Some TV comedies are sleeper hits. It can take time for viewers to notice a new show, and eventually fall crazy in laugh. Even Ricky Gervais‘ BAFTA Award-winning The Office had a slow start and was close to being canceled at one point. And look how the observational comedy blew up and even inspired the Emmy winning American spinoff starring Steve Carell. And now David Brent, Gervais’ character in the original, is hitting the big screen with this week’s Netflix premiere of Life on the Road (February 10). Hmm… is there an Oscar in its future? Anything’s possible.
So let’s not risk letting another uniquely funny sitcom like The Office slip by unnoticed. Check out 10 TV comedies worth watching if you missed them the first time around:
This schoolroom comedy has just begun its second season off the back of its scarily funny first. It’s based on a web series, written by and starring six women who just happen to share the same first name: Kate.
You can catch up with these ridiculously funny ladies, plus the male principal played by Will and Grace alum Tim Bagley, as they save the world one child at a time. Okay, they’re not exactly molding kids’ minds — more like warping them — when they stress about their mundane problems and use the children they teach as sounding boards. Like when one of the teachers (Kate Lambert), who’s been recently dumped, uses story time to hash out her dating dilemma with her grade school students. But, at the end of the day, these teachers tell it how it is, and “it” is reliably hilarious. You can step into the teachers’ lounge over at Amazon.com or via TV Land On-Demand.
2. You’re the Worst
When someone mutters, “You’re the worst,” to a possible love interest, are they actually, saying, “You’re the best — and I can’t get enough of you,” in a sly, flirty roundabout way? In the case of this FX dark comedy, it’s not clear. Gretchen Cutler (Aya Cash) and Jimmy Shive-Overly (Chris Geere) meet for the first time at a mutual friend’s wedding in the series opener. The two drunkenly fall into bed that same night and agree to call it a one-night stand. They let their guards down that evening, thinking it doesn’t matter because their paths won’t cross again. But the two end up dating, while dragging their feet along the way, not wanting to admit they actually do like each other. What’s the biggie guys?
The laugh-heavy first season premiered in 2014, followed by a second that took a slightly dark turn, covering more serious material, like Gretchen’s struggle with depression. The series is now in its third year, and based on the trailer, it appears to be going back to the LOLs, which is why we fell for it in the first place. If you haven’t seen it yet, or just want a refresher, you can catch up with the couple and their besties, played by Desmin Borges and Kether Donohue, over at Hulu or via Amazon.com.
3. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Rachel Bloom won a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award in 2016 for her role as Rebecca Bunch in The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but still… some people aren’t watching this show. And that’s cray-cray. The story in short: Rebecca met her first love, Josh Chan, at a sleepaway camp when they were both teenagers. Years later, she ran into Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) in NYC. Rebecca was on a break from her high-stress job lawyering. She threw caution to the wind, quit her job, and moved to West Covina, to reunite with Josh. Except, he wasn’t expecting her.
The title alone caught our eye when it first premiered in 2015. Going into it, we weren’t 100 percent clear on the premise, and then all of a sudden Rebecca broke out in song, telling us about her dreams of happiness in West Covina, CA. It was like, “Whuuuut issss thiiiis?!” The answer: it was AHmazing. Some people might be a bit confused or turned off at the idea of a comedy that’s part musical, but it really works. The singing comes in seamlessly, adding to the storyline. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is now in its third season and things are getting real for Rebecca. But, to fully understand what that means, you need to go back to the start. You can find Rebecca and the rest of the gang in West Covina over at Netflix.
4. Master of None
Aziz Ansari pulled from material in his own life, creating, writing and starring in the adorably funny Netflix original Master of None. He plays a working actor in NYC. He’s not necessarily killin’ it, booking role after role, but he’s not living paycheck to paycheck, either. One of the best scenes is when Ansari and two of his friends, both Indian, are talking about how a TV series would never revolve around an Indian actor as a lead. In the same conversation, Ansari goes on to say that a standalone scene would never feature more than one Indian actor. And, lo and behold, we were watching it happen, with him and his two friends chatting about the lack of roles available. Right. There. On. TV. It felt like we were witnessing a televisual tipping point. The series also examines dating and family life. Ansari’s actual parents plays his on-screen parents, and in a very sweet post, Ansari included this touching quote from his father: “This is all fun and I liked acting in the show, but I really just did it so I could spend more time with you.”
Yes, it did well its first time out of the gate, winning a 2016 Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. But we expect even greater things in its sophomore season, so wanted to put a spotlight on the series. Ansari isn’t rushing the second season, though. He pointed out in a recent interview that the material is personal, and he needs to live some life to have something to write about. In the meantime, you can check out the first season over at Netflix.
The creator of Misfits, Howard Overman, now brings us Crazyhead. The six-part series follows Amy (Cara Theobold), an employee at a bowling alley in Bristol, England. She discovers she’s a “seer,” which means she can see demons, housed in human bodies. At first she thinks she’s alone in this, and might possibly be going crazy, but then she has a run-in with another seer, Raquel (Susan Wokoma), and the two join forces. The Telegraph compares Crazyhead to Buffy the Vampire Slayer “but with bad language and a down-to-earth attitude to sex and romance.” At first glance it seems like a typical girl-meets-demon story, but then Raquel delivers a pep talk to Amy, saying, “The things you see, I see them, too. They’re demons. People like us, hunt them down, and shove poles up their arses. BIG poles.”
