Top 10 Best American Comedy TV Series: #1 Modern Family

To choose the top 10 best American comedy TV series, we put funny to the test, looking at Tomatometer data culled from critics’ reviews, consulting some reputable “best of” lists, and exercising some editorial discretion, asking ourselves which classic comedy shows still hold up, which have been the most influential in the realm of comedy, and which have created comedy superstars.

Top 10 Best American Comedy TV Series

US comedy has consistently entertained us for decades. We look back over some of the greatest American sitcoms to grace the screens

10 Best American Comedy TV Series

  • Modern Family
  • The Good Place
  • Arrested Development
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Will & Grace
  • The Detour
  • Insecure

1. Modern Family (2009 – 2020)

Modern Family

Original release: September 23, 2009 – April 8, 2020
Original network: ABC
No. of seasons: 11

Three modern-day families from California try to deal with their kids, quirky spouses and jobs in their own unique ways, often falling into hilarious situations.

Modern Family was acclaimed by critics throughout its first few seasons, although reception became more mixed as the series progressed. However, the show maintained a loyal fan base throughout its 11 seasons and proved continuously popular with the public. The final season ended the series' run with a generally positive response. The episode was watched live by 7.37 million viewers. The retrospective documentary which aired before the final also brought in major viewing figures, being watched by 6.72 million.

The show won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in each of its first five years and the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series four times, twice each for Eric Stonestreet and Ty Burrell, as well as the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series twice for Julie Bowen. It won a total of 22 Emmy awards from 75 nominations. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy in 2011. Being on air for 11 years, it is currently ABC's longest-running comedy series.

2. The Good Place (2016 - 2020)

The Good Place

Original release: September 19, 2016 – January 30, 2020
Original network: NBC
No. of seasons: 4

Eleanor, a deceased saleswoman who lived a morally corrupt life, finds herself in a heaven-like afterlife in a case of mistaken identity and tries to hide her past in order to stay there.

The Good Place has received critical acclaim for its writing, acting, originality, setting, and tone. In addition, the first season's twist ending and the show's exploration and creative use of ethics and philosophy have been positively received. The recognition earned the series a Peabody Award in 2019. The series has won two Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form for the episodes "The Trolley Problem" and "Janet(s)".

In December 2018, NBC renewed the series for a fourth and final season, which premiered on September 26, 2019 and concluded on January 30, 2020.

3. Arrested Development (2003 - 2006)

Arrested Development

No. of seasons: 5
Original network: Fox (seasons 1–3), Netflix (seasons 4–5)
Original release: November 2, 2003 – February 10, 2006

The Bluth family, once a prominent name in the business, loses everything after the head patriarch gets convicted for fraud. Now Michael, the only sane one in the family, must maintain peace at home.

The series received critical acclaim, six Primetime Emmy Awards, and one Golden Globe Award, and attracted a cult following. It has been named one of the greatest TV shows by publications including Time, Entertainment Weekly, and IGN. It influenced later single-camera comedy series such as 30 Rock and Community.

Despite critical acclaim, Arrested Development received low ratings and viewership on Fox, which canceled the series in 2006. In 2011, Netflix agreed to license new episodes and distribute them exclusively on its video streaming service. These episodes were released in May 2013. Netflix commissioned a fifth season of Arrested Development, the first half of which premiered on May 29, 2018, and the second half on March 15, 2019.

4. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000 – present)

Curb Your Enthusiasm

No. of seasons: 10
Original network: HBO
Original release: October 15, 2000 – present

Larry David, a famous television writer and producer, gets into various misadventures with his friends and celebrity colleagues in Los Angeles.

The series was developed from a 1999 one-hour special, Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm, which David and HBO originally envisioned as a one-time project. The special was shot as a mockumentary, where the characters were aware of the presence of cameras and a crew. The series itself is not a mock documentary but is shot in a somewhat similar, cinéma vérité-like style.

Curb Your Enthusiasm has received high critical acclaim and has grown in popularity since its debut. It has been nominated for 38 Primetime Emmy Awards, and Robert B. Weide received an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for the episode "Krazee Eyez Killa". The show won the 2002 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Curb Your Enthusiasm's tenth season premiered on January 19, 2020.

5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013 - present)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Original release: September 17, 2013 – present
No. of seasons: 7
Original network: Fox (2013–2018), NBC (2019–present)

Ray Holt, an eccentric commanding officer, and his diverse and quirky team of odd detectives solve crimes in Brooklyn, New York City.

Produced as a single-camera comedy, Fox originally ordered 13 episodes for its first season, eventually expanding it to 22 episodes. Brooklyn Nine-Nine premiered on September 17, 2013. On May 10, 2018, Fox canceled the series after five seasons. The following day, NBC picked up the series for a sixth season; it premiered on NBC on January 10, 2019. On February 27, NBC renewed the series for a seventh season, which premiered on February 6, 2020. The series was renewed for an eighth season in November 2019, ahead of the premiere of its seventh season.

