Throwdown: Which Network Has the Best Comedy Block?

By Tim Surette

Nov 17, 2011

For almost two decades, Thursday nights on NBC have been the place to go if you want to laugh. The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Night Court, Friends, Seinfeld, and Will & Grace all helped build the Peacock's 8pm to 10pm comedy block into a pop-culture behemoth. That's continued in recent years thanks to The Office, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation. NBC has a knack for collecting the most critically acclaimed comedies and sticking them together, building an armada of side-splitters that made other networks jealous.

But now NBC isn't the only network with a potent two-hour comedy block. CBS, Fox, and ABC all feature back-to-back-to-back-to-back half-hours of laughs, each with their own trademarks. So we ask you, dear reader:

Which network currently has the best comedy block?

Do keep in mind that we're talking CURRENT comedy blocks, as in the one's that've been on television since the beginning of this season. And we're looking at overall lineups rather than individual shows. Which block, top to bottom, is the best?


Current lineup: Community, Parks and Recreation, The Office, Whitney
NBC is the reigning champion, so we'll tackle it first (and we're ignoring the upcoming midseason schedule shakeup). The Office is the anchor here; now in its eighth season, the workplace comedy brings in the block's biggest numbers and consistently finishes near the top among NBC's shows. But the general consensus is the show has already seen its best years, as it's still struggling to find its way in the wake of Steve Carrell's departure. Parks and Recreation and Community open up the block and are critical favorites and cult hits. Newcomer Whitney rounds out the evening, much to our chagrin.

Pros: Abed!
Cons: Whitney!


Current lineup: The Middle, Suburgatory, Modern Family, Happy Endings
The new block on the block is hitting hard, with Modern Family consistently checking in as TV's highest-rated comedy and sweeping practically every award it was nominated for at this year's Emmys. But one well-received show does not a comedy block make, and sophomore sitcom Happy Endings has become the perfect complement to Modern Family, earning praise from critics and injecting some youth back into comedy as the heir apparent to Friends (but without that annoying Ross guy). Newcomer Suburgatory is one of the more promising new comedies of the fall season. But The Middle, while solid and family-friendly, is the least edgy of the programs and a bit of a square peg.

Pros: It's fresh and new, Phil and Luke Dunphy, the cast of Happy Endings
Cons: Modern Family is already showing signs of wearing down, The Middle doesn't exactly fit in


Current lineup: How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls, Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly
Most of our attention goes to NBC and ABC, but it's CBS that's laughing all the way to the bank with its popular Monday-night chunk o' laughs. All four of the network's comedies hover north of the 10-million-overall-viewers mark and pull in ratings over 4.0 in the adult demo. If you're looking at ratings success, CBS is where it's at. Even if snobby critics don't give the shows much of a chance.

Pros: Numbers don't lie, Melissa McCarthy, NPH
Cons: Laugh tracks, crass jokes and cultural stereotypes, Ashton Kutcher


Current lineup: The Simpsons, Allen Gregory, Family Guy, American Dad
The "Animation Domination" block isn't showing signs of going anywhere, ever. Family Guy gives The Simpsons much needed support on Sundays, and while no one would dare say the evening isn't synonymous with The Simpsons, it's Seth MacFarlane's series that have really made the block a contender. Plus, with MacFarlane's The Flinstones remake in the pipeline, Sundays could soon be MacFarlanation Domination. Note: We did not include Fox's Glee + New Girl + Raising Hope block, as we do not consider Glee a proper comedy. Too much singing, too much drama, hour-long format, etc.

Pros: The only place for animated comedy on network TV, The Simpsons is as American as bacon, mmm, bacon
Cons: Allen Gregory, too much reliance on MacFarlane

Now it's your turn to tell us which network's comedy block is best! Head to the comments to let us know your reasoning, and please do your best to make it clear which network gets your vote.

Last week's Throwdown:
Which show does fairy tales better, Grimm or Once Upon a Time? | Results

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  • ANDRA22 Feb 24, 2012

    I have to pick NBC, because I really love most of their shows (where is 30 rock???)...but abed as a Pro??? I don't get the fascination with him...I hate him...he's ugly and not funny at all...!!!

  • thundercat2000 Dec 15, 2011

    I agree that Fox is relying too much on Seth and not giving other animators a chance. Napoleon Dynamite is coming and I enjoy Bobs' Burgers. That one and The Simpsons and American Dad.

  • TimSpot Dec 01, 2011

    The polls are closed! Thanks for voting! But seriously, I was pretty disappointed no one voted for Supernatural.

  • DanielRoberts9 Nov 25, 2011

    ABC FTW!

  • PattiRobertso Nov 25, 2011

    Modern Family + Happy Endings = ABC Wins!

  • FringeFanatic Nov 23, 2011


  • CrimeDramaBee Nov 23, 2011

    I have no idea why Glee was ever called a comedy. It's been a dramedy at the least since day 1.

  • mansher Nov 23, 2011

    whatever dude...ROSS ruled

  • TimSpot Dec 01, 2011

    How do I thumbs down this? Ross was the worst!!!

  • kendalkendal Nov 22, 2011

    NBC definitely, even with Whitney at the end, and considering how bad Whitney is that really speaks to how great Community, Parks and Rec, and The Office are.

  • jekyll Nov 21, 2011

    Once the unfunny "Community" is gone in favor of "30 Rock" NBC will easily have the best block.

  • DieftheChief4 Nov 22, 2011

    30rock hasn't been funny in years, community is the most original show on tv right now.

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