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The 10 Best Comedy Episodes of 2013

By Joanna Robinson and Dustin Rowles | Guides | December 19, 2013 |

By Joanna Robinson and Dustin Rowles | Guides | December 19, 2013 |

Limit one episode per show. Episodes are not arranged in any particular order. (Apologies in advance for not including a Bob’s Burgers episode. It was a top ten series thanks to its cleverness, heart, and humor, but no episode stood above the rest, which is also a testament to the series’ consistency.)

Girls, “One Man’s Trash” (HBO) — I wrote extensively about this episode earlier this year, and about how it brilliantly upended our expectations of how a situation between a character that looks like Patrick Wilson and a character that looks like Lena Dunham would unfold. As I wrote then, I expected that during their two-day fling that a shoe would drop, that Wilson’s character would reveal himself as a giant douchebag playing a cruel joke. What I didn’t expect is for Dunham’s character to not only be the agressor, but to control the sexual dynamic. When Wilson said to Dunham’s character, “I want you to make me come,” I have been conditioned to believe that she would be eager to please, not that she would flip it and say, “I want you to make me come.” From a story standpoint, that made the episode mind blowing. Dustin Rowles

The Mindy Project, “Wiener Night” — For a show that’s enjoyed a rocky first season and, frustratingly, an even rockier second, sometimes The Mindy Project gets it perfectly right. The episode began strong with a bit of airplane humor with Mindy doing what she does best, insider comedy for the female set. Unless, do men go to the weddings of their enemies? I thought not. The episode followed that up with a strong Kevin Smith cameo, an even stronger plot involving sketches of Chris Messina in the altogether at an art show and Mad Men’s Ginsberg as a snide, hipster suitor for Mindy. He almost won me over completely when he played Katy Perry on the ukulele. But those of us who have been around the rom-com block a few times know that when it comes down to it, it will be all about Danny and Mindy. They shared a chaste, friendly kiss curbside in this episode. It’s enough to almost make you forget about the titular wiener. Almost. — Joanna Robinson

Raising Hope, “Making the Band” (Fox) — Little-seen, and appreciated by even fewer people, Raising Hope (now saddled in the deathly Friday night time slot) is quietly one of the funniest sitcoms on television, and the end of last season — with its showrunner Greg Garcia (My Name Is Earl) leaving, and the series expected to be cancelled — they pulled out all the stops, working in sly meta-references not intended as wer’e-smarter-than-you-winks, but as clever gags that everyone was supposed to get. My favorite episode of the series, however, was “Making the Band,” which saw Eddie Steeples (from My Name is Earl) drop references to his Crab Man character on Earl, and Jason Lee (also from Earl) work in a sequence that hilariously alluded to a scene from Almost Famous (also starring Jason Lee). There aren’t a lot of passionate Raising Hope viewers, but this episode completely rewarded them. — DR

Parks and Recreation, “Leslie And Ben” — There might have been funnier episodes from this beloved show in 2013 but how could we pick anything other than the wedding of Ben Wyatt to Leslie Knope which so perfectly encapsulates the sweet spirit that has made Parks such a special show. Everyone was involved from Ann’s dress to Ron’s rings to Tom’s speech to April and Andy’s war against bureaucracy to Chris’s tears to, Donna’s singing to whatever it is Jerry did and most of all to the return of Li’l Sebastian. Like Chris Traeger, I promised myself I wouldn’t cry and I broke that promise over and over. As the episode wound down, the camera panned outside the windows of the Parks Dept. offering us a glimpse of the warm and loving celebration going on inside. Never have I wanted to be inside a room as much as I wanted to be inside of that one. Given that this season has lost a little bit of its momentum, is it wrong to wish we had ended there? In that perfect, cozy moment? — JR

