The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (2022)

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (1)

Comedy TV is tough, both to work in and be a fan of. For every hilarious series that comes out, there's a dud that just doesn't connect. In the TV-watching experience, almost nothing is more irritating than spending a couple episodes absolutely stone-faced when you were expecting to laugh. Luckily, we both watch a ton of TV and have excellent, discerning taste when it comes to funny stuff, so instead of slogging through a series to see if you'll warm up to it or rewatching The Office yet again (please, dear god, don't do that), check out one our verified picks for the funniest TV shows of 2021.

ALSO READ: Our round-up of the very best TV shows of 2021 and the must-watch sci-fi series of the year

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (2)

Dickinson (Apple TV+)

Seasons 2 & 3. 10 & 8 episodes.
The final seasons of Apple TV+'s Emily Dickinson comedy freed itself from all the questions associated with the phrase "Emily Dickinson comedy" by evolving into an even weirder, truer version of itself. The second season finds Emily wrestling with the question of fame, both on a practical and spiritual level as she considers publishing her poems, while the third has her struggling over her own role in society with the Civil War raging. The ways in which her conflict manifests are surreal, and range from the unnervingly elusive (the appearance of a certain "Nobody" personified) to downright amusing (Nick Kroll as the drunken ghost of Edgar Allan Poe or Billy Eichner as a partying Walt Whitman). —Esther Zuckerman

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (3)

Girls5eva (Peacock)

Season 1. 8 episodes.
Take a huge dose of early 2000s, TRL-era nostalgia and mash that up with the comedic sensibility of the Tina Fey-Robert Carlock universe established in 30 Rock, and you've got Girls5Eva created by Meredith Scardino. The premise of this Peacock series finds the four surviving members of a Spice Girls-esque girl group—the fifth died in a tragic infinity pool accident—reunited after their one-hit-wonder is sampled on a rap track. All at creative and emotional impasses in their lives they decide to give fame another shot. Anchored by excellent and hilarious performances from Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sara Bareilles, Busy Philipps, and Paula Pell, Girls5Eva is as absurd as it is sweet, never losing sight of the strange bond between the women at its center. —EZ

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (4)

Hacks (HBO Max)

Season 1. 10 episodes.
It's understandable if HBO Max's Hacks sounds a bit familiar when you first hear the premise. Do you really want to watch another show about the trials and tribulations of being a comedian? The trick co-creators Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky pull off is finding a sharp, nuanced take on the see-sawing dynamic between legendary Vegas stand-up act Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and the young comedy writer (Hannah Einbinder) exiled to the desert to punch up her aging employer's material. If the two characters simply bickered the whole time, trading barbed put-downs and inter-generational zingers, the show would get tedious fast. Instead, the writers and performers carefully draw out the connections and the tensions between the two women, lending the showbiz plotlines a Larry Sanders-like complexity. Similarly, the world around Vance, from the soda dispenser in her kitchen to the Ace Ventura slot machine in the casino, is layered with funny, glitzy specifics that make the show feel both surreal and lived-in. —Dan Jackson

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (5)

I Think You Should Leave (Netflix)

Season 2. 6 episodes.
The first season of I Think You Should Leave, the absurdist sketch show from former SNL writer and Detroiters co-creator Tim Robinson, was a miracle. At a time when so much sketch comedy feels stale, bumbling through the same tired premises and predictable punchlines, Robinson and his collaborators, including performers like Patti Harrison, Conner O'Malley, and Sam Richardson, manage to subvert expectations and still deliver consistent laughs. Part of that has to do with the speed of the sketches, which often establish an idea very quickly (Dan Flashes sells pricey shirts with elaborate patterns) and then blows them ("Shut the fuck up, Doug!") up before it gets old. Robinson's boorish characters, always quick to anger but also incredibly sensitive, have only grown funnier and more oddly poignant in the new season. Even at their most repulsive and belligerent, they have a humanity to them that keeps the show from ever wearing out its welcome. —DJ

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (6)

Insecure (HBO)

Season 5. 10 episodes.
Issa Rae's HBO comedy has long felt like a show that could never really end, starting with its groundbreaking debut and calibrated growth every following season. With its fifth installment, Rae decided it was time to wrap up her love letter to LA. The season isn't a grand send-off, but instead a continuation of what fans will miss about it, being a funny yet somber look at how messy adulthood can be. Molly (Yvonne Orji) and Issa's cracked friendship is on the mend, but even as the two face wins career-wise, millennial dread still creeps in, leading them to question their own success. Of course, Issa remains enmeshed in relationship drama, but screentime is also given to Lawrence and Nathan to look at their paths. It's what the show has always done best: giving heft to the mundane conflicts young people face, even in bouts of hysterical daydreams and mirror raps. —Sadie Bell

