The 20 Best Comedy TV Shows of 2022: In the last few years, comedy TV is much more evolved than in the past. It is true not just in terms of the style but also the substance. We rarely use laugh tracks anymore, which was a part of almost every other sitcom. While sometimes those laughs were genuine, sometimes they were added later to make people sitting at home laugh at whatever was happening. Now they are used almost entirely in an ironic manner. The slapstick style of humor is less frequent than the comedy of errors. The genre often attempts to be more grounded than far-fetched, more confrontational than plastic. Every other show seeks authenticity through its characters.
In the saturated landscape of today’s TV, where choice is abundant, it becomes increasingly challenging to pick something from the fear of it turning into a disappointment. That’s where you can trust me and others who go through the task of watching so much and picking a few that are worth your time for one reason or another. Last year, we came across another wonderful Ted Lasso season to an excellent Reservation Dogs’ first season. While shows like The Kominsky Method or Shameless came out with their last seasons, Hacks became a sensation in no time. Let’s now look at 2022 to know which comedy shows reach that level of excellence.
20. Everything I Know About Love
‘Everything I Know About Love’ is one of the most endearing works from this year. Adapted from a book by Dolly Alderton, it follows four young adults, who move to London with their big hopes and dreams, but more so to escape the past versions of themselves. The story is as relatable as it can get. Two among them are childhood best friends Maggie (Emma Appleton) and Birdy (Bel Powley), who embark on this new path of their life while they are yet to grow through the stages of maturity. With the bouts of frivolous activities, they spend most of their early days in the city with breezy carelessness.
Despite its familiar tropes of a girl moving to the big city, it becomes endlessly refreshing due to its thoroughly sustained charm and likeability. Over the course of Maggie’s journey toward self-actualization, toward learning everything she does, there are moments of serious introspection and self-confrontation. While constantly seeking a more attractive, appealing version of herself, her childhood traumas reflect in her everyday behavior, where her fear of humiliation becomes her guiding light. So, even when the season starts out as girls getting wasted in a big city narrative, it packs some hard-hitting lessons along the way and makes a case for slice-of-life drama done right.
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19. Wedding Season
Within the span of its eight episodes, ‘Wedding Season‘ brings a blend of multiple genres to the table. You see two lovers, Katie and Stefan, running for their lives from their relatives, not wanting them to unite for more than one reason. The show’s fugitive-couple-on-the-run narrative, like Bonny and Clyde, keeps the thriller elements intact. The suspense keeps building in the narration due to the lack of transparency exhibited by these two characters. Besides that, the maze-like structure of the script keeps you guessing their motives and fate until the end of the journey.
The romance between both is integral to the story, and the sheer unpredictability of their behavior and responses keeps the humor refreshing and the series relentlessly funny. The British cynicism and quick wit come in handy for the darkness of its humor to the point that the doomed romance also reminds you of the likes of Fleabag. Besides its writing, the reason that series works is its immensely likable central performances by Rosa Salazar and Gavin Drea. Rosa is a one-of-a-kind talent that is unique in her acting style – reminiscent of Aubrey Plaza for the kind of humor they naturally bring to any project they become a part of (one of the most striking examples is, of course, Undone).
18. Mythic Quest
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia showed the adventures of a gang of douchebags who constantly amp up the crazy quotient of their ridiculously moronic acts. With ‘Mythic Quest,’ Rob McElhenney, Megan Ganz, and Charlie Day reinvent their comedic tricks and bring out a workplace comedy in a gaming industry with a lot of heart. While writing characters with distinct personalities, the series benefits from its impeccable casting choices, which make every bit of humor land just right. The first two seasons show its two leads – Ian and Poppy diligently trying to better a game called Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
Their fallout from this company opens them up to a new work dynamic in a new office space. It seemed unlikely for the show to continue without Ian being egocentric while working on his creative child (his precious game). However, the third season keeps pitting contrasting personalities against one another and continues to find humor through their awkward interactions. The writing makes the best use of their idiosyncrasies to merge genius with heartwarming and silly with cerebral. Besides the writing of these characters, it is Danny Pudi, Jessie Ennis, Charlotte Nicdao, David Hornsby, and other committed performers who make the comedy always work.
