Laugh until you cry with these comedy TV shows
In a world where we’re faced with so much negativity in the media, laughter truly can be the best medicine. With many great comedy TV shows across a variety of streaming platforms, there is no shortage of chuckles to be had. Additionally, comedy is a broad genre that contains different styles & voices.
From the sketch comedy of Saturday Night Live to the workplace shenanigans of The Office, comedy TV shows always have something cheerful to offer. Comedy has been a staple of television programming since the medium’s inception. It would be impossible to list all of the great comedy TV shows in one article.
Here are a few to get you giggling.
SNL alumnus Tina Fey created this satire of network television in 2006. Fey stars in 30 Rock alongside Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, and Alec Baldwin. 30 Rock aired until 2013, the year that the Writers Guild of America West named the show one of the best-written television series of all time.
30 Rock’s seven-year run on NBC occurred during the network’s critically acclaimed period of “must-see TV.” Fey’s creation often gets lost amongst its contemporary comedy TV shows, such as The Office & Parks and Recreation. 30 Rock is a self-reflexive look at network comedy TV shows.
Fey portrays Liz Lemon, showrunner & head writer at the NBC sketch show TGS with Tracy Jordan. 30 Rock depicts Lemon’s relationships with her coworkers while satirizing the entertainment industry. If you want a comedy that is ridiculously self-aware, then watch 30 Rock on Netflix.
Another of the comedy TV shows that can be traced back to SNL is IFC’s Portlandia. Produced by legendary SNL showrunner Lorne Michaels, Portlandia stars former SNL cast member Fred Armisen. The show’s other key member is Sleater-Kinney guitarist, Carrie Brownstein. Armisen & Brownstein form an iconic duo that explore the eclectic city of Portland, Oregon.
Airing from 2011 to 2018, Portlandia explores the trends & culture of the past decade through the characters Brownstein & Armisen create. There are Toni & Candace for instance, owners of the feminist bookstore Women & Women First. There is also Peter & Nance, a mild-mannered couple who just want to know, “is it local?”
Fred & Carrie also play fictionalized versions of themselves. Other characters include Mr. Mayor (Kyle MacLachlan), the enigmatic leader of Portland, and Milton (Steve Buscemi), Fred & Carrie’s landlord. Portlandia doesn’t necessarily have a linear plot. It generally follows vignettes of the various characters in different situations.
While Portlandia is no longer on Netflix, it’s now available for free with subscription on Amazon Prime Video.
Another show that came on the airwaves in 2011, Workaholics offers a different perspective of the 2010s. Whereas Portlandia pokes fun at hipster culture, Workaholics satirizes burnt out millennials stuck in cubicle jobs. The Comedy Central series is written by its stars Adam DeVine, Blake Anderson, and Anders Holm.
Former college buddies Blake, Adam, and Anders live together in Rancho Cucamonga, California. The three work at TelAmeriCorp, a telemarketing company. Due to their partying & drug use, the friends often find themselves at odds with their boss & coworkers.
From having a sleepover at the office to attempting to get out of a drug test, Adam, Blake, and Anders have plenty of memorable moments at their job. Workaholics also stars Jillian Bell, Maribeth Monroe, and Erik Griffin. It is available for streaming on Hulu & Amazon Prime Video.
Tuca & Bertie
If you like adult animation, then one of the best comedy TV shows on Netflix is Tuca & Bertie. The animated series stars Tiffany Haddish & Ali Wong as Tuca the toucan & Bertie the song thrush. Tuca & Bertie also features the voice of Steven Yeun as Speckles, a robin who is Bertie’s boyfriend.
Tuca & Bertie presents a fictionalized city in which anthropomorphic animals live. Bertie & Tuca must navigate adulthood & the many challenges it presents, such as buying a house or opening a joint checking account. The comedy of Tuca & Bertie comes from the duo’s differences.
While Bertie is an ambitious go-getter, Tuca is a bit of a slacker. While the show is mostly fun & games, there are moments of genuine insight into the precarious situations young adults find themselves in. The first season of Tuca & Bertie is on Netflix. The second is out via Adult Swim.
Created by its star Donald Glover, FX’s Atlanta incorporates drama unlike other comedy TV shows. The show follows Earn (Glover) , a thirty-something Ivy League dropout trying to make it as a hip-hop manager. Atlanta also features Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, and Brian Tyree Henry.
When Earn’s cousin Alfred (Henry) starts to blow up under the rap alias Paper Boi, Earn attempts to help Alfred get to the next level. He does this in order to gain respect back from his ex-girlfriend Van (Beetz), whom he has a child with. Despite Earn’s ambition, he often finds himself in bad situations that lead to him being broke & homeless.
Atlanta has garnered much critical acclaim for its first two seasons. The series has won several Golden Globes & Emmys, as well as an NAACP Image Award. It’s been renewed for two more seasons, with season three premiering early next year. You can stream Atlanta on Hulu.
If you enjoy ensemble casts in comedy TV shows, check out Arrested Development on Netflix. Originally airing on Fox, this series follows the Bluths, a family who used to be rich from their real estate holdings.
Once the patriarch George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) is imprisoned, the family falls on hard times. Arrested Development features a stellar cast of Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, and Michael Cera just to name a few.
The main conflict of Arrested Development stems from Michael Bluth (Bateman) wanting to help his family. The Bluth family often pokes fun at Michael & takes him for granted. However, Michael isn’t perfect either.
These are just a few of the many comedy TV shows available on streaming. What’s your favorite TV comedy? Tell us in the comments!