We’ve all been there. You’re at home, you want to watch something funny on Netflix – but you don’t know where to start. There’s just so much available that you end up watchingold episodes of Gossip Girl instead.
OK, so maybe the Gossip Girl thing is just us. But you get the picture. That’s we’veworked tirelessly to find the best comedy TV shows available on Netflix UK.Inventive sketch shows, binge-worthy sitcoms and involvingcomedy dramas –take a look and we’re sure you’ll find something to tickle your funny bone.
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I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (S1-2)
Sketch shows are often a bit like luncheon meat, tank tops and hostess trolleys: unwanted, outmoded relics from the 1970s. But this Netflix original is proof positive that there’s life in the old format yet.
Former Saturday Night Live star Tim Robinson co-writes and appears (along with a parade of famous guest stars) in a collection of surreal, crude, inventive and ultimately hilarious skits that rarely end up where you expect them to. We’ve become quite obsessed with it, and the recently added second season is just as side-splitting and groundbreaking as the first – suggesting Robinson and co aren’t even close to running out of ideas.
Despite starring in and co-creating the excellent Catastrophe (streaming over on Amazon Prime Video), Sharon Horgan clearly isn’t bored of sitcoms about the trials and tribulations of parenting in the modern world. She stays behind the camera here, though, as Anna Maxwell Martin takes centre stage as the perpetually put-upon Julia, struggling to juggle career and middle-class motherhood amidst playground politics and parental power struggles. Even if it’s not the most original concept for a sitcom, its quickfire gags, strong characterisation and knack for hitting on truths about social mores makes it an easy and enjoyable watch.
The End of the F***ing World (S1-2)
If you prefer your quirky comedy-drama to remain firmly planted on the bleak side of the fence, this Brit series co-produced by Netflix and Channel 4 demands a spot on your watchlist. When two alienated teenagers set off on an impromptu road trip, things take a chaotic Bonnie and Clyde-style turn – and little wonder, given that one of them, believing himself to be a psychopath, plans on murdering the other as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
With episodes running just 20 minutes in length, it’s easy to find yourself drawn into the pair’s misadventure and binge on this show. Just make sure you don’t miss out on the music, camerawork and production design when your blitz through it in a weekend – because this is as well-made as it is engrossing.
The Office (US, S1-9)
It may have started life under inauspicious circumstances – US remakes of UK series rarely survive the Hollywood “glow up” without being stripped of their lustre – but The Office swiftly grew into a sitcom that stood proudly on its own. With Steve Carell lighting up the earlier seasons as cringy boss Michael Scott and a superb supporting cast providing plenty of great character moments even into the Scott-free final few dozen episodes, it’s hard to think of a transatlantic TV reimagining that’s established as strong of an identity as this. All nine seasons (that’s an astounding 188 episodes by our count) are available on Netflix.
Schitt’s Creek (S1-6)
Each and every episode of this beloved Canadian sitcom is now on Netflix, which means you have many hours of strangely reassuring, utterly enjoyable telly lying before you. Schitt’s Creek stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara as a once-rich couple now bankrupt and forced to slum it in the eponymous town they previously purchased as a joke.
Managing to be both acerbic and full of heart, this is possibly the perfect new (i.e. made in the last few years) comedy series to binge watch – a perfect choice if you’re dangerously close to ploughing through Friends for the fiftieth time.
While Friends has its easygoing charms, for us it’s Seinfeld that’s the definitive New York-set 1990s sitcom about a group of pals just working their way through this crazy little thing we call life. An imaginative and absurd examination of the modern world’s strange trivialities and customs, it never leans on slapstick or cheap sentimentality; in fact, the vast majority of its characters are selfish, unlikeable people that you certainly wouldn’t want to be friends with IRL. With each episode clocking in at a little over 20 minutes, it’s also great fare for binge watching.
