Best And Worst Sitcom Men


You already know Ross’s position on this list.

One thing that’s always bothered me about sitcoms is that some of the characters are just annoying. Male characters in particular are often written to be sexist, homophobic, or just plain bad people, and yet we’re still supposed to root for them.


NBC

I much prefer to see people I can actually root for get up to hijinks. I know some shows are about laughing at terrible people (like Seinfeld), but sometimes it goes too far or it’s like the show isn’t even aware that a character is awful.

But in recent years, we’ve also seen a lot of sitcom men challenge this male comedy trope, introducing much more layered portrayals of masculinity and giving us characters to actually root for. Here are some of the worst and some of the best!


Fox

Note to comedy shows: Stop relying on sexist, homophobic, and racist characters to carry your humor!! And we’re sick of the “Nice Guy” who feels he deserves women’s affection trope!!

1.

Tired: Ross from Friends


NBC

(Deep breath) Ross was an entitled, closed-minded know-it-all who continuously prioritized his own pride above his friends’ feelings. He constantly gave excuses and thought he was superior to everyone around him. He never once took responsibility for his actions, and he felt the world owed him something when in reality he was basically handed everything.

2.

Wired: Winston from New Girl


Fox

Winston was the best character on New Girl and that’s just a fact. He wasn’t afraid to be emotional, yet he wasn’t clingy. He was such a good role model of someone who finds their passion later in life, and he was consistently SUCH a good friend to every single roommate. He was so quirky and silly and he does NOT get enough love.

3.

Tired: Barney from How I Met Your Mother


CBS

Barney was an extremely offensive, rude, and cocky womanizer with few redeeming qualities. I’m convinced the only reason anyone likes him is because he’s played by the insanely charming Neil Patrick Harris. I don’t know why any of the other characters put up with him.

4.

Wired: Andy from Parks and Recreation


NBC

Andy is basically a golden retriever as a person. He’s funny, genuine, and caring. He’s not a very good partner to Ann, but by the time he gets together with April he’s truly grown and starts to come into his own. Andy is actually a really inspiring character because many of his dreams don’t work out and he has to continually readjust and find something new.

5.

Tired: Ted from How I Met Your Mother


CBS

Ted is so whiny and is honestly the main reason for his own problems in life. He thinks he’s way smarter than he is (a running theme on this list) and tries to force his so-called intelligence on others in order to seem superior to them.

6.

Wired: Jason from The Good Place


NBC

Jason is one of my favorite characters on modern television. It’s a testament to how broken the Good Place/Bad Place system is that he ended up in the Bad Place, because Jason’s main crime is just being unintelligent. He’s genuinely caring and good-hearted, and always has good intentions. Plus he’s hilarious.

7.

Tired: Jack Lemmon from 30 Rock


NBC

Well-meaning-yet-sexist boss is already far too much of a trope in real life for it to be entertaining for so many years onscreen. While Jack can be a good push for Liz and their relationship can be fun, Jack just has too many comments that rub me the wrong way. He also sold a dangerous product overseas after it wasn’t allowed to be sold in the US, so…yeah.

8.

Wired: Holt from Brooklyn Nine-Nine


Fox

Holt is such a wonderful character and not only because he’s a greatly layered portrayal of a Black, gay man in law enforcement. He’s an incredible boss and pushes and supports Jake and the others, and he rightfully earns their respect. He’s also hilarious, which helps.

9.

Tired: Michael from The Office


NBC

Look, I know the point of The Office is that we’re supposed to laugh at Michael. And I also know he is occasionally a nice/good person. But honestly, Michael is just so sexist and racist that it goes too far for me. He was a horrible boss and person, and kind of ruined the show for me.

10.

Wired: Andy from Modern Family


ABC

I’m still mad Haley didn’t end up with Andy. Andy was such a sweet guy, and part of what made him so great was that he rejected toxic and antiquated ideas of masculinity, and embraced his more sensitive side. Andy was a good person and friend, and he was great at his job.

11.

Tired: Jeff from Community


NBC

I know the show’s not trying to present Jeff as a good guy and that he does improve over the course of the show, but honestly I’m a little tired of the whole “narcissistic dick pursues girl who doesn’t want him because he’s a narcissistic dick” storyline. He’s dismissive of a lot of Britta’s interests and consistently manipulates and brings down those around him.

12.

Wired: Patrick from Schitt’s Creek


Pop!TV

Patrick is the most supportive boyfriend, and he remained unproblematic throughout his entire appearance in the show. He was so accepting of David’s quirkiness. And he always seemed amused by it but never made fun of it. He supported David’s business and got along well with his family, but also pushed David to be a better person and partner.

13.

Tired: Pierce from Community


NBC

Pierce is sexist, racist, homophobic, and offensive, and he almost ruined the show for me until his departure. I feel like we already had a problematic character in Jeff, and we didn’t need someone who was even worse. Sure, when he’s the butt of the joke, it’s funny. But I think we would’ve been better off without him.

14.

Wired: Chidi from The Good Place


NBC

Chidi is a genuinely good and caring person plagued by indecision and anxiety. We don’t often see good, complex representations of anxiety onscreen, so Chidi meant a lot to me in that respect. We also saw him have a huge arc throughout the series in which he learned to handle his anxiety and become more decisive. (“There is no answer, but Eleanor is the answer” makes me cry every time.)

15.

Tired: Jim from The Office


NBC

Jim is supposed to be the fun, nice guy in the office, but he’s actually kind of the worst. He doesn’t support Pam’s art, his pranks on Dwight are honestly mean, and he makes multiple decisions that affect Pam’s life without consulting her.

16.

Wired: Nick from New Girl


Fox

Now, Nick from the first few seasons is certainly not stable or in any way a role model, but he’s still a genuinely good guy. He cares about and supports the other members of the loft in his own way. And though stubborn, he does listen to the other roommates and makes genuine efforts to change, which are proven in his evolution by the end of the series.

17.

Tired: Tom from Parks and Recreation


NBC

Okay, so Tom is funny, and he has a lot of great lines. But if you met this guy in real life, don’t tell me you wouldn’t be immediately annoyed. He objectifies women constantly and is kind of creepy toward them (like when he went to Chicago to see Lucy, then offered her a job). He acts like women owe him something. Plus he’s also especially mean to Jerry, who honestly doesn’t deserve it.

18.

Wired: Ted from Schitt’s Creek


Pop!TV

Ted makes a lot of dad jokes, but he’s a super genuine and sweet guy who doesn’t pressure Alexis into a relationship and genuinely cares about her well-being outside of wanting to be with her. He offers her guidance and support in her journey to better herself, but he is also honest with her and gently sets expectations.

19.

Tired: Michael from Arrested Development


Fox

Michael’s by no means the worst character on this list, or in Arrested Development. He’s included because he’s portrayed as the reasonable one/the good guy when he’s just not. He’s honestly a pretty bad father (like when Michael dates Ann!) and, like Ross, has an unearned sense of superiority and righteousness.

20.

Wired: Phil Dunphy from Modern Family


ABC

Phil’s a pretty classic sitcom dad: hapless and embarrassing in comparison to his more straight-edged wife. But unlike past sitcom fathers he has a sensitive side and we often see him being a really good parent, like when he is okay with Luke quitting magic. He challenges expectations of masculinity and is a good husband to Claire.

Now it’s time for your thoughts! What male sitcom characters challenged expectations of masculinity and managed to be funny without being sexist and offensive? Let me know in the comments!

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