Television in the 21st century is an endless buffet, with networks and streamers serving up more tasty offerings than any one person could possibly binge. The array can be overwhelming, so every so often, those of us on the TV desk at The New York Times like to push back from the table and take a broader look at the medium and its most exceptional shows.
A couple of years ago, we used the 20th anniversary of “The Sopranos” as an opportunity to assess the best dramas of the previous two decades. This week, we’re taking on comedies.
Our list of the 21 best comedies of the 21st century was, like most lists, the product of much discussion, disagreement and negotiation. (In a postscript, we each named our most heartbreaking omissions.) But the result feels like a nice snapshot of the era’s defining shows and of the way cable and streaming has created room for TV comedy to become more idiosyncratic and diverse in its perspectives — a departure from the big-tent network sitcoms (many of them also great) that dominated prime-time in the 20th century.
We limited our purview to American sitcoms and sketch shows — so no “Fleabag” or British “Office” — that premiered on Jan. 1, 2000, or later. Beloved comedies that aired this millennium but debuted earlier — “Friends,” “Saturday Night Live,” a hundred others — didn’t qualify. (Anyone still wanting to fight about whether the 21st century started in 2000 or 2001 can do that elsewhere.)
Now it’s your turn to let us know: What did we overlook? What do we love too much? What’s your favorite American comedy of the 21st century, and why? As James Poniewozik, The Times’s chief TV critic, wrote in the intro, “We have no absolute answers, only the arguments that resulted in this list.” I’m sure you have plenty of your own, too.