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17. Somebody Somewhere
There are some shows that assure you from the get-go that they will make a permanent place in your heart. ‘Somebody Somewhere’ on HBO is of that kind, where the narrative of a woman going through her midlife crisis stirs you through its minimalist approach. Through her journey, the show presents a heartwarming dramedy in mumblecore style. Starring Bridget Everett as Sam in the central role, we look at this character trying to process the loss of her sister while making an attempt at being a part of some sort of community. This trauma puts her otherwise energetic personality on a backfoot to make her live a more muted existence.
The humor, in this case, is not placed in laugh-out-loud moments, clever observations or witty remarks. Rather, it is found in the mundane conversations between its characters, all of whom are struggling with their lives in one way or the other. Joel, played by Jeff Hiller (a benevolent and hilarious portrayal at the same time), becomes a sunshine-like presence in Sam’s life. Through their shared interactions, the series gets its bittersweet edge. Among all the narratives with characters fighting personal demons, this sentimental comedy stands apart through a sense of maturity and effortlessness in writing.
16. Only Murders in the Building
As a genre, true crime has become quite popular in the recent past. Perhaps the reason is that it quenches the thirst for a sense of thrill and provides a route for escape from otherwise uneventful lives. The fact that those horrifying deeds actually transpired adds value to its emotional potency. As a result, a true crime podcast listening community did not seem like a far-fetched idea. ‘Only Murders in the Building’ presented its first season with such people who came together to solve a murder mystery while using their podcast as a tool to escape the mundanity of their lives. The pin of suspicion kept moving from one to the other to create a satisfying whodunit tale.
With its second season, it brings back the oddly satisfying pairing of Selena Gomez with comedy veterans – Martin Short & Steve Martin. Since they are the ones who now get suspected of murdering someone, the puzzle of facts and motives gets even more complicated. With more characters added to the equation, it delves deeper into the characters’ lives beyond their interest in the podcast. It reveals dreadful events from the past to understand their actions in the present. While the set of revelations is amusing, it is the recurring banter between boomers, millennials, and Gen Z that takes the cake and always makes you laugh at how on-point it is. Even while some of its new characters seem like unnecessary additions, its central performers keep a bubbling sense of humor intact.
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15. How to with John Wilson
Whether it is Nathan Fielder or John Wilson, these introverted comics are using whatever tools they have in their possession to express themselves in their unique ways. ‘How to with John Wilson’ stems from a similar chain of thought, where John documents several aspects of New York city through his eyes and places them in its peculiarly titled episodes. Beyond his self-discovery that oftentimes expresses his innermost thoughts and desires, they also present spontaneous moments of cultural observation. Putting them in a tutorial style and making those subjects relevant to the lives of New Yorkers makes this docuseries all the more amusing.
The second season takes its viewers through a rollicking ride of laughter, where the humor is derived from John’s personal attributes – be it his social anxiety or his relationship with the elderly landlord. While being specific to his experiences from wanting to be a homeowner (How to Invest in Real Estate) to the herculean task of finding a parking spot in New York City (titled plainly as ‘How to Find a Spot’!), the episodes unknowingly touch upon several aspects of human experience. With his stream-of-consciousness voiceover, a wine-tasting experience can lead you to accept your fear of not fitting in. His accidental rumination on batteries can tell you more about yourself than hours of introspection.
14. Abbott Elementary
During one of the yearly roundtables, Quinta Brunson mentioned how she always wanted to create something like Parks and Recreation that celebrates every one of its characters and has a highly optimistic outlook toward life. ‘Abbott Elementary‘ stays true to her vision, which uses the mockumentary sitcom formula to present the dysfunctional staff of an underfunded elementary school in a refreshing manner. What it manages to achieve since its first episode is a sense of breezy optimism, which oozes out of every single episode.
Just like Leslie Knope, Quinta’s Janine is a professional who deeply cares about her job. She wants not just her, but everyone to do well and has a go-getter approach despite unfavorable circumstances and difficult odds in front of her. While she is that instantly loveable person, the writing makes all of its characters so endearing over the period that it is hard not to fall in love with them. Even when you meet the incompetent principal of their school using the funds for beauty accessories or a white, gay teacher always trying hard to be the best ally of everyone, you sense a kinder outlook toward each and every individual. And besides Quinta’s performance, it is Janelle James, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tyler James Williams, Lisa Ann Walter, and Chris Perfetti that turn it into a ‘comfort watch.’
