Tuesday night is huge for television comedy. In order to make sense of all of the options, we've decided to rank the best shows each week to suss out who is coming out on top.
1. The Goldbergs
We've talked about The Goldbergs simply being a consistent show that doesn't stray very far from its comfort zone, and last night's episode was very much in line with that. But there was also the moment when Barry yelled "fucking dick" at his brother in the middle of an addiction-fueled tirade. On a family sitcom like The Goldbergs, that drop into vulgarity could feels forced and unnecessary, a cheap gag, but this somehow worked. Maybe it was because it was so unexpected or because it came in an episode titled "The Age of Darkness" but Barry ripping one off like that didn't make us cringe. That's largely why this episode worked: the show finally figured out what to do with Barry. His addicted-to-Punch-Out!! story gave the character an opportunity to be something other than simply be the idiot older brother, and it paid off – he also had the funniest lines of the night with "who showers every day? What am I, the governor?" and "the penny is the garbage of money." The rest of the episode was solid, too, with Erica dealing with the demise of her first relationship and references to Sam Goody, but Barry carried it. We're giving The Goldbergs the top spot this week because this quietly consistent sitcom managed to surprise us.
2. Trophy Wife
This week gave us a bunch of solid, if not remarkable, episodes, including this one from Trophy Wife. Ultimately, this episode was built out of small moments of joy. Ryan Lee continued to be absolutely irresistible as weirdo Warren, who, in this episode, joined the girl's field hockey team at school. Meanwhile, the show developed a sweet relationship between flaky Jackie and type-A Hillary, emphasizing that her first step-mom really did care about her. Finally, Bert became an adorable little unethical capitalist. It all wrapped up with a Kelly Clarkson montage, which never goes unappreciated.
3. The Mindy Project
The Mindy Project slowly began the work of rebuilding the Mindy-Danny relationship this week, with a cute, if entirely unrealistic, story in which Mindy moved into a gorgeous extra apartment that Danny just happened to own in his building in Tribeca. (This show's concept of New York real estate almost never hits the mark.) Obviously this doesn't work out well, and Danny is jealous when Mindy invites the hot cop played by Timothy Daly over. The episode was fine, but mostly felt like a build toward the finale when Danny and Mindy will inevitably get back together. Stop stalling, show.
4. New Girl
There wasn't anything special about "Dance," but there wasn't anything particularly terrible about it either. It continued to sort of deal with the Nick/Jess fallout (the thesis of the episode: boys are dumb) and used all the characters well enough. Winston was a highlight, as we learned he has the uncanny ability of taking the sexual tension out of whatever room he is in, unless that room happens to be host to a middle school dance (bonus: him trying to sing along to "Call Me Maybe"). And Jess made a reference to Gosford Park, which is always welcome. But overall, the episode didn't give us any reason to re-watch, really. Hopefully next week's finale makes up for it.
5. About a Boy
One would have hoped that a little Tony Hale—tapped to play Marcus's estranged father in this episode—would have gone a long way. And it did—to an extent. Hale's manic strangeness, put to such good use on Arrested Development and Veep, made watching About a Boy more enjoyable than usual. Still, the way in which Hale's character was used, represented one of the show's more insidious streaks. This show firmly believes that Marcus and Fiona need to be normalized and that Will is the one to do that. Case in point: Marcus's dad is a penguin researcher who cares more about penguins than his own son. His weirdness is a fault, as is clearly Marcus's. So, in the episode, Will convinced Fiona that his dad needed to help him learn to play baseball for an Earth Day game, and when the dad ditched at the last moment, Will swooped in and saved the day. Marcus ended up scoring a base hit, and conformed to gendered expectations.
6. Growing Up Fisher
After not being exceptionally awful last week, Fisher followed with a truly uncomfortable episode. The episode focused on Katie's plan to have sex with her boyfriend (who she apparently got back together with after dumping him last week) after their spring formal. Joyce discovered this after spying on Katie's cell phone, and then of course let it slip to Mel. But Katie also told Joyce she was planning on doing it – what teenage girl tells her mother when she plans to have sex? There was also a storyline about Henry not getting any attention from his parents so he went on a streak of misbehavior (fueled, of course, by Runyen), which is quite dark if you think about it. It was a just a really weird episode.