Power Rankings!: Comedies You Need to Watch Before Anything Else

12:23 PM 8/11/2017

by Tim Goodman

THR's chief TV critic ranks the comedies you should prioritize above all other viewing right now.

'People of Earth,' 'Archer' and 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'
'People of Earth,' 'Archer' and 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'
Courtesy of TBS and FX (2)

Oh, this is a tremendous feeling, being so free, prancing around with confidence. The Power Rankings! are back and this week there's no need for a whole lot of explanation about where they were and how they work. Feel me move.

Basically, you can just read last week's version for the full explanation. If you're lazy, first remember that they have always been highly scientific and they will remain that way. Second, this part is basically all you really need to know to stop yourself from sending emails and tweets about how wrong the rankings are or what I might have "forgotten" to include, so give it a good look: "The new Power Rankings! will focus on series that are either on right now or ended recently (and the subsequent season hasn't started). That timeline can stretch as long as a year. We are living in times of TV saturation and the rankings will account for that, but there have to be some parameters… It's impossible to watch every episode of every show every week so that idea is out the window."

All good? Excellent. Let's get into this week's list, which focuses on the comedies that you have to watch right now before moving exponentially outward in your search.

Remember, some shows are not on this list because I haven't seen them yet. Many shows are not on this list because they don't deserve to be. A smattering didn't make the "In the Mix" section because I either forgot about them or didn't do the math on when they were last on the air (or they were international, making it more confusing).

And no, The Simpsons — which would qualify under the one-year thing — doesn’t need to be on this or any other list because if you haven't ever watched it you don't exist.

All hail the series that can hold down the No. 1 slot the longest. As you'll see below, there are two numbers associated with each entry. The number on the left is the current ranking; the number on the right was its last ranking. They will of course match on the inaugural list.

 

  • 1/1 — It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

    FX

    Courtesy of FX

    Gold standard, modern-day era. Not only does it meet the requirements while being the longest-running series on this list, it illustrates the exact point of the newly reconstructed Power Rankings! — to cover the essentials. This is your north star.

  • 2/2 — Veep

    HBO

    Courtesy of HBO

    It's fast, it's furious, it's smart and foul, plus ridiculous and ridiculously timely. As always, go back to the start if need be. But don't just binge this show — watch episodes repeatedly for missed jokes.

  • 3/3 — Archer

    FX

    Courtesy of FX

    May H. Jon Benjamin provide the voiceover for the highlights of your life as they play at your funeral. Beyond that, this is a Hall of Fame first-ballot animated series, but some people have never even started it. Again, kind of the point of the Power Rankings! rebirth.

  • 4/4 — Silicon Valley

    HBO

    Courtesy of HBO

    It's not everybody's favorite but even then it's regarded as regularly top-tier. If it seems ludicrously over the top depicting a subculture, know that it's actually more like a documentary about a region and a business.

  • 5/5 — You're the Worst

    FX

    Photographed by Jessica Chou

    There is an enormous bloc of people who haven't seen this yet, so let's have them dip a toe into the acid of the early days and then revel in watching them discover, as the episodes and seasons mount, that it really does have a sweet and smart center. And yes, it's touching. It takes a while, but you'll see. 

  • 6/6 — Brooklyn Nine-Nine

    Fox

    John P. Fleenor/FOX

    Depending on the week and the mood, it's easy to make an argument that this is certainly the best network sitcom and that it can throw elbows at any number of these other shows to claim its spot from across the cable and streaming spectrum. As it does this week. 

  • 7/7 — Master of None

    Netflix

    Courtesy of Netflix

    There are three kinds of people who would evaluate this series. Those who love it, those who struggle to embrace its quirks but are mostly on board and those who are wrong because they are not nice or happy. So, yeah, watch and decide.

  • 8/8 — Better Things

    FX

    Courtesy of FX

    Like You're the Worst in its later seasons, this is another example that comedies are not always ha-ha funny joke machines. A comedy can still be dramatic in the 30-minute space. And Emmy-nominated Pamela Adlon proves that with her heartfelt and hilarious offering. Can't wait for the upcoming second season, Sept. 14.

  • 9/9 — Bob's Burgers

    Fox

    Courtesy of FOX

    See No. 6. Right? You could also make the argument that Bob's Burgers is the best network comedy. Go ahead, Fox won't mind. Is animation easier? A cheat? No. Sit down. 

  • 10/10 — Atlanta

    FX

    Courtesy of FX

    I have a slight bias toward series with more seasons under their belts. Not across the board, but in general. That doesn't apply to this gem. It's vibe-y as hell. It gets itself. It's wholly original.

  • 11/11 — Catastrophe

    Amazon

    Ed Miller/Amazon Studios

    At some point series creators and stars Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney will tell me to shut up already about prefacing every piece of high praise I have for this series with the caveat that each season needs to be longer, but it does. Still brilliant, though.

  • 12/12 — Casual

    Hulu

    Courtesy of Hulu

    I'll broken-record the hell out of this sentiment, but it's the best show you're not watching. I get it, there are a lot of those, hence why I brought back the Power Rankings! Still, I know you're not watching Casual from the look on your face when I ask, and I'm getting testy about it. 

  • 13/13 — Girls

    HBO

    Mark Schafer/HBO

    Discussions on this topic have closed. It's here because it deserves to be.

  • 14/14 — People of Earth

    TBS

    Ian Watson/Turner Entertainment Networks

    My favorite new comedy of this very moment. Please find out why. 

  • 15/15 — Fleabag

    Amazon

    Courtesy of Amazon Studios

    See Atlanta when it comes to the issue of including one-season entrants. See this series, all six hilarious and ultimately heartbreaking episodes, to find out why it's here. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is magnificent. This series becomes more than what first glances suggest. Watch it multiple times. Bonus dream scenario: Sitting on a couch between Waller-Bridge and Adlon, taking notes and saying nothing while they talk across me.

  • 16/16 — Insecure

    HBO

    Justina Mintz/Courtesy of HBO

    The second season is already better than the first, which was a breakout revelation. I don't know what you're waiting for. Issa Rae has got this.

  • Out, In Peril and In the Mix

    Vivian Zink/NBC

    OUT None.
    IN PERIL I'd argue the list will grow rather than contract, but the exact rankings will likely shift next time.
    IN THE MIX Blackish. Fresh Off the Boat. Detectorists. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The Good Place. Speechless. Baskets. Brockmire.

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