Midseason Report Card: How Are the Fall's New Comedies Holding Up?

We're now about halfway through television's "midseason," and now that we've looked at how some of 2012's new shows are faring in the latest installment of the TV.com 4-Episode Test™, we've also decided to revisit the new comedies that debuted in the fall. How are they doing? What's still going strong and what's already long off the air? We're so glad you asked. Here's my report card for the state of some of TV's newest comedies:


Solid Offerings:


Suburgatory

(ABC)

A father moved his teenage daughter from Manhattan to the suburbs in what is arguably the best new comedy that fall 2011 brought to the table: It's got the biggest laughs and probably the best actors in an amazing ensemble cast. Though Tessa and her father are great, the best performances come from the cornucopia of eccentric side characters. Allie Grant, who plays Tessa's best friend Lisa, has the most wonderful creepy stare I've ever seen, and Alan Tudyk (Noah) is always welcome on my TV screen. From Tessa's struggles in adjusting to the suburbs to Dallas's cheating now-ex-husband, Suburgatory effortlessly sets up conflicts that will very likely keep audiences watching for another several seasons.

My grade: A+



Up All Night

(NBC)

Reagan and Chris were happily married, great at their jobs, and loved to drink, smoke, and party. Until Reagan got pregnant. They're still happily married, but now Chris stays home with the baby while Reagan explores the world of working mommy-hood. Though it's not perfect, this show is pretty adorable. Many of the conflicts are low on tension—like Reagan having to give up her cool convertible for a "mom car" or Reagan and Chris trying to have a night alone without obsessing about the baby—but there's something so cute about it that every time I watch it makes me smile. Maybe that's because of the amazing chemistry between the cast. It's hard to go wrong with Will Arnett, Christina Applegate, and Maya Rudolph. They're all wonderful together. I sometimes wish the show went for bigger laughs, but it still provides a thoroughly enjoyable half-hour.

My grade: B+



2 Broke Girls

(CBS)

Two waitresses, former socialite Caroline (Beth Behrs) and jaded Max (Kat Dennings), try to raise money for their cupcake business while not killing each other as roommates. This show has its flaws, but it's incredibly sweet and quirky. The main characters aren't entirely likable, but you can't help but root for them. I almost cried earlier this season when they had to give away Caroline’s horse, and Max gave him a little speech about how he was one of the best things in her life. There’s just something about a girl who doesn’t have anything better going on than a horse living in her backyard that really makes you want her to succeed. In January, the show added Jennifer Coolidge to the cast, giving 2 Broke Girls a huge leg up. She’s a comedic powerhouse. And with any luck, she’s here to stay.

My grade: B



I Don't Like Them But Other People Seem To:


New Girl

(Fox)

After she caught her boyfriend cheating on her, Jess moved into an apartment with three male roommates. New Girl was Fox's most-watched comedy premiere since Malcolm in the Middle, but personally, I couldn't stand the pilot, in which Jess failed to pick up guys and was stood up at a fancy restaurant. Come on Hollywood, I’ll give you a certain level of suspension of disbelief, but Zooey Deschanel would not have trouble picking up guys. You can’t just slap a pair of nerdy glasses on her and think no one will notice that she’s gorgeous. To me, Jess is over-the-top and helpless—and not in a charming way. However, New Girl has gotten better since the start of the season, especially as it's put more effort into developing Nick, Schmidt, and Winston. It's still trying too hard to make Jess "adorkable," which remains off-putting, but it does have some genuinely hilarious moments sprinkled throughout.

My grade: C+


Whitney

(NBC)

Whitney is about a woman in her thirties, her boyfriend, and their circle of friends. That's it. There's no highly conceptual plot, no intriguing twist, and no real obstacles for any of the characters to face. The show has been criticized for the one-dimensional character of Whitney’s divorced friend, Roxanne, but to be fair, all of the show's characters are pretty one-dimensional. From the angry-and-judgmental boyfriend to the sensitive-and-caring boyfriend to the perky-and-stupid friend, Whitney isn’t offering anything you haven’t seen before. Though not stellar, its ratings are decent, so apparently some people must enjoy it. I just don't imagine they're very funny people.

