“Is it a comedy or a drama?”
That’s a question you’ll never have to ask while watching any of the shows on this list because each series toes the line between the two genres, almost effortlessly. That means that animated shows about celebrity horses double as deeply poignant meditations on grief and depression while stories about a hired hitman and women in prison lighten things up with the kind of absurdist humor you’d typically find on a late-night sketch series. These are dramedies, the shows that exist in the in-between, delivering the best comedy and drama has to offer and they’re all good.
Who says you can’t have it all?
2 seasons, 12 episodes | IMDb: 8.5/10
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a household name now – one synonymous with a certain Barack Obama-inspired masturbation scene – and it’s because of this irreverent British comedy series that was born on the stage. Waller-Bridge plays the titular Fleabag, a young woman navigating life in London who often turns to sex to cope with her grief and nihilistic depression. The first season is excellent, the second is some of the best television we’ve seen in years complete with a Hot Priest (Andrew Scott) and Sian Clifford who gives a breakout performance and manages to pull off a truly tragic haircut while doing it.
2 seasons, 16 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
For fans who only know Bill Hader from his Saturday Night Live days, his HBO dramedy Barry might be a bit of a shock. We’re a long way from Stefon and the Weekend Update desk, but the change in venue has opened up Hader’s comedy in an exciting, disturbingly twisted way. He plays a Midwestern hitman who travels to Los Angeles for work and ends up immersing himself in a local acting class that challenges his own weird status quo. Henry Winkler plays his no-nonsense acting coach and the two have some brilliant chemistry on screen, but the real treat is watching how Hader manages to make us care about his moral black-hole of an antihero.
Better Call Saul
4 seasons, 40 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
Breaking Bad is regarded as one of the most influential dramas of the past decade but its successor, Better Call Saul, is something different. A hybrid of laugh-out-loud comedic antics and jarringly emotional drama, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have proven they’re capable of once again creating complex characters driven by a dichotomy of motivators by making Bob Odenkirk’s titular character a sympathetic, problem-causing antihero. Reveling in Saul’s self-destruction is equally as fun as rooting for him to win.
2 seasons, 22 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
This fantasy mystery about a pie maker with the ability to bring the dead back to life was way ahead of its time – and not just because it manages to perfectly blend the genres of comedy and drama while also delivering entertaining musical numbers and trippy visuals. It’s the kind of niche fare you’d expect to find as a web series, or a Netflix special, not a show on ABC. And still, for the two seasons, it was on, it worked. Not only did it work, but it also gave us Lee Pace as a well-meaning baker who becomes the hero of this forensic fantasy by bringing murder victims back from the dead to solve how they died. It’s the kind of quirky, romantic show we’ll probably never see again.
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Jean Smart is dominating the content over on HBO and HBO Max but her best work is undoubtedly this dramedy adventure. Smart plays Deborah Vance, a legendary stand-up comedian on her last leg whose Vegas show needs some help. Enter Ava (Hannah Einbinder), a young, up-and-coming comic in need of an image makeover. Their odd-couple dynamic is the draw here as their personalities and generational divides clash backstage. Einbinder more than holds her own, which is high praise because Smart’s never been better.
Dead To Me
2 seasons, 20 episodes | IMDb: 8/10
This Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini-starring dramedy might be the show responsible for ushering in a new genre: the grief-com. Applegate plays a woman whose husband is killed in a terrible hit-and-run accident. She’s mad as hell – that he’s dead and that their picture-perfect life turned out to be a lie. Cardellini plays her sunnily optimistic new friend, a woman she meets in her grief group who helps her get over her grief before revealing she’s the cause of it. The two go on a wild adventure filled with criminal coverups, more murder, and lots of wine but there’s some surprisingly thoughtful story beats hidden below all that bleak humor that helps this show pack a punch.
You’re The Worst
5 seasons, 62 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10
We like to define this criminally underrated FX series as “a show that will kick you in the balls and then pass you a mimosa.” If you’ve seen it, you’ll understand. If you haven’t … well, do you need more incentive than that tagline? Really? Aya Cash and Chris Geere play a laughably toxic couple who you kind of root for over the course of five seasons. We say “kind of” because both of them are the human equivalent of “trash juice” and they consistently make terrible life choices that end up hurting their friends and each other. Still, there are few comedies that so aptly mock modern habits of adulthood while still treating their characters with compassion which makes this show really stand out from the heap of other millennial-driven comedy series.
2 seasons, 21 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
To understand the genius of Donald Glover’s sometimes-comedy series, you simply have to watch it. The show follows Glover’s Earn, a young black man living in the titular city who starts off as basically homeless, struggling to manage the rap career of his cousin, Paper Boi (and excellent Brian Tyree Henry). Over the course of the first and second season, Earn wrestles with issues of race, classism, and his own sense of self-worth. It sounds heavy, it often is, but there’s just enough humor here to help things digest smoothly.
6 seasons, 77 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
BoJack Horseman is not what you think it is. An animated comedy about a talking horse trying to recapture his early days of fame in L.A. is what you think it is, but that’s just the veneer – the hook to grab you and reel you in before the show drops its very funny, often devastatingly sad meditation on depression, anxiety, regret, loss, and the consequences of childhood trauma. It’s an animated sitcom about a washed-up horse, and somehow, it’s also an incredibly profound look at the grittier parts of life. It’s like nothing you’ll find on TV right now.
