The sitcom is a staple of American television programming. For decades, audiences in the United States have turned to this type of scripted, narrative-based comedy series to unwind from their busy schedules and check in with their favorite characters each week.
Still to this day, a wealth of new sitcoms spring up every year, with cable networks eager to achieve the next big hit with these comedy series. Even Netflix has gotten into the market of filming multi-camera sitcoms as of late.
However, comedy is a trick genre. Humor is one of the most subjective things on the market, and its tough to produce a comedy series that is funny enough to get laughs while still being good enough to withstand criticism and stay on the air.
Many sitcoms that have hit the airwaves over the years have fallen flat on their faces. Whether it’s because they failed to grab audience attention or were just plain unfunny, a wide number of sitcoms have gotten the axe from their networks and were booted off the air.
Using Rotten Tomatoes and its comprehensive critic scoring system, this list rounds up ten of the absolute worst sitcoms ever produced. However, it’ll also consider these alongside ten of the best, most enjoyed sitcoms that ran on television and still enjoy a beloved spot in the hearts of TV audiences around the world.
Without further ado, here are The 10 Worst (And 10 Best) Sitcoms Ever Made According To Rotten Tomatoes.
20 Worst: Whitney (20%)
In 2011, Whitney Cummings was one of the most successful female comics working at the moment. Her stand-up was known for being irreverent, sharp, and witty. NBC took advantage of the critic’s growing popularity and decided to give her a sitcom.
The sitcom, simply titled Whitney, followed the loud and opinionated titular character (played by Cummings herself) and her boyfriend of five years (played by another popular stand-up comedian at the time, Chris D’Elia) as they navigate their relationship.
The series mostly revolved around the two living the day-to-day life of a long-term unmarried couple. Whitney tries her hand at several methods throughout the seasons, with the help of advice from her friends, to prevent “relationship boredom”.
Unfortunately for both the comedian and the network, the sitcom did not go very well at all.
On air for two seasons, Whitney routinely received poor reviews from critics. Many wrote that the series had flat and unconvincing characters.
Another common complaint was that the dialogue just seemed like a bunch of stand-up one-liners strung together under weak storylines.
As a result of these criticisms, it has a nice and low 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
19 Best: Parks and Recreation (90%)
First premiering in the shadow of NBC’s ridiculously popular work place sitcom The Office, Parks and Recreation has now gained its own momentum and has perhaps succeeded The Office in terms of memorability and popularity.
The mockumentary sitcom followed the lives of government employees at the Parks and Rec department in Pawnee, Indiana. The series centered on Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope as she strove to rise in the ranks of politics.
Parks and Rec served as the platform that helped actors and comedians like Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, and Chris Pratt rise to the A-list status they enjoy today.
As the show went on, it attracted some impressive guest stars as well, including Paul Rudd, Kathryn Hahn, and Michelle Obama herself.
The series had a slow start, even suffering a mediocre 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But Poehler, her talented castmates, and the show’s quirky yet fresh humor sky-rocketed the series into success.
Nearly ever season since the show’s first has won a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics raving about the series’ strong female characters, charming humor, and overall good-natured fun.
After seven impressive seasons on air, today the show has a collective score of 90%.
It’s certainly an impressive victory for Parks and Rec, and speaks volumes about the show’s growth and quality.
18 Worst: Mulaney (17%)
John Mulaney is among the funniest, most successful young comics working right now. He has a huge fan base and a strong internet following as well.
Yet even the best in show business have some projects they’d like to forget. For John Mulaney, it’s his self-titled sitcom that aired on Fox in 2014.
Mulaney starred the comic as a fictionalized version of himself who was struggling to make it on the comedy scene in the city.
The show had a seriously impressive cast, starring Martin Short as a famous talk show host named Lou Cannon and Elliott Gould as Mulaney’s neighbor.
With all of this talent involved, Mulaney seemed like a promising sitcom that could have been the next hit. But that’s not exactly how things ended up.
Mulaney’s acting skills attracted harsh criticism, and for all of the comic’s talent on stage, his show’s jokes simply weren’t funny at all. The show ended up with a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Fortunately for Mulaney, the low ratings on his sitcom didn't drag his career down at all. The comic was able to pick himself up and move on without any serious damage. He even has a new Netflix special coming out in May.
17 Best: Veep (91%)
You’ll find some of television’s smartest comedic writing on HBO’s sitcom Veep. From the acclaimed British comic writer Armando Iannucci, Veep provides a wealth of political satire.
