These Are the Best Episodes of Television Directed by the Russo Brothers

Everyone knows the Russo brothers (Joe and Anthony Russo), as their direction is very present in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most people know them for directing in the MCU, with the Avengers movies Infinity War spirit Endgamealong with Captain America: Winter Soldier spirit Civil War, making them the most frequent MCU directors so far. However, the Russo Brothers have also directed a plethora of TV episodes.

In television, it is common to have different directors for each episode, but when a director fits with the show well, they will be asked back. The Russo brothers have done multiple episodes of almost every show they have directed on. In fact, in all the shows listed below, they (either together or individually) have directed at least seven episodes for each.

Many fans of each of these shows believe that some of the funniest episodes happen to be the ones directed by the Russos. While they do not write the episodes, their direction has a large impact on the episode, and when these shows work at the top of their game, it is at least partially due to the Russo brothers. With multiple projects coming up, including the horror show From and the highly anticipated Netflix movie The Gray Man with Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, the Russos just can not be stopped right now. If you are a fan of the Russos, take a look at some of the best entries in their extensive television catalog.

Sony Pictures Television

Who does not love a good debate? Well, watching them may not be as fun as participating in them, but the Russos bring new life to a debate competition. Considering how early on this is in the series, the debate episode helps audiences get to know the main ensemble cast a lot better. The Community cast is a bit of a large ensemble, but the Russos were able to further all of their stories simultaneously, while still being funny. It is challenging to show character development in a comedic manner, but using their knowledge of visual comedy, the Russos are able to do it well. They are able to tell us more about the vital characters in the story, but created character exposition through visual comedy, allowing viewers to laugh at why the characters do what they do. The Russos carried this over to their film direction, as can be seen in movies like Avengers: Endgame, where character development is often built through humor.

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4 Arrested Development: Season 2, Episode 13 “Motherboy XXX”

Lucille and Buster pose for Motherboy

When your mother wants you to participate in a mother-son pageant, there’s bound to be quite a few laughs. Especially when the Russos are directing. The comedy in this episode is mainly physical and visual, orchestrated perfectly by the Russos. It is challenging for many directors to properly connect physical and visual comedy, but the Russos seem to have perfected the art in the great Arrested Development. The costuming in this episode is hilarious on its own, but paired with the physical and visual jokes, is brought to a whole new level. This episode in particular is a masterclass on visual comedy; if you want to know how to properly and perfectly pull-off visual comedy, go to the Russo brothers.

3 Happy Endings: Season 1, Episode 1 “Pilot”

Alex and Dave at their wedding

While Happy Endings may have been a woefully short-lived show, but its legacy lives on within the Russo brothers’ excellent body of work; in fact, it is a fan favorite of their work. The Russos directed seven episodes of the show despite it only lasting three seasons, including the excellent pilot episode, which, If you have never seen the pilot for Happy Endings, you should, especially because the Russos love it just as much as fans of the show do. As you can see in the other episodes listed, the Russos have a knack for visual comedy, but this pilot is one of the best examples of it. From one character leaving her wedding with a man on roller skates to another accidentally dating a high schooler after he is dumped, the funny storylines of the narrative are complimented by pitch-perfect direstion, and the visual comedy of this episode is set the show up for a fabulous first season. Despite Happy Endings not getting the ending it deserved, it’s beginning is funny enough to carry its legacy.

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Abed Annie and Jeff during the paintball game

Many fans of the Russo brothers tend to pinpoint the Russos entrance in to action as the paintball episodes of Community. Both paintball episodes are great examples of action comedy (which the Russos have come to do so well), but “A Fistful of Paintballs” in particular seems to do it best. The episode (and its subsequent second episode) follows a college-wide paintball game, increasing the tension and possibility of action sequences in the show as a whole. Incredible, the Russo brothers continue to develop the show’s beloved characters even when incorporating them into an absurdist, silly action episode. The Russos’ ability to perfectly meld action, drama, and comedy may have started with Community, but it very obviously continues in their work in the MCU. Their direction here is probably why fans want them to direct a Community movie.


1 Arrested Development: Season 1, Episode 2 “Top Banana”

George Michael and Maebe work in the banana stand together

Known to Arrested Development fans as one of the funniest episodes of the series, “Top Banana” was only the second episode of the first season. Not many know that it was the second of a whopping 14 episodes directed by the Russo brothers. The episode centers around the Bluth family Banana Stand, and its impact on the family’s finances and lives. Not to spoil anything (you should go watch the episode, it is hilarious), but chaos, flames, Patrice O’Neal, and frozen bananas all ensue.

Of all the episodes listed this one seems to be the most obviously directed by a Russo. Starting off the episode with the ending and then eventually calling back to that is very Russo. In a not very action packed show, this episode probably has some of the most action in the series, another Russo trademark. Arrested Development was also the second show they had ever worked on and the first they worked on after the pilot. Despite being early in their career, Arrested Development made a big impact on the Russo brothers’ career and their directing style. There’s money in the banana stand, and there’s money in Joe and Anthony Russo.

Workaholics cast poses for the camera
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