What’s a sitcom without the loveable lead? Or a trio or much-loved characters leading a warm weekly series that helped get you through the year?

From one of the leads of a murderous building to the coach of a football team and a goofball and loveable detective, here are our picks for the Best Lead Performances in a Comedy Series in 2021.

5.) Martin Short (Only Murders in the Building)

The energy and excitement that Martin Short brings this show is a delight to watch. It definitely looks like he’s having a ball playing Oliver Putnam, a musical director on the brink of financial ruin after his last failed project: Splash: the musical. Short is fantastic especially when bouncing against his fellow cast members, whether criticising their line delivery for the podcast or telling stories from his past, like how all the divers in Splash: The Musical didn’t notice the pool cover had not been removed before diving in. A great performance from a legend of the form.

– Ashley Hobley

4.) Selena Gomez (Only Murders in the Building)

While it would seem that acting against two two comedy icons with a long history and proven chemistry would be daunting, nothing about Selena Gomez’s performance would see to indicate that it was. While not playing up for laughs like Martin and Short, Gomez definitely has her own humorous moments of to shine but mainly acts as the emotional connection to the crime they are investigating and provides a sense of mystery as Mabel keeps many of her secrets to herself. An equal to her older castmates, season 2 can’t come soon enough.

– Ashley Hobley

3.) Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

In a final season, that had a lot of balancing to do, Andy Samberg managed to walk the tightrope with ease. Given the events of 2020, being a member of the NYPD is not an easy task. Jake and the show address many of the issues raised about policing while still providing plenty to laugh at.

Samberg manages to find the right mix of giving the audience things they’ve loved in the past while also showcasing the growth that Jake has made over these 8 seasons. If you didn’t tear up at least a little at the finale, your tear ducts must not be working. NINE-NINE!

– Ashley Hobley

Brooklyn Nine-Nine S8 [DVD]

2.) Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)

Jason Sudeikis’ performance as Ted Lasso is still certainly one of the most delightful things in media right now. While season one saw Ted dealing with his sepration from his wife, season 2 sees Ted struggle with the mental health issues we saw hinted at last year. Sudeikis paints with a few darker colours this season but that just makes the bright moments that much brighter. His scenes with Sarah Niles this season rank with some of the best of the show far while his coaching courtship of Roy Kent was joyful to watch. Few can give an inspirational speech like Ted Lasso and I look forward to many more to come.

– Ashley Hobley

1.) Jean Smart (Hacks)

Is there anything Jean Smart can’t do? In a year where she played Kate Winslet’s Fruit Ninja-playing mother on Mare of Easttown and a couple years after a fantastic performance in the Watchmen, Jean Smart gives a fantastic performance as the legendary Las Vegas comedian Deborah Vance. A bold performance about a woman facing a turning point her lengthy career where she can try something knew or continue to do what she’s always done featuring some touching moments of self reflection and some amazing witty and scathing remarks. A beautiful tribute the fantastic female comics that have gone overlooked in history.

– Ashley Hobley

Dylan Blight and Ashley Hobley compiled this Top 5 list. The TV shows nominated must have finished airing their selected season within November 15th 2020 – November 15th 2021 and have been released in Australia via network TV, VOD or a streaming platform.