You've had a long day, and you just want to sit back on the couch and laugh a little bit. Netflix, as is so frequently the case, has you covered. The next time you feel like you're in need of a little comedy, binge one -- or two, or seven -- of these shows.
There's always money in the banana stand, and there are always laughs to be found in Arrested Development, Mitchell Hurwitz's sly, self-aware family sitcom. While the most recent Netflix-produced season occasionally devolved into discursive, indulgent meta-humor, the show's original three seasons established a freewheeling comic sensibility that many of your favorite sitcoms -- Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Community, Archer, Kroll Show -- were influenced by. Don't hold the show's obnoxious fans against it. After watching a few episodes, you'll be quoting Tobias Fünke, too.
Big Mouth (2017-present)
Big Mouth is a relatively new animated comedy series from the platform, and it's bound to make you slightly uncomfortable. But, as it goes with many other adult-themed cartoons, that's kind of the point. The show sees creator Nick Kroll and his friends essentially hopping into an animated time machine to play much younger versions of themselves, adolescent tweens beginning to date and watch porn, coming to grips with their emotions and sexuality. With a no-holds-barred approach and the freeing format of animation, the show tends to really go there (see: horny Hormone Monsters, singing Michael Stipe tampons, scary Garrison Keillor sex fantasies), placing it in the same taboo-busting league as Netflix's other hit mature toons.
BoJack Horseman (2014-present)
Netflix's animated series doubles down on the depression, failure, and slovenly behavior we enjoyed in its first season, with plenty of sight gags to lighten the mood. BoJack climbs higher than ever, as he lands his dream acting gig and a dream girlfriend, but life's cruel hand caps him at the knees over and over again. In between the morose moments, BoJack Horseman asks us to laugh -- and we do, because we can't imagine this beleaguered equine's life getting any worse, which, invariably, it does.
There just aren't enough television shows like Chewing Gum. The vibrant and wildly hilarious comedy penned by Michaela Coel follows a horny but naive 24-year-old virgin named Tracey (played by Coel herself) who really just wants to get laid, much to the dismay of her hyper-religious family and boyfriend. Throughout both seasons of the short-lived series that first aired on Britain's E4, Tracey bumbles around her small town in London inserting herself into the most ridiculous situations -- almost all of which end with some painfully awkward sexual encounters. It's worth the watch for any bright-eyed millennials who aren't afraid to laugh at sex at its clumsiest moments.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (2012-present)
Crackle, we hardly knew ye. The comedian behind his eponymous sitcom takes his talents to Netflix, where the new season will arrive sometime this year, featuring guests like Dave Chappelle and Kate McKinnon. In the meantime, you can rewatch Jerry Seinfeld display his immense wealth and famous friends, and feel like you're one of them. Kind of.
Comedy Bang! Bang! (2012-2016)
A few years after his podcast started airing, Scott Aukerman's popular talk show got the TV treatment. TV treatment here doesn't really mean adaptation, though; it means a platform to be fucking insane and hilariously surreal. Your favorite comedians (think Andy Daly, Sarah Silverman) hit Aukerman's couch with special guests (who range from Tony Hawk to Kevin Bacon to publicist extraordinaire Rodney Waber) to improv some magic, participate in off-the-wall bits, and make you ask, What the hell am I watching? -- in the best way.
Documentary Now! (2015-present)
IFC's Documentary Now! pokes fun at the precious self-seriousness of documentary filmmaking, thanks to SNL vets Bill Hader and Fred Armisen (and a regal Helen Mirren introduction). Docs in the show's crosshairs include everything from Nanook Revisited ("Kunuk Uncovered") to History of the Eagles ("Gentle & Soft: The Story of the Blue Jean Committee"), the latter a parody of an Eagles documentary that's pretty funny in its own right. Which is why the true brilliance of Documentary Now! comes less from imitation and more from the same sauce that makes any doc memorable: Human existence is fascinatingly absurd.
Monty Python vet John Cleese teamed with then-wife Connie Booth to create Fawlty Towers, a legendary testament to the charms of British humor. The show centers on the lives of a comically inept and bad-tempered hotel owner and his wife, their employees, and the guests they inevitably alienate. If you like wacky comedy with intellectual sensibility, Fawlty Towers is a must-watch.
Six 20-something friends who live in New York City trying to navigate their relationships with each other and life, and spend way too much time drinking coffee together at Central Perk... yeah, you know the one. By now, you've probably seen each episode of this long-running, classic sitcom dozens of times, but it never gets old: Their chemistry and timing is great, and even with their ridiculous humor, the bits are seen through. When you're feeling down, there's no denying that can always return to Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey, and Phoebe because they'll be there for you, 'cuz you're there for them toooooooooo.
The Good Place (2016-present)
In this sneaky afterlife comedy from Mike Schur (Parks and Recreation), Kristen Bell's deceased cretin Eleanor is erroneously given a berth in a Heaven-esque afterworld. Once the high-concept show gets past establishing its characters and premise, you'll enjoy watching her do whatever she can to avoid being found out and sent to the Bad Place, where she belongs, by her friendly neighborhood architect, Michael (Ted Danson), including forcing her "soulmate," Chidi (William Jackson Harper), to teach her everything there is about being a nice and good person. Pretty soon, it becomes evident that the so-called Good Place is a lot more complex than we’re first led to believe, but throughout it's made clear that watching the series will feel like you've been sent to TV Heaven.
