Comedy is one of the most personal genres of entertainment, as subjective and divisive as politics. Thank heavens, then, for the wide library of Netflix, which is here to service all of our laughter needs. Craving a traditional laugh-tracked sitcom? A more serious, single-cam series? A mockumentary? Done, done, and done. So here are the 20 funniest shows on Netflix streaming right now.
While this The Office owes its existence to the original, this is a great example of the rare success of an American remake of a beloved British property. The U.K. version was the original cringe comedy, starring Ricky Gervais as clueless boss David Brent, whose desperate attempts at connecting with his underlings are a painful exercise in futility. Steve Carell plays his American counterpart, though his Michael Scott, while equally awkward, proves himself to be more sympathetic as time goes on. There are some who will never see the U.S. version as anything other than a pale imitation of its British predecessor, and it's true that its overextended existence it really should have ended when Carell departed in season seven takes some of the shine out of the series. But both can and should be viewed on their own merits, and when enjoyed as such, have moments of equal, cringe-inducing brilliance. Unfortunately, the U.S. version is the only one on Netflix right now.
The idealism of longtime public servant Leslie Knope can seem a little hard to swallow in these post-2016 election times, but that's precisely why we need Parks and Rec: Leslie's optimism makes us believe that government — and life itself — can truly be good if you stand by your work and imbue everything you do with passion and an undying hunger for waffles. And if you aren't ready to adopt such a sunny disposition for yourself just yet, you can always look for distraction and a laugh in a classic like “Flu Season.” Or “Lil' Sebastian.” Or “The Debate.” Or “Halloween Surprise.” Or any number of episodes populated by the hilarious, delightfully demented residents of Pawnee Perd Hapley, Joan Callamezzo, Ethel Beavers, and so many more and the stacked cast of regulars populating the Parks Department Chris Pratt, the MVP of non-sequiturs and pratfalls; Jim O'Heir, the perennially upbeat punching bag Jerry/Larry/Terry/Garry. And if nothing else, Parks gave us Ron Swanson, a pyramid of greatness unto himself. You had us at “meat tornado.”
Setting aside its disjointed fourth season a divisive effort that's best viewed as its own entity, Arrested Development is a modern comedy classic, a screwball farce masquerading as a mockumentary about an inherently unlikable clan of rich folks who are as out of touch how much could a banana cost — ten dollars? as they are dysfunctional Motherboy XXX. When patriarch George Sr. is arrested for fraud, it sends the clueless Bluths into a tailspin, desperately trying to cling to their remaining cash and the last vestiges of their lavish lifestyle, propping up the illusion tricks are something a whore does for money in increasingly ridiculous ways and prompting increasingly exasperated commentary from narrator Ron Howard. Breakfast Family may be the most important thing, but when it's populated with hop-ons, nevernudes who blue themselves, and Franklin the puppet, can you blame Michael for continuously threatening to bail on his? Fortunately, you won't have any reservations about sticking with the Bluths, especially since the first three seasons — and their intricate, carefully plotted jokes — reward multiple viewings.
Michael Schur The Office, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine steps away from his usual workplace sitcom for this afterlife comedy, which focuses on Eleanor Shellstrop Kristen Bell, who finds herself in “the good place” after her life comes to an end. Though told this is because she's led a good, ruistic life, Eleanor knows she's pretty much a terrible person and is only in this utopia because of its architect's Ted Danson mistake. With this limitless, fictional world, Schur is able to take chances and create a truly goofy show that still deals with morality and other philosophical issues. While the first season is great, a spoiler-filled twist really opens up the show's potential in its second season.
BoJack Horseman might originally turn off viewers in its first few episodes due to its silliness. But it gets deeper than a show about a horse-man and fellow animal-people should get, getting very real and very depressing in some spots. But there's always a layer of comedy woven into its intricate plots that are only ened by the sadness. After all, there's a recurring character named 'Vincent Adultman' who is very clearly a few young children stacked up inside a trench coat. That's the kind of show we're dealing with here.
Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara star in this Canadian sitcom about a wehy family forced to scale down their extravagant lifestyle with hilarious results. Levy plays Johnny Rose, a rich video-store magnate who loses his fortune when his business manager fails to pay his taxes. O'Hara plays his wife, Moira, a former soap opera star who, along with her husband and their two pampered children, must move to a town called Schitt's Creek. Johnny bought the town as a joke when the family had more money than they could spend, but now, the town and its residents serve as a comedic wake-up call for a guy who has problems rooting himself in reality. Levy is brilliant in this thing and it's a damn shame the show is so overlooked by American audiences. Let's change that.