Dan Harmon’s sitcom about an American community college (widely regarded Stateside as a sort of low-rent vocational alternative to university) is packed with exactly the sort of knowing pop culture references, clever subversion of cliché and OTT characters that TV geeks adore. Small wonder it quickly became a cult favourite, source of quotable lines and (the true mark of a cult series if ever there was one), a triumphant return after being cancelled by its original network. Find out what all the fuss is about by binging the entire thing: all six seasons are available for streaming on Netflix.
Space Force (S1-2)
Steve Carell makes a long-awaited return to the small screen in this timely sitcom from Greg Daniels – previously involved with the US Office, King of the Hill, Parks and Recreation and The Simpsons. Carell plays the Mark Naird, the general in charge of America’s newest branch of the armed forces, tasked by Trump with bringing US hegemony to the moon, stars and beyond – but as expected things don’t quite go off with military precision.
Not only is the Space Force derided by the more traditional military organisations, but it’s staffed by a bunch of misfits and eccentrics that make Naird’s professional life a nightmare. And his personal life isn’t much better.
BoJack Horseman (S1-6)
A Netflix exclusive, this animated series features Arrested Development‘s Will Arnett as the titular Horseman, a, er, “horse man” who enjoyed success while in a popular 1990s sitcom but now lives in a haze of booze and self-loathing as a washed-up former star. But don’t worry if we’ve made it sound too grim – the show’s serious:silly ratio is well balanced.
Set in a skewed version of Hollywood in which humans live alongside anthropomorphic animals, BoJack Horseman features a strong cast (Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul plays BoJack’s best friend Todd) and strong writing, and with five seasons available it’s perfect fodder for a weekend binge-watch blowout.
As a sport in which a 70-year-old woman once gave birth to a human hand, wrestling isn’t exactly renowned for its nuanced storytelling. Thankfully, GLOW isn’t really about wrestling at all, but a gang of kickass women rallying against their demons and the dudes who’d rather keep them down.
Featuring a stellar lead turn by Alison Brie and set in 1980s Los Angeles (you can practically smell the hairspray), it’s arguably Netflix’s best original series since Stranger Things. Even if you’ve no idea of the difference between a duplex and a powerbomb.
Derry Girls (S1-2)
The first series of Channel 4’s raucous sitcom recently arrived on Netflix, so if you missed it the first time round (or just can’t deal with All 4’s woeful picture quality and endless stream of ads), here’s your chance to be whisked away to early 1990s Northern Ireland, into the lives of four Catholic girls (and one English boy) as they navigate their teenage years against the background of the Troubles. Not that Derry Girls takes itself at all seriously – sectarianism is just a rich comic seam to be mined.
You might be familiar with Australian comedian Chris Lilley through his previous mockumentaries Summer Heights High and Angry Boys. In Lunatics, he plays six typically Lilley-esque grotesques over ten episodes; from a South African pet medium to a foul-mouthed, Instagram-obsessed Aussie tween visiting relatives in England, or from an ex-porn star turned hoarder to a fashion designer sexually attracted to household objects, Lilley’s caricatures are keenly observed and frequently both horrifying and hilarious.
Russian Doll (S1-2)
The brainchild of Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland, this Netflix Original is like Groundhog Day by way of Girls: an acerbic, cynical, substance-abusing New Yorker (Lyonne) finds herself experiencing the same day over and over, repeatedly dying in increasingly bizarre accidents, only to wake up once again in a bathroom at her own birthday party. Has she smoked something dodgy, or lost her mind – or is there something more profound and spiritual at work here?
Hilarious, outrageous and inventive, this is precisely the type of series that cuts through the piles of sub-par filler accumulating on streaming services; a reminder of those halcyon days not so long ago when every Netflix-produced show was a certified banger. At just eight half-hour episodes, it’s also refreshingly brisk; in other words, you won’t need to live the same day over and over just to get it finished.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (S1-2)
A riotous comedy-drama-thriller loosely based on the Douglas Adams-penned novels, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency isn’t like any other show on the box. In fact, it isn’t like anything else in the world – and it’s all the better for that.
