Ranking ABC's Wednesday Comedies: We See Suburgatory In Our Crystal Ball

ABC's comedy block is kind of like a beauty pageant, with dazzling contenders in their prime following each other in such succession you can hardly absorb the beauties of one before you're stunned by the loveliness of the next. Except some of these beauty queens are playing Tchaikovsky solos for their talent, and others are painting themselves up like a penguin, strapping a foam beak to their face, and doing a tap dance to the theme song from Happy Feet. What I'm trying to say is some of these shows are a lot better than others, and it's our job as expert viewers to get out our clipboards, mark those deductions, and crown a chamption FOR THE WINSDAY!

The Middle S03E19: "The Paper Route"

The ashes of Frankie and Mike's marriage continue to rise up from the last dying flames of their acrimony and float to the sky like so many departing crows when Frankie finds out that Mike is hiding extra batteries in his sock drawer. Eden Sher, my favorite Heck, got headgear and lost a boyfriend. (Hopefully the headgear will disappear next week?) Axl and Sue actually had an adorable moment when he hit her in the head with his perfect baseball pitch and then leapt over the fence to make sure she was okay. While the show sometimes becomes just an endless set up of Frankie rolling her eyes at her children, it’s a moment like this that makes me like this show–a subtle moment of deep love exists between laughs like a bridge of sunshine. Well done again, Heck kids.

Final Score: 5.1

Suburgatory S01E17: "Independence Day"

Okay, the giant crystal bust of Joy Behar, will I ever stop smiling about the giant Crystal bust of Joy Behar? I mean not to ignore the Billy Crystal and Dallas inviting over her beautiful/melodramatic sorority sisters for a slumber party and getting kind of loopy polishing her crystals at her boutique "A Crystal Cup of Crystals," but this episode was just jam packed with really good stuff. Like Noah (Alan Tudyk) getting a loving call from his daughter and telling George he thinks she's drunk. In addition to getting Tessa a pair of wheels and continuing the poetry thread when George saw Tessa's poem about her mom in school, this episode also brought George head to head with Tessa's maternal grandmother–and gave us a peek at just how abandoning Tessa’s mom really is. So: a huge character development via a deep and kind of chilling moment in the middle of one of the funniest episodes of the season. And then, on top of a treasure trove of amazing Dallas moments, Dahlia's request for hangover monkies?! And her follow up text to her dad over Dallas' shoulder during a hug? Suburgatory, I love you.

Final Score: 7.0

Modern Family S03E18: "Send Out the Clowns"

A clown funeral? That probably sounded really good on paper, but the clown gags and clown jokes and clown puns... it was all a bit much. The attempted clown-on-clown murder at the end was actually great, and if it had stood alone would have been extremely awesome. But after about 20 seconds clowns are unbearable, and I don't care what the context is. In other news, Manny opening the door in different and horrifyingly dorky ways was one of the better conceits of the season, and Claire trying to Facebook her daughters was pitch perfect. Too bad the evil realtor plot line made absolutely no sense, and too many clowns! Can't say it enough. Too many clowns.

Final Score: 5.2

Happy Endings S02E18: "Party of Six"

Penny tried to have a very happy 20th (31st) birthday despite a birthday curse that prevented the team from finding a great restaurant to spend it in. Oh, rich people problems. There were some very hard laughs this episode and the whole gang stayed together the entire episode, which sounds fun in theory, but I don't know, there was kind of a manic tone to the episode. Maybe it was the fishing pole made of coffee stirrers, but the vibe was a little cartoony. This is what we call Jurassic Park Writing Room Syndrome: the writers got so carried away seeing if they COULD fit at joke in every line, they never stopped to think if they SHOULD. Even bad Happy Endings is a guaranteed good time, but I don't know, Penny deserves better: like more lines and not having to lose her shirt in the middle of a restaurant (although girl looked good and her follow up to the manager telling her to leave with "That's a solid policy!" was hilarious. Penny is the greatest.)

Final Score: 5.9


Suburgatory: 7.0

Happy Endings: 5.9

The Middle: 5.2

Modern Family: 5.1

Overall Score: 5.8

Happy Endings has again lost its crown to Suburgatory. Watch out, Modern Family, The Middle might just overtake you again! In one night we have one of our highest scores ever, and yet a tremendous backslide in the overall score. This could be the effect of one show being absolutely superlative–it throws off the grading curve and makes the other shows look bad in comparison. And “Independence Day” was just that good. Thoughts?

Blue Ribbon Win from last week: We took a brief hiatus from rating last week, since we had mostly re-runs, but I tallied up the scores left in the comments from our 3/01 FTW article and your Blue Ribbon Viewer's Choice win, and you awarded Happy Endings with the Blue Ribbon!

Happy Endings was tops with a score of 8.37!!

Suburgatory finished second with a 7.44!

The Middle was in the middle with a 7.25.

It wasn't Modern Family's best day, with a 6.65.

Well scored! Remember, if you score 2 or more shows in the comments, I'll factor in your votes for next week's Blue Ribbon.


…Was Happy Endings a little emotionless this week or was that just me?

…Will Sue have to keep that headgear on next week?

…Could you ever be attracted to a clown?

…What did you think of Tessa's grandma?

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