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Dead Tree Alert: Comedy Comes Back

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Alinari Archives / Corbis

Alinari Archives / Corbis

Sunday night, the Seinfeld-reunion arc starts on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and to greet it, I have an essay in the print TIME about the state of TV comedy 11 years later—which surprisingly, for once in a long while, is pretty good. For once in a long time, most of the best new series this year have been comedies. Part of the reason sitcoms (using the term broadly, which is what it has become) are so strong this season, I argue, is that they’re borrowing devices from other genres (drama and even reality TV) and realizing that being the best comedy doesn’t mean having the most jokes-per-minute. Along the way, I also work in my theory that How I Met Your Mother is basically the sitcom version of Lost.

I should note that I’m writing as a critic, so when I say comedies are having a good year, I mean creatively and not in the ratings. Still, another pleasant surprise this year is that some of the best-reviewed new comedies (Glee, pictured, and Modern Family) have gotten good ratings, as opposed to the worst-reviewed (Hank, Brothers)—that, as any Arrested Development fan can tell you, is also a welcome change.