The Definitive TV Comedy Power Rankings (Getting You Through The Rest of Summer)

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There are certain unmistakeable truths of every summer:

  • You start all conversations by commenting on how amazing the weather is.
  • While you love that it’s light out until 8pm, you hate that the sun rises at 5:30am.
  • That “beach body” you’ve been working on for the past few months disappears rapidly due to the constant binges of barbecued meats and beer.
  • You complain constantly about the lack of quality TV (even though you try to pretend like you don’t spend much time on the couch due to those previously mentioned amazing weather days and BBQs).

It’s that last point that I’d like to spend some time on today. Don’t even attempt to talk yourself into summer no longer being such a bad time for TV. It’s still awful. Instead of trying out new and obviously terrible shows, do yourself a favor and catch up on some already existing shows you’ve been ignoring.

Since summer is all about turning off your brain and being in a good mood, I want to specifically suggest you catch up on comedies. Dramas can wait for the depression months (November – April in places like New England, February 1st – February 4th in a place like Los Angeles).

While everyone has their own preferences, here’s a handy power rankings guide authored by a person who has an incredibly good pulse on what’s funny and what’s not. Use this to navigate through the backlog of shows you’ve been meaning to watch. Go for the shows ranked highest; avoid the shows ranked lowest. Easy enough?

[Quick side note: As a rule, I’m only including shows that I’ve seen at least one full episode of within the past calendar year. Therefore shows like The Simpsons and The League are both out, even though I’ve seen many episodes of each in years past. I’m also only including current TV shows. This is not an article on TV comedies throughout history. That means Seinfeld and The Office didn’t crack this list either.]

Legend

⇑ means the show is on the rise

⇓ means the show is on the decline

⇔ means the show is neither rising nor falling

TV Comedy Power Rankings

1. Modern Family⇔

Continues to be the gold standard of comedy after five seasons. You can argue that because it’s a network show, it’s never going to be as edgy or out-of-control wild as some shows on HBO or other premium channels. But from a pure comedic storytelling standpoint, you can’t beat it. As an aspiring writer, I can tell you I watch this show weekly and hang my head in jealousy. Even if given the opportunity to practice for 500 years, I could never write such perfect characters, plots and jokes that all intertwine as well as Modern Family does.

You can watch past episodes on ABC.com or Netflix Instant.

2. Veep ⇔

If this HBO satire that revolves around Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the always-stepping-into-the-proverbial-pile-of-dog-shit Vice President isn’t at “gold standard” level, it’s damn close. This show was hilarious and fresh in its first season, and it’s only gotten stronger since. There isn’t a show out there that produces more jaw-dropping moments on a weekly basis. It’s awkward, raunchy and intelligent humor all rolled up into one amazing creation.

You can watch past episodes on HBO GO or Netflix (not instant).

3. Brooklyn Nine-Nine ⇑

Some people will probably argue that the #4 show on my list should be in this spot instead, especially because Brooklyn just finished its rookie season. I get that it might be too soon to put it in the upper echelon. But watch the full season and tell me it wasn’t a masterpiece. Each character is perfect. Every joke and gag works. Despite obvious reasons to be worried, Andy Samberg’s character is not over the top obnoxious or goofy. The blending of the major and minor characters helps the show create jokes out of episode-long plots and fire off the quick-hit jokes. I fell in love with it the moment Jake Peralta wore his necktie around his belly (and continued loving it through the Kwazy Cupcakes Cwaze).

You can watch past episodes on Hulu Plus (and the most recent ones are still on Fox.com).

4. Parks and Recreation ⇔

No doubt you’ve been told to watch this show dozens of times by the same people. We’re a small but rabid fan base. You might recognize us from other low-rated TV show audiences such as Arrested Development. Now is a great time to finally listen to that annoying Parks fan. Dive into the first couple seasons this summer, and if you like it, you can catch up through the first six seasons in time to enjoy the seventh and final season this Fall with the rest of us. Leslie Knope and her motley gang of small-town government workers are finally going away for good. What started out as “the next Office” starring “Amy Poehler playing a female version of Michael Scott” has blossomed into so much more than that. We’ve gotten to know every member of the Parks cast better than we ever did with The Office crew. And somehow we care so much more about the fate of Leslie’s political career than the fates of those Dunder Mifflin employees. While it didn’t crack my Top Three, Parks has delivered consistent A material for more than 100 episodes. It’ll be sad to see Leslie and company go away next May.