The show is never afraid of pulling any punches when it comes to critiquing the politicians that work in Washington, DC and never fails to comfort viewers when they’re feeling sour about the workings of American government.
Starring the iconic Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the lead role of Selina Meyer, Veep follows Meyer’s political journey that continually dips up and down as she begins as Vice President, ascends to the Presidency, decides to take a break from Washington, and is President once more.
The performances from supporting actors such as Tony Hale, Anna Chlumsky, Matt Walsh, Timothy C. Simons, and Reid Scott all add to the show’s top-rate humor that help it rise above the other comedies on television.
The show has always enjoyed the love of critics, who have praised the series over the years for its razor sharp satire, unforgettable and at-times absurdist dialogue, and significant political commentary.
Veep is now approaching its final season with its upcoming season 7, but with its rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, it will surely go down as one of HBO’s most successful sitcoms of all time.
16 Worst: Truth Be Told (13%)
Few things are worse than a sitcom that thinks it is smarter and more topical than it actually is. NBC’s 2015 sitcom Truth Be Told is an example of just that.
Truth Be Told starred Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Vanessa Lachey as white couple Mitch and Tracey who are friends with Russell and Angie, the black couple next door, played by Tone Bell and Bresha Webb.
The series used the two couples at its heart to try and offer amusing and relevant observations about the world and today’s society, most especially about race politics, through comedy.
It held potential to be a successful show on paper, but it didn't work out once Truth Be Told hit the air waves.
For all its effort to be edgy and progressive, the comedy just ended up falling back on old, stale sitcom clichés.
Critics went after the series for having bland characters, irritating and unfunny dialogue, and worst of all, thinking it was more original and compelling than it really was.
After all of these complaints, Truth Be Told sits with a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. NBC saw that Truth Be Told didn't have the brightest future with these criticisms, so it quietly cancelled the sitcom after only one season.
15 Best: Curb Your Enthusiasm (93%)
HBO single-handedly set the bar for what today’s sitcoms should strive to be with its long-running comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm.
First premiering in 2000, the sitcom was recently renewed for a ninth season in 2017 after season 8 ended in 2011.
Curb Your Enthusiasm was created by iconic comedian Larry David, who also stars as the sitcom’s lead as a fictionalized version of himself. Curb Your Enthusiasm is famously written with a loose script, with David allowing his actors to improvise on set routinely, giving the series its lively and unique humor.
The series follows the semi-retired Larry in his daily life around Los Angeles as he gets himself into cringe-worth social debacles.
The sitcom often features high-profile guest spots by actors such as Bob Odinkirk, Jason Alexander, Stephen Colbert, and Anne Bancroft.
Always fresh, funny, and unexpected, Curb Your Enthusiasm has always been a critics’ sweetheart for all of the years its been on air.
Even though its most recent season 9 has received lower reviews than past seasons, scoring a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes instead of the usual high 90s or 100s, critics have still remained impressed with the show’s most recent material.
However, even with this dip in scores, Curb Your Enthusiasm can still brag a high cumulative score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
14 Worst: Rob (11%)
Rob Schneider rises back in Hollywood with new projects ever so often in efforts to become relevant once again. In 2012, this came in the form of a CBS sitcom named after him.
Schneider starred in the titular lead role with Claudia Bassols as his wife Maggie (played by Claudia Bassols).
The sitcom’s concept centered on Rob trying to win the acceptance favor of Maggie’s Mexican family, though he constantly fails to do so successfully. Cheech Marin starred alongside Schnieder and Bassols as Maggie’s father and Rob’s father-in-law, Fernando.
Instead of offering any truly fresh and interesting takes on interracial relationships and Mexican culture, Rob caught a huge wave of critical backlash for resting on racial clichés and poor ethnic jokes.
Even worse, Schneider’s character didn't even seem to like his wife that much, making their relationship boring and tired, and the show more eye-rolling than amusing.
Critics also put down Schnieder’s performance, which wasn't strong enough to carry an entire series. In the end Rob was just another run-of-the-mill sitcom, and CBS moved fast to put it out of its misery.
The series ran for only one season and ended with a very low 11% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
13 Best: Louie (94%)
While many comedians have tried and failed to create self-titled sitcoms based on their stand-up and own lives, Louis C.K. has managed to succeed with his series Louie, creating one of the most successful sitcoms and funniest series ever made in the process.
Louie is set in New York and follows the daily life of C.K.’s leading character, a moderately successful comic with two daughters.
