With the Emmy nominees being announced in July it's time to take a look back at the best shows of the 2010-2011 television season. But given the wide range of quality currently on the airwaves, I figured why should the category be limited to a mere six shows? If the Oscars can have up to 10 nominees in the Best Picture category, why can't the Emmys? Here are my selections for the 10 best comedies of the past year.
"The Big Bang Theory:" This is easily the best traditional sitcom currently on the air, blowing overrated tripe like "Two and a Half Men" and "Hot in Cleveland" out of the water. Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco and, of course, Jim Parsons continue to impress. But the real scene-stealers this season were Melissa Rauch's Bernadeete and Mayim Bialik's Amy Farrah Fowler. It's about high time these two were upgraded from reoccurring characters to full-time cast members in one of television's finest acting ensembles.
"Community:" While the first season of "Community" was terrific, it took the creators about half a season to figure out exactly what they wanted to do. Season one was essentially a dress rehearsal for season two, which was nothing short of comedic genius. It's hard to think of a comedy this year that was more ambitiously written, ingeniously satirizing everything from documentaries to Dungeons & Dragons to conspiracy theories to stop-motion Christmas specials. Then just when you thought that the show could never top its famous paintball episode from season one, they delivered a paintball two-parter that defined epic comedy. With a winning team of writers, directors and actors, "Community" has my vote for the best comedy of the season.
"Glee:" The sophomore season of "Glee" wasn't quite on par with the near-perfect freshman season. At times the show was bogged down by one too many romantic subplots that come out of nowhere. Seriously, Santana, you're a lesbian now? Nevertheless, this is still easily among the 10 best comedies on TV with its Broadway worthy musical numbers and winning cast. Credit is overdue for breakthrough stars Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Naya Rivera and, my personal favorite, Heather Morris. Even in a bad episode of "Glee," you can always count on Morris' Brittany S. Pierce to deliver a classic one-liner. New Directions really needs to stop waiting until right before a show to rehearse tough. Otherwise they'll never beat Vocal Adrenaline.
"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:" Here's a show that has remained consistently hilarious for the past six years and has never been nominated for a single Emmy. Let's hope that this year the Emmys finally give the gang some deserved recognition for one of their funniest seasons yet. If their "Lethal Weapon 5" home movie can't get them a nomination then what can?
"The Middle:" If there was an award for most improved show of the year, "The Middle" would warrant the prize. After a somewhat mediocre first season, season two of "The Middle" exploded with its hysterically realistic depiction of an average Midwestern family and their relatable everyday dilemmas. The tagline for the show reads "Like your family, only funnier." That sounds just about right.
"Modern Family:" Last year's Emmy champ, "Modern Family," suffered from no sophomore slump, continuing to strive as one of television's most original comedies. What more can be said about this deservedly beloved show except that if you haven't watched an episode then you don't own a TV.
"The Office:" "This might not be the show it was in 2006. But with the departure of Steve Carrel's Michael Scott, the writers truly stepped it up a notch and delivered some of their best episodes ever. From his homemade movie of "Threat Level Midnight" to his proposal to Holly to his bitter sweet departure, it's impossible to single out Michael Scott's absolute best moment of the year. All that's for certain is that if Carrel doesn't win the Emmy it will be a grave injustice. The only questions that remain is who's the new boss going to be and can "The Office" survive without Michael Scott.
"Parks and Recreation:" Season three of "Parks and Recreation" proved more than ever that this show is much more than an "Office" retread and Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope is not just a female Michael Scott. This is a show that simply improved week by week with one homerun episode after another. While the initial ensemble was excellent, "Parks and Recreation" took its cast to a new level this season with the inclusion of Adam Scott's Ben and Rob Lowe in "literally" his best work in years. Among all of these unforgettable characters, the standout is by far Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson. All it takes is a raise of Ron's eyebrow to crack you up.
"30 Rock:" It's hard to find fault in this season of "30 Rock," a show that has remained as clever and well-acted since it premiered in 2006. It's unfortunate that we'll have to bid farewell to Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy after the show ends next year. But perhaps it's better for "30 Rock" to quit while in its prime. Otherwise, the show will risk receiving the inevitably backlash from nitpicking fans.
"Weeds:" Season 6 of "Weeds" was uneventful at times and Elizabeth Perkins' Celia was greatly missed. Regardless, this was still another darkly humorous and sexy season of comedy lead by Mary-Louise Parker and company. The Emmys might be more likely to recognize other Showtime comedies this year such as "Nurse Jackie" or "The Big C." To me though, "Weeds" is still by far the best comedy that the network has to offer.