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13. Fleishman is in Trouble
As a 41-year-old straight white man in New York City, Toby Fleishman is a fairly privileged individual. Yet, the recent divorce takes a toll on his emotional health and makes him feel that he is constantly in trouble. For someone who chose a noble profession of medicine and served patients throughout his career without thinking about earning on their misery, the world seems to be especially cruel to him. While presenting his misery in a satirical manner, this dark comedy pokes fun at this self-absorbed man, whose highest stress is the burden of familial responsibilities.
The miniseries takes a deep dive into Toby’s past and present to understand the roots of his belief systems. While doing that, his college-friend – Libby introspects on his mental anguish through a consistently witty voiceover. Perhaps it is the creator Taffy Brodesser-Akner voicing her observations through her character, but the result is undoubtedly hilarious. The series switches its gears seamlessly from being a black comedy, a satire, to a tragic drama and becoming a contemplation about life, love, and so much more. It manages to flesh out all its central characters while staying truthful to its brand of humor with razor-sharp writing.
While speaking about it right after its first season, Ramy Youseff noted that he was worried about making a series that is the first of its kind. He is not wrong to assert this fear that overlaps anyone who rarely gets a chance to have a form of term openly assigned to them. With its first season, ‘Ramy’ presents a humane portrayal of American Muslim characters rooted in mundane reality. It builds a strong foundation for these characters devoid of any negative stereotypes, prevalent largely in the western media. Over the period, it deals with several subjects, from sexism to homophobia, from antisemitism to racism, with understanding and empathy.
Now, the new season highlights Ramy’s existential crisis primarily stems from his shaken belief system. After spending a while dedicated to spirituality, he reaches a puzzled state of mind for indulging in an affair. So he dedicates his mind to business and comes across numerous challenges that constantly put his faith in question. Through its absurd episodes of humor and silent moments of confrontation, it introspects on pertinent topics in a way that is rarely done. While giving a glimpse into the Israel-Palestinian issue, it presents a gut-wrenching tale of the loss of innocence. While dealing with a middle-aged, conservative, gay character, it presents this complicated man with a balanced approach. And still, it manages to present humor in all its situations, be it in an organic or surreal manner.
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Being a female comic is not an easy feat. Even now, when female comics are getting much more visibility, they are sadly looked down upon by male peers or audiences. ‘Hacks’ celebrates funny women and shows the struggle of making it big as a female comic in a bittersweet, often confrontational manner. While we meet Deborah Vance as the fading stand-up comedian trying to reclaim her position, Ava Daniels comes as her saving grace, who is not doing well herself as an anxious, unsuccessful Gen Z comic in the business.
With their differing standards of comedy, ethics, and morality, their general interactions also become highly illuminating. Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder have excellent acting chemistry to present their characters’ mutual journey, which can shift from tender to chaotic in no time. The second season which showcases the later stages of their bonding, presents their mutual admiration for each other’s contrasting comedic styles. They learn, grow, and evolve together, where Deborah’s newfound interest in re-invention presents itself in a raw manner. There is a lot of pain seeping in through those lines, where she owns her persona instead of running away from it. In their to-and-fro style of relationship, the duo keeps making us laugh, cry and feel with moments of earned laughter.
While looking at the better works in the recent past, you would notice how much of it depends on the humane portrayals of diverse perspectives. ‘Mo,’ created by Mohammed Amer and Ramy Youssef, is one such narrative that presents the struggle of a Palestinian refugee seeking asylum to become a citizen in the USA. While constantly living in fear of deportation, he proceeds with his daily life with a hustling approach. His manner of tackling every obstacle head-on is less of a stoic philosophy and more of a necessity.
As James Baldwin noted, he cannot afford the luxury of being pessimistic, which makes him constantly seek the hope of a better life. Even while struggling to keep a balance between two cultures and three languages he has familiarized himself with, he keeps looking for one way or another for his survival in this foreign land. His relationship with his Spanish girlfriend opens up another perspective on his journey, where his fears are not limited to just his safety and well-being. The writing has a keen understanding of its somber subject matter, and with the jolly (but not naively cheerful) persona of its lead, it tackles it with a light-hearted approach.
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9. This is Going to Hurt
Medical dramas often fall into the trap of revering the noble intent of the profession. The cases are often presented to illustrate the godly nature of healers. ‘This is Going to Hurt’ becomes inherently different due to its flawed portraits of health work professionals. They are not put on a pedestal, which makes them seem more lifelike and less archaic. Starring Ben Whishaw in the central role, this British medical drama follows Adam Kay, a gay doctor, in his chaotic job in the OB-GYN department. With a newbie named Shruti assigned under him, he tries to manage the anxieties of his daily routine.