Grace and Frankie (2015-present)
Netflix users of a certain age have likely overlooked this dramedy from Marta Kauffman (Friends) and Howard J. Morris (The Starter Wife), about two septuagenarian friends (Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) who shack up together after their husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) announce they're in love and intend to marry. With notes of The Odd Couple and The Brady Bunch -- both couples have grown kids as equally knocked out by the news -- Grace and Frankie is down-to-earth viewing that's rich with observational wit on the progressive notion of being true to one's identity, and the time-worn cliche that everyone gets older with age. If you've indulged in the low-key, picture-perfect comedies of Nancy Meyers (It's Complicated, Something's Gotta Give), give this one a try.
Maria Bamford's semi-autobiographical, surreal spin on mental illness in Hollywood was a summer sleeper hit for Netflix. The comedian's self-aware hijinks share obvious DNA with Arrested Development: Mitch Hurwitz and Pam Brady are executive producers; there are sight gags, wordplay, and mockery of Los Angeles idiocy galore; and it features countless comedy-world cameos, extended fantasy sequences, and genuine self-introspection. It'll take you a few episodes to get invested, or even to wrap your head around WTF you're watching. But once you're hooked, you're hooked.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (2017) and The Gauntlet (2018)
Could a new crew of comedians revive the effortless magic of public access-born Mystery Science Theater 3000. Absolutely. With the nerdy Jonah Ray (The MeltdownWith Jonah and Kumail) locked in the new spaceship, once again backed by Crow and Tom Servo (but with new voices, Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn), spearheaded by former Daily Show head writer Elliot Kalan, and produced by original host Joel Hodgson, the new incarnation pelts jokes at late-night schlock and half-assed blockbusters with relentless force. There's a musicality to the jokes in MST3K: The Return, punctuating every bit of dead air in the godforsaken movie choices, and everyone is at the top of their game. Cry Wilderness, about a little kid who pals around with Bigfoot, stands up to any of the classic episodes.
The Office (2001-2002)
Fans of Dunder Mifflin have Ricky Gervais to thank for the genesis of Michael Scott. This show's the OG, in other words. Though it only ran for two seasons, Gervais' British Office paved the way for a new wave of awkward comedy, turned banal jobs into fertile ground for producing side-splitting workplace laughs, and inspired Greg Daniels and Michael Schur to be their best. It's worth noting that Gervais' original character lives on in Netflix's Life on the Road -- the kind of catch-up project we'd love to see for a certain Agent Michael Scarn.
The Office (2005-2013)
After you watch the British series that inspired it all, you can take a deep dive into bingeing the nine-season-long American adaptation. While little actually happens at paper company Dunder Mifflin, its hilarious, hum-drum employees know exactly how to spend a day in the office by using their time more for inappropriate behavior and pulling pranks on one another than anything else. There's something to laugh about with each of the characters, and was a pinnacle career launch for Steve Carell as the lovable idiot boss, Michael Scott, but when everybody's clashing personality comes together on the day-to-day, it's workplace comedy gold.
Michael Shur and Greg Daniels takes this ensemble workplace comedy to an unsuspecting place: A small-town Indiana Parks and Recreation department, and thank goodness they did. This series, led by Amy Poehler as the devoted public servant Leslie Knope, features an incredible cast of characters that one would only be so lucky to find in a government office. There's the hands-off, libertarian boss Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), man-child shoeshiner Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), cynical intern April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), the glamorous Donna Meagle (Retta), fuckin' Jerry (Jim O'Heir), and so many others. Together, they put up with a lot of ridiculous bureaucratic bullshit, but ultimately they do it because of how much they love their strange town ("First in friendship, fourth in obesity!") and each other -- meaning, this comedy's got a lot of heart.
IFC's hit show wrapped up its impressive run in 2018, so now's a good time to reminisce about what made it great: the bookstore, the goths, the Mayor, the spot-on sendup of hipster culture, and, of course, the inimitable Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen. Get a bird tattoo and shed a single tear.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-2019)
Tina Fey and 30 Rock producer Robert Carlock's comedy tracks the adventures of an Indiana naïf after she is freed from being held captive by a doomsday cult leader for 15 years -- what a premise! Ellie Kemper plays the freed kidnapping victim, who heads to the Big Apple without a clue on how to exist in the modern world. Luckily, Titus, a penny-pinching, Broadway-belting man in desperate need of a roommate, takes her in and trains her in the art of living. Kimmy Schmidt clings to 30 Rock’s goofy sense of humor and drops the cynicism. Beware: It'll take three binges just to catch all the jokes.
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp/10 Years Later (2015 & 2017)
Reboots and spinoffs often fall flat; not so with Netflix's prequel and sequel to the 2001 cult comedy classic Wet Hot American Summer. The strength of this series is its willingness to poke fun at the very nature of the repetitive, sequel-driven boom TV and movies are experiencing, with the same actors playing the characters they originally portrayed as though no time has passed in the decade-and-a-half since the movie appeared. A-listers Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, and Elizabeth Banks give game performances that are bolstered by new faces like John Slattery and Jordan Peele. The show never makes you feel as though you're participating in a cynical nostalgia play (though, let's face it, you kind of are), and while 10 Years Later took a dip in quality, succumbing to the dopiness of its own premise, the steady laughs have us recommending both seasons.