Sitcom Women Are This Season’s First Ladies of Laughter

Tops in comedy (clockwise from upper left): Beth Behrs and Kat Denning in "2 Broke Girls," Melissa McCarthy, Julie Bowen (Photos: CBS, ABC)

When it comes to TV comedy so far in the new fall season, women are on top.

Sure, the nation’s top-rated sitcom is still a series about men — “Two and a Half Men” — though, as we’ve reported, the ratings for Ashton Kutcher and the new “Men” are falling fast.

But most of the other top comedies in network TV at the moment — including at least two new ones — feature women in starring roles, both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes.

Think about the stars who are now garnering the lion’s share of attention these days and you’ll likely come up with a number of female faces, among them:

Melissa McCarthy, the co-star of “Mike & Molly” on CBS who stole the Emmy Awards telecast last month when she won the top award for a woman in a TV comedy, after just one season. Coupled with her recent role in the hit comedy movie “Bridesmaids,” McCarthy is suddenly one of TV’s brightest stars. “Mike & Molly” had more than 13 million viewers this past Monday.

Kat Dennings and Beth Behr: The co-stars of the new “2 Broke Girls” on CBS (Dennings is the dark-haired one, Behr is the blonde) have made themselves right at home Monday nights at 8:30/7:30c, averaging somewhere in the neighborhood of 11-12 million viewers a week and providing a strong lead-in for “Two and a Half Men.” And the show was co-created by stand-up comic Whitney Cummings, who’s also starring in her own sitcom, “Whitney,” on NBC.

Zooey Deschanel: Her new sitcom “New Girl” is a definite bright spot on Fox’s fall lineup, giving the network a double dose of Deschanel (her sister, Emily, is the star of “Bones”).

Watch a full episode of Zooey Deschanel in “New Girl” on Fox:

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Julie Bowen: “Modern Family” boasts an entire cast of very funny people — both male and female — but Bowen just won a Best Supporting Emmy for her work on this show. She’s a big reason (along with another funny lady, Sofia Vergara) why this show is widely considered the best comedy on television. In fact, if it weren’t for “Two and a Half Men,” “Modern Family” would be TV’s highest-rated comedy.

Watch Julie Bowen in a full episode of “Modern Family” here:

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Honorable mentions:

Christina Applegate: Her new sitcom with Will Arnett, “Up All Night,” has been renewed by NBC for a full season. Ever since “Married With Children,” Applegate’s been one of TV’s most dependable funny females.

“Last Man Standing”: This new Tim Allen sitcom, which drew more than 13 million viewers in its debut Tuesday on ABC, might strike you at first glance as a show for and about men. But it’s really about one guy — Allen’s character — coping with a household full of women.

Of course, women have long excelled at TV comedy — it’s just that there’s quite a few of them on TV at this particular moment. But through the years, they’ve been some of TV’s best performers.

A partial list: Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Jean Stapleton (“All in the Family”), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Seinfeld”), Megan Mullally and Debra Messing (“Will and Grace”), Patricia Heaton and Doris Roberts (“Everybody Loves Raymond”), Jane Kaczmarek (“Malcolm in the Middle”) and scores of others.

Watch Full Episodes:

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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