Sometimes, when it’s 2pm and you’re still in your jammies watching yet another repeat episode of The Big Bang Theory on E4, it gets hard to believe there are actually some pretty funny TV shows out there. But there are. Really! There are comedies out there that don’t revolve around laugh tracks and making lame jokes out of the protagonists. How exciting!
I understand that these shows aren’t being showed in syndication on E4, making watching them just a little harder than sitting back and channel hopping. But only a little harder. So choose a method – be it boxset, 4OD, or less legal means – and get laughing.
Community is, as this post suggests, a TV show for nerds, as opposed to a “Har har, look at dem silly smart peoples” TV show in the guise of a TV show for nerds. It’s endlessly funny, with pop culture references up to the gills – and the fun part is, you actually have to SPOT them. FOR YOURSELF. Which makes the experience even more rewarding, cos you can pat yourself on the back for being cool enough to get them. Or else you can just enjoy the bromance of Troy Barnes and Abed Nadir, which is probably the most special fictional friendship ever to be documented on screen. Seriously. I just watched those clips I linked (for research purposes) and I am now in tears. Tears of mirth.
2) Arrested Development
“Now for the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.” If I was so inclined, I would say Arrested Development is “so meta”, because it is. It could self-reference itself for days. Plot points are foreshadowed/referred back to in any number of ways, making it a very rewarding show to re-watch. Centered on a colourful (to say the least) family of oddballs, as well as a few bizzarre/awesome celebrity cameos, Arrested Development is one of the most critically acclaimed comedy shows of all time, to borrow a phrase from my good friend Yeezy. It was cancelled after three seasons, meaning you have no excuse to catch up before the fourth series is released on Netflix this year. I don’t even know why I’m telling you this, because according to my Facebook cover photo, about 17 of you like Arrested Development already! Good for you guys.
Before Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright made Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and the upcoming The World’s End, they were making Spaced. Pegg stars as Tim, a beanie-hatted comic book store clerk who moves in with eternally procrastinating writer (sounds familiar) Daisy Steiner. The series, which only ran for two seasons (again, NO EXCUSE) has all sorts of fun referencing every single nerdy thing that ever existed, and is really interesting for being a good picture of what the end of the 90s/start of the 00s looked like – terrible clothes, rubbish music, etc. I spotted Jessica Stevenson (Daisy) on Chris O’Dowd’s Moone Boy, appearing very briefly as as the weird host of the rip-off Weight Watcher’s video Martin’s mother buys. Incidentally, both Community and Spaced feature episodes that revolve around games of paintball, which the characters take veeeerrry seriously.
4) 30 Rock
I tried to minimise the amount of US comedy shows on this list, but damn do they make good comedy. 30 Rock, which is currently wrapping up its last season (boo), is just another example of the Yanks getting it right. It has so many amazing characters – Liz Lemon, of course, but also the NBC head honcho Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin, forever suave), the attention-seeking Jenna Maroney, the perenially cheerful page Kenneth Parcell and occasionally Tracy Jordan, who veers too much into manchild territory for my liking (I might write post about this. I don’t care if it’s supposed to be funny, I can’t handle extremely immature men in my comedy.) One of my favourite episodes is the “Queen of Jordan” episode, where I got that wonderful clip in my About section. People do like the way she says “ham”.
I wrote about Girls before, and I’ll probably write about it again, because I have so many feelings about it. Girls is funny, but not in the same way as any of the shows above. It’s not about out and out gags – you’re laughing because, oh my god, that happened to you just the other day. Or you know exactly how that feels. Or that didn’t happen to you and you don’t know how it feels but you can totally imagine it happening to you. Lena Dunham is, though people don’t want to admit it, a very important voice in the entertainment industry. Ugh. Just read my other post. So many feelings. You’re probably not convinced by this slobbery account, but I will say this: if for nothing else, watch for the character of Shoshanna Shapiro. That is all.