If you’re anything like me you are always on the hunt for your next binge. It feels like regular scheduled TV as well as various streaming services just can’t keep up with your voracious appetite. Every now and then, there’s a chance you’ll miss some of the comedy shows out there. I hope this little list will add at least one thing to your queue because there’s no feeling like finding that next binge.
Casual is what you get when you mix intergenerational family dramedy with sex and first world problems. The show follows the lives of Valerie (Michaela Watkins) and her teenage daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) who, following the split from Valerie’s husband move in with Alex (Tommy Dewey), Valerie’s single younger brother.
Alex is the affluent but cynical creator of a popular dating site Snooger.com. He uses the site to help his psychotherapist sister get back on the horse. Meanwhile, sexually precocious Laura balances her disrupted home and school life as best she can – which is to say, badly.
Give it a go: if you like comedy shows like Transparent, Girls, Bojack Horseman, Fleabag and Catastrophe.
Give it a miss: If you are looking for a kid-friendly laugh track sitcom.
In the last few years, we’ve seen more and more anthology series popping up where each episode presents a self-contained story. Think Black Mirror and Easy. Each episode operates like a short film. We’ve even had self-contained seasons with the likes of American Horror Story and Fargo.
HBO’s High Maintenance follows a similar format. Each episode offers viewers a vignette into the lives of the weird and wonderful pot-smoking denizens of NYC. There’s only one constant character throughout the series. He’s a biking pot-dealer/deliverer known only as ‘the guy’ who serves to connect all these seemingly incompatible lives through their shared taste for illegal drugs.
Each episode gives us a snapshot into maybe two or three lives and though brief, offer surprisingly rich stories. Some characters are lovable, others utterly detestable but all are compelling.
Give it a go: If you love Humans of New York, short films, great writing, something that you can dip in and out of or drama that’s a little bit different.
Give it a miss: You prefer time to get to know your characters, like a lot of action or concrete plot lines.
Pro-Tip: High Maintenance began life as a web series so if you are looking for more be sure to check it out!
Man Seeking Woman
Man Seeking Woman is like nothing you’ve ever see on television before. I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to describe it, but I’ll give it a go. It’s a surrealist sitcom of epic proportions. Man Seeking Woman follows the life of loser 20-something Josh Greenberg (Jay Baruchel) following a break-up with his long-term girlfriend. At first, things seem normal enough. Josh’s best buddy tries to cheer him up and urges him to get back into the dating scene.
Then things start to get weird. A literal black cloud follows Josh around town. When a well-meaning sister sets Josh up with her Swedish friend “with a beautiful personality” she turns out to be a literal 3-foot-tall troll. And when Josh is invited to a party he finds his ex is dating a very literal and extremely ancient Adolf Hitler.
Man Seeking Woman takes pains to playfully literalise and bring to life the triumphs and pitfalls of modern dating. When Josh finally succeeds in getting a girl’s phone number he receives a call from Obama congratulating him. When he agonises over how to follow up with a flirty text he’s joined in an underground war bunker by a team of experts to craft the perfect message. It’s a weird show for sure, but so is dating in the 21st century.
Give it a go: If you liked The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Eric Andre Show, Community.
Give it a miss: If you find yourself saying sci-fi is too unrealistic.
Please Like Me
Please Like Me was on my ‘to watch’ list for far too long. I’d heard good things but just hadn’t gotten around to watching it – partly because the title put me off a little bit. I regret it now because I would now probably count it as one of my all time favourite comedy shows if not shows in general. The moment I finished bingeing it last month I wanted to watch it all over again!
The show is a loosely autobiographical dramedy from 20-something Australian comedian Josh Thomas. Josh writes and stars in it with his real-life best friend Thomas Ward. It follows the day-to-day lives of Josh and his friends with a fun, lighthearted touch. The series also offers surprising emotional depth in its treatment of friendship, mental health and LGBT issues.
It’s one of those shows that finishing feels like saying goodbye to a good friend. That’s how emotionally invested you get in this pack of lovable misfits.
Give it a go: If you love insightful character-driven drama, well-rounded LGBT characters that aren’t just one-dimensional caricatures, great comedic writing.
Give it a miss: If you like your shows a little more PG or are uncomfortable with the discussion of more serious topics like depression and suicide.
You’re the Worst
I would argue that You’re the Worst is one of the best comedy shows, if not the best romantic-comedy series currently on TV. The premise is simple enough. Two deeply flawed and selfish narcissists meet and hook up at the wedding of a mutual friend. What starts out as a one-night-stand quickly escalates into something more, much to both of the participants’ surprise.
What initially sounds like a formulaic rom-com is so much more. You’re the Worst proves itself to be an accomplished, rich and layered look at life examining modern relationship dynamics, depression and PTSD among other things. At the end of the day, it’s still rich white people problems but rich white people problems done well. What I really love and find particularly refreshing about this show, is that quite like another favourite show of mine Freaks and Geeks, there are no bit characters.
Though the show’s focus is clearly the couple at the centre of the drama, supporting characters are far from neglected. Each is given proper development so that even if a supporting character is played for comedic effect in an earlier episode, you are almost guaranteed they will get their own time in the limelight in a later episode.
Give it a go: If you liked comedy shows like Love, Peep Show or Weeds. Or, if you like your comedies with a little more bite and don’t mind love-to-hate characters.
Give it a miss: If you’re trying to be less cynical and you hate listening to millennials whine.