Laugh Off: Ranking the Fall Season's New Network Comedies

Now that we're getting close to swapping out our World's Cutest Baby Animals 2011 calendars for our brand-new World's Cutest Baby Animals 2012 calendars, it's a good time to look back at the fall season's new comedy offerings and put them in an orderly line from worst to best. As is the case in most years, a select few comedies have risen to the top by pleasing the majority, while others have sunk to the bottom by making no threats to deepen people's laugh lines. But make no mistake, 2011 has NOT been a good year for new comedies.

Of course, comedy is—more so than the rest of television—a matter of opinion, and everyone's funny bone is located in a different place. But I know where mine is, and the following list reflects which comedies worked for me. In other words, before you sound off in the comments about how horrible my list is, let yours be known so I can do the same with yours. The holidays are all about bickering and arguing over petty things, right?



11. How to Be a Gentleman

CBS assembled a great main cast that included Kevin Dillon, David Hornsby, and Dave Foley, added support from Mary Lynn Rajskub and Rhys Darby, and this was STILL a disaster of Viva Laughlin proportions. Both CBS and its audience apparently agreed: The show was pulled from its normal Thursday-night slot after two episodes, banished to Saturdays, and then banished from Saturdays and television entirely after a week. It was difficult to pick one show to single out as the absolute worst new comedy of the season, but How to Be a Gentleman stood out from the rest about five minutes into its pilot episode. Congrats, guys!

Status: Canceled after three episodes.



10. Allen Gregory

How bad is this year's crop of comedies if Allen Gregory isn't the worst? I seriously considered a five-way tie for last place, but that's just not in keeping with the spirit of lists. Allen Gregory could easily be number 11 or number 111. Dear future TV producers: It's probably a bad idea to have the main character of a show be its worst part.

Status: Still on the air after a late-season start, but struggling.



9. I Hate My Teenage Daughter

I know what you're saying: "Tim, only one episode has aired! How can you make a judgment?" Well, I've seen the first TWO episodes thanks to the executive TV writer's passcode that unlocks future television, and things do not get better. Jaime Pressly was great as irresponsible white trash on My Name is Earl. She is not great as an insecure suburban mother.

Status: Just debuted. Future very uncertain.



8. Whitney

While putting this list together, I couldn't believe how many comedies actually fell below Whitney, the bane of NBC's Thursday-night comedy block. The show is a classic case of hurriedly slopping together a sitcom around a rising real-world star, keeping the budget low, and making a series that's "edgy" but not offensive. That never works. And what sort of laughing gas do they pump into that "live" studio audience anyway?

Status: Picked up for a full season. I know. Crazy.



7. Man Up

I actually once said this show had potential. But the thing about potential is, it's a hopelessly optimistic euphemism for "doesn't have its shit together." The reality of this show was much different: Man Up isn't very funny and relies on characters plucked from Reverse Gender Roles 101. Men are portrayed as sackless chumps who can't get off the couch, and women are salacious, competitive, and aggressive. It's a visualized Men Are From Venus, Women Are From Mars, and even though it's about men being emasculated, Man Up is probably more insulting to women than it is to men thanks to female characters who are about as deep as a dinner plate.

Status: Effectively canceled, but will finish its initial order.



6. 2 Broke Girls

Item number six is where things are supposed to start turning around, but sadly they only barely do with 2 Broke Girls, a perfectly average comedy that only offends some of its audience. Why this came out of the gate with positive buzz I have no idea; as it's progressed through Season 1, it's only irritated people more with its one-dimensional racial stereotypes, overuse of the word "vagina," and often-unnecessary meanness.

Status: Picked up for a full season.



5. Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing at number five? Are you serious? YES, UNFORTUNATELY I AM. Why? Because at least this show knows exactly what it is, and despite the words coming out of his mouth, Tim Allen is kind of likable in that annoying-uncle sort of way.

Status: Picked up for a full season.



4. Up All Night

Up All Night isn't the hit it should be considering the pedigree of its actors (Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph), but there's actual comedy here! What a novel idea!

Status: Picked up for a full season.



3. Free Agents

You've probably already forgotten about Free Agents or never knew it existed in the first place. NBC yanked this show quickly after dismal ratings, but that doesn't mean it wasn't good. It just wasn't initially appealing because it featured "old" people hooking up. But unlike the previous entries in this list, Free Agents had plenty of room to grow. Sadly, Free Agents was marched out of NBC's offices barely a month into its existence. Now we'll never know what wacky stuff secretary Emma might've gotten herself into!