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (7)

Invincible (Amazon Prime)

Season 1. 8 episodes.
For all of its intense bloodshed—and there is tons of it—Invincible, the animated series adapted from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman's comic series, wrings out as many laugh-out-loud moments as possible in its complicated, The Boys-adjacent understanding of what it means to be a superhero. Chalk it up to its absolutely stacked cast—Steven Yeun as a teen balancing high school life while learning that he can fucking fly, Sandra Oh as his human mother, J.K. Simmons as his stronger-than-god father, and Gillian Jacobs, Zazie Beets, Jason Manztoukas, Walton Goggins, etc. surrounding them—who bring the necessary intensity and charm to their characters wading into a messy universe-wide conspiracy stuck with the foibles of an earthbound mindset. —Leanne Butkovic

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (8)

Kevin Can F**k Himself (AMC)

Season 1. 8 episodes.
This genre-blending dark comedy proved that Annie Murphy is far more than the ditzy Alexis Rose on Schitt's Creek. In Kevin Can F**k Himself, Murphy plays Allison, the long-suffering wife of obnoxious mid-Massachusettsan Kevin McRoberts, her dolt of a high school sweetheart who keeps her on a short financial leash and preys on her guilt. The genius here isn't merely in the story as its sold, in which Allison becomes determined to discreetly murder Kevin when she discovers he irresponsibly emptied their savings. Its blend of a multi-camera sitcom format and prestige drama honors the conventions of each before shattering them every time Allison steps through a door. —LB

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (9)

Loki (Disney+)

Season 1. 6 episodes.
The MCU's favorite trickster is finally the star of his own show, dropped smack-dab in the middle of a time-hopping mystery involving the most formidable power in the multiverse, and it's only a matter of minutes before he starts misbehaving. After Loki uses the Tesseract to bloop himself out of his own timeline in Avengers: Endgame, he's quickly apprehended by enforcers from the Time Variance Authority, who plan to delete him from existence now that he's unwittingly escaped his predestined path. But he's saved just in time by Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson), an energy drink-guzzling TVA agent at the head of a case that, without revealing too much, he believes only Loki can solve. Loki allows its title character to take up more space as an antihero rather than sidelined as a tragic villain, and star Tom Hiddleston is so good at mixing bad guy Loki's growled, villainous threats with the panicked, out-of-his-depth bounding around he does here that you wonder why this franchise hadn't been letting him do that this whole time. —Emma Stefansky

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (10)

Made for Love (HBO Max)

Season 1. 8 episodes.
When Hazel (Cristin Milioti) runs away from her megalomaniacal tech bro husband Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen) after being trapped for 10 years inside the simulated-nature campus of his company, she learns, to her terror and chagrin, that Byron has implanted her brain with his newest prototype, a chip that allows him to read her thoughts and see through her eyes as she tries to free herself from him. The darkly comedic show was adapted from Alissa Nutting's 2017 novel, and hilariously and irreverently examines the nature of love, human relationships, and the personhood of sex dolls. —ES

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (11)

Mythic Quest (Apple TV+)

Season 2. 9 episodes.
The second season of Apple TV+'s game dev workplace comedy deepens the relationships between its key characters while staying true to its own impish spirit. With Raven's Banquet in their rear view, Ian and Poppy—now co-creative directors, uh-oh—butt heads over plans for the next expansion, while Rachel and Dana manage their fledgling relationship and Jo relishes the power of being Brad's assistant-turned-sworn enemy. The season kicked off with the superb special episode "Everlight" in April, and its back half is structured around a thrilling yet absolutely devastating arc involving backstory scribe C.W. Longbottom, who gets his own 1970s-flavored standalone episode this season (Mythic Quest continues to kill it with the standalones) and a follow-up that expands the limits of comedy TV. —ES

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (12)