The League, “The Von Nowzick Wedding” (FX) — The League is one of those shows that hums along these days with mostly amusing episodes, but every once in a while, they’ll reach down deep and pull out another classic episode that riffs on a lot of the series’ long-running jokes while working in new set of ones. This particular two-part episode was notable for the way in which it took a character (Adam Brody) with AIDS, and treated the disease as casually as they would any other more minor issue, like weight gain or baldness or a giant pimple. They gave him shit for having AIDS, and it brilliantly worked in a jocular, bro-y kind of way (the two-parter also benefited from the fact that Andre’s wife went blind because of an allergy to his semen). FOREVER UNCLEAN. — DR

New Girl, “Virgins” — Flashback episodes don’t always work, but thanks to Fat Schmidt and some perfect physical comedy from Jake Johnson and Max Greenfield, this was without question the funniest half hour of slapstick on TV in 2013. The episode centers around the stories of how Jess, Nick, Schmidt, CeeCee and Winston (yes, Winston got a plot) lost their virginity. I could watch a solid episode of just Nick and Fat Schmidt covered in lube trying to negotiate a bunk bed ladder. Jess’s storyline was pretty solid and Zooey Deschanel executed with some great tiny plastic castle physical comedy herself. The reveal on CeeCee’s story was pretty cute and the fact that Winston got a plot of his own is a miracle. Sadly, this was Dennis Farina’s last acting role before his death last year. On a rosier note, the episode ended with our favorite will they/won’t they couple in bed together. Oh, they will. — JR

tumblr_moirnoriMq1s5v7cyo1_250.gifVeep, “Running” (HBO) — Veep is a goddamn treasure, and probably the smartest written comedy on television right now, effectively satirizing the bureaucracy of Washington, hilariously sending up the lifestyle of political wonks, and dropping more cutting, creatively foul-mouthed insults than any other show since Armando Iannucci’s The Thick Of It. One of the things that a lot of sitcoms do well is make comedy hay out of intoxicated characters, but here, the stakes were even higher with the Vice President of the United States — about to anounce her resignation — completely wasted on painkillers after hilariously smashing into a glass window in one of the year’s best sight gags. “WE ARE AT DEFCON F**K. — DR

Orange is the New Black, “The Chickening” — This show came out of nowhere to win the summer, hands down. The much anticipated Arrested Development was completely overshadowed by Jenji Kohan’s comedy of female inmates. Is there anyone who didn’t fall head over heels for Taystee, Poussey, Crazy Eyes and Red? “The Chickening” came right in the middle of the show’s 11 episode run and the plot of the phantom chicken chase got every faction of the prison involved. This was about the time we realized that Piper’s story wasn’t the point. The point was the entire group. Nonetheless, the symbolism of that chicken and the freedom it promises adds a layer of poignancy to the hilarity of Red et. al. chasing her down. That’s what this show does best, right? Pathos and fun all rolled into one.

The Office, Series Finale (NBC) — There are many who won’t be able to look past the last few seasons and see the The Office finale for what it was: One of the best sitcom finales in years. It built upon the last few successful episodes of the series, renewing our sense of affection and reminding us of what we loved about it, and then it gave us some closure, knowledge that everything would be OK for us, and for the characters (except for poor Toby). It hurt, but in a good way. It felt right, highlighting all that was wonderful and amazing about The Office before it began to sink. The perfect dose of Michael Scott in the finale and a perfect ending for Jim and Pam easily made this one of the best sitcom episodes of the year. — DR

30 Rock, “Last Lunch” — For its last hurrah, 30 Rock employed a trick many sitcoms about showbiz have used. The end of 30 Rock coincided with the end of Liz Lemon’s show TGS, so the series finale of the former was all about the end of an era for the latter. Thank goodness for that. The first half of the finale dealt with tying up the loose ends of the familial side of Liz Lemon’s life and while that’s an important story to tell, this has always been a show about a woman and her career. So this episode covered the relationship between Liz and her work family but, more importantly, it put a button on her work marriage. Jack and Liz’s non-romantic relationship had been the driving force of the show for seven years. It’s entirely appropriate that they should exchange (platonic) “I Love You”s at the end. One nagging question, though, what happened to Pete? — JR

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.