Late last year, our post The 15 Best Series on Netflix Instant went over so well that I thought I’d narrow the scope purely down to comedies, and for those looking for recommendations out of the norm, eliminate some of the more obvious choices like Louie, Parks and Recreation, and Arrested Development. It’s hard to recommend a show that no one has ever heard of — we’re all too hooked in these days that nothing really gets by us — but these are 10 great comedies that maybe flew under your radar. Or maybe you forgot about them before you got around to watching them. Best of all, they’re all available on Netflix Instant, so you can get started tonight (after Louie, of course).
Better Off Ted — Better Off Ted is like Arrested Development set in a corporate environment, so in a way, it’s a bit like The Office with a far more offbeat, skewering sense of humor. If that’s not enough to sell you, then all you need to know is their formula for the perfect swear word: Take a person’s most marked physical feature, pair it to genitalia, and end with the suffix tard, gobbler, f–ker. suckler, diggler, gurgler, puffer, queefer, guzzler, jacker, groper, or felcher. (Video Awesomely NSFW)
Green Wing — Green Wing is kind of like the British version of Scrubs, only it’s infinitely more bananas. It is ridiculous, off-the-wall, and almost completely unhinged. Yet, once you get past the odd editing style, Green Wing is as addictive as it is bizarre. Check out the (NSFW) clip (and zip ahead to the 1:00 mark) for a profanity-laced rant that would make Dr. Cox proud.
The Inbetweeners — Another brilliant British sitcom (being made into what looks like a dreadful American one for MTV), The Inbetweeners is a cross between The Wonder Years and American Pie, only far more filthy and hilarious than either one, yet it still manages to hit those poignant Kevin Arnold notes. It’s probably the best coming-of-age sitcom of the last ten or 15 years. Again, the clip is NSFW because even shows targeted at teens in the UK are profanity-fueled.
The League — Yes, it’s about fantasy football, but no, not really. It basically combines the sense of humor of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with the structure of Curb Your Enthusiasm and boasts one of television’s funniest ensembles. Understanding or even caring about fantasy football is completely unnecessary, although a love of mail-order ties and three-penis wine is helpful.
Raising Hope — Yes, it’s on a network, and by rights, it shouldn’t have been overlooked, but it is by most people, notwithstanding the lead-in it gets from New Girl. It comes from the guy behind My Name Is Earl, but unlike Earl, Raising Hope hasn’t yet worn out its white-trash welcome. If you’re only familiar with Garrett Dillahunt from dramas like Deadwood, his brilliant comedic stylings may blow your mind, and he and Martha Plimpton make for the funniest husband and wife on television (after Brad and Jane in Happy Endings). Here’s some adorable, hilarious season one bloopers to whet your appetite.
Spaced — One of the 10 Geekiest Shows in the history of television, Spaced pairs the brilliant comedic duo, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), and along with Jessica Hynes, they basically do a more straightforward version of what Dan Harmon did on Community: Riff on their pop-culture obsessions, from Pulp Fiction to Sixth Sense to countless comic book and video games. Also, I’m not saying that Dan Harmon took the idea for a paintball episode from Spaced, I’m just saying, the idea had been done before.
Bob’s Burgers — I don’t know if this is a safe space to admit it, but I don’t really like any of the other Fox animated sitcoms. Seth MacFarlane gives me hives (except for Ted, which I hated myself for loving), but Bob’s Burgers stands out from the Fox animated crowd in large part because of the brilliance of H. Jon Benjamin (also the voice of Archer, but you already knew that). Bob’s Burgers often pushes the boundaries of good taste, but it does so with less superficiality — curse word curse word retard curse word — than Seth MacFarlane, and without resorting to the standard MacFarlane formula.
Reaper — There’s almost never a good reason to turn your channel to The CW, but Reaper once stood as one of the few exceptions. A combination of Dead Like Me, Chuck, and Clerks, Reaper combines geekery, slacker deadpan, and the supernatural into the amazing comic performances of Bret Harrison and Tyler Labine, who are never as good as when they’re together (see, e.g., all their other shows combined). Ray Wise as the devil is the cherry on top.
Terriers — I know, we’ve recommended Terriers on many occasions on UPROXX, but apparently, it’s still not working. Why? Because if enough of you were watching it, Netflix wouldn’t be talking about resurrecting Jericho, they’d be talking about bringing back Terriers, one of the best canceled-too-soon series of the last five years (and yes, I realize it being in the comedy category is debatable, but that’s how Netflix categorizes). So, if you haven’t yet done so, check out the darkly comic, wonderfully structured, smartly acted priviate-detective series from part of the brain team behind The Shield, the screenwriter of Ocean’s 11, and Donal Logue.
Slings and Arrows — Slings and Arrows is one of the toughest shows to sell. How do I convince anyone who doesn’t like the theater or Shakespeare to check out a show about a theater company that puts on Shakespearean plays? I don’t know; I haven’t figured it out yet (though, note that I don’t like Shakespeare or theater, either). It’s also a Canadian show, so strike three, right?
Nevertheless, I urge you to give it a chance: It’s three seasons, 18 episodes in all. It’s one of my ten favorite series of all time. It’s funny. It’s intoxicating. It’s amazingly written. It launched the career of Rachel McAdams. My colleague over on Pajiba said it best: “Slings and Arrows will not, in all likelihood, change your life. It is not the best series ever. It is, however, so impeccably written and acted, and so self-contained and purposeful in its execution that you might be led to think otherwise. At least for a few fleeting moments.” Find someone else that has seen Slings and Arrows. They’re few and far between, but they will all back me up on this.