Season 1. 10 episodes.
The unlikely murder mystery-solving trio of Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez added a wholesome touch to crime dramas. As three residents in an Upper West Side apartment, their shared obsession with true-crime podcasts brings them together and inspires them to put their sleuthing skills to use when another one of their neighbors dies under suspicious circumstances. Co-created by Martin and John Hoffman (Grace and Frankie), the series pokes fun at the culture around podcasting and true crime, while inevitably turning the viewer into an armchair detective themselves. Anybody may be a suspect at the Arconia (which has dozens of colorful tenants, making for many solid guest stars), but the series will leave you feeling warm, as it's ultimately about lonely people finding each other. —SB

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (13)

The Other Two (HBO Max)

Season 2. 10 episodes.
During its first season, the hilarious series from Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider The Other Two lingered in relative obscurity on Comedy Central. It made the jump to HBO Max with it's miraculously good Season 2, where it finally gained the attention it deserved. The second season followed the continuing exploits of Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary Dubek (Drew Tarver), the adult siblings of a teenage superstar Chase Dreams (Case Walker). This time around, both Brooke and Cary nudge a little closer to fame of their own, Brooke becoming a manager for Chase and their talk show host mother, Pat (Molly Shannon), while Cary gets himself cast in a movie and finds his way into the orbit of a gay-baiting straight celebrity who wants to use him as arm candy. The series remains as outrageous as ever—the penultimate episode involves an image of netherregions that will remind you to check whether a photo is live forever more—while also remaining a potent look at loneliness and the cost of pursuing fame. —EZ

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (14)

PEN15(Hulu)

Season 2, Part 2. 7 episodes.
Because the pandemic delayed half of Season 2 of Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle's cringe comedy in which they play seventh grade versions of themselves, the two decided that they would be the show's last once the episodes arrived. This time around, the series leaned into its "traumedy" label more than ever, exploring not just the uncomfortable doldrums of middle school, but the truly difficult challenges kids face that may take them years to process. Revisiting the ridiculousness of extremely aughties Bat Mitzvah parties had us laughing—and the accuracy in which the show's stars inhibit 12-year-old mannerisms is never not funny—but the show ultimately left us teary-eyed as Maya and Anna faced divorce, mortality, and sexual predators. Thankfully, they had each other, and the show wrapped up by offering one of the most genuine, heartfelt looks at how protective and powerful friendships between young girls can be. Up until its end, PEN15 was "an actual rainbow gel pen in a sea of blue and black writing utensils."—SB

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (15)

Reservation Dogs (FX on Hulu)

Season 1. 8 episodes.
This FX on Hulu comedy follows four friends living on an Oklahoma Native American reservation trying to make enough money to leave. It opens with the group stealing a truck full of Flaming Flamers chips, giving the truck to some meth heads and keeping the chips for themselves to sell. The series from Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi mashes up this kind of wild action with magical realism and melancholy as it tracks these kids' lives which are defined by both mundanity and ridiculous situations. It's anchored by the incredible work of Devery Jacobs, D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Lane Factor, and Paulina Alexis, all wonderful discoveries who ground the show. —EZ

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (16)

Resident Alien (Syfy)

Season 1. 10 episodes.
When an extraterrestrial crash-lands on Earth after his spaceship is struck by lightning, he disguises himself as a vacationer in a small town, Dr. Harry Vanderspiegle (Alan Tudyk), in order to blend in. There's just one problem: When the town's local doctor is mysteriously murdered, the other residents, unaware of his disguise, elect Harry to be their new medical professional, and Harry has no choice but to agree. Based on the comic by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, the show is an absolute delight, following Harry as he ingratiates himself with the townspeople (save for one terrified little boy who can see through his disguise), while also searching for the alien superweapon he dropped in the crash, meant to wipe humanity from the face of the planet. —ES

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (17)

Schmigadoon! (Apple TV+)

Season 1. 6 episodes.
Schmigadoon!is a parody of musicals that will delight the genre’s admirers and skeptics alike. If you love huge song-and-dance spectacles, you’ll find all the Golden Age hallmarks intact. If you’re not so hot on anthems that could be summed up in just a few lines of dialogue, the Apple TV+ series can read like a biting satire. Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key play a couple who stumble upon an enchanted land where the townsfolk behave as if they are forever stuck on Broadway. With delightful supporting performances from Jane Krakowski, Ariana DeBose, Aaron Tveit, and a villainous Kristin Chenoweth,Schmigadoon! is a breezy six-episode lark full of winking humor.—Matthew Jacobs

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (18)

Starstruck (HBO Max)