The series uses a highly organic approach to take us directly into the battleground-like scenarios from this medical ward while keeping the dry, witty British humor intact. Ben’s character often breaks the fourth wall to illustrate his occasional insights soaked in the same style. While dealing quite literally with life-and-death situations on a daily basis, these doctors try to make light of the chaos and find comfort in any way they can. The writing manages to find a perfect balance between the tragic and the comic while boasting authentic portrayals of these professionals.
8. Bad Sisters
From the title itself, ‘Bad Sisters’ takes a dig at the patriarchal perception of women. By labeling a woman’s behavior as plain bad, any mildly unpleasing act is often seen from a limiting perspective. This Irish black comedy repeatedly takes a dig at anyone looking at their actions, reactions, and worldview through such a one-sided approach. While following the journey of the Garvey sisters after the sudden death of one of their husbands, the narrative presents a delirious ride full of mystery and wickedly funny adventure.
It takes us through the flashbacks to illustrate the controlling, abusive nature of this husband. It points to his privileges as a man, which enables him to act as it pleases him without fear of consequence or retort. His lashing is seen as justified, while the behavior of women around him trying to put forth mere dissent is deemed to be unladylike and, thus, unpleasant. While slowly revealing more of these women’s personalities, the humor is derived from the sheer amusement these women experience from the fantasy of killing him.
The want is not in itself proof, and thus, the narrative builds a mystery about the killer’s identity while seeking pleasure in such a desire, all the while being sensible about its core subject of abuse and trauma.
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7. Reservation Dogs
With its first season, ‘Reservation Dogs’ familiarized us with its four Native American characters. Willie, Elora, Bear, and Cheese were trying to figure out their life like any other teenager. So anyone can relate to their adolescent stages of life. Besides that, it presented a milieu that was never explored on American television. It used cultural peculiarities to build its humor without mocking it. It gave the characters well-rounded personalities while never indulging in stereotypes. In Cheese, you find an eloquent nerd, whereas, in Elora, you find a natural leader. Paulina Alexis plays Willie with a deadpan style quite similar (and as brilliant) to that of Brian Tyree Henry in Atlanta.
Through their quirks, the series presented amusing conversations while shedding light on their traumatic past without letting it shadow their present and their hopes for a promising future. With its second season, it seamlessly balances the grounded with the absurd, idiosyncratic with deeply humane. It also brings out subjects integral to the community, be it gentrification or racism, and presents them with necessary thoughtfulness without letting go of the quotient of warmth or humor. It benefits from a comical approach that stems from a communal sense of shared laughter.
6. The Bear
Nominated for Best Comedy Series at the Critics’ Choice Awards, ‘The Bear’ is not a traditional comedy by any stretch. However, this comedy-drama series is filled with purely organic moments of humor. It follows a young chef named Carmy, who returns from the fine dining world to work at his small family business in Chicago. In the cramped-up, messy spaces in this popular food joint, the drama mostly occurs due to the intense work regime.
In this boiler room set-up, the writing punches in a pack of hilarity with situations that appear out of nowhere at times while the intense pressure gradually gets built. This pressure brings out the personal demons of their contrasting personalities. Emotional irruptions become their communication pattern, which makes you laugh due to their unexpected nature of outbursts. Be it self-deprecation or wisecracks, the writing squishes humor out of its characters and makes it endlessly compelling.
And the perfect comic timing of all its actors turns it into a pitch-perfect dramedy. Besides Jeremy Allen White, Ayo Edebiri and Ebon Moss-Bachrach give stand-out performances of the year that simultaneously make ‘The Bear’ a highly humane drama and rousing comedic moments.
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During his SNL stint, Bill Hader presented a series of original characters and proved that he is one of the most interesting comedic talents of his generation. So, a series of him starring a veteran-turned-serial killer came as a surprise and seemed unlike what he would traditionally go for. However, ‘Barry’ made the best use of his comedic talents to bring out its darkly humorous moments. With Anthony Carrigan, Henry Winkler, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root, and D’Arcy Carden in the cast, it balanced its contemplative side with humor from the individualistic styles of all the performers.
