigating life and love while trying to come to terms with a recent tragedy.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is incomparable in the titular role. She brings such vulnerability and life to the part, and when she looks to the camera, you feel like you’re in on the joke with her.
BoJack Horseman is about your average washed-up, half-horse celebrity trying to stage a comeback while struggling with depression, addiction, relationships and a transformation into a better person (or animal). The show has a way of tackling these serious subjects and skewering Hollywood that’s equal parts hilarious and poignant.
The stand-out episodes are the ones in which writers experiment with different storytelling techniques. Plus, there are so many visual gags and hidden puns that you’re sure to notice something new every time you watch it. And trust us, you will end up rewatching it many times.
The Big Bang Theory
We already said goodbye to one of the most popular television shows of the decade. The Big Bang Theory follows four socially awkward scientists and friends, Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj.
When the free-spirited aspiring actress Penny moves into the apartment across the hall from Sheldon and Leonard, she shows them just how little they know about the world outside of their lab. With its long-running history and millions of adoring fans, The Big Bang Theory will be remembered as one of the defining sitcoms of the 2010s.
Fresh Off the Boat
Fresh Off the Boat is loosely based on the childhood of chef and restaurateur Eddie Huang. He and his Taiwanese-American family overcame many obstacles as they struggled to assimilate into life in Orlando, Florida, in the 1990s. The series is the first to feature an Asian-American family as the main characters in over 20 years.
While the premise of the show is unique and revolutionary in its own right, at its core, it’s a family sitcom. The jokes and storylines are grounded in reality, and the show manages to be both fresh and relatable at every turn.
This Canadian sitcom from Dan and Eugene Levy was a big success in its native country. But, after appearing on Netflix, it achieved a cult following in the United States, too. The show follows the wealthy Rose family who, after losing all of their money, must move to the rural town that they once bought as a joke.
Over the seasons, the characters do something that so few sitcom characters do: They mature and improve as people. Come for Moira Rose’s ridiculous enunciations and wig collection. Stay for the show’s huge heart.
A family comedy set in the suburbs during the 1980s? What more could you want? The Goldbergs centers on the everyday lives of the Goldberg family and their dysfunctional, loving relationships. It’s loosely based on the childhood of the show’s creator, Adam Goldberg.
Though the show’s first seasons got off to a rocky start, it really found its footing in the second season. With lovable characters, a stellar cast, plenty of jokes and ample nostalgia, we wish The Goldbergs could grow with us for another decade.
In Catastrophe, strangers Sharon (Sharon Horgan) and Rob (Rob Delaney) become life partners in a matter of days when, after a night of passion, Sharon becomes pregnant. Rob, an American, then decides to pack up his life to move to London and become a father. The episodes that follow explore their life as a couple and a family.
This anti rom-com depicts the exhausting and often hilarious reality of being in a long-term relationship. For the two flawed protagonists in Catastrophe, life seems to be a never-ending series of mistakes, which can have sometimes-incredible and sometimes-devastating results.
The Mindy Project
This sitcom revolves around Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling), a young OB/GYN who’s trying to balance life and work while living in the big city. Her quirky coworkers surround her at the health clinic, and there’s a revolving cast of attractive boyfriends.
But the series does something quietly revolutionary, too. It features a female protagonist who is unafraid to be feminine in a male-dominated industry (much like Kaling herself). That, coupled with the kooky characters and top-notch writing, is the formula for a hit comedy television show.
Following a breakup, Jess Day (Zooey Deschanel) moves into an apartment with three single men, Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Winston (Lamorne Morris). Though the three men find her quirky behavior unusual at first, the four grow to love and support one another.
As the show fleshed out its characters and solidified their dynamics, it quickly became one of the best ensemble comedies on TV in the 2010s. And, in addition to bringing us the word “adorkable,” New Girl also gave us the complicated drinking game, “True American.”
Community is easily one of the most well-made but sort of neglected sitcoms of the 2010s. The show revolves around Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) who, after losing his legal license, has to go back to community college. The cast is rounded out by his Spanish study group, his Spanish professor and the dean of the college.