Following in the footsteps of Nick Kroll's Big Mouth, this British teem comedy is committed to exploring all of the cringe-worthy, taboo topics associated with sex, just not in animated form. The series follows a mother-son duo navigating their way through those uncomfortable “talks.” Of course, the mother here happens to be a sex therapist named Dr. Jean Milburn a terrific Gillian Anderson and her son Otis Asa Butterfield is the kid enduring her overbearing tendencies at home while doling out sex advice of his own in an underground sex therapy ring amongst his friends. Sex is a comedy goldmine, and hough the show loves to play up '80s high-school tropes, there's real nuance and thought that goes into how these teens are portrayed and their interactions with sex. Plus, Anderson's comedic timing is spot-on.
The animated, coming-of-age comedy from Nick Kroll is full of familiar voices and even more familiar life problems. Centered on a group of pre-pubescent friends, Kroll voices a younger version of himself, a kid named Andrew who's going through some embarrassing life changes like inconvenient erections and strange wet dreams and bat-mitzvah meltdowns. All these traumatizing and hilarious happenings are usually caused by Maurice, Andrew's own Hormone Monster also voiced by Kroll who takes pleasure literally in abusing the poor kid. As painfully accurate as the show is, if you're lucky enough to be removed from that angst-ridden era of life, you'll probably appreciate the humor in all of it.
The title may initially turn you off — as may its status as a rom-com/musical hybrid airing on The CW — but as protagonist Rebecca Bunch will tell you, the situation with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a lot more nuanced than that. The genre-bending show spends just as much time churning out toe-tapping tunes as it does exploring the depths of mental illness, sometimes simultaneously, but stops just short of becoming an outright dramedy thanks to the impeccable comedic timing of its stellar cast, led by Rachel Bloom as Rebecca and Donna Lynne Champlin as Bex's coworker and BFF, Paula. There's plenty of comedy to mine from its music songs like “Settle for Me,” “Textmergency,” “West Covina,” and “Dream Ghost” are as catchy as they are key to plot development, but it's the throwaway moments that really make the show pop: Paula the singing raccoon, Daryl proudly declaring himself a “bothsexual,” Heather's expert knowledge of mating signals, every aside uttered by Father Brah. If loving this show makes us C-R-A-Z-Y, so be it.
It helps if you've lived in and/or been to Portland, and like most sketch comedy, Portlandia is wildly hit and miss, but the hits are often huge, and the misses are easy enough to fast-forward through. It's clever and strangely understated for sketch comedy, and hough it works best as a send-up of Portland, the absurdist comedy is still effective outside of the Northwest.
This joyful series has no business being so sunny, especially considering its pitch-black premise: Kimmy, kidnapped as a teenager and forced to live among a doomsday cult in an underground bunker, is finally rescued, and trying to rebuild her life. But as played by the effervescent Ellie Kemper, this female is strong as hell, and determined to make the most of her freedom. A ragtag roster of supporting characters helps her through her transition her roommate Titus the most delightful among them, though pretty much everyone she encounters is comedy gold, whether it's figuring out what slang is outdated, or how best to kill the sentient robot you suspect is sleeping with your husband. Season two delves a little deeper into the psychological toll the Reverend's kidnapping had on Kimmy, but despite the darker material, the show maintains its madcap charm. Special shout-out to delightful guest star Tina Fey, who co-created the show with her 30 Rock collaborator Robert Carlock.
Ricky Gervais followed up his nearly unfollowable first show, The Office, with Extras, another tale loosely based on his own life, only this time his struggles with finding and being satisfied with success in television. On the exterior, Gervais' character Andy Millman is much different from The Office's David Brent, but at their core they're the same, chasing fame and thinking they're better than they actually are. The show is stolen, though, by Millman's refreshingly platonic friendship with Maggie Ashley Jensen, his clueless agent co-creator Stephen Merchant, and the celebrities willing to poke fun at themselves in every episode including a bitingly memorable diddy from the late David Bowie. It's another two-series-and-a-Christmas-special show, so a binge'll take no time at all.
“Who did the dicks?” The question seems juvenile at first, but it's the enigma that drives American Vandal. Netflix decided to produce a parody heavily inspired by one of its own shows, Making A Murderer, with this teen mockumentary that focuses on the vandalism of 27 faculty cars in a school parking lot. With all the evidence pointing toward the local troublemaker/burnout, the case seems wrapped up before it even begins, but once the protagonists start looking more closely at what really happened, everyone becomes a suspect. It's a hilarious show but also a tense one as the mystery gets deeper and deeper. Season two only builds on season one's success, this time having the teen investigate a poop conspiracy that makes those dick jokes look tame. Unfortunately, Netflix has pulled the plug on the show.
