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So, you’ve had a day and now you need a pick-me-up where all you have to do is snuggle in and be entertained. Have I got the list for you!
I didn’t put a lot of the usual TV suspects on the list – Arrested Development, Veep, Fleabag – ones that everyone has at least heard about. I tried to only include shows I would definitely watch again and that I’ve told at least one person about and, most likely, changed their life FOREVER.
I also went way back, in case there were some you meant to watch, but forgot about. Streaming, my friend, is giving you a second chance at goodness.
So, without further ado, here are…
I have to start off with W1A as it’s what inspired this list because WHY HAS NO ONE SEEN THIS SHOW?!?! Omg, it is comedy gold.
W1A is a mockumentary, following Ian Fletcher (everyone’s favorite Downtown Abbey dad, Hugh Bonneville) as he starts his new position as Head of Values at the BBC. His role is to steer the BBC into the 20th century, which matters way less than the cast of characters.
He is surrounded by every person you ever worked with at their worst and it is hilarious and painful to watch and I can’t recommend it enough.
2. Twenty Twelve
Which leads me into Twenty Twelve, which is actually the precursor to W1A. We watched them out of order, which feels like the right move – Twenty Twelve is really funny with the same cast of characters, but not quite as honed as W1A (and I want to get you really into these).
The same bumbling cast is tasked with setting up the 2012 Olympics (it’s in old show that holds up, I swear) with ridiculous results that feel like they could actually happen. I watched this year’s Games with a whole new perspective, I gotta tell ya.
3. The Other Two
By this time, I am sure you’ve heard of The Other Two and I’m here to tell you, it’s as good as you keep hearing!
First, I may be a little biased because we found it at the beginning of quarantine and some days it was the bright light that got me through (maybe a little dramatic, but I feel like we’re allowed to be dramatic about that time). I was worried it wasn’t as funny as I remembered, but we watched it again and IT IS.
Brooke and Cary are floundering millennial siblings whose 13-year old brother becomes an overnight superstar and they are a glorious, totally relatable, hilarious mess I can’t stop watching. It’s still a light in my days and I’m not spending half my days wiping down groceries so I feel like it really says something.
Oh, I loved this show!
You know when you’re scrolling and you can’t find anything to watch and then you see something that looks vaguely interesting so you start watching it and next thing you know you’re four episodes in and now you just know you’re going to skip your early morning work out class because you’ve got to get in JUST ONE MORE and how important is it really if you have toned arms?!?!
Yeah, that’s what happened with me and this show.
The gal who plays Jesse (Rose Matafeo, who also wrote it) is so charming and human and real, I couldn’t stop watching or rooting for her as she, a regular gal, dates a movie star. It was a total surprise and so lovely and I can’t recommend it enough.
I have to start this off by saying my sister hated Hacks. She very kindly gave it a go because I wouldn’t shut up about it and then couldn’t get through the second episode.
Don’t worry, I disowned her.
Hacks has depth. It’s about characters that grow and evolve and it’s not in it for the cheap laughs. The glorious Jean Smart plays a stand-up comedian whose tired Vegas act might be on its way out. She hires a smug, young writer to fix up her act and you can imagine how well that goes.
The result is funny, touching, and probably more than – ahem – some sisters know how to handle.
Here’s what I’m discovering about Schmigadoon – you’re either going to be obsessed with it or you’re not going to be able to get through it. Musical numbers? Kristin Chenoweth? Keegan-Michael Key? Omg, you better believe I’m all over this show.
I basically spent my youth watching old movies (I’m not kidding when I say Gene Kelly was my first crush. I was DEVASTATED to see him in “Xanadu” and find out he had gray hair.) and Schmigadoon riffs on every classic movie and musical theater cliché you can imagine and it’s glorious.
And really funny! And fun! Even my husband who doesn’t like musicals liked it! And it has Kristin Chenoweth in the most impressive, do-it-in-one-take number ever recorded! You should give yourself over to it completely and watch it!
7. Office UK
I have to add this to the list, otherwise my marriage would probably fall apart.
My husband LOVES this show and we watch it the way other people watch the American version, which is to say a lot. He also quotes from it ALL THE TIME so if I didn’t watch it, when he says things like, “I’m rock n roll all the way through” I might head outside to see if a Porsche had appeared on our driveway overnight.
Now, if you love the American version, there’s a chance you may hate this one, because it’s even more cringe-worthy, because it’s, well, Ricky Gervais. But, oh, it is so funny. And it holds up really well. And the romance between Tim and Dawn is just as touching as Jim and Pam’s and pretty sure I cried a couple of times because I was so invested. Just sayin’.
8. Party Down
Full disclosure: We watched this a couple of years ago so my memory of it is pretty faint, but I remember crying I was laughing so hard.
And I don’t think it’s just because I worked in catering for many years, my husband also thought it was hilarious (and he’s much tougher to crack so probably a better barometer).
Anyway, I may have just motivated myself to watch it again so let’s all do it together! PARTY DOWN, baby!
9. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
So, this is a good example of a show my husband just couldn’t get into and I couldn’t get enough of.
Remember how much I love musicals? Well, this is basically one long (hilarious) musical about a very smart, driven gal who moves back to her hometown to chase an ex-boyfriend and pretty much loses the plot.
It’s like nothing else. The character Rachel is so unhinged yet glorious, you can’t stop watching. And the songs are SO GOOD and funny and creative. I feel like it’s the reason streaming was created – for weird and wonderful shows like this to find a way to get to us.
10. Better Things
On the other end of the spectrum is Better Things that would never have made it on network TV, but for the opposite reason – it often hits too close to home.
I feel like “Better Things” is hard to explain – it’s jarringly real, seems to happen in real time, and often full of so much pain and love in the same scene. The sort of show my Hacks-hating sister would turn off after the first episode.
But, I loved it while I was watching it. That’s the best way I can think to describe it. It’s not one I’d sit down and be so excited to watch, but I was always super-happy I did when I was doing it.
This is the worst recommendation ever, I realize. It is funny and real and excellent and like nothing else I’ve watched on TV. THERE.
11. Reno 911
The best way to describe Reno 911 is CRAZY PANTS.
Oh, I love this show. If you haven’t watched it, it’s about the Reno police force and is ridiculous, over-the-top, and laugh-out-loud funny as any show on TV. I feel like half the time they would let just tell the actors to go be funny and then they’d do exactly that.
I’m not sure I can completely capture the madness so go watch this clip and if you like it, make a date with your TV.
12. Flight of the Conchords
So many oldies, but goodies! I wanted to put a bunch of shows maybe you’d forgotten or meant to watch and never got around to it, because if you haven’t seen “Flight of the Conchords” IT IS TIME.
Yes, it’s another show with songs, but it is husband-approved so there you go!
It’s about two guys from New Zealand in New York City, trying to make it in the music biz, but none of that really matters because it’s all about the songs. They are so funny. I don’t know what else to say about them except they are so, so very funny and YOU NEED TO WATCH IT.
(Also, Murray their manager is a dream. I still quote him “Hey, I’m walking here!” and I have remembered maybe one quote in my life. Spoiler alert: It’s that one.)
Also, if they ever come to your town, you should DEFINITELY see them in person. That was the hardest I laughed in all of 2016. I mean watch this video and tell me I didn’t just make your week.
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