My grade: C



Last Man Standing

(ABC)

Tim Allen plays a manly-man named Mike Baxter who has to deal with the “difficult” task of living with his wife and three daughters. Oh no! How could anyone possibly handle that? For some reason, this show is getting excellent ratings, and because of that I can only infer that Tim Allen has psychic powers and is somehow forcing people to tune in. The characters are shallow, the jokes aren't funny, and the plots aren't interesting. For example, when Mike found out that his daughter’s boyfriend slept over, it triggered a tirade about how his house has gotten too womanly: He’s sick of seeing cat websites on the computer and bras left out to dry in the bathroom. Get over it, Tim Allen, er, Mike. Cat websites are adorable and if you put bras in drier the elastic stretches out.

My grade: D+


Already Gone, Canceled, Kaput:


Free Agents

(NBC)

After a painful divorce, Alex had a one-night stand with his coworker Helen, who was still grieving her dead fiance. The sitcom was based on its British counterpart of the same name. Unlike other successful attempts at such a feat (The Office), the American version missed out on the heart and spunk of the original; without it, the show was too sad to be a successful comedy. In the opening scene of the U.K. series, British actors Stephen Mangan and Sharon Horgan made a joke out of the photographs of a dead fiance and a father who couldn’t see his children on Father’s Day. It was heavy, but they made it work. The American version's Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn are both amazing actors, but when they did the same scene, it was just depressing. Dark comedy is very difficult, and though the cast of the American Free Agents was full of talented actors, the show just didn't come together.

My grade: C



How to Be a Gentleman

(CBS)

Uptight magazine writer Andrew (David Hornsby) was forced to reconnect with Bert (Kevin Dillon), who tormented him in high school, in order to understand his magazine's new target audience. It was a fragile premise—maybe Andrew could have found someone who didn't traumatize him to teach him about that demographic?—and audiences clearly weren't willing to sit through it to see if it could develop into something more. Also, it wasn't funny. The show’s lack of good writing was really a shame, especially since Dave Foley and Rhys Darby, who both played minor characters, are hilarious. You really have to try not to give those guys good lines.

My grade: C-



Man Up

(ABC)

Three men explored their manliness in this trainwreck of a sitcom, which attempted to discuss the concept of masculinity in only the bulkiest and altogether unfunniest of ways. The characters were cartoon-ishly shallow and unlikeable. The show tried to convince viewers that three grown men who are still mentally 17 years old could be funny. But the three main characters weren't funny, they were mean: Craig ruined a wedding, to start, and Kenny not only refused to befriend his ex-wife’s boyfriend, he was overly cruel to the new beau. Sometimes selfish characters work (read: Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother), but they have to have a certain degree of heart. Otherwise, you spend the entire half-hour wanting to punch the characters in the face.

My grade: D


Note: Allen Gregory also premiered (and got canceled) in the fall, but I hated the selfish main character so much after one episode that I never gave it a second chance.


Which new fall comedies are you still watching? Have any of them made it onto your list of favorite shows? Do you miss Free Agents, How to Be a Gentleman, Allen Gregory, or Man Up?

Comments (43)
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New Girl is annoying. The guys in Zooeys life are painful to watch. The comedy is just not there. Zooey is adorable but the 3 male actors don't have comedy styles. They act too self centered to be entertaining. She could do a lot better in some other show
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New Girl is fresh and entertaining, Last Man Standing is laugh out loud funny
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Whitney had a slow start and then improved better as it goes along. New Girl had a clean start and became fair along the way. Both shows should get a second season.



Are you there Chelsea? And Last Man Standing won't last forever because they both horrible, IMO. 2 Broke Girls can forever go on since Kat Dennings is doing better in this show rather than in that paralyzed and short-lived WB show "Raising Dad".
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I miss Free Agents. I was genuinely enjoying it. I think it was slow to warm up, but if it was given a chance, it could have been good.
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Totally agree, also liked the show! And the cast was awesome!
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I was bored one day and decided to watch Last Man Standing. I was actually quite surprised. Although it has its sexist moments ( and I won't lie, there were more than a few) I still found it quirky and easily made me laugh. It really won me over when they made a "The Santa Clause" joke in the Christmas episode :)
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I'd switch the ratings and rankings for 2 Broke Girls with New Girl... then the list would be pretty much the same as mine.