The series captures the absurdity of New York life in a way that few other films or television series have been able to do. The series is deeply funny while offering a completely unique introspective and philosophical perspective at the same time.
Besides starring as the lead character, Louis C.K. writes, directs, and edits all of the episodes, enjoying complete control of his series from permission of FX. This might just be the secret behind the show’s wild success.
Ever since season 1, Louie has been met with high praise. Television critics love the awkward honesty, intelligence and genuine sincerity behind the series’ production.
No season of Louie has ranked lower than 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, giving Louis C.K.’s FX sitcom a collective high score of 94%.
12 Worst: I Hate My Teenage Daughter (10%)
It might come as no surprise that the awfully titled I Hate My Teenage Daughter was only given one season on air.
The Fox sitcom from 2011 starred Jamie Pressly and Katie Finneran as two divorced, single mothers named Annie and Nikki who are best friends struggling to raise two teenaged daughters together at the same time.
The two mothers are horrified to see that their daughters have become manipulative and spoiled and turn to each other to help improve their situations.
Unlike many sitcoms that fail, even I Hate My Teenage Daughter’s premise was horrible. So it only made sense that when the series finally aired, it failed miserably.
The sitcom suffered horrible ratings and drew harsh criticism from the television journalists assigned to critique the show.
Many thought the relationships at the heart of I Hate My Teenage Daughter were downright abusive and completely unfunny. The series was also critiqued for being bland, unentertaining, and even downright stupid.
Fox got the hint. I Hate My Teenage Daughter was quickly cancelled after its premiere, and the network even let two and a half months pass between airing episodes four and five because the series was so low down on its list of priorities.
Today, the series carries an embarrassing 10% on Rotten Tomatoes.
11 Best: Legit (95%)
In the early 2000s, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies had achieved a high-profile status in Australia and Britain with his bold and unapologetic humor. But despite his success in other countries, Jefferies still wasn’t so well known in the United States.
FX decided to step in and change this fact. In 2013, Jefferies was given his own sitcom on the network titled Legit.
The comedian starred as a fictional version of himself alongside Dan Bakkedahl as Steve Nugent, Jim’s best friend, and DJ Qualls as Billy, Steve’s brother. The sitcom centered on Jim’s efforts to better his career and balance his relationships outside of work.
Some comedians struggle to fuse their comedic style into the sitcom format, but Jefferies did it with skill.
While his series didn't necessarily pull from his stand-up material, Legit carried the same tone of Jefferies stand-up acts, making the series true to his style but fresh and original at the same time.
The series was loved by critics, who praised its strong writing, unconventional characters, and wit.
However, unfortunately, the series suffered poor ratings, and after two seasons FX cancelled the sitcom despite all of its praise from critics.
Legit, which has a high rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, served as a launch pad for Jefferies’ career in America. T
he comic has done stand-up hours with Netflix and now has his own late night show, The Jim Jefferies Show, on Comedy Central.
10 Worst: Hank (8%)
When audiences heard Kelsey Grammer, the iconic actor behind Frasier, was getting another television sitcom, they got excited. Unfortunately for them, a huge disappointment was the only thing they got from Grammer’s 2009 sitcom Hank.
Grammer starred in the titular lead role, joined by Melinda McGraw as his wife Tilly, Jordan Hinson as daughter Maddie, and Nathan Gamble as son Henry.
Hank followed Grammer’s character as he tried to rebuild his career and reconnect with his family after being fired.
It was a pretty run-of-the-mill story that could have gone either way. It ended up being a complete flop.
Critics had some sharp words with their write-ups of Hank. Some called it tone-deaf, others called it stale, and many considered it to be downright awful.
Critics and audiences at home were hoping for another Frasier-level sitcom to grace their television screens, but Hank simply didn't deliver.
Hank was so bad that ABC didn't even want to air the whole series after critics’ reviews came in. While ten episodes of Hank were aired, the network only released five, keeping the rest locked away with no intentions of ever releasing them to the public.
Hank has a single-digit score of 8% on Rotten Tomatoes today.
9 Best: The Good Place (95%)
One of the most talked about sitcoms at the moment is NBC’s fantastical comedy, The Good Place.
The series has a refreshingly original concept: Kristen Bell’s Eleanor has died and is now in the afterlife, working under the guide of Ted Danson’s Michael alongside friends Chris (William Jackson Harper), Tessa (Jameel Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto) to become better people and make up for their past mistakes.
Television critics loved that there was finally a sitcom that didn’t involve following a married couple in their day-to-day life.