You can watch past episodes on Netflix Instant.

5. Mindy Project ⇑

A show centered around an early 30s woman who’s a gynecologist and wants her life to mimic Meg Ryan’s in all those old chick flicks. And yet, not a TV show just for women by any means. I’ve watched this from day one mostly because I was such a big Office fan that I just had to check out what the woman behind Kelly Kapoor was cooking up with her first show as creator and star. What’s great about Mindy is that it takes those cliched romcom story lines and instead of delivering a happy ending, it pulls the rug out from under the main character (and us) repeatedly. It’s an incredible parody of those female-driven fairytale relationships. The supporting characters, especially male nurse Morgan Tookers, come through in a big way to make the show wacky and complete.

You can watch past episodes on Hulu Plus and Netflix (not Instant).

6. Silicon Valley ⇑⇑

The extra arrow pointing up is because Silicon Valley ended its first season on possibly the highest of high notes. Even people who haven’t watched this show yet have heard about “the greatest dick joke in TV history” that this show delivered in its season finale a few weeks back. And while that five-minute gut-busting scene should get a lot of publicity, it was really just a microcosm of how funny this show can be with nothing more than four or five nerds standing around trying to figure out life in the cutthroat high tech world. If you’re looking for something with a little more edge, more of that R-rated comedy, this is absolutely the one for you.

You can watch past episodes on HBOGO and soon enough on Netflix (not Instant).

7. Nathan For You  ⇑⇑⇑

This faux-reality show/documentary (think Ali G skits but with a much more American and awkward guy) actually jumped up a good four or five spots in these power rankings over the past few weeks. The episode titled “Souvenir Shop / ELAIFF” broke the unofficial record for laughs experienced per second. No lie. I dare you to watch it and not have stomach pains. In fact, I dare you to watch any of this current season’s episodes and not fall in love with Nathan Fielder.

You can watch past episodes on ComedyCentral.com or by DVRing it on Comedy Central.

**Note: I consider this the line of demarcation between the cream of the crop and the shows that are merely “solid watches.”

8. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia ⇔

A little bit of a sad moment here as It’s Always Sunny once ranked at the very top for me. But that was a good five years ago when every episode was better than the previous. Now IASIP has more misses than hits. Their good episodes still trump almost everything else on this list, but the consistent excellence is gone. This is a show where you definitely want to watch from Season 1 because those first few seasons are the strongest.

You can watch past episodes on Netflix Instant.

9. Big Bang Theory ⇔

Out of all the shows I watch, this one seems to confuse people most often. I guess that’s because it just doesn’t fit the mold of all these other comedies on the list. It’s certainly the only show I watch that has the live audience and laugh track. But if you spend a few hours observing Sheldon Cooper and his Aspergery ways, I promise you’ll fall in love with him. It’s a really weird feeling to like a main character who is rude, selfish, socially inept and downright robotic, but somehow Big Bang has pulled it off. It can never get up into the cream of the crop section due to it’s strong association with other crappy network sitcoms, but I’m still glad it’s part of my life.

You can watch past episodes on Netflix (not Instant).

10. Broad City ⇔

A show that’s incredibly rough around the edges…due to the fact that it was a web series online that recently got promoted to the TV big leagues, and because it focuses on the more depressing side of being a single 20-something woman in New York. It’s what Girls would be if Girls was legitimately funny and less serious. Amy Poehler as an executive producer immediately gave this show street cred, and I’m guessing that’s why many of us got on board with season one. The good news is that they’re moving forward with a season two. The bad news?

You cannot watch past episodes anywhere at this time (except for the pilot episode on ComedyCentral.com).

11. Workaholics ⇓

Much like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, when this show creates a hit episode, it’s a HUGE HIT. But sometimes the plots and jokes are just a tad too crazy and raunchy even for me. Workaholics is an incredibly simple and funny take on cubicle life for a few mid-twenties stoners who have no interest in doing any real work.

You can watch past episodes on Netflix (not Instant).

12. Drunk History ⇓

Perhaps it was a one-year wonder. Perhaps I’m just getting old. Either way, I just can’t get on board with this show in season two like I was for its first season in 2013. Don’t get me wrong, it still has funny moments (otherwise it would be much lower on this list). But the format feels a little played out already. I’m much more interested in getting some friends together and creating our own drunk version of a historical event than continuing to watch this show every week.