Season 1. 6 episodes.
If you long for the swoons and frustrations of rom coms, head on over to HBO Max, which has imported Starstruck from the UK. Created by and starring Kiwi comedian Rose Matafeo, Starstruck puts a spin on Notting Hill. Matafeo's character Jessie has a drunken New Year's Eve hookup with a handsome man who just happens to be movie star Tom Kapoor (Nikesh Patel). Each of the six episodes jump between seasons as Jessie and Tom flirt and elide one another. The chemistry between Matafeo and Patel will tug at your emotions while you'll cackle at the comic creation that is Jessie, who wears her confidence on her sleeve and crumbles when it fails her. —EZ

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (19)

Succession (HBO)

Season 3. 9 episodes.
Don't tell Jeremy Strong, but Successionis indeed a comedy about TV's most abominable family, who has returned for the cruelest and most morally bankrupt season of the series yet. Staging the title fight showdown between Kendall Roy (Strong) and his father, Logan (Brian Cox), while the other Roy siblings swat hands for daddy's love, Season 3 revels in the utter sense of entitlement oozing off the ultra-privileged family as they fight to maintain control of media conglomerate Waystar Royco following Kendall's cruiseline bombshell from the Season 2 finale. If you had any remaining fondness for the Roys, it will quickly be tossed into the shredder as Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kiernan Culkin) play kingmaker to a truly detestable presidential nominee (since "the Raisin" doesn't run again in the Succession-verse) and Kendall throws an all-out narcissistic birthday rager. These aren't good people, by any means, but they sure do make for good television. —LB

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (20)

WandaVision (Disney+)

Miniseries. 9 episodes.
The first of Marvel's Disney+ miniseries started Phase 4 off with a bang, trapping Wanda Maximoff and a mysteriously resurrected Vision in a small-town sitcom universe, riffing on classic family comedies like Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, and Malcolm in the Middle. When a grief-stricken Wanda attempts to create her own idyllic family life, her creation goes nuclear in more ways than one, and reveals a new facet to her chaotic superpowers. The show is both fun and emotionally affecting, drawing from the best of comedy television from the past six decades to build an endlessly self-referential pocket universe of small-town family hijinks. —ES

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (21)

The Way of the Househusband (Netflix)

Season 1. 10 episodes.
The series that you can watch the quickest, at five episodes averaging 17 minutes apiece, also happens to be one of the funniest and joke-dense of the year. Adapted from the bestselling gag manga by Kousuke Oono, this Netflix anime yucks around with the idea that the most deadly and feared yakuza member, known as the Immortal Dragon, retires into domestic life to support his career wife, Miku, the one person not intimidated by his off-putting personality. Minus a few asides from the house cat Gin, The Way of the Househusband operates on one joke—a terrifying man does mundane things, like clipping coupons and taking jazzercise classes—but, incredibly, it works every single time. —LB

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (22)

The White Lotus (HBO)

Season 1. 6 episodes.
A sublime comedy of manners with a melancholic bite, The White Lotus is so good that you should watch it twice. In just six episodes, the brilliant Mike White (Enlightened) crafts an accomplished upstairs-downstairs satire set at a posh Hawaiian resort where rich people demand picture-perfect vacations. What starts as a portrait of juicy travel tensions becomes a sensitive exploration about class dynamics, cultural appropriation, and accidental murder. Jennifer Coolidge gives one of the year’s best performances in any medium as a batty loner there to scatter her dead mother’s ashes, but Murray Bartlett, Natasha Rothwell, Jake Lacy, Connie Britton, Alexandra Daddario, and relative newcomer Fred Hechinger are every bit as compelling. —MJ

The Funniest TV Shows of 2021 (23)

Ziwe (Showtime)

Season 1. 6 episodes.
Ziwe, the comedian, is not writing jokes for a cozy night in for Ziwe, the late-night talk show adapted from her Instagram Live series Baited. Her questions for her guests—the likes of Fran Liebowitz, Eboni K. Williams, and Julio Torres in-studio; Stacey Abrams, Lil Rel Howery, and Gloria Steinam over video chat—are provocatively inspired about race and class, almost always borderline unanswerable. Whether she's moderating a roundtable with a group of real-life Karens, asking Andrew Yang who his favorite billionaire is (trick question; there are no good billionaires), or cutting to a song about infantilizing women, Ziwe, impeccably dressed, governs her own world with panache. Should you choose to accept her invitation inside, you shall be greatly rewarded.—LB

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