Because The Good Life is constantly unafraid to work outside of the boundaries of this traditional sitcom template, it can include jokes and narrative arcs that are rarely seen in typical television comedies.
Other high praises involved celebrating the series’ strong performances, clever writing, and bold storylines.
The Good Place was always one of network television’s strongest sitcoms, but the series has truly blown up in popularity now that it is on the Netflix library.
Even better for the sitcom is that thanks to all of the positive critics’ attention and its high 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, The Good Place was recently renewed for a third season by NBC in March.
8 Worst: Work It (5%)
With hit series such as The Office, Parks and Recreation, and 30 Rock, the work place sitcom has enjoyed a tradition of huge success in American television.
However, while some of the most successful American sitcoms have been set in the work place setting, so have some of America’s worst ever sitcoms.
ABC’s 2012 sitcom Work It is the perfect example. Work It follows the two unemployed men Lee (played by Ben Koldyke) and Angel (Amaury Nolasco) who dress up and pretend to be women in order to become employed at a pharmaceutical company.
The trick ends up being successful, and Work It is about all of the hijinks that follow as a result.
The series was exactly as offensive as it sounds.
Many critics shredded the series for its reliance on damaging stereotypes, misogyny, and offensive ethnic jokes. On top of its offensive aspects, the sitcom’s scripts were poorly written, with clunky storylines, dry dialogue, and awful jokes.
ABC decided to put Work It out of its misery after learning how much the world hated the 2012 sitcom. Work It was cancelled after only one season.
It now has a horribly low rating of only 5% on Rotten Tomatoes.
7 Best: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (97%)
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was one of Netflix’s first forays into the sitcom realm. Many of the Netflix originals beforehand tried to stray away from the sitcom form and the genre’s bright, loud humor.
However, the Tina Fey-created series broke the mold and ended up winning Netflix a major victory.
Following Ellie Kemper’s titular lead character, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt follows Kimmy as she tries to navigate normal modern life in New York City after living in a secluded cult for most of her life.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt found immediate success and quickly became one of Netflix’s most popular and enjoyed original series.
Critics raved over its odd and quirky humor, strong performances, especially from lead actor Ellie Kemper, as well as the sitcom’s consistently funny tone.
After being on air since 2015, none of the show’s three seasons have hit a rating lower than 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. All of this contributes to its impressive collective rating of 97% on the website.
It appears like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is just getting started. The series was renewed for a fourth season in 2017 and new episodes will premiere on Netflix at the end of May.
6 Worst: We Are Men (4%)
At a quick glance, CBS’ 2013 sitcom We Are Men appears to be a decent concept: main character Carter is left at the altar by his bride and when he attempts to move on with his life and start over again in a new apartment building, bonds with three older, divorced men.
We Are Men also boasted some impressive comedic talent: Kal Penn starred as main character Gil Bartis while Chris Smith starred as Carter Thomas, Jerry O’Connel starred as Stuart Strickland, and Tony Shalhoub starred as Frank Russo.
However, the sitcom We Are Men ended up being one of the most critically panned series of the year.
Reviewers rolled their eyes over the sitcom’s dull and uninspired humor, moronic characters, and completely uninteresting storylines.
Critics wrote that the series was a complete waste of time and was easily one of the year’s worst sitcoms. Many thought that We Are Men utterly wasted the talent of stars like Kal Penn and Tony Shalhoub as well.
Considering all of this negative feedback, it was no surprise that CBS decided that one season was enough for We Are Men.
The sitcom was canceled after one season and currently sits with an embarrassing 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
5 Best: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (98%)
One of the best sitcoms ever produced is, ironically, considered to be an “anti-sitcom” by many critics and viewers. And there’s a reason for that.
The FX series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has always been afraid to be a rebellious rule breaker in the realm of network television sitcoms.
The series is chock-full of absurdist, dark comedy that is completely unlike anything else on air at the moment – or perhaps any other show in TV history.
Following a group of struggling friends named Dennis (portrayed by Glenn Howerton), Dee (Kaitlin Olson), Mac (Rob McElhenney), Charlie (Charlie Day), and Frank (Danny DeVito), the show simply follows the five utterly unique characters as they get into ridiculous situations and come up with wild solutions to save themselves.
They may be completely narcissistic and nearly insane, but one thing’s for certain: these characters are hilarious to watch.
On air since 2005, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has amassed a strong following over the years and through its twelve seasons.
Critics love its off beat humor, constantly praising the show’s originality, wild characters, and consistently funny writing.