Status: Canceled after four episodes.



2. New Girl

New Girl's label of "breakout comedy of the year" is a boon for Fox and, and it was the first new show of the fall to earn a full-season pickup. It's got Zooey Deschanel pulling in most of the praise, but the increasingly delightful supporting cast and steady writing are what keep it from being a one-hipster-woman show.

Status: Picked up for a full season.



1. Suburgatory

The premise of Emily Kapnek's fish-out-of-the-city tale of a New York City teen dropped into the 'burbs may not have initially blown you away, but the gated-community world the show has created is successful because it's fearlessly over-the-top. Add to that likable characters on both sides of the picket fence and a heavy helping of heart and hope, and you've got network TV's best new comedy. Heck, this show could be 22 minutes' worth of Dahlia taking verbal poops on everything she sees and it'd still be worth watching.


Now that I've made my list, what's yours?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (161)
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I agree with most of the list, but think Last Man Standing should be higher, only because I never watched Up All Night, Surburgatory, or Free Agents.
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I think 2 broke girls is one of the best new comedies, and last man standing couldn't be worst. I agree with the rest of the list (thpugh I haven't watch Suburgatory, I think I'm gonna)
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I watch Up All Night and New Girl. Both give me a few laughs. Story lines are hit and miss, but I enjoying all the characters so I continue to watch. Bad year for comedies, but at least there's still some good veterans. Namely Community. I'm sure Sunny is up there too, as always, but I have no TV and cant seem to find any quality streaming sites..... @$#^&@ FX....



I must say, with all these lame sitcoms, esp Whitney, it infuriates me that great shows like Community get benched. It's Arrested Development all over again......

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Only one I can manage to watch, and quite enjoy, is Suburgatory - the rest on the list are either terrible or not good enough to get me to watch more than once (Free Agents, see how long it lasted?).
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i agree wid RobinDanil ...new girl no1
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Like the list - Suburgatory is surprising outstanding, Zooey steps a bit on my nerv but my wife loves it :) never understood why free agent been cancel and playboy club i think NBC should be aware that may be people stop watching them as it's always not sure if it worth it as the show might be canceled again - and then keeping whitney makes it even more funny. may be they should make a comedy series about their decision makers - this will be for sure a successful one :)
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Even if 2 1/2 men is badly missing Charlie, its still watchable and would certainly deserve a spot in the top 5.
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have yet to check this years new shows...I liked Tim Allen in home improvement, Im pretty sure Im going to like his stuff. dont know about the rest except maybe 2 broke girls (those 2 look pretty hot)
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"Men are portrayed as sackless chumps who can't get off the couch, and women are salacious, competitive, and aggressive. "



... What's your point?
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Man Up is one of my favorite new comedies. I'm sad it's on it's way out.
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i liked man up. it wasnt as bad as u guys made it seem, once i gave it a shot i actually liked it. besides next to 2 broke girls, the new 2 and a half men, last man standing, whitney and lets face it up all night (it's seriously boring deal w/ it) it was at least funny.
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#1: new girl, #2 up all night

Whitney is not the worst comedy of the fall, but the last 20 years
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Free Agents on top for me! I never thought you could miss a show you've only seen four episodes of, but I do! I hope I get to see the remaining ones one day...
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I find Tim's reviews to be the most fair, and tells it the way it is. Keep it up Tim!
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Agree with most of those. New Girl is improving as the male characters have started evolving. Though the black guy is still the weakest character on the show.
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I don't have a list but II did laugh at many of your comments! Thanks for that.
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It comes down to the type of laughs and comedians you like. I like the pan-humour vs. open humour, so my faves are 2 Broke Girls and Free Agents (I'm starting to check Suburgatory and it shows promise). New Girl is hit-and-miss, I had high expectations for Up All Night, but I'm just not into it (plus I'm one of those rare guys that don't think Will Arnett is particularly funny, which also goes for Kevin Dillon of How to Be a Gentleman). Tim Allen is love-him-or-hate-him type (like, say, Ray Romano) and I can't say I love him. Still, we had much worse years.
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1. New Girl (Way above the others)

2. Suburgatory

3. The rest is not worth mentioning
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1. Last Man Standing (Great cast. Tim is hilarious at work managing his distracted employees while coddling his less than business-minded boss. At home he overreacts, as expected, to the various antics of his three teenage daughters and very understanding wife. Tim has the knack to turn his adversities into amusing blogs to promote his store's catalog of outdoor products on the Internet. Whether it's dealing with his family's problems or getting the job done at work, Tim is always prepared to prevent the daily chaos from undermining his fundamental manliness. Insert any manly or guttural sound here....)

