20. Parks and Recreation
Region: UK, US
The show: One of those series that’s slowly cemented itself as a comedic classic. Parks and Recreation is worthy of cult status, treading the line between mockumentary and sitcom perfectly. That’s in large part because of its razor-sharp writing. Amy Poehler leads the cast as Leslie Knope, deputy director of the fictional Pawnee parks and recreation department, who goes above and beyond to do what’s right, with the help of her colleagues.
Why it's worth a watch: Who doesn’t like to laugh and feel all warm and fuzzy, too? Reminiscent of Modern Family’s early seasons - back when it was consistently funny - it balances the gags with genuine affection and warmth. There’s no other show that maintains the same level of quality throughout seven whole seasons. Yes, it’s better than Friends.
19. Friday Night Lights
Region: UK, US
The show: Small-town America under the floodlights on a Friday night. That’s the heart of the aptly named Friday Night Lights, which follows a group of troubled teens, their desperate parents, and the struggling teachers trying to teach them a few things in a Texan town, where the end of the work week finds everyone flung together for the big game. Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler take the lead as a married couple; he’s the high school football coach and she’s principal at the next school over. Of course, there’s more to it than football, yet the sport is the perfect analogy for living large in a small place, with the drama of everyday living and the dynamics of wanting to break free making for excellent television.
Why it’s worth a watch: You might remember the 2004 movie of the same name, yet the show deepens the story. In fact, that’s why director Peter Berg chose to develop the series, mining the book on which it’s based for more knowledge of its real-life characters, creating a series that’s bingeable as hell.
18. Six Feet Under
The show: One of HBO's finest achievements attempts to make sense of death by chronicling the lives of a family who own and run a Pasadena funeral parlor. Just because The Fishers are forced to contemplate mortality on a daily basis, doesn't mean they're any better at coping with it. They struggle to derive meaning from death and choose to instead celebrate the joy of life. Each episode opens with a different person’s moment of death, which inspires the Fisher family’s individual journeys.
Why it's worth a watch: Aside from the fact that its last ever episode will make you BAWL, it’s a simple drama that brings to light the troubles we all struggle with, through the lens of those closest to death. The Fishers aren’t perfect, either, making them all the more relatable. Eldest son Nate (Peter Krause)'s acerbic wit is an intoxicating blend of self-affirming mantras. He'll make you laugh and break your heart.
17. Dead Like Me
Region: UK, US
The show: From Bryan Fuller, one of the creative forces behind Hannibal and American Gods, comes Dead Like Me. This series tones down the violence and ups the comedy, considerably, with the silliness and seriousness we put on our lives providing the main source of amusement for a bunch of death’s lackeys. As its title implies, the show follows a dead girl named Georgia Lass (Ellen Muth). Her supposedly premature death was due to her destiny as a grim reaper, a role she grows to love thanks to her quippy colleagues.
Why it’s worth a watch: A criminally underseen show that’s hilarious and heart-warming. The mixed bag of characters, all struggling with their afterlife predicaments, remain utterly relatable despite their being dead. If you like your dramedies to err on the unusual, morbid side (Six Feet Under fans take note!) then this short-lived series is a must-see.
The show: A new series from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening? There was a lot riding on Futurama when it dropped in 1999, and luckily, his trademark humour made the leap to this irreverent and clever animated comedy about a misfit bunch of pals who work for an intergalactic FedEx. The show’s premise, ripe for fish-out-of-water gags, finds pizza delivery boy Fry fall into a time machine only to wind up living in the year 3000. Along with the delivery crew of Planet Express he explores the universe and the whole gang pass comment on the state of society and popular culture with deft wry humour.
Why it's worth a watch: It’s tough to pin the success of this gem on one component: the writing, the vocal cast, the constant snipes at modern living, it all unites to create one of the best animated series on Netflix. But, if we had to pick? Fry's robot best friend Bender is pure comedy gold. He is the perfect amalgam of American Dad's Roger and The Simpsons' Homer. Drunk, sharp-tongued with a raspy laugh, and constantly with a cigar on the go.