Thanks to all the love from television critics, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia carries a near-perfect score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
4 Worst: Dads (0%)
Some television shows and films rate at a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes because not enough critics have offered their opinions for an actual rating to appear.
However, other times, the movie or television show has plenty of reviews, and it’s so bad that critics say it actually deserves that 0% rating.
Fox’s 2013 sitcom Dads is one such example. The series focuses on two best friends named Eli Sachs (played by Seth Green) and Warner Whittemore (Giovanni Bibisi) who both decide to have their dads come and live with them in their respective houses.
The only problem is, their dads are difficult, sarcastic, and confrontational. The series then follows Eli and Warner as they struggle to live their new lifestyles with their fathers and turn to each other for help.
To say that the critics hated Dads might be an understatement. There doesn't seem to be one television critic under the sun who didn't write up an awful review for Dads.
They complained about the sitcom’s lazy writing, awful humor, and the constant appearance of casual racist jokes.
The show’s ratings plummeted once the disastrous reviews came in, and Dads was done for. It was cancelled after one season and is among the special club on Rotten Tomatoes of shows that have earned a genuine 0% score on the website.
3 Best: One Day at a Time (98%)
While Netflix has dipped its toes into producing sitcoms, the streaming giant has only recently begun to experiment with producing multi-camera sitcoms, which are notable for that classic network television look with bright lighting, studio sets, and laugh-tracks.
Netflix finally decided to take the plunge into multi-cam sitcoms with its recent series One Day at a Time.
The risk has paid off enormously for Netflix, as the company has now ended up with one of its most successful series of all time.
One Day at a Time is based off of the sitcom from the 1970’s of the same name and follows a Cuban-American family through their day-to-day life.
Justina Machado stars as Penelope Reira Alvarez, Isabella Gomez stars as her daughter Elena, Marcel Ruiz stars as son Alex, and Rita Moreno plays Penelope’s mother Lydia.
Besides its warm and genuine humor, notable production quality, and its compelling balance between comedy and drama, Netflix’s reboot of One Day at a Time has been praised for its refreshingly progressive politics.
The series centers on characters of color and also works to include characters of multiple sexualities, with Isabella coming out as lesbian through the sitcom’s storyline.
Netflix renewed One Day at a Time for a third season earlier this year. It’s no surprise that such a popular series has an almost perfect score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
2 2.Worst: Saint George (0%)
Comedian George Lopez was behind one of America’s most enjoyed comedy series, ABC’s sitcom named directly after him.
When it was announced that Lopez would be returning to television with another scripted series, it seemed like TV might see with another successful sitcom from the famous comic.
However, the result, FX’s 2014 series Saint George, was nothing but a huge disappointment. Lopez starred as a fictional version of himself as he struggles to balance his family relationships with his ex-wife, young son, and mom, all while teaching night classes in Los Angeles as his career.
Critics thought the show lacked the life and energy that was behind Lopez’s other successful sitcom.
Saint George was criticized for being flat, unfunny, inauthentic, and just downright bad. The show's raunchy humor was labeled to be all in bad-taste, and critics took every chance they could to put the show down.
FX took the hint and cancelled the series after one season. It’s no surprise that Saint George has the embarrassingly low rating of a 0%.
Instead of going down in television history for being enjoyable, Lopez’s sitcom Saint George is remembered for being one of the worst series ever put to air.
1 Best: Big Mouth (100%)
A semi-autobiographical animated sitcom about middle schoolers going through puberty might not be what audiences expect to be one of the best sitcoms ever made. However, by winning over the hearts of critics everywhere, Netflix’s recent sitcom Big Mouth has proved them wrong.
Premiering in 2017, the animated series is based on the young lives and experiences of creators Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg.
Kroll even voices the cartoon version of himself and several other characters in the series. Notable talents like John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, and Jason Mantzoukas also provide voices for characters in Big Mouth.
Critics were skeptical of the show’s potential before it hit Netflix, but once it premiered, they raved over the show’s wildly successful elements. Television critics have praised the show for its original, absurd, yet smart take on adolescence.
At first glance the series might appear to be crass, but nearly all critics swear by the series, claiming that it’s one of the most thoughtful, fun, and honest series on television.
Big Mouth boasts an ever-impressive 100% perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Netflix has celebrated the sitcom’s explosive success by renewing the animated series for a second season, coming to audiences soon.
What’s the worst sitcom you’ve ever watched? Did your favorite make the list? Let us know in the comments!