When you think "rom-com," your mind probably goes to the movies: You've Got Mail, Notting Hill, The Wedding Planner, that sort of thing. But there’s something to be said for the kind of longform romantic comedy that can only take place on television. The medium allows for a slower slow burn, a deeper exploration of each relationship, and -- just given the amount of time -- a lot more laughs. Below, we rank ten of the all-time greatest romantic comedy TV shows that will set your heart aflutter.
10. Love Life
Love Life has a pretty solid premise for a romantic comedy television show: it’s an anthology series that follows a different protagonist each season and explores their various romances on the path to finding "the one." The first Season follows Darby (Anna Kendrick) through her coming-of-age and a series of failed relationships, as well as drama with her bestie Sara (Zoë Chao). Season two is slightly more focused, following Marcus (William Jackson Harper) at the tail end of his first marriage, as he meets Mia (Jessica Williams), a fellow guest at Darby’s wedding. This sends him on a journey of self-discovery and a string of post-divorce relationships, all while continuing to be drawn to Mia.
9. Feel Good
Comedian Mae Martin’s semi-autobiographical romantic dramedy Feel Good follows a fictionalized version of Mae as they fall in love with George (Charlotte Ritchie). Their whirlwind relationship is built on real chemistry and genuine emotion, but the couple is plagued by each other’s demons: George is in the closet, and Mae is a drug addict whose longtime recovery is beginning to feel tenuous. The series is unflinchingly realistic about these and other issues, as throughout its two-Season run Mae unpacks their feelings towards gender, trauma, and addiction. Despite this heaviness, Feel Good is also very funny and deeply romantic, anchored by the very believable emotional connection between Mae and George.
8. High Fidelity
This sadly short-lived show has the benefit of being the TV remake of a classic rom-com film. In this gender-bent longform version of the tale, Zoë Kravitz plays Rob (originally portrayed by John Cusack), the owner of a record store who is as passionate about music as she is about romance. The fourth-wall breaking series brings us right inside Rob’s head as she revisits some of her most devastating heartbreaks and tries to put herself back out there while navigating her feelings for her most recent ex, Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir). Jake Lacy plays her charming rebound Clyde, while her two besties Simon (David H. Holmes) and Cherise (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) support her through the ups and downs of her turbulent love life.
7. How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother was one of TV’s most successful rom-coms, right up until that highly controversial finale. The series had an inventive premise: 25 years in the future, hopeless romantic Ted (narrated by Bob Saget and played in the present timeline by Josh Radnor) tells his kids the story of how he met their mom -- and he takes the scenic route to get there. Regaling his children with tales of his best friends Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily (Alyson Hannigan), Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), and his on-again-off-again girlfriend Robin (Cobie Smulders), Ted’s narrative winds through time, often taking non-chronological detours through his romantic exploits on his quest for true love. As to whether you choose to turn the TV off when he finally does meet "The Mother" (Cristin Milioti) or continue on to the finale to see what happens next, your mileage may vary.
6. New Girl
New Girl has a leg up on the competition because its protagonist, Jessica Day, is played by Zooey Deschanel, one of the indie rom-com queens of the early 2000s. But the show didn’t rest on its Deschanel laurels, and introduced a cast of lovable weirdos in her loftmates Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), and Winston (Lamorne Morris). While the show is as much about the friendship forged amongst this found family as much as anything else, a lot of humor comes from the roomies navigating their wacky love lives. The series is also fueled by incredible romantic chemistry and memorable relationships, particularly between Schmidt and Jess’s BFF Cece (Hannah Simone) and Nick and Jess, who have one of TV’s hall of fame first kisses.
5. The Mindy Project
Mindy Kaling’s first outing after The Office not only proved that she was a TV powerhouse, it also showed just how satisfying a sitcom can be when it’s led by someone who has a true appreciation for the rom-com as an art form. Series protagonist Mindy Lahiri loves love, and she’s fearless in the pursuit of her happy ending. The OBGYN proves that you really can have it all by balancing work -- and eventually motherhood -- while leaving a trail of handsome and memorable ex-boyfriends in her wake. Episodes frequently paid homage to specific rom-coms like When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days -- the best of them focusing on the slow burn, enemies-to-lovers romance between Mindy and her co-worker Danny Castellano (Chris Messina).
A lot of elements went into making Issa Rae’s breakout series a smash hit, and the rom-com element is a major factor. The show follows both the fictional Issa and her BFF Molly (Yvonne Orji), navigating the dating scene as Black twentysomethings living in Los Angeles. For Issa in particular, loyal viewers divided into two camps -- Team Nathan (Kendrick Sampson) and Team Lawrence (Jay Ellis) -- around her character’s main love interests over the years, a topic of heated debate amongst fans right up to the very last episode.
A British sitcom infamously saddled with a turn-off name (Scrotal Recall), the revised title gives a much better idea of what you’re in for when you settle down with Lovesick. The tender, romantic series springs from a surprising premise: Dylan (Johnny Flynn) has been diagnosed with chlamydia, and has to revisit all his former lovers to inform them of their potential exposure. The show toggles between flashbacks of Dylan’s romantic history and dealing with the fallout of the present, particularly the feelings between himself and his best friend and roommate Evie (Antonia Thomas).
2. You’re the Worst
You’re the Worst was often described as an anti-romantic comedy, and yet it featured one of television’s best and funniest love stories. The unlikely romance between Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash) surprises even them, two cynical and self-centered millennials who don’t really believe in love. And yet they find themselves drawn into a relationship almost by accident, complementing even each other’s "worst" traits. Over the course of its five Seasons, the duo see each other through highs and lows (notably, Gretchen’s depression, in a moving portrait of mental health issues) and figure out whether they’re in a toxic, doomed romance or somehow crafting their own successful, non-traditional relationship.
1. Jane the Virgin
The gold standard of romantic comedy on TV also doubles as a loving send-up of telenovelas, often satirizing the over-the-top plotlines of the Latin American soap operas. At the heart of the series, though, is the aspiring romance novelist Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez), who despite abstaining from sex before marriage becomes impregnated by way of an accidental artificial insemination. As such, she finds herself in a love triangle with the father of her child -- who happens to be her married, reformed playboy boss Rafael (Justin Baldoni) -- and her boyfriend, the down-to-earth good guy detective Michael (Brett Dier). Throughout the many shocking twists and turns, mystery and murder, and wacky shenanigans of her tight-knit family, Jane’s romantic heart remains her guide, making Jane the Virgin the best rom-com TV has to offer.
We took on the tough task of ranking the top tier romcoms of the 1990s, so that you don’t have to.