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Alia Shawkat in 'Search Party'. (Photo: TBS)

Search Party starring Arrested Development‘s Alia Shawkat started this week (November 21) on TBS, with all ten episodes available online just in time for a(nother) Thanksgiving binge.

It’s already been called “One of the best shows of the year,” with our very own Nick Levine going so far as to say it’s got all the hallmarks of a cult hit. But what makes a comedy a cult hit?

Well, it’s built up a huge fan following, despite being short-lived or getting low ratings. Viewers may even “discover” the show after the fact, once it’s no longer airing new episodes, ultimately making it that much more desirable. Cult hits tend to sit well with the critics, but for some reason just don’t get picked up for the long run. It does help if future comedians cite a show as an influence too (which we provide an example of below).

Here’s ten of the very best we wish we had more of:

1. The Young Ones (1982 – 1984)

A product of the British “alternative comedy” scene, this anarchic series satirized everything, from punks and hippies, to sitcom conventions, Thatcherite politics, and every semblance of polite society. The team behind it went on to feature in mainstream successes like Blackadder and Absolutely Fabulous, but fans of those shows’ demented forerunner are arguably more ardent.

2. The Kids in the Hall (1988 – 1994)

This Canadian sketch show was known for its strange characters and cross-dressing main cast, giving rise to frequent comparisons with that ultimate cult comedy, Monty Python.

3. The Larry Sanders Show (1992 – 1998)

The late Garry Shandling was among the first to make fun of what went on behind-the-scenes of a TV show, years before the likes of 30 Rock and Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge.

Its flawed lead character was a huge inspiration to Ricky Gervais when he came to write The Office too, meaning you can draw a direct line from Larry Sanders all the way to Dunder Mifflin’s Michael Scott via David “The Brentmeister General” Brent.

4. Mr. Show (1995 – 1998)

Bob Odendirk and David Cross were the kings of alternative comedy long before they portrayed Breaking Bad‘s Saul Goodman and Arrested Development‘s Tobias Fünke. Though it ran for just 30 episodes, the show has been cited as an influence on a slew of sketch TV comedies, from Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! to Portlandia and Key & Peele.

5. Futurama (1999 – 2003, 2009 – 2013)

Matt Groening‘s next big project after The Simpsons, this futuristic sci-fi comedy folded after just four seasons, but its fan following meant it was revived on Comedy Central for three more almost 10 years later.

6. Spaced (1999 – 2001)

Hugely influential, and with a reach that belied its mere 14 episodes, this British sitcom captured nineties slacker culture for a whole generation.

It launched the careers of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright, and introduced us to Daisy (Jessica Hynes), a wannabe writer and hilarious mess of a human when Hannah Horvath was a mere twinkle in Lena Dunham‘s eye.

7. Arrested Development (2003 – 2006, 2013)

The show where Search Party‘s Alia Shawkat got her big break, not to mention her co-stars Michael Cera, Will Arnett, David Cross, and Tony Hale.

The show’s fresh storytelling and meta comedy earned it a whopping six Emmys during its initial three-year run, but despite this it was never a ratings success, and spent most of its original three-season run on NBC on the verge of getting axed. Its fans are legion, however, and steadfast, which prompted Netflix to revive it for a fourth, and rumored fifth, season.

8. Pulling (2006 – 2009)

Co-written by and starring Sharon Horgan, the woman behind Catastrophe and Divorce, this British cult hit followed Donna, a thirty-something who breaks off her engagement with comfortable (read: boring) Karl and moves in with her friends Karen and Louise.

Cancelled suddenly after two seasons, it’s finally coming stateside with a U.S. version in the works at NBC. Third time’s the charm, we hope; there have already been two attempts to Americanize the show, and neither quite managed it.

9. Community (2009 – 2015)

Despite not bringing in the massive ratings it deserved, this community college sitcom starring Joel McHale, Ken Jeong, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, and Chevy Chase managed to rack up a dedicated fan following. Talk of a movie is still circulating, although it remains to be seen whether that will ever come to fruition.

10. Parks and Recreation (2009 – 2015)

Amy Poehler led the cast of this smart mockumentary about the bizarre inhabitants of the local government of Pawnee, Indiana, which also featured Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, and Adam Scott. It may have only just come to an end, but we miss it already.

What shows do you find yourself pining for?

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Filed Under: Comedy, Search Party
By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.