You know the phrase that comedy often comes from tragedy? We’re being slightly hyperbolic here, but for many 2016 is thought of as a really depressing year. “Last Week with John Oliver” even just did a whole segment about it on last night’s show. There were many hardships throughout the past 11 months, and just as that old saying goes, this somehow either inspired or led to a really great year for comedy. We cannot think of another time in recent memory where there were so many great shows, especially in terms of ones that avoided any growing pains and were fantastic almost from the get-go.
Trying to narrow down this field to five for our Golden Globes Preview Series was insanely difficult, and we didn’t necessarily go into it with the goal of trying to include as many of these rookie shows as possible. It just worked out that way. Four out of our five choices below were not on the air at this point in time a year ago, and that’s remarkable.
This list is meant to be interactive, so we want to hear from you on your own personal favorite comedy of the year! Vote in the poll below; we’ll keep results open until November 30 at noon Pacific time; our viewer picks will then be revealed on December 1 at noon Pacific, less than two weeks before the actual Golden Globes nominations are revealed December 12.
The full ceremony will air on NBC on Sunday, January 8.
“The Good Place” (NBC) – We knew this would be good from the onset: You had Kristen Bell pairing with Ted Danson in a quirky series about the afterlife from “Parks and Recreations” / “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” executive producer Mike Schur. What stemmed from this concept was a comedy that reminded us very much of our favorite era of NBC, one where “The Office,” “Parks,” and “30 Rock” were all generating conversation. There’s a lot of humor here, but also heart and some likable characters we’ll remember for some time.
“Insecure” (HBO) – In speaking about a show with a lot of heart, Issa Rae’s worked to put together in part a relatable, crazy, and extremely funny take on everything from relationships to trying to survive in the workplace. It’s one of those shows that would not work without a strong point of view, and it has that plus the creative flexibility to go all in on creative ideas, such as an entire scene about spoken-word rap or some characters that you’re not going to find on almost any other show. “Insecure” takes risks, and even when some work better than others, many other comedies wouldn’t even bear to try. That deserves respect.
“Silicon Valley” (HBO) – This is the sort of comedy where we always worry almost without merit if it will struggle to top itself on an annual basis. Yet, it always does, and it manages that by being completely different year after. It doesn’t try to be crazier per se; it just strives to be good. At one point, we thought the skunkworks plan was going to be the creative high of the season, but then the downfall of Erlich came about. While a tad more somber than many other “Silicon Valley” stories, there was still a lightness / silliness to it here and there that really made it enjoyable and a refreshing change of pace for TJ Miller. Somehow, this is one of those returning comedies that somehow never seems to lose any steam.
“Speechless” (ABC) – One of the common threads of this list is boldness among writers. There are so many comedies at this point in TV that there’s almost no point in trying unless you have an angle that sets you apart. This is especially true in the family-comedy space where so many blend together. “Speechless” stands out as a comedy that finds hope and humor in almost everything, and shows that having a child with special needs can produce a wonderful sort of love and inspiration that is often hard to find otherwise. Plus, Micah Fowler, who plays the JJ character with cerebral palsy, may be one of the breakout stars of the fall season. The show makes you laugh hard, but never in a way that’s guilt-ridden or mean-spirited.
“Vice Principals” (HBO) – There were some times when this show would go all the way up to 11, and we didn’t know how they were going to be able to settle back in. For example, where do you go after Neal Gamby and Lee Russell burn down Belinda Brown’s house? Yet, the show somehow found a way, and over time we ended up caring in particular for Gamby far more than we ever expected — especially since he certainly exhibited many signs throughout the year of being a downright terrible guy.
Honorable mentions – “Atlanta” (FX), “black-ish” (ABC), “Flaked” (Netflix), “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix), “Veep” (HBO). There are even many other very good series that we couldn’t even fit on this list, including “Baskets,” “Mom,” “Shameless” (technically considered a comedy), “Casual,” and even animated fare like “BoJack Horseman.”
Now, we turn this over to you! Vote for your favorite below, and be sure to check out some other entries in our Golden Globes series. (Photo: Golden Globes.)