Rating NBC’s 2011-2012 Comedies from Worst to Best

It’s that time of year again, when networks are announcing which shows they’ve picked up for this fall and beyond. That means there’s tons of exciting news floating around — but we’re especially curious about NBC’s new comedy slate. With a Thursday night line-up that includes 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and Community (as well as The Office, which, you know, was once entirely watchable), they’re the gold standard for smart TV sitcoms. This coming season’s series are largely female-driven and feature a handful of recent divorcés. Despite the fact that nothing seems Liz Lemon- or Leslie Knope-worthy so far, we’re cautiously excited for a number of these shows. We rate them from least to most promising, based on early descriptions and promo clips, after the jump.

Best Friends Forever

What is it? In this mid-season show, best friends Jessica (Jessica St. Clair) and Lennon (Lennon Parham) move in together after Jessica’s divorce. The catch? Lennon’s boyfriend lives there, too.

Pros: Uh… from this clip? Sorry, but nothing jumps out at us.

Cons: The writing feels flimsy, the acting is not top-notch, and the whole “three’s a crowd” premise isn’t exciting.

Up All Night

What is it? A comedy about new parents.

Pros: The couple in question is played by Will Arnett and Christina Applegate, with Maya Rudolph on board as Applegate’s boss.

Cons: This promo clip has us doubting Arnett and Applegate’s chemistry. (It would be nice to see more banter and less partying/diaper shenanigans.) Also, the new-parents schtick has been played for laughs so many times that it’s hard to imagine Up All Night will cover much new ground.

Bent

What is it? Amanda Peet plays a recently divorced, Type-A lawyer raising an eight-year-old daughter in this mid-season show. The love interest is her slacker contractor (David Walton).

Pros: Peet! She’s wonderful.

Cons: “Opposites attract.” Yawn.

Free Agents

What is it? A workplace comedy with a romantic twist, starring Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn and based on a British series.

Pros: Although we found the scene in the clip above somewhat annoying, it does hint at fast-paced, Aaron Sorkin-style banter. It also shares a showrunner with Party Down, which is promising.

Cons: Potentially too cute and clever for its own good.

Whitney

What is it? A vehicle for comedian Whitney Cummings, in which she and Chris D’Elia co-star as a “happily unmarried couple” trying to stave off relationship fatigue.

Pros: Depictions of couples in long-term relationships with no intention of marrying are relatively rare on TV, which is weird because they’re so common in real life. Also, Cummings is funny and we’re pretty sure we like D’Elia’s character.

Cons: Cummings seems more like she’s doing stand-up than acting in the clip above. Also, a laugh track? Really?

Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

What is it? A sitcom adaptation of Chelsea Handler’s bestselling book of the same name, starring Laura Prepon as Chelsea, a young woman who is, uh, dealing with her drinking problem.

Pros: The show seems to maintain Handler’s deadpan writing style. The dialog is funny. And we’ve missed Prepon in the days since That ’70s Show went off the air.

Cons: NBC, WTF? You’re making us wait until mid-season for this?