Saturday Night Live and Detroiters alum Tim Robinson creates and stars in this 15-minute sketch comedy series that is perfectly happy to offer up a few irreverent laughs without all of the post-comedy commentary that weighs down other funny shows in 2019. It's a mixed bag of unconnected stories about toddler pageants and old men out for revenge and how Instagram has warped our social interactions in hilariously bizarre ways. What each of these skits has in common is Robinson's particular brand of comedy and his unrivaled ability to make you laugh.
Andrea Savage is brilliant in this throwaway comedy series about a comedy writer, wife, and mom who attempts to forge a normal life despite her neuroses and odd job requirements. Kathy Baker and Tom Everett Scott also star, and some funny names, including Jason Mantzoukas, pop up occasionally, but the real star is Savage. She's witty and sharp and crass and perfectly fine with all of it. There aren't any huge, climactic plot point per episode — the show deals mostly with weird neighbors and common parenting mistakes and relationship humor — but it doesn't need any of that to make us laugh. It just needs Andrea Savage.
The long-running Showtime series understands better than any other drama on television what it's like to be poor in America. Set in Chicago, Shameless follows the lives of the Gallagher family as they struggle beneath the poverty line to make ends meet. The family is afflicted with alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, poor decision-making skills, and the kind of terrible luck that so often follows poor families, but they've also got each other, their resilience, and a determination to break the cycle, but in Shameless, impoverishment is the boogeyman that always comes back, hilariously and heartbreakingly.
Mike Schur, the creator of Parks and Recreation, is an avowed disciple of Cheers, citing the NBC sitcom as his favorite show and driving influence. It's not hard to see why: Cheers is a classic for a reason, a sitcom populated with colorful characters Norm!, complicated relationships Sam and Diane, and reliably hilarious hijinks that legendary Thanksgiving food fight that easily sustain its 11 seasons. Schur has often said that he modeled the protagonists of Parks on the characters of Cheers, people who genuinely liked each other in spite of their differences. Sure, Cheers frequently features caustic one-liners particularly those delivered by Carla and grating personalities why anyone hung out with Cliff is a bit of a head-scratcher. But despite the occasional unpleasantness, Cheers isn't just a place where everybody knows your name — it's where everybody's family, misfit barflies and all.
Plenty of comedies focus on those awkward teenage years, but few are as painfully funny as The Inbetweeners, a Britcom about four pals struggling to make it through high school, and all the bullying, underage drinking, and thwarted sexual encounters — so, so many thwarted sexual encounters — that go with it. The lads can sometimes revert too easily to their archetypes Will is the impossibly nerdy protagonist who can't seem to ever do or say the right thing; Jay, the crude skirt-chaser whose intact virginity is the bane of his existence, but you'll be laughing too hard at their boneheaded antics and horrendous luck to care.
This genre-defying telenovela send-up has one of the weirdest premises of any show, ever: Jane Villanueva, a devout Catholic who's vowed to remain a virgin until marriage, is accidentally artificially inseminated during a routine gynecological visit, and becomes pregnant. It sounds more soap operatic than comedic, but that's where Jane proves naysayers wrong, infusing the title character's unlikely journey with countless laugh-out-loud funny moments that shock and delight viewers at every turn. While Gina Rodriguez's radiant performance as Jane is the heart of the show, its comedic success is largely thanks to two characters: Her long-lost father, telenovela superstar Rogelio de la Vega Jaime Camil; and the Narrator brilliantly voiced by Anthony Mendez, whose helpful explanations and perfectly timed interjections make him as integral to the proceedings as Jane herself. The Narrator is both an audience stand-in regularly exclaiming “OMG!” at surprising developments and the ultimate insider showrunners have teased that his connection to the characters runs deeper than just an omniscient voiceover presence. The preening Rogelio steals the show; the Narrator keeps you coming back for more.
The End of the F***ing World is a dark comedy based on the comic series by Charles S. Forsman about James Alex Lawther, a withdrawn and disturbed 17-year-old who believes he is a psychopath, and his burgeoning Bonnie & Clyde-like relationship with Alyssa Jessica Barden, a classmate damaged by a dysfunctional family. Written by Charlie Covell and directed by Jonathan Entwistle and Lucy Tcherniak, the series is akin to a high school version of True Romance and about two deeply troubled, misanthropic teenagers who find comfort in one another and who are willing, if necessary, to perpetrate crimes to maintain their relationship. It's bleakly funny but things take a more serious turn in season two, when Alyssa is left managing the aftermath of the pair's crime spree and a new psychopath enters the mix.