Once again, 2016 had brought us too many great comedy television shows to choose from, so if you’re not on the list, it doesn’t mean we don’t love and adore you. There are so many shows this year that were top ten worthy- many more than ten. Before you even vote on your favorite series, it’s more than obvious that the big winner in creating outstanding comedy television this year is Louis C.K. He not only produced three of the series on this list (Horace and Pete, Better Things, and Baskets), but he also produced Tig Notaro’s One Mississippi which is an outstanding series, and via Horace and Pete, has changed the possibilities for creating broadcast comedy series.
In choosing our favorite series, there was no magical formula. We picked the shows that made us laugh and surprised us with innovation, great casting, great writing and great performances. Please watch and support them all, plus special mention to a few stand up based shows that didn’t quite fit the category, but deserve recognition- Ari Shaffir’s This is Not Happening on Comedy Central, and Big Jay Oakerson’s What’s Your Fucking Deal on Seeso are so much fun to watch and such great twists on the standard stand up showcase, and we never miss and episode. Also, we have to give some love to Tig Notaro’s One Mississippi on Amazon, and Judd Apatow’s HBO series, Love, which didn’t make our top ten list, but just barely. Both excellent shows and would have made the list in any other year.
Vote for your favorite, and come back on January 2, to see who took the prize in 2016.
Scroll below the graphic to vote, and then to read our list in pure text format, scroll down below the vote!
When we first heard Louis C.K. had a huge list of TV series coming out in 2016, we were both excited and skeptical. Then hearing Zach Galifianakis was on board as co-creator and starring in one of those series was very exciting, but it was still such an odd concept, that we didn’t know what to expect. Baskets blew us way from minute one. We quickly fell in love with Martha Kelly, but the most brilliant decision of all was casting Louie Anderson as Mrs. Baskets. Beautifully written, shot and performed, this weird show is one of the best on television and we can’t wait to see Season 2.
The only show to make our best of list for the second year in a row, Silicon Valley continues to be one of the boldest, funniest shows on television. Silicon Valley wrapped up its third season and got a little more buzz than it already had with T.J. Miller becoming known for his blockbuster hit, Deadpool. This season brought us Stephen Tobolowsky as CEO of Pied Piper for a part of the season too and he was as brilliant as he always is. Martin Starr and Kumail Nanjiani continue to have unbelievable chemistry together and Thomas Middleditch does a tremendous job leading the cast. Silicon Valley has been renewed for a third season and we can’t wait till they’re back.
Louis C.K. and FX have done it again. One of the three Louis C.K. joints on this list, Better Things stars Pamela Adlon in a realistic look at Pamela Adlon’s experiences as a single mother and actress. While we’d love to sit around and give C.K. props all day, this show belongs 100% to Adlon who is so ridiculously talented that it’s hard to believe that there could be a person in America who doesn’t know who she is. Add to the list that the show also has three of the best child actors you will ever see, play Adlon’s daughters. They are brilliant actresses with gigantic careers ahead of them, and their characters are written so beautifully, that we hope this show will be around for years to come. FX liked the show so much they announced a renewal for a second season, 12 days after the premiere.
Yet another hit for FX, Atlanta stars Donald Glover who also writes for it, created it and even directed a few episodes. The show follows Glover playing a guy from Atlanta named Earl just trying to make it in the rap game with his rising-star rapping cousin known as Paper Boi. You don’t know where the show is taking you, some episodes focus on Earl, some Paper Boi, there is even an episode about a talk show that is basically a sketch comedy episode. If you liked Glover on Community or any of his music as Childish Gambino, you will love this show.
Louis C.K. created, directed, wrote, starred in, and marketed this beautiful one off experimental series. He blew us out of the water, sending out an email announcing “something” and inviting his fans to purchase and watch. Nobody knew anything about it leading up to the release. There was no press, none of the actors spoke about it, it was just this cool, different show that came across like you were watching a play with plenty of familiar stand up comics and some of the greatest actors in the game today. Alan Alda, Steve Buscemi, and Edie Falco showed up on the first episode, and were later joined by other greats. Some stand up comics made some great appearances on the show like Nick Di Paolo and Liza Treyger, Steven Wright, Amy Sedaris, Colin Quinn, and the list goes on and on. The standout moment of the series run was a 40 minute straight monologue by Laurie Metcalf. Absolutely brilliant.
Comedy Central has always been a great place for young comics to put on their kind of show and see where it goes, Nikki Glaser had something great with Not Safe, but unfortunately we won’t be getting another season. If you’ve seen any of Glaser’s stand up before, you know she talks a lot about sex and this show is no different. The cool thing about the show though is how it blends up all the different style shows you see on Comedy Central with guests, sketches and other hilarious segments under one show without straying from its main theme.
Andrew Dice Clay stars in this show that takes a semi-autobiographical look at his life before he got his big comeback a few years ago while living in Las Vegas. The show is best described simply as “Dice being Dice” with his best friend/manager “Milkshake” Kevin Corrigan who hilariously plays Dice’s right hand man who will immediately go after anyone trying to screw with Dice. Comedian Natasha Leggero does an amazing job as Dice’s chick. If your going to give this show a try, start off with the Adrien Brody episode and you won’t be disappointed even for a second.
In its freshman season, the HBO show starring Danny McBride did not disappoint in the slightest. While some were nervous Danny McBride playing a brash and vulgar teacher at a school might be too similar to the first season of Eastbound & Down, Vice Principals did a great job of distinguishing itself off the bat. The real breakout performance of the show though is Walton Goggins of The Hateful Eight fame playing Danny McBride’s dandy frenemy. The show does an incredible job of mixing dark and twisted humor with the usual Danny McBride silliness.
Maria Bamford teamed up with Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz to make this Netflix Original Series. The show is presented in multiple timelines, which takes a little time to get used to at first, but once you get into the show it is hard to turn off. The timelines are before and after Maria’s characters (and real life) mental breakdown. Comedian Bridgett Everett plays Bamford’s best friend, Jenny Slate is her life coach and Ana Gasteyer is her agent, the show has so many cameos from great comedians, it’s hard to keep up with.
HBO’s Divorce, created by Sharon Horgan is a smart, dark and very funny look at what happens when a marriage goes crumbling to pieces. TV comedy veterans Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Hayden Church are perfectly cast as the former couple. With massively talented writer-producers like Adam Resnick, Tom Scharpling, and Paul Simms, it’s no wonder this show knocks it out of the park.