We’re not the only ones crazy about this monster comedy. The Nerdist is all about this series, too, writing, “Crazyhead is the best new show you’re not watching,” in this article, published last December. If you’re all about kicking butt, with some funny zingers, you can check out Crazyhead over at Netflix.
6. One Mississippi
Tig Notaro gets some devastating news in the first episode of her semi-autobiographical series, One Mississippi. She makes the return to Bay St. Lucille, Mississippi, to be present when her mother is taken off life support, following a random accident. Yes, this is a comedy. While the reason Notaro goes home is sad, the comedian brings the funny with her no matter the circumstance. She even uses humor when dealing with her real-life health issues (which she mirrors in the show), having survived breast cancer and just recovering from a double-mastectomy. We go through the motions with Notaro as she experiences grief and tries to reconnect with her brother, step-father and her hometown.
Again, this might sound a bit heavy, but it’s a beautiful exercise in mining comedy gold from the bleakest of experiences: illness and a loved one’s death. Notaro helps desensitize what’s at hand and reminds us to appreciate the little things. In her documentary, Tig., she says, “It’s so cliché, but, it’s like, you’re alive. You might as well take chances.” And she did. She made TV series about her own life. You can catch up with Notaro over at Amazon Prime.
Although season three of Love has just been confirmed this week (February 8), the second season has yet to be released, premiering on March 10. And, we hope, you’ve seen season one and know what we’re talking about. If not, here we go: Gus (Paul Rust) and Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) meet at a convenience store. Mickey’s forgotten her wallet and can’t pay for her coffee and cigs, so Gus, who’s had a rough couple of days, offers to cover the bill. He doesn’t expect anything in return, but after some prodding, he goes with Mickey back to her place to get some cash. The two decide to be friends, but Gus slowly begins to develop feelings for Mickey. But it seems like it’s a relationship of convenience for Mickey (ironically having met at a convenience store) and she only calls on him when she needs him. And, he eventually calls her out on it.
This is the kind of series that has a lot of questions in the beginning and we just want to see how it lands in the end. It’s called Love, but there isn’t all that much loving throughout. The show is co-created by Rust, Lesley Arfin and Judd Apatow. As with other Apatow projects like Knocked Up, this isn’t a mushy love-in-your-face kind of story. Sometimes it’s a slow, awkward roll. You can see what we mean over at Netflix.
8. Difficult People
Over on Hulu, Difficult People‘s Billy and Julie are best friends. They live for each other and don’t need anyone else. And, to be honest, they don’t particularly care for anyone else. Even Julie’s live-in boyfriend (James Urbaniak) is treated as a third wheel. The show is set in NYC, where Billy and Julie struggle to get their entertainment careers going. Julie is an aspiring comedian and Billy wants to act. In the meantime, Julie keeps busy writing reality TV show recaps and Billy waits tables.
Created by Julie Klausner (who also plays Julie), the show stars her real-life friend Billy Eichner, also known for Billy on the Street. If you’re having a bad day, these besties are probably having it worse. And it’s probably their own stupid fault, but they have no idea because they blame everyone else for, well, everything. You will feel so good about yourself after seeing these two in action. You’ll also have a massive friend crush.
9. Odd Mom Out
Jill Weber, played by show creator Jill Kargman, is a stay-at-home mom living on the Upper East Side of NYC, and she doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the mom squad up there. Jill grew up in NYC, and she knows her way around town. It’s not like she’s an outsider, but she just has her own way of going about things. She wants to make her husband’s (Andy Buckley) life easier, adapting to her in-laws’ buttoned-up lifestyle, but she doesn’t want to give up being herself. Going to her sister-in-law’s (Abby Elliott) spinning fundraiser is one thing, but she has to draw the line when asked to formally change her name to Von Weber, because the “Von” is so regal.
The series is based on Kargman’s 2007 comedic novel Momzillas. She’s said in earlier interviews that a lot of the material is pulled from her actual life — she admits to never seeing women on the UES eat bread — but she does point out that a lot of it is exaggerated. Like, they really are just people (not mom-bots). The first two seasons of Odd Mom Out are available over at Amazon.com. You can also check it out on Bravo On Demand.
10. Santa Clarita Diet
Drew Barrymore‘s new TV series just premiered and it’s getting a lot of buzz, but it’s SO new — it’s like it just snuck up on us. And, yes, we did binge on it this past weekend when it premiered (February 3)… there’s no shame in this game. Based on the early promos, Santa Clarita Diet seemed to be a show about healthy living. But then, out of nowhere, Barrymore announced the twist. In the first episode, very early on, her character, Sheila Hammond, realizes she’s, well, dead. Her husband (Timothy Olyphant) and daughter (Liv Hewson) are totally freaked out, but they stand by her side. The family works to figure out how this happened and how to make her un-undead.
Before the zombie-ish reveal, Santa Clarita Diet was deathly close to slipping by unnoticed. Nice work, Drew. You had us at “undead.” All 10 episodes are available via Netflix.
And, if you’ve seen all of these, then you’re on it. A++, well done, you. We would not be surprised in the least — Anglophenia readers lead the pack.
Now that we’ve shared our thoughts on what we like, can we get a peek at your notes?
Which unloved shows are you really revved up about these days?Read More