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Courteney Cox's Best Movies and TV Shows, Ranked

From 'Friends' to 'Scream,' Courteney Cox has been a part of iconic movies and TV shows; see the best, ranked by Metascore.
by Danielle Turchiano — 
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Courteney Cox

Steve Granitz / Getty Images

Courteney Cox may have first gotten noticed when she appeared in Bruce Springsteen's 1984 "Dancing in the Dark" music video as the girl the musician pulled out of the crowd and onto the stage, but in the nearly-four decades since, she has become best-known for two distinct genres: television comedy and slasher horror.

Cox starred as the tightly-wound chef Monica Geller on the late-1990s/early-aughts sitcom Friendsfor 10 years, while at the same time, she also portrayed fame-chasing reporter Gale Weathers in Wes Craven's feature film franchise, Scream. These two titles sky-rocketed her to acclaim then, and all these decades later, still keep her at the top of conversation and social media trending. (She even finally received her first Emmy nomination in 2021, as an executive producer on the Friends reunion special.) But they are far from her only credits. Through the years she has also appeared opposite Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective on the big screen, while on the smaller screen she guest-starred on series from The Love Boat to Drunk History and headlined series including Dirt and Cougar Town.

Now, Cox is getting back to her roots a bit and combining her penchant for humor and horror into one new series: Starz's Shining Vale, on which she stars as a woman named Pat who is being haunted. Or is possessed. Or is living with mental illness. It may depend on which character you ask.

Ahead of the premiere of Shining Vale, get to know Cox even better, as here, Metacritic highlights her top scripted films and TV shows, ranked by Metascore.


The Larry Sanders Show

Metascore: 95
Best for: Fans of Hollywood-set tales, celebrity cameos, and witty humor
Where to watch:

, HBO Max, iTunes
Seasons: 6

Garry Shandling spun his stand-up comedy skills and previous professional experience as a talk show host into the fictional character of Larry Sanders and his self-titled talk show on this television comedy. Co-created by and starring Shandling, The Larry Sanders Show sends up talk shows by poking fun at (and holes in) what happens behind the scenes of them, including jaded industry personnel and a bevy of celebrity cameos, where well-known names get to play exaggerated versions of themselves. Cox does this in a Season 4 episode titled "Larry's Big Idea."

"It's just the way you imagine life behind a big-time TV talk show to be, except infinitely funnier." — Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly


Modern Family

Metascore: 87
Best for: Fans of family comedies and fourth-wall breaks
Where to watch:

, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Peacock, Vudu
Seasons: 11

This long-running, mockumentary-style family comedy follows three individual nuclear families who are all a part of the same larger extended family, the Dunphy-Pritchett-Tuckers. Patriarch Jay (Ed O'Neill) has two adult children — Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Claire (Julie Bowen), who are in long-term relationships and have kids of their own — but he is also remarried (to Gloria, played by Sofia Vergara), with younger kids filling his household. The show follows them through more than a decade of their lives as they adjust to the growing pains of parenthood, with both new babies and teenagers, while also juggling shifting careers. Cox cameos as herself in the final season episode titled "The Prescott."

"This fast-paced mockumentary perfectly captures the experience of parenthood." — Paige Wiser, Chicago Sun-Times


Seinfeld

Metascore: 84
Best for: Fans of stand-up comedians and witty banter
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu
Seasons: 9

Stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld stars in this eponymous sitcom he co-created with Larry David that is also loosely based on his life. The character of Jerry in the show is also a comedian, and many episodes are book-ended by pieces of his sets. However, the bulk of the comedy comes from the situations Jerry and his friends get into, which range from the silly (Elaine, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, laughing out-loud during a recital because of the distraction of a Pez dispenser) to the downright outrageous (George, played by Jason Alexander, being too cheap to spring for decent wedding invitations so his bride-to-be dies from absorbing toxic glue as she licked the envelopes). Cox appears in the Season 5 episode titled "The Wife," in which she plays Jerry's girlfriend, who pretends to be his wife to get a discount on dry cleaning.

"It is so good, so unbelievable." — Marvin Kitman, Newsday


Dream On

Metascore: 80
Best for: Fans of relationship comedies, sharp humor, and pop culture commentary
Where to watch: Not currently streaming
Seasons: 6

Before Marta Kauffman and David Crane created Friends, they launched a sitcom about book editor and single father Martin Tupper (Brian Benben) who is trying to achieve personal and professional success in New York City. The show gets inside his head through stylized, black-and-white footage, as well as the use of clips from movies and other television shows to express his thoughts and feelings. His ex-wife (Wendie Malick) is remarried to a seemingly perfect (but usually unseen) doctor. Cox guest-stars in the third season episode titled "Come and Knock on Our Door."

"This is a rare TV union where cast, writers and directors appear to be of a single comedic mind." — Howard Rosenberg, Los Angeles Times.

Scrubs

Metascore: 74
Best for: Fans of surrealism, medical settings, and relationship comedies
Where to watch:

, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 9

This hospital-set sitcom created by Bill Lawrence centers on Dr. John Michael "J.D." Dorian (Zach Braff), who serves as narrator for the first eight seasons as he works at a teaching hospital with his best friend Christopher Turk (Donald Faison) and love interest Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke). J.D.'s world is colorful and often filled with surreal daydreams and other biased interactions as he comes into conflict with a number of hospital employees. Cox appears in a multi-episode arc in the eighth season as Dr. Maddox, a new chief of medicine at the hospital.

