10 Best Comedy Shows of the 2000s, Ranked


Comedy as a genre has always been huge in the world of television. Comedy shows—from purely comedic outings to sitcoms and dramedies—have always occupied a special place in the audience’s mind, largely because of their undemanding yet highly rewarding natures. Comedies are ideal to sit back and relax, not quite asking their viewers to turn off their brains but never over-stepping their welcome.

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The 2000s produced several incredible comedies. The new millennium’s changing attitudes produced works of true genius, groundbreaking comedies that pushed boundaries while still embracing tradition. In many ways, the best comedies from the 2000s are the last of their kind, sandwiched between Gen X ideas from the 90s and the new wave of trends from the 2010s. These comedies are funny, wicked, and brilliant, genuine works of humorous excellence that stand tall and proudly in the pantheon of great shows from the small screen.

10 ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ (2000-2006)

Creator: Linwood Boomer

Image via Fox

Malcolm in the Middle premiered in the spring of 2000, and noughties pop culture was never the same. Frankie Muniz stars as the titular character, an 11-year-old prodigy living with his lower-middle-class family, a dysfunctional yet well-meaning bunch. The show chronicles the family’s life and their numerous misadventures with friends and family.

Acclaimed for its dark, biting humor and earnest take on working-class families, Malcolm in the Middle was a worthy heir to sitcoms that came before, like Roseanne. Benefitting from an impressive cast, including the underrated Jane Kaczmarek and future Walter White, Bryan Cranston, Malcolm in the Middle is an influential comedy that paved the way for future single-camera hits like The Office and Arrested Development. In Frank Reynolds’ words, Malcolm « changed the game. »

Malcolm in the Middle

Malcolm in the Middle
Release Date
January 9, 2000
Cast
Frankie Muniz , Jane Kaczmarek , Bryan Cranston , Justin Berfield , Erik Per Sullivan , Christopher Masterson

Seasons
7

Watch on Hulu

9 ‘The Office’ (2005-2013)

Developer: Greg Daniels

Michael and the other eployees dancing at Jim and Pam's wedding in The Office.
Image via NBC Universal

And speaking of The Office, few shows have the chokehold this wacky series has on pop culture. Steve Carell stars as Michael Scott, the largely useless and highly unprofessional regional manager of the Dunder Mifflin paper company branch in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The show follows several characters working under him, following a mockumentary style and featuring one-on-one interviews.

One of the most popular and enduring comedy shows from the 2000s, The Office is widely regarded for its quotes, distinctive humor style, and the performances of its cast. Embracing chaos and an over-the-top approach, The Office soars to new comedy heights due to its impressive and committed ensemble. The writing is good, but the cast takes it and makes the most out of it, often turning already funny material into a work of true comedic genius. The Office remains an enduring part of the 2000s, continuing to attract new fans thanks to streaming.

The Office TV Show Poster

The Office
Release Date
March 24, 2005
Cast
Steve Carell , Rainn Wilson , John Krasinski , Jenna Fischer , Mindy Kaling , Craig Robinson , B.J. Novak , Creed Bratton , Angela Kinsey , Oscar Nunez , Ellie Kemper , Ed Helms

Seasons
9

Watch on Peacock

8 ‘Modern Family’ (2009-2020)

Creators: Christopher Loyd, Steven Levitan

The main characters from Modern Family embracing.
Image via 20th Television

Arriving late into the decade, Modern Family was an instant hit. The show revolves around a large and chaotic yet loving blended family and stars a large ensemble cast. Like other peers from its time, Modern Family uses a mockumentary approach, featuring interviews, voice-overs, and meta-humor.

A five-time Emmy Winner for Outstanding Comedy Series, Modern Family dominated the first half of the 2010s. The show was famous for its wild but heartwarming humor, which wasn’t afraid to make biting jokes, sometimes at the expense of its game cast. Modern Family also featured a large parade of guest stars, to the point where it seems anyone who’s anyone had a stint on the show. Although it features many of the questionable jokes that many other comedy series from its time indulged in, Modern Family‘s loving depiction of family remains a highlight, especially as television became increasingly cynical throughout the 2010a.

Watch on Hulu

7 ‘Parks and Recreation’ (2009-2015)

Creators: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur

The cast of Parks and Recreation celebrating
Image via Universal Television

When discussing comedies from the 2000s, Parks and Recreation stands tall among its peers. Fresh off her eight-season stint on Saturday Night Live, Amy Poehler starred in the beloved show as Leslie Knope, the cheerful and shamelessly optimistic deputy director of the Parks Department in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. The show featured a large ensemble supporting cast, including Adam Scott and Nick Offerman.

Following a highly divisive first season, Parks and Recreation came back with full force for its impressive sophomore effort, finding its footing and settling into a unique brand of humor. The show is widely known for its mix of positive comedy and wacky performances. Yet, the show’s overt political message never became grating, instead acting as an idealizes look into how things could be. And while its comedy might seem dated today, Parks and Recreation remains a wonderful photograph of a specific time and place.

Watch on Peacock

6 ‘Pushing Daisies’ (2007-2009)

Creator: Bryan Fuller

Anna Friel and Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies lean on a counter and look at the camera.
Image via Warner Bros. Television

Few shows have the right to be called truly unique; Pushing Daisies is one. From the vibrant mind of Bryan Fuller, the series follows Ned, a pie maker with the ability to bring back the dead by touching them; however, a second touch will kill them forever. When he impulsively brings his childhood crush back to life, he must settle into a bizarre existence, living with her but being unable to touch her.