2. Suburgatory ( Much praise has already been said about this delightful comedy. All of it's true.)

3. New Girl (Zooey is sexy, sweet AND innocent. How is that even possible, yet still be as enduring and funny? Zooey makes it all work effortlessly. She's matched by an outstanding cast. And did I say that she's sexy?)

4. 2 Broke Girls (Fire and ice are unlikely roommates and waitresses struggling to make ends meet during hard times in a world that could care less if they survive or perish. Comedy gold? Maybe not, but it's certainly filled with heart, cupcake-in-the-sky dreams and it has more than its share of laugh out loud moments. Could be a sleeper hit. And it's got a pet horse...!)

5. Man Up (Three guys, different as dawn, noon and night like to play video games, argue about stupid subjects, make ridiculous plans and schemes that never work out, have relationship problems that are ignored or ineptly handled, and yet they continue to be friends. Sounds just like every Bromance since the Hunter/Gatherer era made men bond and respect each other's particular strengths and weaknesses. Every episode has several good laughs sprinkled with a few chuckles. Nothing too deep to ponder here, thankfully!Please don't cancel it. )

6. I Hate My Teenage Daughter (The mother and daughter hate/love relationship has always been a mine rich with comedy gold. Extracting it can be very hilarious but borderline dangerous and painful to watch. IHMTD does a good job of separating the fools gold from the real deal while remaining heartfelt and sincere. That may be the show's biggest problem. In the beginning the daughters always seem to be disrespecting their mothers every which way possible. Then they wind up with polar opposite attitudes. By the end of the episode they're hugging their moms and saying that they were sorry. How can the moms continue to hate them or sustain the show's premise that way? New title: My Teenage Daughter Is Crazy! )

7. Whitney (I like the show. I don't think it is all that funny in a ha-ha way but it's full of chuckles, and that's NOT a bad thing. But, I watch the show because I think Whitney is sexy. I liked when she role played as a nurse and wore that sexy outfit. The skit was funny and scary/romantic combined. Each episode has Whitney belaboring the social contract between men and women. How both sides differ and how each needs to lighten up, thereby getting more real and closer as human beings. What better way to teach the masses than by the 'show and tell' method? Not always funny but it can be entertaining to watch as Whitney flubs her way to self-enlightenment and coming to terms with the relationship with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend should get a prize for being the most understanding slob in the history of the world. In real life he'd have left her long before the second week of her PMS.)

8. Free Agents (Very funny show that never should've been cancelled. A real adult comedy that dealt with realistic adult situations and realistic adult relationship problems that didn't always end happily. Oh, now I get why it was cancelled...)

9. How to be a gentleman ( Should've been titled: Caveman Versus Metrosexual. It's The Odd Couple taken to nightmarish heights. It was about as funny as a train hitting a school bus full of paraplegic children on their way to surgeries that would've cured them. Kevin Dillon's grating and crude personality haunts all of his character portrayals like the rank smell of fish haunts the empty hold of a trawler. To call this guy an actor is like saying that the sun darkens the day...but, then again, another actor in Dillon's place couldn't have saved this show and its ludicrous premise.)

10. Allen Gregory (Bad. NOT Michael Jackson bad. Just plain bad, bad, BAD! )

11. Up All Night (Funny? Nope. I thought it was a drama. Maybe it's an inadvertent dramedy, but I have tried to watch it and I've yet to get through an entire episode. I never raised children so maybe I don't get the humor or the plight of the modern parent. Naw, that's not it. The recent Christmas gift episode was dull. Ten minutes into it I fell asleep -- and that was after downing a cup of black coffee and a Red Bull! Sheesh, I really love Christina Applegate but her talents are wasted here. And I don't think that Will Arnett is funny -- just immensely irritating and painful to watch. IMHO C & W have no comedic chemistry whatsoever. The other co-stars are marginally funny at best. I'm a fan of Maya Rudolph but her character seems creepy and too sexually needy to me. Come to think of it, the entire show seems to reek of that very theme. Could it be that America is a sexually repressed country? Hmmmm... No wonder so many persons identify with the show! Heck, it's bound to be nominated by all the typical TV awards shows since it's a big hit. Sadly, I cannot stay awake during them either...! )

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New Girl is hilarious!