15. Modern Family
The show: The concept of a modern family that flies in the face of convention is amusingly explored in this ABC comedy. It debuted back in 2009 and follows Jay Pritchett’s extended family as they navigate modern living in Los Angeles. There’s his son Mitch, who’s married to Cameron and their daughter Lily, his daughter Claire, her husband Phil and their three kids, and then Jay’s own immediate family, his new wife Gloria and her son, Manny. Kicking off in a mockumentary-style format, the series cuts away from the action to the main characters candidly chatting about what actually transpired. Over the years its impact has lessened a little, yet its earlier seasons still pack a lot of wallop.
Why it’s worth a watch: Both funny and heartwarming in equal measure, Modern Family’s strongest elements land when it proves – as it often does – that all families, no matter how they look, are really, really similar. Saying that each family in the group has their own unique attributes, which lends plenty of the series’ standout episodes (the Halloween ones are frankly epic) great rivalry. It should come as no surprise that the cast has won numerous Emmys.
Region: UK, US
The show: A BBC original that’s thankfully made its way onto Amazon Prime, Fleabag is the best show around that you’re not watching - yet. Phoebe Waller-Bridge pillaged her own one-woman theatre show to create the TV series, expanding the production into a small-screen format that luckily never shakes its theatrical origins (there’s a lot of brilliant fourth-wall breaking). The story revolves around the experiences of Fleabag, a woman living life on her own terms in London. Despite possessing a savage wit, her day to day isn’t quite the barrel of laughs you’d expect, which makes this a bittersweet watch from the get-go as Fleabag deals with the heart slam of grief.
Why it’s worth a watch: On the surface it might sound like any other comedy series - but it’s in a world of its own. Dabbling with most modern day topics through Waller-Bridge’s immensely likeable persona, there’s laughs to be had in every moment, bringing a wholly new style of black comedy to television.
13. The Good Fight
The show: Arguably the best network TV show of recent years, The Good Wife’s sterling run came to a close after seven seasons. Picking up a year after *that* finale, The Good Fight hails from the same creative team – yet with a difference. Gone is Alicia Florrick, the anchor of the original show, and instead we’re given a team of lawyers including former faves Diane Lockhart (the superb Christine Baranski) and Lucca Quinn (ditto Cush Jumbo), who land at a new firm and set out to explore the Chicago criminal landscape from a somewhat different perspective. The first season kicks off with a financial scam out to ruin the family of Maia Rindell (Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie), an up-and-coming lawyer with ties to Diane.
Why it’s worth a watch: Taking the best elements of The Good Wife, its quirky, silly humour, its cracking supporting characters, and its penchant for tackling hot button topics, The Good Fight excels by ramping up those components. It’s ludicrously bingeable and packed with great storylines and support from Sarah Steele as the sublime Marissa Gold.
12. Black Books
Region: UK, US
The show: Imagine if the cantankerous Edmund Blackadder owned and managed a 21st-century bookshop. That’s the gist of this classic British sitcom, which revolves around a similar character, Bernard Black (Dylan Moran). Black is a sarcastic bookstore owner whose concept of a good day at work involves no customers and a bottle of wine. Constantly sozzled, irritated, yet desperate to land himself a girlfriend, it’s only when he hires scatterbrained Manny (Bill Bailey) and befriends next-door-neighbour Fran (Tamsin Greig) does he discover the joys of having friends.
Why it’s worth a watch: Who doesn’t love a miserly grouch? Easily one of the funniest sitcoms to emerge in the early 2000s, it’s got its heart in the right place, and endless one-liners. The main trio delivers comedy gold in every single episode, which seems to get increasingly more absurd as the series ventures on. Think Green Wing crossed with Fawlty Towers and you’re in the right ballpark.
The show: The Vice President of the United States has *got* to wield a decent amount of power, right? Well, actually, no. That’s the genius of Veep. Its continued success over the years lies in its simple premise: highlighting the inane day-to-day responsibilities of Veep, Selina Meyers. Those closest to the Veep, and those she keeps at arm’s length, are both subjected to her never-ending torrent of witty barbs as she tries to attain more power and make the President look like an ass.
Why it’s worth a watch: From its opening scene right through to its newer episodes, the series never fails to make the best of its ensemble cast. Yet the spotlight and kudos goes to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has won the Emmy award for Best Actress in a Comedy SIX TIMES since the show began. She’s spectacular.