"One of those distinctive comedies in which everything meshes." — Howard Rosenberg, Los Angeles Times


Murder, She Wrote

Metascore: 71
Best for: Fans of murder mysteries and female-led dramas
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Peacock
Seasons: 12

Widow and retiree Jessica Fletcher's (Angela Lansbury) second act consists of investigating various crimes (OK, usually murder), always getting to the bottom of things by asking the right questions, even when the law enforcement authorities are leaning another way. Most of the cases get wrapped up in only one episode, with a few being special multi-parters, and most also take place in the small (and fictional) town of Cabot Cove. As the series goes on, though, Jessica goes from amateur sleuth and mystery writer to a criminology teacher and moves to New York, leading to even more murders to solve. Cox guest-stars as Jessica's niece who is about to get married when she receives a mysterious gift in the third season two-parter titled "Death Stalks the Big Top."

"Angela Lansbury keeps you tuned in no matter what happens." — Kay Gardella, Daily News


Shameless

Metascore: 70
Best for: Fans of dark comedy and dysfunctional families
Where to watch:

, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu
Seasons: 11

Life on the South Side of Chicago is rough for the Gallagher kids in John Wells' dark comedy, inspired by the U.K. series of the same title. Abandoned by their drug addict mother and neglected by their often-on-a-bender alcoholic father (William H. Macy), eldest daughter Fiona (Emmy Rossum) usually picks up the slack, caring for the house and her siblings. Over the course of 11 seasons, they struggle with money, substance abuse, mental illness, teenage pregnancy, and more, but they manage to survive by their wits and sheer craftiness. The show follows the sibling dynamics of the Gallaghers, as well as their friendship with neighbors Kevin (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton), and several important romantic relationships along the way — most notably Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey (Noel Fisher). The show is a testament to the power and pull of family ties. Cox guest-stars in the Season 9 episode titled "Face It, You're Gorgeous" as Jen Wagner, a famous actor who has to use Lip (Jeremy Allen White) as a sober companion when she's in town.

"Excellent, compelling television from the first moment." — Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter


Family Ties

Metascore: 68
Best for: Fans of family comedies and political and social commentary
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Paramount+, Vudu
Seasons: 7

This 1980s sitcom follows the adventures of the Keaton family, headed by Steven (Michael Gross) and Elyse (Meredith Baxter). The parents are liberals, which butts up against their children's attitudes in many ways, from Alex's (Michael J. Fox) conservative views, to Mallory's (Justine Bateman) materialism. The show draws its storylines from everyday family life and discussions, but much of the humor comes from the differences between the characters, regardless of their generation. Cox guest-stars in the last two seasons as Lauren Miller, Alex's girlfriend.

"It captures '80s home life better than anything else on television." — Bruce Miller, Sioux City Journal


Web Therapy

Metascore: 67
Best for: Fans of quirky characters and improv-style banter
Where to watch:

, Vudu
Seasons: 4

Lisa Kudrow stars as Fiona Wallice, a self-serving (and self-proclaimed) therapist who solely sees clients online as she tries to build her brand and build herself up through the sessions. The show, which started as digital shorts before being compiled into a more traditional half-hour format, is a hotbed for celebrity guest stars. Each episode features Fiona's sessions with characters played by everyone from Minnie Driver, to Conan O'Brien and most of Kudrow's Friends co-stars, including Cox who appears as Serena, an online psychic. It also dives into Fiona's personal life through moments with her closeted husband Kip (Victor Garber), her affection-less mother Putsy (Lily Tomlin), and her former coworkers (Tim Bagley and Jennifer Elise Cox).

"Lisa Kudrow is hilarious." — Jessica Shaw, Entertainment Weekly


Go On

Metascore: 66
Best for: Fans of ensemble comedies and finding humor in tough situations
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 1

After the death of his wife, radio host Ryan King (Matthew Perry) gets forced into joining a support group in this short-lived ensemble sitcom. The group is led by Lauren Bennett (Laura Benanti), a woman who really doesn't know what she is doing but still means well, and is populated by a colorful cast of characters who are coping with varying kinds of grief. Anne (Julie White), for example, is also dealing with the death of a romantic partner, but Owen's (Tyler James Williams) is struggling to come to terms with his brother being in a coma. Cox guest-stars in the episode titled "Matchup Problems" as a woman named Talia with whom Ryan is set up on a date.

"Happily, they are not your average sitcom weirdo crazy group-therapy people." — Linda Stasi, New York Post


Friends

Metascore: 65
Best for: Fans of ensemble comedies, dating drama, and a high volume of jokes per scene
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 10

Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) runs out on her wedding and reconnects with her childhood best friend, Monica Geller (Cox), thus beginning one of the most iconic sitcoms of the 20th century. Kudrow stars as musician and massage therapist Phoebe Buffay; Matt LeBlanc plays actor and ladies' man Joey Tribbiani; Perry portrays the sarcastic and full of one-liners Chandler Bing; and David Schwimmer is Ross Geller, Monica's older brother who has been in love with Rachel since he was a teenager. The show follows these six friends through a decade of their lives living in New York, trying to find love and career fulfillment — and spending way too much time at coffee house Central Perk.

"Friends operates like a first-rate Broadway farce, complete with slamming doors, twisty plots, and intricately strung together jokes." — Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly


Scream 

Metascore: 65
Best for: Fans of self-aware slasher films and witty humor
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 111 minutes

High school students are killed one by one in a gruesome, bloody fashion by costumed killers in Craven and Kevin Williamson's slasher film, which kick-started a franchise. At the center of it all is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who the killers taunt by targeting those close to her and who has a somewhat tragic past. (Her mother was murdered a year earlier.) Sidney has the help of Dewey (David Arquette), her best friend's brother who works in law enforcement, but when things spiral out of control at a house party, she has to rely on her own instincts and strength to survive to be the final girl. Cox plays Gale Weathers, a local reporter trying to cover the crimes, who ends up falling for Dewey.

"A bravura, provocative sendup of horror pictures that's also scary and gruesome yet too swift-moving to lapse into morbidity." Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times