Pushing Daisies is a gem of noughties television. With a quirky sense of humor, remarkably witty dialogue, and stellar production design, the show was like nothing airing in 2007. Pushing Daisies made use of music, meta-humor, and an endearing, bizarre tone to tell a modern fairy tale with a twist. Canceled far too soon, Pushing Daisies has aged beautifully, its oddball style seeming just as fresh today as it was in 2007. And while fans might never see the pie maker again, the show’s impact will forever endure in the hearts of all those who fell under its spell.

pushing daisies poster

Pushing Daisies
Release Date
October 3, 2007

Seasons
2

Watch on Max

5 ‘Arrested Development’ (2003-2019)

Creator: Mitchell Hurwitz

The cast of Arrested Development looking in the same direction while at a hospital room.
Image via Netflix

Long before he was a movie star and Emmy-winning director, Jason Bateman was starring as the only sane person in a collection of delusional oddballs. Arrested Development sees him playing Michael Bluth, who unexpectedly becomes CEO of his family’s company after his father goes to prison. The show’s straight man, Michael must deal with his wild family, who don’t react the best at the prospect of losing their wealth.

Featuring over-the-top humor and bombastic performances, Arrested Development is almost surreal, a comedy that packs layers upon layers of humor, often in one single line. It has one of television’s best ensembles, including comedic geniuses like the late Jessica Walters, Tony Hale, and Will Arnett. Featuring lively narration from Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, an endless parade of guest stars, and multiple jokes that have become iconic, Arrested Development is a comedic triumph and a defining series of 2000s television.

Watch on Netflix

4 ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ (2000-2024)

Creator: Larry David

Larry David gesturing in annoyance on Curb Your Enthusiasm
Image via HBO

Larry David created and stars as a fictionalized version of himself in HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show chronicles his life as a semi-retired television writer and actor, featuring numerous real-life stars from his life as fictionalized versions of himself. Curb openly acknowledges David’s contributions to the medium, most notably as a co-creator of the 90s hit Seinfeld.

Curb Your Enthusiasm has been one of the best-reviewed shows for over twenty years. Returning sporadically throughout the 21st century with new seasons, each better than the one before, Curb excels as an exploration of David’s public persona and a distillation of the very idea of celebrity. With incredible writing brought to life by David and an excellent ensemble, Curb Your Enthusiasm is a biting, cynical, and revealing look into the mind of one of modern television’s most influential figures, allowing viewers a better understanding of the medium itself.

Watch on Max

3 ‘The Comeback’ (2005-2014)

Creators: Lisa Kudrow, Michael Patrick King

Valerie Cherrish smiling at someone off-camera in The Comeback.
Image via HBO

Straight after the ending of Friends, Emmy winner Lisa Kudrow returned to primetime television as the star of her own show. Co-created by Kudrow and Michael Patrick King, The Comeback follows Valerie Cherish, a former sitcom star who mounts a return to television with a supporting role in a new sitcom and a reality show tracking her journey of preparation.

Phoebe Buffay might be Kudrow’s most beloved character, but without a doubt, Valerie Cherish is her finest creation. Equal parts absurd, engaging, relatable, and frustrating, Valerie is a marvelous creation from one of television’s most gifted performers and one of HBO’s best characters. As a show, The Comeback is just as farcical as its protagonist, a sharp and revelatory portrayal of fame-seeking hunger, the same that would take over pop culture in the following years with the rise of reality stars and influencers. The Comeback turned out to be prophetic in many ways, only adding to its ever-rising prestige.

Watch on Max

2 ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ (2005-Present)

Creator: Rob McElhenney

The cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia knocking on a door
Image via FX Network

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the longest-running sitcom in television history, an impressive feat considering its peculiar brand of politically incorrect humor. The show centers on The Gang, a group of irresponsible, egotistical, and arguably sociopathic friends who spend their days running a pub, Paddy’s, and coming up with ludicrous schemes.

It’s truly a testament to Sunny‘s excellence that it’s now on its sixteenth season, and it remains as fresh and shocking as it was while still in the single digits. Sunny is morbid, unflinching, and utterly unafraid, challenging conventions and expectations while delivering a hilarious and, more often than not, unsettling depiction of twisted friendship. Across 435 episodes, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has pushed every boundary imaginable, resulting in a true riot unlike anything airing on television. Daring and more willing to make a fool out of itself than any other show, Sunny is a savage show with a loyal fanbase that has stuck with them for 16 years and counting.

Watch on Hulu

1 ’30 Rock’ (2006-2013)

Creator: Tina Fey

Liz Lemon pointing her finger up and smiling in 30 Rock
Image via NBC

From the mind of Tina Fey comes 30 Rock, quite possibly the most acclaimed and celebrated comedy from the 2000s. Based on Fey’s experiences as head writer in Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock chronicles the behind-the-scenes comings-and-goings of a fictional live sketch comedy show. Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Tracy Jordan, and Jack McBrayer also star.

30 Rock marked a before-and-after in modern television. A groundbreaking show for its fast-paced, highly ironic and satirical tone, 30 Rock was the perfect combination of stellar writing and outstanding acting. Despite being an overt satire, many of its jokes have aged beautifully, with the show acting as an unexpected prophet for late 2010s and early 2020s culture. Named by multiple publications as one of the best comedies in TV history, 30 Rock is not only the best sitcom from the 21st century but a game-changing effort that offered valuable insights into corporate structures and the people that uphold them.

30 Rock TV Show Poster

30 Rock
Release Date
October 11, 2006

Seasons
7

Watch on Hulu

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