The plot is far too convoluted to detail here, but that’s precisely the point: as an “holistic” detective, Dirk Gently simply investigates crimes he happens across, following the most obscure and seemingly unconnected of leads as he does so. What transpires is a glorious mess of offbeat diversions, Technicolor characters and bizarre events taking in psychic powers, cats, dogs, homicidal angels, torture, some really lovely leather jackets and Elijah Wood. Best mainlined in a few lengthy sittings – it’s too confusing – and too good – to watch piecemeal.
The arrival of every single episode of the 1990s’ most popular sitcom on Netflix feels like an occasion worthy of fanfare – even if, let’s face it, you’ve probably seen each any every one of them multiple times before on Channel 4.
For the two or three readers that don’t know, Friends is a long-running (10 seasons, over 10 years!) multi-cam sitcom about six… well, let’s call them “buddies” living in Manhattan. While it’s packed with great gags and compelling, series-arching plots, the show’s true pull is in its well-drawn and likeable characters. Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Monica’s struggles as they navigate love, career, life and everything in between are sure to suck you in, even if some of the writing and production values feels very dated when viewed through a 2018 lens.
Master of None (S1-3)
Comedian Aziz Ansari plays jobbing actor Dev in this New York-set series about life, love and tacos. Actually, one suspects Ansari is really playing himself (his real-life parents even play Dev’s onscreen parents), and a big part of the charm is watching him work through various subjects over the course of the series, which now numbers three full seasons (although the third is a big departure from the first two, with Ansari mostly staying behind the camera and letting costar and cowriter Lena Waithe take the spotlight).
It’s rather self-obsessed, and some viewers may find the whimsy hard to stomach, but it’s also funny, charming and occasionally thought-provoking. Well worth a few hours of your time.
The Good Place (S1-4)
The only reassuring thing about dealing with greedy lawyers, grumpy cashiers and racist builders is the knowledge that they’ll eventually end up in Hell watching Made in Chelsea for eternity. Saying that, despite being an all-round bad egg on Earth, Kristen Bell’s character in this Netflix Original somehow ends up in heaven. Turns out even angels and demons can make mistakes at work.
While Bell’s performance stands out with her relatable struggles to fit into a world full of goody-two-shoes, Jameela Jamil’s outlandish vanity and William Jackson Harper uptight moral code will also subject you to a few giggling fits. And unlike most comedies, The Good Place has a plot that will keep you gasping and gawping until the very end.
Rick and Morty (S1-5)
The much-anticipated fourth season of Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s animated sci-fi comedy series is now streaming on Netflix UK, and it continues in the same riotous, quick-fire vein as previous seasons (all of which are also available here).
Despite being rooted in sci-fi staples like multi-dimensional travel (and generally coming off as pretty convincing, science-wise – at least to this writer’s non-physicist brain), Rick and Morty is chiefly concerned with being hilarious and irreverent as it follows the misadventures of a possibly sociopathic booze-addled inventor and his awkward teenage grandson. Does it succeed? Well, it wouldn’t be in this list if it didn’t, right?
People Just Do Nothing (S1-5)
A BBC comedy series that’ll appeal to both lovers of mockumentaries and aficionados of late ‘90s UK garage music. People Just Do Nothing is ostensibly a behind-the-scenes documentary about West London pirate radio station Kurupt FM, but it’s actually a wickedly funny – and certainly not unaffectionate – examination of the same kind of hubris and self-delusion as exhibited by David Brent in The Office, presented in much the same way.
The fact that the Kurupt crew clearly do know their Artful Dodger from their Pied Piper – they’ve performed live at multiple events, in character – adds an extra layer of authenticity to the whole thing.
If you’re even slightly drawn to Judd Apatow’s particular brand of mumbly, honest, relationship-based humour, you’ll almost certainly enjoy this comedy drama series he co-created – now three seasons strong.
Love is a story of two directionless, loveless people at opposite ends of the loser spectrum who stumble into each other’s lives and begin a relationship that doesn’t seem particularly healthy for either of them. This isn’t laugh-a-minute stuff, but spending time with the substance-abusing Mickey (Community’s Gillian Jacobs) and pathetic pushover Gus (Paul Rust) is an occasionally awkward, usually guffaw-inducing pleasure.