New Girl isn't a favorite by any means, and at this point, I'd probably rank it below Up All Night, but it's kinda funny, kinda quirky, kinda silly, and kinda cool.



Up All Night has been getting better... it's a bit funnier now, I think. Ava has gotten quite a lot more tolerable, and Arnett/Applegate often have fun enough banter and quirks.



Suburgatory is the easy winner for me. Good cast, good jokes, etc. Definitely a surprise, considering I didn't even feel like watching it after seeing the previews and trailers.
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too low for new girl and free agents and way too high for whitney and two broke girls.. yet, the article is fine, as the writer at least respects the stuff that people like even if she doesn't..
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I agree that Suburgatory is the best new Comedy. I often forget that it's in it's first season it just feels like it had the tone and everything figured out from the start.



I disagree however about New Girl.

The beginning was a bit shaky, sure, but it has improved A LOT in the last couple of episodes and is consistently funny. What makes it a good show are the supporting characters, the guys are the funniest thing about it most of the time and that is not a bad thing.
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Suburgatory is awesome. Up All Night is watchable (though I've never like Maya Rudolph or Will Arnett), as was Free Agents. I tried to watch New Girl for several episodes, but I found it a huge chore to get through; I'm not even sure I'd watch it again even if they forbade her from singing (which was just painful).
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I"m pretty sure you have no idea what a comedy is ...

Anybody who puts 2 broke girls above excellent shows such as Man up, New Girl has no respect from me...

Suburgatory I'd have to agree with you rating but thats the only one, Free Agents and Whitney deserved a much lower score, Last Man Standing while not great still deserves better than a D...

I'm amazed (based on your horrible rating system) you dont have 'Are you there, Chelsea' with like a massive AAAA++++. Coz it sucks dick.
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New Girl is consistently funny, though I didn't like it at first it has really improved lately, mostly because they toned down the 'adorkable' and really got into all the other characters. Actually, in the newest episode Nick told Jess outright to stop with the cute and be real for once. I was definitely doing a mental slow clap, very satisfying.
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I tried watching New Girls. Honestly...I did. I watched every episode right through to "Bells". After that 30 minutes of boredom, and the show not getting any better, I'd had enough. I wasn't going to waste any more of my time. I really don't see what everyone else sees in this show. There are no laughs anywhere! I've also tried maybe 3 episodes of Suburgatory, not consecutive episodes, and don't understand the hype here either. I'm not a fan. Of the shows mentioned here, I love 2 Broke Girls, even more since they've added Jennifer Coolidge and I've always loved Whitney. One-dimensional? Who cares? Roxanne is a hoot! Love her! And of the new comedies that started late, I love Are You There Chelsea and The Exes. Living in Canada, I'm not sure what U.S. network carries The Exes (TV Land?), but it's hilarious and so is Chelsea. Up All Night is ok some weeks but other weeks not ok. Maya Rudolph is the funniest on the show.
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First you write you don't believe no-one would date Jess, and in the next sentense you give a fully reasonable explanation why no-one would. YES, she is over the top and helpless, and, yes, not in a good way - she can be terribly annoying and even destructive for her surroundings. I don't think the show is about how cute and nice and cuddly she is and how everyone should just get over it - for me it's about how broken she is and how she can be fixed in a best possible way - by people who grew to be her friends.
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Out of all of these I love New Girl and Suburgatory ONLY. I can't stand the rest!
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I liked Man Up a fair amount... It wasn't breaking any new ground but it was consistently funny, maybe you had to be a guy to appreciate it. In my opinion Whitney and 2 Broke Girls are terrible and unwatchable wastes of time.
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Hmm, I hate all of these shows. Except New Girl.
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Ya, she is straight trippin'!
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Pretty generous, must be grading on a scale. I agree that Suburgatory is by far the best new sitcom of the season though.
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Hollywood, please move Last Man Standing into the summer time and put it on ABC Family along side to Melissa & Joey back to back comedy block. Our ABC Network Channel isn't the same anymore and it's a big joke for today's generation just for money. Tim Allen & his show Last Man Standing doesn't devere being on ABC Network Network at all. And Tim Allen/Last Man Standing's home is really on ABC Family with Melissa Jean Hart and Joey Lawrence/Melissa & Joey.
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It's a pretty depressing group of shows. The only one I'm watching is New Girl which is solid but has never reclaimed the brilliance of its pilot. I tried out Suburgatory and Up All Night but didn't find the pilots engaging enough to keep watching.
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I hated the New Girl pilot. I came back to it out of curiosity a few weeks ago and found it much more charming and funny than I did the first time around so I got caught up. I think the show works best when it focuses on the guys or Jess's different friendships with the guys rather than becoming the Zooey's just so darn cute show. I'd bump it up into a B/B+ range. Not my favorite comedy but I am now consistently dvr-ing it
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I love New Girl, it helps me get my quirky on for the week:) Up all night gives me my hilarious parenting kick, and every side character on Suburgatory really does kill it! I gave 2 Broke Girls my 3 epi try, but in the end just couldn't get into it. I do like Kat Dennings though, so maybe I will try again in the summer!
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Finally someone else who is not in love with New Girl! I was starting to feel really alone. I don't hate the show, but in its entire run, I've probably laughed twice...