You can watch current season two episodes (and probably some season one episodes) on Comedy Central.

**Note: This is the line of demarcation between shows I that I like a lot and shows that are pretty bad but I watch sometimes anyway because sitting on the couch and staring at a TV is so easy. The following shows also fall into the category of “my fiancee has a broader sense of humor than me and therefore I’m sometimes forced to watch this junk.”

13. The Goldbergs ⇔

14. About A Boy ⇓

15. New Girl ⇓⇓

16. 2 Broke Girls ⇔

17. The Millers ⇔

18. Growing Up Fisher ⇓

19. Crazy Ones ⇓

20. Dads ⇓⇓⇓

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We also do humanitarian work here at the blog: Solving the “babies in hot car” dilemma

baby in car

I’ve had some pretty terrible ideas in my lifetime, but  I gotta give credit where credit is due. I just solved the “accidentally leaving babies in a hot car until they die” epidemic we’re currently experiencing as a society. And it took me all of five minutes.

I’m joking when I call it an epidemic. Only 40 or so children die from this each year. There are plenty more deadly accidents suffered by babies and young children. But I’m not joking when I say it’s something that should be easily fixed.

When it comes to modern technology, you always want to think about an elaborate solution that includes motion sensors, cameras, electronics, etc. But I’m going with the super simple route this time. I say if you have children, you simply activate a setting in your car that causes the radio system to automatically play a three second baby crying sound every time you open the driver’s door.

Tell me this sound wouldn’t snap you out of whatever daydreamy zoned out state of mind you’re in when parking the car:

Radios can already do things like automatically adjust its volume depending on the presence of other noises and continue playing audio after the car has been shut off. It’s plenty capable of being programmed to emit this sound when you open the door.

And if a child dies because the driver didn’t have that feature activated (or ignored the crying sound), lock ’em up for life. Only if you wanted your kid to die (like these people) would you choose not to activate it when you first get the car.

OK, so there’s at least one product on the market that strives to do what my awesome invention would do, but it’s overly complex.

Equally bad is the idea that I’ve heard that requires you to keep a stuffed animal in the backseat of the car and then move it to the front seat whenever your child gets in the car. That gives these same mindless people another opportunity to forget the thing that’s supposed to help them not forget the child.

There are probably some very obvious tweaks to be made with my idea—such as having a way that the sound is only made when a child is actually in the car, rather than every time you open the door even when the child’s absent—but I’m more of a big picture guy. I get the ball rolling. Without the original idea, there’s nothing to tweak or perfect in the first place.

So when every new car from here on out has this nifty little security feature, you’ll know who to thank for saving your baby.

 

The Junk Food Expert Says: We need to talk about S’mores

Actually, we only need to talk about a single aspect of s’mores making: The marshmallow roasting.

Notice how I didn’t say “the marshmallow burning” or the “marshmallow blackening.” I said roasting, and by definition, roasting is “the act of cooking something in an oven or over an open fire.” Other definitions state: “to cook by prolonged exposure to heat” and “to dry, brown or parch by exposing to heat.”

Nowhere in any definition are the following words used: burnt, singed, set ablaze, engulf in flame, ruin.

(Now to the point of all this.)

And yet lately when the process of cooking s’mores comes up in natural conversation, everyone I know seems to think the proper way to roast a marshmallow is to stick the goddamn thing in a fire until it looks like this:

burnt-marshmallow1burnt marshmallowburning-marshmallow-04

 

 

 

 

 

Normally I subscribe to the life theory of everybody being entitled to their own opinion. Not in this situation. When it comes to roasting marshmallows, there’s a right and a wrong, no in between.

And really it’s just a common sense thing. In what other scenarios do you purposely burn your food before eating it? Burnt pizza is the worst. Burnt toast is inedible. Burnt popcorn has ruined relationships. If you try to argue that burning the outside of a marshmallow is on par with getting your burger or steak well done, I will remind you that getting your burger or steak well done is an insult to good eating.

Here’s the other problem with burning your marshmallow: It’s a total copout. The satisfaction from a perfectly roasted marshmallow comes mostly from the effort you had to put in to make it that way. Holding the marshmallow over the exact right spot of the fire. Ever-so-slowly turning it to get it golden on all sides. Keeping a watchful eye to make sure it never crosses that line of no return (i.e. flames actually coming off of it). In my book, you’re a coward if you take the easy way out by plopping the marshmallow into the middle of the fire, waiting for it to be engulfed in flames and then blowing it out and proudly calling it “perfection.”

