I've always believed that very often, characters make a show, and while all the shows on this list have fantastic writing and storylines, an enormous part of what makes these shows work so very well is the amazing way their whole casts work so perfectly together. So, here are our top 5 greatest ensemble casts of the year! What casts would you add to the list?
This is a prime example of a well-oiled hilarious cast machine! As you'll see as a theme on this list, great comedies need a great cast to make them work. Family shows always have their quirky characters to try to make a show unique, but it's rare a show can throw in a bunch of quirky characters and not just have them be over-the-top and clashing with the other characters. In Modern Family's case, they found the magic by mixing all the elements of funny families together - the middle-aged guy remarried to a younger woman way too hot for him, the gay couple including two somehow unique stereotypical yet unique guys, and the "cool dad" and his family - all in one giant ball of family hilarity and, even better, non-cheesy family love.
This one's a given for one of the best ensemble casts as most of cast is literally an ensemble in the show. But a bit like Modern Family, Glee managed to throw in all the stereotypical characters, this time around for high school kids, and make it unique, outrageous, and relatable. Who would imagine adoring the struggles of high school football players, cheerleaders, glee club geeks, and even teachers who are not just fill-in adult figures? It's done so well that they can throw the whole cast into a situation or throw any characters into a situation in small groups and it all results in fantastic cast dynamics.
It's tricky to get a good mix of cast on a show like this starring a lovable geek, his weird sidekick buddies, and two federal agents, plus the geek's family, and have them all be such a well-rounded, solid group. Yet, a little like Glee, you can mix this cast up however you like, aka Sarah and Morgan having dinner with Awesome and Ellie, Chuck, Casey, and the Buy More gang at work, or them all doing some secret spy mission together that half the cast doesn't realize they're helping with, and it's all amazing. Without all these character elements to Chuck, even, dare I say it, Chuck Bartowski the adorable would not be half the endearing, full character we believe him to be.
This is one of those casts that could go terribly wrong because there are so many strong characters and incredibly strong actors and actresses. Yet in a rare stroke of luck, or maybe really excellent cast planning, the strong acting and characters come together to make one big super cast! I was reminded by how much I adored the core Cooper Sterling cast together in the outstanding Season 3 finale as they pulled in each of the main cast members from the agency, including bringing back the much missed Joan. The dynamic of them all working together in that finale was a spark of awesomeness, set perfectly against the craziness of the other important family element to the show and cast, aka Betty leaving Don. This is a cast of super strength that after the end of Season 3, I believe will only move more mountains for seasons to come.
I've always loved the whole cast of The Office, but this past year reminded me how much the cast together is essential to this show being great. We had Pam going off to art school throwing off the dynamic of the office for a while, Ryan entirely gone working at a bowling alley, and an irrelevant temp receptionist leaving out that fun of that role entirely while Pam was gone. We also then had the weirdness of Michael trying to start his own company with the previously missing Pam and Ryan, which thankfully finally led them all back to working together as they belong! I enjoyed the different plotlines going on, but nothing's ever as hilarious and fun as having the whole gang together!