The Best Sitcom Episode Ever Tournament is pitting 32 of the greatest episodes of funny TV shows ever produced against each other in a single-elimination winner-takes-all (well, takes-nothing) competition. Every day, we’re putting up episodes for you, our loyal readers, to vote on. Today: I Love Lucy vs. Community.
I Love Lucy — “Lucy Does a TV Commercial,” May 5, 1952
Classics are classic for a reason, and it’s the same reason “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” is one of the most well-known episodes of TV ever. When Lucy finds out that Ricky’s hosting a TV commercial, she pulls out all the stops to star in it — first treating us to a meta performance of the “Lucille Ricardo Show” from inside her television to convince Ricky to cast her, and finally putting off the hired actress and showing up at the studio herself. Once there, Lucille Ball’s talent for physical comedy and her irrepressible charm truly take over the screen. From her horrified grimace at the first spoonfuls of the 23% alcoholic Vitameatavegemin, to her hiccupping, swaying, slurring drunken malapropisms, it’s the Lucy show, all right, and it’s definitely lovable. — Hallie Cantor
Community — “Remedial Chaos Theory,” October 13, 2011
Community has done a lot of beloved “thematic” episodes, but none played with the form and structure of the 23-minute sitcom episode quite like “Remedial Chaos Theory.” With each roll of the die we saw how the study group’s dynamic changed based on who left the room, from the positive to the downright-disastrous (that troll, oh god, that troll). While in other hands a conceit such as this could have gotten bogged down in logistics and its own cleverness, writer Chris McKenna was able to have each different timeline say something new about these characters, elevating it above its structural gimmick. It’s what gets people so obsessed with this show: beyond the frequent thematic and structural fireworks, there are real, wonderful characters here that people really connect with. Being around to be able to watch this show, well, that’s the best possible timeline. — Adam Frucci