The third season is not outrightly funny as its predecessors – where we laughed at its characters being placed in frightful situations. While the quotient of black comedy is still present, it is a bit subdued to bring out a more pertinent subject to the forefront – one of Barry Berkman’s unresolved traumas. In a theatrical turn by Bill Hader, we see Barry as a deeply flawed individual and a toxic man whose unchecked emotions become a siren of terror for anyone and everyone around him. While being much scarier to experience than the previous seasons, it still presents hilarity in the moments you least expect them and turns itself into a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
4. Oh Hell
Much before its first season earned several Emmys; I was a huge fan of Fleabag. It was one of the discoveries for me that received its much-deserved popularity after the award season. ‘Oh Hell’ is certainly one such discovery that floored me with its endlessly humane approach to tragicomedy. This German series, created by Johannes Boss, is similar to Fleabag for more than one reason. It tells a story of a failure of a person, a woman in her mid-20s, trying to figure out her life. But instead of the recent stylistic imitations of Fleabag, Oh Hell feels more like an original work.
While being a compassionate portrait of this miserable individual, the season churns out some of the wildest comedic moments, borne out of her emotions toward every situation in her life. We see her thoughts presented in a naked manner – where the self-reflection shows humor as her defense mechanism from a constant feeling of being left out and being hurt. Mala Emde presents Helene’s ghost-like persona through her oddly magnetic performance. Salka Weber, Edin Hasanović, and Knut Berger are just as compelling and do their part to keep the spirit of this wacky comedy intact.
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3. White Lotus
Mike White captivated us with sharp social commentary in the first season of ‘White Lotus.’ While showcasing wealthy, repulsive characters, it churned out a serious amount of satire that gained an irresistible appeal. The second season, just as sharp with its commentary, tackles the subject of privilege from different prisms. Secrets, knowledge, and carnal desires become primal in the exchange between its new set of characters, and the writing pokes fun at their long-held beliefs with clever insights.
Be it the nostalgia that two American men feel for their Italian heritage or be it the two ‘nice guys’ breaking their own construct of niceness due to their impulses; it critiques these tropes without being overt. While everyone simultaneously becomes a possible suspect and a walking corpse for the viewers, there is an undercurrent of sexual frustration mutual in all its characters. Jealousy, anger, and repression, among other feelings, are carefully placed in the script, where the characters organically evolve to present their faulty aspects.
Besides its clever writing and a tantalizing tone of narration, what the second season brings out is an ensemble filled with strong dramatic and comedic performances by Jennifer Coolidge, Aubrey Plaza, Will Sharpe, and F. Murray Abraham, among others.
Donald Glover has come a long way since his early role in Community as an adorable goof. After widely becoming known as rapper Childish Gambino, he kept trying on different creative hats and became a multi-faceted artist over the years. ‘Atlanta’ is a culmination of all his interests, talents, and understanding of cinematic language and of the world itself. After its introspective second season, it took a long hiatus to present two of its new seasons this year, both of which showed him flexing his creative muscles to the maximum. As he has mentioned himself, the series is like a canvas for him to create several short films based on his insane ideas.
While delving into the topics rooted in Black culture, the two seasons continue with its absurd brand of comedy. While it becomes extremely personal at times, the writing also stays relevant without being preachy. Not just the central characters, but even with its guest characters, the show uses their idiosyncrasies to build humorous set-ups where none of them feels unnecessary. After boosting the talent of Brian Tyree Henry, LaKeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz, and co-creator – Hiro Murai, besides himself for years, Donald Glover ends this series with so much to process about its form and content.
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1. The Rehearsal
Nathan Fielder is widely known for his style of deadpan humor and his meek persona. Whether he is like that in real life or not is still a mystery. With Nathan for You, he exercises it in every single moment while presenting us with the craziest startup ideas featuring real-life guests. After its enormous popularity, he returns with ‘The Rehearsal,‘ a post-modernist reality television series that introspects several elements while elaborating on what makes any experience a human experience. Taking a bunch of trained actors to play a version of themselves and presenting several realities to eliminate any threat of failure is a wildly hilarious premise in itself.
Nathan takes it to the extreme by putting himself in their shoes and trying to live their fears and anxieties as actors or as the human beings they are hired to play. He keeps reconstructing this scenario, training actors with his own acting discipline to understand what it would be like to sit among those students and learn from them. He cleverly understands his niche comical pattern and implements it neatly in these episodes. While presenting a set of human revelations, he keeps a thread of humor intact. Be it at the expense of his immaturity in parenting or understanding the flaws of his experiments, The Rehearsal rarely misses its mark, which makes it one of the best comedy TV shows of 2022.