I tried watching 2 broke girls but didn't laugh once...maybe I should try again

Never thought about watching Suburgatory! I'll give it a try :D
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The 3 series u mentioned are all good! :)
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I dont like any of them iv tried watching them they are too GIRLY!! im sticking to two and a half men and community
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While reading the reviews below I have to agree with Sony_Loyalist. Although 'Two and a Half Men' is not a new show, with the addition of Ashton Coucher, it could be considered as new - and funny. I loved Charlie Sheen in the show and thought when he left the show would go down - but the character of Walden and the acting of Ashton has made the show at the top again for me. Ashton is so funny and makes that show. But I'm sick and tired of greedy, smoocher Allen. His character better get some character or toss him out.
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The new 2 1/2 men, painful to watch.
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My favorite new comedies are, 'Up All Night' and 'New Girl'. 'Up All Night' is hilarious. Love Will Arnett and Christina Applegate. Actually all the characters are pretty funny - and I hope Jason Lee's character will be a permanent one.



As for the 'New Girl' - wasn't thrilled at the beginning but I was compelled to watch each week to see what would happen next with her very unique and interesting room mates. Nick is my favorite character on the show with Schmidz a close second. I like Zooey D, but find her character to be a bit over the top at times. But overall those are the best new shows on TV this season - in my opinion.
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I'M getting number one and two on this list
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Dahlia and her father are terrific new characters. I love both from minute 1, thing I can't say about the other 95% of new characters of new series.

And I love New Girl also :)
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Good ranking generally.

1. Suburgatory - funny all the time.

2. Up All Night

3. Free Agents

4. Last Man Standing - I'm surprised that I like it - good mix of cast and family situation.

5. 2 Broke Girls

6. I'll give New Girls a chance.

7. Whitney may do better next Series effort.

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Proud to say that I don't watch any of these.
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Suburgatory rocks! 2 Broke Girls actually gets chuckles from me. Up All Night is watchable but not consistently funny. New Girl borders on annoying. The rest is not worth it.
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Two and half men!
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My absolute favorite is 2 Broke Girls!! Then: 2. Up All Night; 3. Last Man Standing; and 4. Suburgatory. The rest are just pathetic!
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Am I mistaken or this 2011 was not the best year for new comedies?
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Have now watched two episodes of Suburgatory and I definitely like it. Caught my first episode tonight of I Hate My Teenage Daughter and I thought it was quite funny. Either of these shows are better than New Girl. I prefer the old style of comedy with live audiences, funny situations (Frasier, Cheers, Seinfeld) that generated real laughs rather than today's bland shows that are called comedies.
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Two Broke Girls is great everything else I pretty much agree with. If you're offended by the show the answer is simple: dont watch.
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I think you missed the point of the article. They are trying to tell you the shows that you should watch and the shows that you shouldnt watch.
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1.Suburgatory



Up all night is good except for Maya Rudolph - her whole character and storyline is terrible. New Girl is okay sometimes, the supporting cast is great.
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New Girl except for the last two episodes is the absolute best! I like Whitney compared to the rest of the group. Is this the first season for Mike and Molly? that's another one I really like.
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I really like Mike & Molly, too. The show is in its second season.
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Love 2 Broke Girls! The racial stereotypes are a little much tho. Don't watch any of the others. Still happy Grimm was picked up! Hope PanAm makes it!
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Only one I like is Suburgatory. The others are junk. Last man standing has it moments. Why isn't Happy Endings on this list?
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happy endings isn't a new show, it's on it's second season
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New Girl is the only one of those show I watch. I used to watch Man Up, but that wasn't that good.
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And New Girl is???
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Sub is the best! New Girl is just idiotic! Its a cliche comedy!
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1. Suburgatory.



2. All the rest



How can all the networks produce so much utter pablum? Most of the shows I watched for 5 minutes. Some I gave an extra five minutes cause I believed I must be missing something, and then there was suburgatory... the Parks & Recreation of 2011?
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Really nice Suburgatory and New Girl... Allen Gregory is just "ok" not many laughs while watching it. Nice to see Tim Allen back on TV though.
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Your list is meaningless because Allen Gregory is not the worst.
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1. Suburgatory





Best and probably the only truly entertaining and worthwhile comedy that debuted this season. It was a TERRIBLE year for comedies.



2. Free Agents



I watched all 4 episodes and they were enjoyable and this show could have gone somewhere. NBC was set on cancelling this from the start.