Suburgatory is by far the best comedy of... forever. Only surpassed by Community. I'm also a big fan of 2 Broke Girls. It started out kind of "meh, this will probably get cancelled, don't care but I'll watch for now". Then suddenly it got really good. I was surprised myself. Whitney is still meh for me. I agree with the C. It's not unwatchable, but it's not good. I just dvr it because I like to have something to watch at night if I can't sleep. Man Up... that's unwatchable.
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So are sitcoms dead now?
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Will Arnett, Christina Applegate, AND Maya Rudolph ? This is not a debate. Up All Night wins ! The sheer comedic talents just amazing. Yeah, New Girl is overrated.
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I love new girl and miss free agents. How to be a gentleman was absolute garbage.
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Well done, though a C seems a bit generous for "Whitney."
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The only show which I love on this list is New Girl it is alway hilarious and fun, and I hate hate hate Broke Girls and Whitney can these shows cease to exist already!
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i liked man up. I hate whitney, how can people watch it?????
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I still think 2 Broke Girls is the best of the lot, with Suburgatory a close second only because it doesn't have as many laugh out loud moments. I wasn't impressed by New Girl to begin with, but Schmidt's eccentricities are a redeeming factor for the show.

One thing we can all agree on is that the shows that deserved to be cancelled got their just desserts (except Whitney, why the blazin' hell are people watching it??)



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Thank goodness you didn't include midseason comedies (I'm looking at you, AYT, C?). I really liked Free Agents, though, and DO miss it.
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I tried watching New Girl for eight episodes, but I wasn't sold on it. I love Zooey D. but she turned up the dial past 10 on the quirkiness meter and it was too much for me to handle. Maybe someone can state their case for me in defense of the newer episodes?

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Hmmm, as someone who is still watching New Girl, I just felt like replying to your post and answering your question... until I realized I didn't have an actual legit defense for the newer episodes. Uhhh... let's se... I think it's just gotten a bit more polished and comfortable... and there is a bit of a bigger focus on the dudes of the show, so there is a little less overly-quirky-Zooey if she's a bit too much for you.
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you forget are you there chelsea
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This article only includes fall comedies. Are you there, Chelsea is a midseason comedy.
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And it sucks.
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The only ones I checked out were Suburgatory, Up All Night and New Girl and I'm still watching all of them. Suburgatory is excellent and the other two have hit some really big highs since their premieres. I think Schmidt is a really funny character.
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Suburgatory is awful. Awful, awful, awful, awful, awful. It's like a bad circus freak show. If Tess doesn't want to be there, why do I want to be watching it?
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Because it's awesome? I don't really get how anyone can't like suburgatory, but then I don't get how anyone can dislike community, and some do...
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Because the other characters are HILARIOUS. Cheryl Hines, in particular, kills it.
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Chris Parnell and Ana Gasteyer are so bad/so awesome! Plus, Alan Tudyk's tan is like a character on it's own!
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I only started watching Suburgatory and New Girl, and I am still watching both of them, though Suburgatory is by far the superior show.
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