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The Best TV Comedies of 2013 (So Far)

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The best TV comedies of 2013 so far include a fair number of leftovers from 2012, including two shows that ended their runs early in 2013. But there’s still some promise on the horizon, with another great web series making the transition to TV, plus cable picking up the slack when the broadcast networks leave their best comedies behind. Here’s a look at my picks for the best TV comedies of 2013 so far.

1. 'Ben and Kate' (Fox)

Ben and Kate
Photo courtesy of Fox
Fox pulled this wonderful family sitcom from its schedule early in 2013; only 13 episodes aired in total, just three of them in 2013 (three more aired in Europe but remain officially unavailable in the U.S.). But even with such a small output, Ben and Kate remains the best comedy of the year so far, a hilarious and heartfelt look at a dysfunctional yet loving family. Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson were excellent as the title characters, a brother and sister whose relationship is as genuine as it is funny. Fox may have given up on the show, but everyone involved in it certainly has a bright future to look forward to.

2. '30 Rock' (NBC)

30 Rock
Photo courtesy of NBC

Just five episodes of 30 Rock’s seventh and final season aired in 2013, but they were among the show’s best, and the season as a whole sent one of the greatest comedies of all time out on a high note. Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon and Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy will go down as one of TV’s greatest friendships, and in the final episodes, show creator Fey emphasized the bond between the two characters while juggling callbacks to seven seasons’ worth of jokes, as well as plenty of brilliant new material all the way until the end.

3. 'Parks and Recreation' (NBC)

Parks and Recreation
Photo courtesy of NBC

Even as main character Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) achieved her goals of being elected to Pawnee City Council and marrying her soulmate Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), Parks and Recreation remained one of the funniest and most grounded sitcoms on TV. The show deepened the relationships among the main characters, delivered heartwarming moments and managed to keep things fresh and funny. Five seasons in, Parks (and the town of Pawnee) has become a comfortable, inviting place with well-defined characters that are always a joy to spend time with.

4. 'Burning Love' (E!)

Burning Love
Photo courtesy of E!
Like Childrens Hospital, Burning Love made the transition from the web to TV, with E! airing the first season’s webisodes packaged together as seven half-hour TV episodes. The pitch-perfect parody of dating reality shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette features an all-star cast of comedy performers, led by star/co-creator Ken Marino, along with June Diane Raphael, Michael Ian Black, Ken Jeong and more. Two more seasons have premiered online, and hopefully E! will give TV viewers the chance to see those episodes as well.

5. 'Cougar Town' (ABC)

Cougar Town
Photo courtesy of TBS

Moving from ABC to TBS did nothing to slow down TV’s best hang-out sitcom, nor did the marriage of main character Jules (Courteney Cox) to her longtime boyfriend Grayson (Josh Hopkins). Cougar Town has only gotten better as it’s strengthened the relationships among its characters, which this season also included finally getting Travis (Dan Byrd) and Laurie (Busy Philipps) together. Along with the strong relationships, Cougar Town featured plenty of very funny running gags and a general good-time vibe that is still unmatched among current sitcoms.

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