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Monday, May 18, 2015

SEASON IN REVIEW: 2014-15 New Comedies

Here is my Season in Review of the new comedies this year! The 2014-15 saw less comedy premieres than the crazy amount of last season, but there were a couple real gems (mostly on ABC), some of which seem poised to have great runs.

Past Years: 2013-14   2012-13   2011-12   2010-11

BEST NEW COMEDY
Black-ish (ABC) - It was one of the most anticipated comedies of the new season and it didn't disappoint. In some ways, Black-ish is a modern day Cosby Show because it centers on an affluent black family. What sets it apart and makes it unique is it deals with the black culture directly and often hits controversial topics head-on: specifically, a black family's struggle to keep their identity in the more affluent, white world. It's a sitcom that has something to say about society, but it's never done in a preachy way. It's done in a very funny way. With a top-notch cast including an excellent group of child actors and tons of stories to tell, I expect Black-ish to be around for a long time.

The Runners-Up
Fresh Off the Boat (ABC) - Another sitcom that fit ABC's push for diversity in its family sitcoms, Fresh Off the Boat was the first sitcom with an Asian American lead in 20 years. I felt like season one was up and down but the potential is there for a great show. With the unique setting of 1990s Orlando, this show is starting to find its voice and I think it'll be even more consistent next season.

The Last Man on Earth (FOX) - I had absolutely no interest in The Last Man on Earth before it premiered then its pilot shocked me with its very unique voice and premise. However, it hasn't always stuck to that premise and season one went a bit in circles. But the concept is there and the actors are strong. I'm excited to see where this goes next.

Worth Mentioning: Cristela (ABC), Marry Me (NBC)

BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A NEW COMEDY
Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth (FOX) - Audiences have been very opinionated on season one of The Last Man on Earth and specifically regarding Will Forte's character, Phil Miller. He started out as a lovable loser when he was all by himself and then turned into somewhat of a jerk as people started to populate his world. I think that's reflecting the show still working out where it wants to go but Forte's performance was magnificent. He was at his very best in the pilot when everything rested squarely on him and there were no other characters. It was a fascinating half hour. Since then, his character has been both funny and pathetic, but he's made the show.

The Runners-Up
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish (ABC) - As Andre 'Dre' Johnson, Anthony Anderson has taken a stereotype of a TV dad - a bit of a buffoon - but made him endearing and modern. With his lively narration and manic energy, Anderson brings so much life to the show and his rapport with both his on-screen wife and kids really helps make the show.

Randall Park, Fresh Off the Boat (ABC) - He's not always the most memorable part of an episode of Fresh Off the Boat because he is not the funniest character. But as Louis Huang, he's a steady presence and a great straight man to Constance Wu and the children on the show. He's well-meaning and an eternal optimist.

Worth Mentioning: Tyler Ritter, The McCarthys (CBS), Ken Marino, Marry Me (NBC)

BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A NEW COMEDY
Constance Wu, Fresh Off the Boat (ABC) - Easily the breakout sitcom star of a new comedy this season, Constance Wu stole every scene she was in as Jessica Huang. A no-nonsense woman who is not quite understanding or appreciative of white culture, she delivers each line with sass and often bewilderment. Every great moment in this show so far has been connected to Wu and I'm excited to see what she does next season.

The Runners-Up
Cristela Alonzo, Cristela (ABC) - Cristela was an underrated show this season. It wasn't perfect but it was fun to watch and that was primarily due to Alonzo's bubbly personality and sense of humor. It was clear she put a lot of herself into the role. I hope she finds another vehicle soon because she seems poised to be a star.

Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish (ABC) - As Bow Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross definitely channels her inner Clair Huxtable. A successful doctor, Bow is a bit crazy at home but plays so well off of her on-screen husband, played by Anthony Anderson. They have an undeniable chemistry and she has great comedic timing.

Worth Mentioning: Casey Wilson, Marry Me (NBC), Cristin Milioti, A to Z (NBC)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A NEW COMEDY
Josh Gemberling, Marry Me (NBC) - I watched Marry Me for several episodes, but ultimately didn't stick with it even through its shortened first season. One of my favorite parts was Josh Gemberling's Gil, the pathetic, divorced best friend of Ken Marino's Jake. He got off quite a few funny one-liners and was a bit of a Zach Galifianakis type in the role and he has the same comedic timing.

The Runners-Up
Miles Brown, Black-ish (ABC) - One half of an excellent duo of child actors on Black-ish, Miles Brown is very funny as Jack, a boy who idolizes his father but is often outwitted by his twin sister. He is adorable and also very funny. Playing the cute but witty child role can be overdone, but he brings a freshness to it.

Forrest Wheeler & Ian Chen, Fresh Off the Boat (ABC) - Speaking of strong child actors, Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen brought a lot to Fresh Off the Boat as the charming Every and do-gooder Evan. In fact, I enjoyed their stories more than the ones featuring their older brother, and the show's protagonist, Eddie.

Worth Mentioning: Mel Rodriguez, The Last Man on Earth (FOX), Marcus Scribner, Black-ish (ABC)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A NEW COMEDY
Kristen Schaal, The Last Man on Earth (FOX) - One of the most bizarre characters of the new season, Kristen Schaal's Carol initially annoyed me, but she became one of my favorite characters on the show. A perpetually sunny yet delightfully weird optimist, she's a bit of a blend of Sue Heck and Leslie Knope. While you can understand how other characters might be annoyed by her, you can't help but root for her because she's so well-meaning.

The Runners-Up
Marsai Martin, Black-ish (ABC) - The other half of Black-ish's fantastic six year old twins, Marsai Martin is absolutely hilarious as the wise beyond her years Diane. They give her lines that shouldn't be coming out of her mouth yet she delivers them with complete sincerity. I hope they give both her and Miles Brown even more to do next season.

Laurie Metcalf, The McCarthys (CBS) - The McCarthys has probably already been forgotten by most and that's understanding because it wasn't very memorable. But Laurie Metcalf was strong in her return to network comedy. She wasn't enough to save a bland show but she got off quite a few funny lines in the few episodes I saw, like a pro should.

Worth Mentioning: January Jones, The Last Man on Earth (FOX), Terri Hoyos, Cristela (ABC)

WORST NEW COMEDY
Manhattan Love Story (ABC) - There was plenty of competition for worst new show as a couple were instantly forgettable. The most annoying was Manhattan Love Story. What was conceived to be (and could have been) a mini Woody Allen movie set in a great city turned into a disastrous show with obnoxious voice-overs saying what was going on in the main character's heads. It was so gimmicky and stupid. It was like the writing and acting was capable of conveying inside thoughts any other way. A waste of a decent idea.

The Runners-Up
Mulaney (FOX) - There were some strong people attached to this show: Martin Short, Nasim Pedrad, and promising young comic John Mulaney. But the Seinfeld knock-off was just stupid. Not funny, bad writing, you name it. Nothing worked here and it was a waste of the great cast it had.

Selfie (ABC) - The worst title of the season was a pretty bad show as well. I found the pilot, especially the first half, absolutely unbearable. Trying too hard in every sense of the word. It was so much "in the now," it would probably already seem outdated. I heard it got better before it was cancelled, but I didn't give it a chance.

Worth Mentioning: One Big Happy (NBC), Bad Judge (NBC)

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