Culture of Pop

The Best Live Action Comedy Episodes of 2016

There were some amazing sitcoms this year. They weren’t just funny, they played with the TV format and explored the depth of their characters. Here are my picks for the best comedy episodes of the year.

16. “Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!” (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The main plot of this episode was about Kimmy trying to save Gretchen from yet another cult. It was a fun plot, but the really great thing about this episode was Titus’ first date with Mikey. The beginning of their romance was sweetly perfect.

15. “Meinertzhagen’s Haversack” (Silicon Valley

In this episode, the Pied Piper boys schemed to build the platform behind Jack Barker’s back. Meanwhile, Dinesh decided to start wearing a gold chain, resulting in some incredible scenes between him and Gilfoyle. The final sequence was one of the most intense parts of Silicon Valley‘s third season and it all led up to a fantastic ending.

14. “B-O-N-Bonfire” (Speechless

When JJ found out he wouldn’t be able to go to his school’s bonfire, Maya had the school essentially cancel the event. Watching JJ deal with his friends’ barely hidden resentment of him was the kind of tough, perfectly executed storyline that makes Speechless so great. Meanwhile, Ray wondered why Jimmy doesn’t have any shame. Jimmy’s monologue to Ray about how “we’re bulletproof” was a tear-jerking highlight of the series so far.

13. “I Love You Baby” (Girls)

This was a great episode for Hannah. She didn’t run back to Adam or spiral out of control, she turned her focus back to writing and did a great job at a storytelling event. The end of the episode showed Hannah on her own, a great next evolution to last season’s finale where she was seen walking with Fran.

12. “Greg and Larry” (Brooklyn Nine-Nine

In this season finale, the whole squad came together to stop Bob Andersonn. There were some great moments, but the best was probably Jake telling Ray, “You called me son! No take backs!”

11. “The Gang Goes to Hell: Part 2” (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

The past season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia had several profoundly surreal episodes, with great results. In this one, the gang is locked in a cruise ship’s jail as the ship starts sinking. They act out bizarre scenes and Charlie becomes convinced they’ve already gone to hell. It’s a gripping, bizarre episode without a dull moment.

10. “30 Years of Science Down the Tubes” (The Last Man on Earth)

In the heartbreaking end to the storyline with Phil’s brother Mike, Phil finally says goodbye. The tone is perfect and this episode is a prime example of how well this show balances being funny and deeply sad.

9. “Kimmy Goes to Her Happy Place!” (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

This season was all about digging into Kimmy’s trauma and this episode is the one that really cuts deep. Kimmy attempts to continue pushing away all her feelings, but with Andrea’s help she finally faces the anger she’s been ignoring.

8. “You Knew It Was a Snake” (You’re the Worst

This episode followed three different fights between couples: Jimmy and Gretchen, Edgar and Dorothy, Paul and Jillian. It showed how endearingly weird Jimmy and Gretchen are, when they momentarily resolved their fight because they got caught up in reading Jimmy’s erotic novel. The fight between Edgar and Dorothy also had some great moments that will hit hard for anyone trying to make it in the industry. But, the best part by far was the back-and-forth between Jillian and Paul. Her speech about how Paul always ignored who she really is was riveting.

7. “Burning Bridges” (Broad City)

Many works have tried to show the pitfalls of casual relationships and missed the mark. This incisive episode portrays the deep pain that can come from relationships that were meant to be casual with a rare, sharp clarity. It balances this brilliantly with mad cap physical comedy and, of course, the strength of Abbi and Ilana’s friendship.

6. “Labor” (Superstore)

In this episode, Jonah attempted to get maternity leave for Cheyenne, which only resulted in someone from corporate visiting to make sure the store wasn’t planning on forming a union. After Glenn was fired for giving Cheyenne time off with pay, Amy realized it was time they really took action and organized a walk out. The end of the episode is inspiring and truly angry in a way that’s rare to see.

5. “Kimmy Meets a Drunk Lady!” (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

This was when Kimmy really faced the fact that she needed therapy, thanks to an alcoholic psychologist played brilliantly by guest star Tina Fey. Their back-and-forth made for some of the funniest moments of the season.

4. “Josh is Going to Hawaii!” (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)

This episode had Darryl’s amazing “Gettin’ Bi” song, but what made it great was Rebecca’s storyline. Her revelation that she’s been the villain in the story this whole time is fantastic and exactly the beat that this story needed to bring it together.

3. “Founder Friendly” (Silicon Valley)

This episode brought the show’s main themes to the forefront by really exploring Richard’s petty self-centered attitude in a scathing way. The fantastic “RIGBY” scene with Diensh and Gilfoyle summed up the complexities of Richard’s character perfectly. Read my full review of “Founder Friendly.”

2. “Bureau” (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

In this episode, the precinct planned a heist in the FBI. This meant Ray had to learn the ins and outs of Sex and the City, while Jake had to figure out how to do a single pull up. The heist provided some great montages and hilarious bits.

1. “Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs” (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Its innocuous title made it sound like this would be a whacky episode about Mac and Dennis being mistaken for married. But, what made this episode brilliant is that it goes straight past “mistaken for gay” and into a chilling look at domestic life that seems like it could’ve been written by Edward Albee.

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