Olivia Colman and Julian Barratt lead a cast packed with familiar UK thespian faces in Channel 4’s dark and twisted comedy-drama, which follows the travails of a highly dysfunctional family living in rural England. Written and directed by Will Sharpe (who also appears as the Flowers family’s Japanese live-in illustrator/unpaid servant Shun), Flowers is one of those jet-black sitcoms that British television does so well, and as it flew under the radar for many when it was originally broadcast, Netflix is the perfect place to catch up with it now.
Arrested Development (S1-5)
Dysfunctional families have been done to death on both the big screen and TV, but the Bluths are up there with the most self-centred, destructive and, well, downright hilarious bunch of the lot. Straight man Michael Bluth desperately tries to keep his family and fortune intact as their company is hit by the US government for embezzlement.
Superb performances from the likes of David Cross, coupled with tonnes of re-quote potential make this a must-watch. It gets a little lost after the first three seasons thanks to the actors’ other projects clashing with filming, but it’s still well worth watching till the very end. Look out for a fifth season on 29th May 2018, and check out the officially re-edited version of the fourth season right now if you (like most fans) found its original format a tad jarring.
This show quietly stumbled into our lives quite randomly back in 2010, and we were hooked from the first five minutes. It revolves around Sterling Archer, a misogynistic, crazy-yet-capable agent for the (unfortunately-named) spy agency ISIS. His mother’s the boss, his ex-girlfriend is a rival spy, and the rest of the team are crazy and psychopathic enough to ensure that there’s never a dull moment.
The writing is clever, the dialogue is comedically timed to perfection, and the animation style is gorgeous. A word of warning: you will have a strong desire to purchase a slightly darker-black turtle neck after viewing.
Sex Education (S1-3)
A comedy-drama about the sex lives of a group of British teenagers could have come across as exploitative, crass and downright dodgy – but Sex Education feels anything but. While the humour is often lewd and the sex scenes graphic, the series as a whole is exceedingly sweet, charming and big-hearted. Full of wonderfully complex characters and relationships, it’s a genuinely involving and entertaining look at love, life and identity, with a fast-moving plot that makes it hard not to binge.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (S1-15)
Narcissistic. Sociopathic. Sexist. Elitist. Delusional. And egos the size of a bull elephant. All descriptions that adequately fit every single member of staff at Paddy’s Bar in Philadelphia.
From kidnapping cats to poisoning rivals, to stalking love interests and getting drunk at every opportunity, you’re unlikely to ever find a group of people that you hate to love more.
Hilarity, madness (and Danny Devito in tight, tight skinny jeans) await.
Peep Show (S1-9)
Peep Show‘s ninth and final series has recently been added to Netflix (alongside the previous eight) so if you haven’t yet watched Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong’s groundbreaking sitcom – the longest-running in Channel 4’s history, no less – now is the perfect time to delve into the minds of David Mitchell’s Mark and Robert Webb’s Jez, two best friends and flatmates who stumble from one disaster to the next.
Peep Show‘s “gimmick” is that we often see the action from Mark or Jez’s point-of-view, along with their inner thoughts as audible voice-overs. In the great British comedy tradition, self-delusion, self-hatred and social awkwardness frequently loom large here, and though both the main characters are indisputably despicable, selfish idiots, it’s impossible not to get sucked into their (often horrifying) antics.
Many a true word is spoken in jest, as they say – and Peep Show is as much a meditation on the human condition as it is a comedy show. As the joyless Mark internally remarks after his girlfriend takes him to a fairground, “I suppose doing things you hate is just the price you pay to avoid loneliness.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (S1-5)
If you’re not already an Andy Samberg fan (shame on you), Brooklyn Nine-Nine will make you one. That’s not to say he’s the only draw in this comedy cop show, though – the super-childish detective he plays is always at the centre of things, but each of the nutjobs he shares a precinct with have their own hilarious idiosyncrasies, not least of all the seemingly dry and dull Captain Holt.
It’s all as silly and immature as things get, and that’s just fine by us.