Originally I was going to write that if you’re the type of person who purposely sets your marshmallow on fire, I don’t want to be friends with you. But now I’m realizing that roughly 85% of my friends apparently do this. So instead I’ll just say this: If you purposely turn the outside of your marshmallow black, I think you’re certifiably insane and should have your head examined. I think you should be locked up.

For you crazy people out there, I dare you to roast a marshmallow the proper way next time you have the opportunity and tell me it’s not 500 times better than your outdated Neanderthal way of doing things.

Otherwise I’ll take your silence as an admission of wrongdoing.

You’re all very welcome…Someone had to bring this hard-hitting issue to the forefront.

The Great Cohabitation Experiment: What Life is Like Two Years Later

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[Editor’s Note: This blog is officially ending its hiatus. Over the past six months I’ve been working full-time in software sales while being incredibly lazy with my writing. It’s time to flip that around. Moving forward I’ll try to be extremely productive with the writing and incredibly lazy with the software sales. What better way to kick off the rebirth of the writing than by posting something that will most definitely get me eight to 10 weeks of sleeping on the couch. Enjoy.]

Just over 25 months ago I made the decision to start living with my girlfriend. It was over a beautiful dinner in San Francisco when we had the relationship-changing conversation. I told her I was moving to LA to become a writer. She asked if I intended to keep our relationship alive by asking her to move down there with me. I responded with the perfect answer: “Yes, darling, I think you should totally follow me to LA and get your own place. We can even make sure we live within a couple miles of each other so we can spend a lot of time together.”

After a few weeks of serious thought (by which I definitely don’t mean “sitting on my couch crushing beers while ignoring the gigantic elephant in the relationship”), I started to see things her way: We should move to a new city together and get an apartment together.

And two years later I can honestly say it was the best decision that I’ve ever been a part of. But that doesn’t mean this cohabitation has been without its learning experiences and confused head shaking (she’s probably experienced plenty of those moments herself, but unfortunately for her, she doesn’t write for a world-renowned blog).

For any man who wants to know how life may change if he chooses to follow my path and shack up with his loved one, here you go. Twenty-five observations, changes and adjustments that come with saying those fateful words: “I do…want to move in with you.”

Oh, you wanted to see my credentials before you commit to reading this? Read it and weep….for me:

“You’re a pretty big “Sex And The City Fan”, and you have a great memory. You remember most of the poignant moments, and you’ve seen your favourite episodes countless times. What are you waiting for? Dig out those old box sets and start over!”

Sigh. That was the category I fell into when I correctly got 11 of 18 answers right on some ridiculous online “Sex and the City” quiz that I accidentally took a few months back. I’ve never once consciously watched that TV show. That knowledge is 100% through unwelcome osmosis. I do indeed live with a woman.

And now for the list:

1. Let’s start from the beginning…decorating the apartment. If you’re not much of a decorator, do yourself a HUGE favor and just say yes to every idea she has. It’s better to pay for 50% of the picture frames and Pinterest projects and not have a say in things than to be involved with every decision and actually have this stuff consume even one minute of your life.IMG_4098

2. Speaking of Pinterest, that’ll somehow become a word you use very frequently…as a noun, verb and adjective.

3. Remember those styrofoam containers & cardboard boxes laying around your apartment from night after night of takeout when you were living alone or with other guys? (You know, the ones that the mice made semi-permanent homes in?) No more. Those will turn into plastic baggies that were used to portion out every single meal and snack you’re allowed to eat during the week.

4. Want to save some money each day? No problem. From now on you’ll be bringing grilled chicken to work to make a sandwich out of. That’s fine, but keep in mind that it won’t be a full chicken breast, it’ll be exactly three ounces (you’ll hear that portion control is the key to weight loss quite a few times).

5. Your kitchen will be organized, reorganized and then organized one more time. (A close relative of “let me just put this new spatula away and then I’ll be ready to go to the beach” turning into “well, the spatula didn’t fit so then I realized all the utensils can go into a smaller drawer, our tupperware can be put on that shelf and here I am three hours later just about done reorganizing the kitchen!”)