The series has been acclaimed by critics for its cast, especially Samberg, Beatriz, Fumero, and Braugher. It has won two Creative Arts Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Samberg has won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy, while Braugher has been nominated for three consecutive Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and has won two Critics' Choice Television Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. The series has also received particular praise for its portrayal of serious issues whilst retaining a sense of humor. For its portrayal of LGBTQ+ people, the series won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.

6. The Big Bang Theory (2007 - 2019)

The Big Bang Theory

Original release: September 24, 2007 – May 16, 2019
No. of seasons: 12
Original network: CBS

The lives of four socially awkward friends, Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj, take a wild turn when they meet the beautiful and free-spirited Penny.

The show was filmed in front of a live audience and was produced by Warner Bros. Television and Chuck Lorre Productions. The Big Bang Theory received mixed reviews from critics throughout its first season, but reception was more favorable in the second and third seasons. Later seasons saw a return to a lukewarm reception, with the show being criticized for a decline in comedic quality. Despite the mixed reviews, seven seasons of the show have ranked within the top ten of the final television season ratings, ultimately reaching the no. 1 spot in its eleventh season.

The show was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series from 2011 to 2014 and won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series four times for Jim Parsons. In total, it won seven Emmy Awards from 46 nominations. Parsons also won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Comedy Series in 2011. The series also spawned a prequel series in 2017 based on Parsons' character, Sheldon Cooper, named Young Sheldon, which also airs on CBS.

7. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Original release: March 6, 2015 – May 12, 2020
No. of seasons: 4
Original network: Netflix

Rescued after 15 years in a cult, Kimmy Schmidt decides to reclaim her life by venturing to New York, where she experiences everyday life with wide-eyed enthusiasm. On a whim, she rents a room from Titus, a gay wannabe Broadway actor, who makes ends meet as a street performer in Times Square. The unlikely pair find they're well-suited to help each other out, with Titus reintroducing Kimmy to modern life, and her providing him with the inspiration that you should never give up. Together they'll make it through whatever life throws at them.

Since its premiere, the show has received critical acclaim, with critic Scott Meslow calling it "the first great sitcom of the streaming era". The series has been nominated for 18 Primetime Emmy Awards, including four nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series.

8. Will & Grace (1998 - 2020)

Will & Grace

Original release: September 21, 1998 – April 23, 2020
No. of seasons: 11
Original network: NBC

Will, a gay lawyer, allows his best friend Grace, an interior designer, to stay in his house for a temporary period after her marriage falls apart. But she ends up being his permanent roommate.

During its original run, Will & Grace was filmed in front of a live studio audience (most episodes and scenes) on Tuesday nights, at Stage 17 in CBS Studio Center. Will and Grace's apartment was put on display at the Emerson College Library, donated by series creator Max Mutchnick. When the set was removed in 2014, rumors came up about a cast reunion, but the actors involved denied that such a reunion was planned, explaining it was merely being moved. A long-running legal battle between both the original executive producers and creators and NBC took place between 2003 and 2007.

In September 2016, the cast reunited for a 10-minute special (released online), urging Americans to vote in the 2016 presidential election. After its success, NBC announced that the network was exploring the idea of putting Will & Grace back into production. In January 2017, NBC confirmed the series' return for a ninth season, for the 2017–18 television season, which was eventually expanded to 16 episodes. This was followed by renewals for 18-episode tenth and eleventh seasons. On July 25, 2019, it was announced that the eleventh season will be the final season of the series which premiered on October 24, 2019.

9. The Detour (2016 - 2019)

The Detour

Original release: April 11, 2016 – August 20, 2019
No. of seasons: 4
Original network: TBS

Nate plans a road trip with his wife Robin and children, Delilah and Jared. Along the road, they encounter mishaps and have various misadventures.

The Detour is an American comedy television series created by Jason Jones and Samantha Bee about a family vacation road trip that quickly devolves out of control. It stars Jones himself, Natalie Zea, Ashley Gerasimovich and Liam Carroll. The series aired on TBS from April 11, 2016 to August 20, 2019. The show was renewed for a second season on April 6, 2016, five days prior to the series premiere. The second season premiered on February 21, 2017. On April 25, 2017, TBS renewed the series for a third season.

On May 11, 2018, the series was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered on June 18, 2019. On September 4, 2019, TBS canceled the series after four seasons.

10. Insecure (2016 – present)


Original release: October 9, 2016 – present
No. of seasons: 4
Original network: HBO

Best friends Issa and Molly belong to the same social background and face similar experiences. They always strive to find solutions to their problems by facing them together.

Insecure has received critical acclaim since its debut in 2016. In 2017, the American Film Institute selected it as one of the top 10 Television Programs of the Year. For her performance on the series, Rae has received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy, in addition to a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.


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