Again, we thank Dan Harmon for the incredible writing. Community took risks, embraced absurdity and changed the sitcom landscape in the process. We got our six seasons — now we’re just waiting for a movie.
After years, Archer proved itself to be one of the most persistent and best shows on television. The series takes place at an international spy agency where the missions take a backseat to interpersonal relationships and drama between the secret agents and the support team.
This animated series is as quick with the jokes as it is with the action sequences. Not to mention, it has one of the most excellent voiceover casts ever with the likes of H. Jon Benjamin, Jessica Walter, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer, Aisha Tyler and Amber Nash.
Nobody could have guessed that a musical sitcom about a woman with mental health issues would be so incredible. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend centers on Rebecca Bunch. Following a nervous breakdown, she abandons her high-paying job and moves from NYC to California in search of true love and happiness.
The creativity of the premise, the catchy songs and the heaviness of the subject matter come together to create a truly unique show. In the end, Rebecca shows us that you don’t have to be defined by who you’re supposed to be — you can just be who you are.
Silicon Valley centers on Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch), a software engineer and entrepreneur, as he and his friends try to get their tech company off the ground. Though the group experienced a series of missteps, in the final season we see them achieve the success that they worked so hard for.
The show serves as a timely satire of the technological times that we’re living in. Its humor targeted just about everything that we associate with Silicon Valley (the place), from cryptocurrency and venture capitalists to overconfident tech bros who can’t help but to fail upwards.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Those who spent the early part of the 2010s mourning the loss of 30 Rock quickly rejoiced when they heard about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The Netflix show tells the strange story of an Indiana woman who, after spending years locked in an underground bunker, decides to move to New York City and reinvent herself.
The premise is just as wild as you think it would be, thanks in large part to the other characters who fill the cast. But what really stands out is Kimmy’s unrelenting optimism, even when faced with the worst circumstances imaginable.
This isn’t your average cop show. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is more of a workplace comedy that takes place in a New York police station full of eccentric cops. The series begins when the precinct gets a new captain, Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher). He and the immature but talented detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) immediately butt heads.
Throughout the series, they and the rest of the team at the 99 become closer as they fight crime, go undercover and pull Halloween heists together. With its stunning cast, visual gags and witty one-liners, it’s hard not to love this sitcom.
Nathan for You
As a satirical take on business makeover reality shows, Nathan for You follows comedian Nathan Fielder as he helps real small businesses achieve success. Despite having “graduated from one of Canada’s top business schools with really good grades,” his ideas are often ridiculous and unsustainable.
Though it may be considered more of a comedic docu-series than a sitcom, Nathan for You still deserves a shout-out on this list because it’s funny and out of this world. What makes the show, though, are not Nathan’s business ideas, but rather Nathan himself and his (sometimes unnerving) vulnerability.
Tuca & Bertie
This one-season wonder will continue to live on in our hearts for a long time to come. The animated series created by BoJack Horseman’s Lisa Hanawalt followed the lives of Bertie (Ali Wong) and Tuca (Tiffany Haddish), two ex-roommates and best friends who also happen to be birds.
Though it may have ended much too soon, Tuca & Bertie’s impact was immense. The half-hour animated sitcom gave us some of the funniest and most relevant storytelling of the genre while tackling very real issues like relationships, trauma and adulthood.
What happens when you mix Downton Abbey with Keeping Up With the Kardashians? You get Another Period. This mock-reality show focused on the Bellacourt family and the servants who work in their mansion. The show takes place in Newport, Rhode Island, during the early 1900s.
In addition to being outrageous and funny, the show is a timely parody of excessive wealth and class differences that still exist today. With a smart and hilarious cast, you’d expect nothing less.
As the longest-running scripted series in television history, it would be criminal not to include The Simpsons on this list. The animated show follows the antics of the Simpson family, made up of Homer, the oafish patriarch; Marge, the hard-working housewife; Bart, their underachieving son; Lisa, their genius middle daughter and Maggie, their silent and adorable baby.
Though the show’s seasons have had their ups and downs, The Simpsons remains as culturally relevant today as it was in its earlier years. Pick any episode to watch — you won’t be disappointed.