6. Speaking of being organized…Everything will have a cute little place in your apartment. Keys will go on a homemade key holder, towels & toiletries will go in wicker baskets inside a book shelf in the bathroom, shoes will go in one of those hangs-on-the-door shoe holders. It’ll all be clean & tidy…until your girlfriend is getting ready each & every weekend night, at which point CNN will show up to cover the story of an atom bomb apparently going off inside your bedroom.

7. You will have lost the battle about putting the toilet seat down, even though it’s absolutely insane that a woman would think this is a necessary thing a man should do.

8. While you will be expected to follow her rules with the toilet seat, she is apparently allowed to ignore your rule about the right way to put the toilet paper roll on the holder.

9. You know bobby pins, right? Be prepared to feel several under your feet every single time you take a step in your apartment. They’re not painful or anything, it’s just that there are now bobby pins EVERYWHERE. And every time you pick up a bunch of bobby pins (because apparently her eyesight can read the scathing blog you’re writing about her from 25 feet away, but they can’t see a bunch of bobby pins on the floor five feet below her), you’ll think you’ve got them all, and there will be at least 15 more in that very room you just cleaned up. Out of all the things that could cause a man to jump off his apartment balcony, I never thought a tiny little thing like a bobby pin could be what puts us over the edge.

10. Saying you don’t want to go to the grocery store with her is offensive. Saying you don’t want to go to a coed baby shower with her is next level offensive.

11. You’ll be asked about buying a papasan chair (and when I say “asked” I mean “asked a loaded question where the only right answer is yes”).

12. You’ll need to learn what the fuck a papasan chair is.

13. It’ll sound expensive and unnecessary.

14. One month later a papasan chair will be sitting in your living room and will never once be used.

15. You’ll be paying for 50% of an 800 square foot apartment but only be allowed to use 50 of those square feet.

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16. You know how I mentioned there’s a place for everything, a compartment of some sort? There will be a wrapping paper container in your house. It’s specifically designed for the height of most wrapping paper rolls. It’s an extreme specialty item. You’ll wonder out loud how your life got to the point of needing a $30 container to store $2 rolls of wrapping paper.

17a. The first time she asks you to start mixing in your laundry together you’ll say no. The second time she asks you’ll say no. Eventually she will purchase a hamper large enough to fit her clothes and yours and she’ll tell you she’s throwing out both of your individual hampers because this will save room (room that will be used to fit yet another unnecessary item in the apartment). At this point, the fight is over. You’re now doing laundry together.

17b. She will gladly fold your clothes because it’s easy and you really don’t care how wrinkled/rolled into a ball they are. She will get mad that you never fold her clothes in return, but you’ll try to explain that her clothes are weird shapes and made of strange materials and they don’t fold as easily as yours. She’ll make you feel stupid for saying this. You’ll soon be folding her clothes.

17c. Every now and then, while folding her clothes, you’ll think about how the 13-year-old version of you would have killed to be able to see the tag on a girl’s bra to know exactly what cup size she is…it’ll be far less exciting as a 31-year-old.

18. Your dog is part of the family. And apparently every member of the family sleeps in the same bed every night (learn from me and maybe don’t adopt a Mastiff).

19. If she happens to be a health conscious cook, then very slowly—but very surely—cheeseburgers will turn into turkey burgers, spaghetti made of normal pasta will turn into spaghetti made of spaghetti squash, and pizza with normal dough will become pizza made of cauliflower dough.

20. The cashier at your local McDonald’s will no longer know you by your first name, but the cashiers at Target will.

21. You weren’t interested in ever eating an entire entree at a restaurant without sharing it again, were you?

22. There’s plenty of room on DVRs these days, so space isn’t a problem. It’s just that you’ll have to scroll through 135 “Bravo” and “E!” shows to get to that 30 for 30 or Drunk History episode you were looking for.

23. Suddenly you’ll have to explain to someone why 16 hours of football a week is necessary (but don’t ever expect an explanation on why 116 hours of Real Housewives a week is necessary).

24. You know how you used to power on the TV and could be reasonably certain that a sports channel would already be on? Now the “Hallmark Channel” is what’s always “last on” when the TV was turned off…the worst part about this is the fact that a “Hallmark Channel” even exists won’t faze you a bit.

25. But two years later you’ll be healthier, happier and will even be able to pass your life off as adultish if someone walks into your home. It’s not all bad, I promise.

And if during the those first 25 months she suggests getting a new couch for the apartment, do yourself a favor and say yes. If you’re like me, you’ll be spending some nights on it.