The best comedy ensembles on TV

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This week’s question comes from web producer Baraka Kaseko:

Who is the best TV comedy ensemble on TV? Answers must be from shows currently airing or on hiatus. Nothing that has ended/been cancelled.

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A Black Lady Sketch Show, HBO

I’ve waxed poetic about A Black Lady Sketch Show before, from reviewing the excellent second season to homing in on the show’s smart use of gorgeous fashion, which, along with the ace cast, establishes a new world with each sketch. Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, and Gabrielle Dennis—along with Quinta Brunson, who couldn’t return this year—already showed off their enviable timing and chemistry in the first season. In this arguably more ambitious second outing, newcomers Laci Mosley and Skye Townsend basically board a moving train without missing a beat. There’s no concept too far-fetched, no characterization too specific for these incredibly versatile performers. Thede, Black, Dennis, Mosley, and Townsend make each character their own, while making us laugh our heads off. [Danette Chavez]

Search Party, HBO Max

HBO Max’s Search Party has such a talented cast. The darkly comedic thriller is dizzyingly funny but in the wrong hands, the show could easily veer into the over-the-top category. Luckily, actors Alia Shawkat, John Early, Meredith Hagner, and John Reynolds ground their performance with enough emotion and charm to draw you into Search Party’s satirical humor. All four of them have exceptional comic timing and chemistry, whether they’re freaking out about and covering up crimes or just being unscrupulous, annoying millennials. While the show’s recurring cast is delightful (Michaela Watkins, Shalita Grant, Kate Berlant, Cole Escola), this ensemble is exceptionally entertaining by itself. [Saloni Gajjar]

Mythic Quest, Apple TV+

I wasn’t sure how quickly the words “Mythic Quest” could tumble out of my mouth when I saw this question, but that’s okay, because I typed them even faster. It took a few episodes for the chemistry and tone to gel, but once it did, Apple TV+’s workplace comedy quickly became a nonstop showcase for the entire roster of performers. Any of their characters would be a breakout star on a more pedestrian show. What’s best: the brittle beta insecurity of David Hornsby’s executive producer, David? The roiling sociopathy of Jessie Ennis’ assistant, Jo? The Machiavellian manipulations of Danny Pudi’s Brad? The grandiloquent silliness of F. Murray Abraham’s head writer, C.W. Longbottom? And that’s before we even get into the recurring cast, like Caitlin McGee’s note-perfect Sue or Naomi Ekperigin’s ever-exasperated HR rep, Carol. Put anyone at the center of a story and they’ll shine; but all of them bouncing off one another is even better. [Alex McLevy]

What We Do In The Shadows, FX

Few ensembles had more to prove than the souls of What We Do In The Shadows. Following one of the best comedy films of the 2010s isn’t easy, but the roommates of the FX series didn’t wait for an invitation for greatness. The put-upon Nandor (Kayvan Novak) plays off Laszlo and Nadja’s (Matt Berry and Natasia Demetriou) confidence with sitcom perfection as Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) grounds the vampiric lunacy with humanity. But ace-in-the-hole is Colin (Mark Proksch), the energy vampire, an idea so good it’s shocking no one took a stab at it before. A testament to their chemistry, the roommates weren’t overshadowed by a star-studded vampiric council that any fan would kill to join. [Matt Schimkowitz]

Ted Lasso, Apple TV+

We can’t talk about ensembles with a lot to prove without talking about the cast of Ted Lasso. They didn’t have the legacy of a beloved cult comedy to live up to, but they did have the challenge of elevating a premise (“fish-out-of-water sports comedy, based on a series of NBC Sports commercials, produced by Apple”) many thought to be pretty thin. Jason Sudeikis’ Ted does much of the heavy-lifting on that front—over the course of the show’s first season, his warm, unflappable charisma slowly chips away at the tough, cynical exteriors of both the audience and his AFC Richmond cohorts. But the rest of the team—like Hannah Waddingham as the stubborn, dignified Rebecca, Brett Goldstein as the perpetually angry, aging Roy Kent, or Nick Mohammed as the meek, put upon kit man Nate—brings their A-game as well, providing audiences with one of the funniest, most affecting ensemble comedies on television. [Baraka Kaseko]

Archer, FXX

Sorry, haters: Archer still has the best comedic voice cast working in TV. Every element—from H. Jon Benjamin’s deadpan smartass, to Aisha Tyler’s mix of confidence and exasperation, to Amber Nash’s endlessly game enthusiasm as animated TV all-star Pam Poovey—works to make the show exactly the sum of its incredible parts, regardless of whatever genre it’s dipping into in any given season. There are literally no duds in this crew: Chris Parnell! Lucky Yates! Adam Reed! The insanely talented Judy Greer, the queen of the unexpectedly deranged line read. And most especially—if sadly—the late Jessica Walter, whose Malory Archer is a force of such obvious and incredible comic power that it’s difficult to imagine the show continuing on without her there to drop the sharpest line in the room, time and time again. [William Hughes]

Black Monday, Showtime

It might not be the most buzzed about comedy on TV, but it’s pretty astounding how stacked Black Monday’s cast is. Initially more of a darkly satirical mystery, the Showtime series has essentially evolved into live-action Looney Tunes, embracing the exuberant game-for-anything energy of its ensemble. Leads Don Cheadle and Regina Hall have more than proven themselves as genre chameleons, so it’s a blast watching their natural charms collide as star-crossed lovers/nemeses. Then there’s Casey Wilson (whose husband David Caspe is a co-creator), Paul Scheer (whose wife June Diane Raphael has a hilarious recurring role), and Andrew Rannells (whose partner Tuc Watkins guested in season two)—it’s basically a family affair, and one gets the sense they love to push each other’s buttons, coaxing the biggest, funniest performances out of everyone. Throw in supporting roles from Ken Marino, Julie Hagerty, Yassir Lester, Horatio Sanz, and more, and it’s an embarrassment of comedic riches. [Cameron Scheetz]

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, NBC

Let’s get in a word of praise for Brooklyn Nine-Nine while it’s still eligible for this honor. Now heading into its final season, the show hasn’t weathered a change in networks and a tectonic shift in public sentiment toward policing on the merits of its cold opens and running gags alone. (Though its strengths in both areas are formidable.) Casting director Allison Jones is a master comedy chemist (she also put together the What We Do In The Shadows roomies), and her smarts, skills, and instincts gave Andre Braugher and Andy Samberg co-stars who could contrast, complement, and amplify their respective drama-honed gravitas and sketch-comedy dynamism: Joe Lo Truglio’s puppy-dog best-friend energy, Melissa Fumero in fastidious teacher’s pet mode, the fire-and-ice combo of human exclamation point Terry Crews and still-waters-running-deeply-enigmatic Stephanie Beatriz. The cast was even able to meet the challenge of Chelsea Peretti’s mid-series departure, Joel McKinnon Miller and Dirk Blocker confidently stepping up to fill the void left by the incomparable Gina Linetti. Just don’t tell Gina that Scully and Hitchcock have replaced her—that might kill her for real. [Erik Adams]