3. Man Up



Shockingly, as much as I hated the first episode, this one has grown on me and has become more entertaining. It is not a great show, but makes me laugh on occasion, unlike almost every other comedy below this one.



4. 2 Broke Girls



Only saw the first episode, a bit too formulaic for my taste, but that's how CBS is setting up their comedies nowadays. They seem to mold them after another show, and hope they will find some of the same audience. Show was amusing and pushed the envelope, which is always fun, but ultimately wasn't very funny.



5. New Girl



The only reason this isn't lower on the list is because there are some seriously BAD comedies this year. This show is bad, and its dependence on Zooey playing a cute dysfunctional character wears thin after about a minute. The jokes aren't funny, and she's attractive, but nowhere near adorable enough to be so damned annoying.



6. Whitney



Bad show that makes me laugh about once each episode, which is more than I can say for the rest of the list.



7. How To Be A Gentlemen



Yes, it sucked, but it could have been improved. But it did deserve to be cancelled.



8. Last Man Standing



ABC is obviously trying to get back to its Full House roots, and this comedy belongs in another era. If Tim Allen wasn't slightly personable and the daughters cute, there would be no reason for anyone to watch.



9. I Hate My Teenage Daughter



Watched the first episode, and it's already at #9. Might have been lower if I had seen more episodes. It is terrible.



10. Allen Gregory



Wow, this one is almost confusing. How can this show be sooo bad? You would think someone would have told Jonah it sucked before it aired, but obviously he surrounds himself with yes men. Maybe Fox is mad at him and wanted to ruin his career?



11. Up All Night



The worst of the worst, and like I mentioned before, it's a bad season for new comedies. I do not think I have yet laughed during this show. It's more like staring in disbelief that this is supposed to be a comedy. And while I could tell that some of Will Arnett's last show seemed made up on the spot, this whole show seems improvised, and not in any way that is acceptable. I also do not know who this show is supposed to appeal to. Rich white successful people who have too much money and success? Those people don't usually watch TV, hence their success. Plus I'm not sure the 1% would be enough ratings for a network, though this is NBC we are talking about, so maybe they would be happy with 1%. It's a terrible show, worse than all the others, and although I have liked the work of some of the actors, this is a waste of time and talent. Kill it before it people believe someone is watching this one.
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1-3 and 5-6 are listed in alphabetical order, basically interchangable depending on that week's episode.. don't watch the others



1-3. 2 Broke Girls

1-3. New Girl

1-3. Suburgatory

4.Up All Night

5-6. I Hate My Teenage Daughter

5-6. Whitney
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I think you got it pretty close. I agree with the top 4. However, I don't think that any meet the level I consider truly funny comedies, such as: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, 2 1/2 Men or New Adventures of Old Christine. Last year's shows Chaos and Love Bites that were cancelled were better than this years comedies. For me, I find more humor in shows not considered comedies. I prefer humor in a character's actions or reactions as opposed to a joke every 30 seconds laugh track humor. For example, to me the funniest character on TV is the tapioca eating, strawberry shake drinking Walter on Fringe or I'll take one of actor Steve Buscemi's facial expressions for funny over most comedies. Justified or Dexter are way more funny shows to me than any "comedy" category of shows. Just my opinion.
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Up All Night is a great sitcom, and Free Agents was pretty funny. New Girl was good for exactly one episode and everything else has been terrible.
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The New Girl Thanksgiving episode was the funniest thing I have ever seen..defrosting a turkey in a dryer!
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Love New Girl, Sub, Up All Night[though via Hulu], Whitney is ok, loved Man Up more than LMS because it had ''Hangover'' kind of dark humor. I want to see Rob Schneider's new show-depending on its Thursday time slot vs Parks and ABC. Still haven't seen Hate My Daughter [Wednesday kill slot after XF, and reruns only online. bummer. What do I pay Hulu Plus for [8 bucks a month]then. lol
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Interesting list = I don't watch a single one of these!
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My list would be:



4...all the other shows

3. New Girl

2. Whitney

1. Up All Night



Yes, I am one of those who like Whitney :P
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Suburgatory at number one, really? Alright, I guess everyone's entitled to their opinions. I, however, find the show to be extremely loud and unfunny. To be completely honest, this was a terrible fall season. I mean, just look at your list. You only really complimented four shows. I miss 2009. THAT was a pretty good year for new TV.
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1. New Girl

2. 2 Broke Girls

3. Suburgatory

4. Up All Night

5-11. Doesn't matter. All bad.
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