1 season, 10 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10
Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult star in this period dramedy that riffs heavily off the vibe of Yorgos Lanthimos’ Oscar-nominated flick, The Favourite. Hoult has a hell of a lot of fun playing a sadistic sociopath who just so happens to be the Emperor of Russia. Fanning is his hopeful bride-to-be who comes to the palace looking for love and ends up launching a coup and a plot to murder her new husband. It’s a deliciously fun show filled with absurd characters and too many memeable quotes to count.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
3 seasons, 26 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
Amy Sherman-Palladino is a pro when it comes to crafting heartfelt dramedies with edge and she proves that with this Amazon Prime series starring Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein. Both women are at the top of their game with Brosnahan playing Midge Maisel, the perfect upper Westside housewife who decides to pursue her dream of stand up after her husband leaves her. Borstein plays Susie, her tough and scrappy booker who helps her navigate the male-dominated, heavily sexist scene. There’s a lot of fast-talking, quick-witted comedy that disguises the heavier dramatic moments and makes them land even harder.
2 seasons, 18 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
On its surface, Patriot is a spy dramedy, a show about a man named John Tavner (Michael Dorman), who works undercover for the CIA. His cover is as an engineer for a pipe company. His real mission is to transport materials and money for the agency. He’s good at one, not so great at the other, and plenty of mishaps derail his driving goal along the way – think murder investigations, unruly co-workers, and, oh yeah, his dad. It’s a fairly dark comedy and it might not be for everyone, but it definitely deserves a place on this list.
2 seasons, 20 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10
Ramy Youssef has a gift for taking the most singular of experiences – growing up Muslim in the post 9/11 age while straddling the line between his millennial generation and his immigrant roots – and somehow making it universally relatable. His semi-autobiographically dramedy that follows his character, Ramy, living in New Jersey, searching for his purpose and a deeper connection to his faith, only gets better with more seasons, and more focus on his family members. There are some really outrageous comedic bits sprinkled throughout, but there are also some seriously heavy storylines that should probably come with a warning before viewing.
10 seasons, 122 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
This long-running Showtime series is one of the few incidences where an American adaptation of a cult-favorite British TV series actually does its material justice – and then expands on it, giving us an unreservedly honest look at how hard it is to live in poverty. That’s where the Gallaghers are when we meet them, a screwed-up brood of abandoned kids trying to make ends meet while facing everything from drug addictions to mental illness and an absentee father who can’t help but make their whole situation worse. It doesn’t sound funny, but it is … sometimes.
What We Do In The Shadows
2 seasons, 20 episodes | IMDb: 8.5/10
Yes, this is a mockumentary about a group of thousand-year-old vampires rooming together in a Staten Island mansion. Yes, it’s from the comedic geniuses known as Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. And yes, at one point the characters mistake a Super Bowl party for a Superb Owl party. But despite the rib-tickling antics of its main cast — Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), and Laszlo (Matt Berry) rep for the undead while Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) serves as their familiar and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) sucks the life out of every room he’s in, quite literally – there’s still the heart and high stakes here to qualify it as a dramedy in our eyes.
11 seasons, 256 episodes | IMDb: 8.4/10
M.A.S.H. is one of the first TV shows to toe the previously well-defined line between comedy and drama and even decades later, the dichotomy of its premise still holds up. Following a group of doctors and support staff stationed in South Korea during the Korean war, the series tackled everything from patriotism and a sense of duty to criticism of America’s role in various world wars. It’s one of the most beloved, most-watched TV series of our time for a reason.
9 seasons, 182 episodes | IMDb: 8.4/10
There are a lot of medical dramas on TV but, oddly enough, none of them hit the deeply emotional notes as well as this NBC series. We know you probably thought it was a strict comedy because the episodes that get quoted and the memes that are generated now often focus on its absurd humor. There’s plenty of that, but there are also some of TV’s most likable characters forming friendships, navigating work-life balance, and teaching us life lessons along the way.
Freaks & Geeks
1 season, 18 episodes | IMDb: 8.8/10
One of the worst decisions some nameless TV executive over at NBC ever made was to cancel this coming-of-age dramedy from Judd Apatow after just one season. It’s been 20 years since the show first aired and somehow, it still holds up. That’s because of its cast and creators – names like Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Paul Feig, Busy Phillips, and more who now rule the comedy game but back then, convincingly played a group of high school outcasts surviving painfully relatable rites of passage. It’s also because the stories, while inherently funny, are also authentic and timeless, a fairly complicated formula this show somehow nails on its first try.
Orange Is the New Black
7 seasons, 91 episodes | IMDb: 8/10
This Jenji Kohan-created prison dramedy was one of the first stellar offerings from Netflix when the streaming service first broke ground. It’s also still one of the best original shows the platform’s given fans. Progressively smart, bitingly funny, heartbreakingly sad – OITNB storylines run the emotional gamut, but they all work to humanize people we too often throw away.
4 seasons, 41 episodes | IMDb: 8.9/10
When you’re adapting one of cinema’s most beloved crime thrillers, one crafted by the Coen Brothers no less, you’ve got to take some risks. Noah Hawley does that. His version of Fargo calls back to the film’s premise in the small details but it’s chock full of surprising storylines, shocking violence, prestige talent, and some wildly original character names. It’s eccentricity married with bloody melodrama – the best of both worlds for dramedy fans.
Made For Love
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 6.9/10
If the team from Black Mirror tried to do a rom-com, it’d look something like this. Cristin Milioti (Palm Springs), plays Hazel, a thirty-something woman on the run after 10 years in a suffocating marriage to Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen), a controlling tech billionaire. But escaping her bad relationship is kind of hard with your Silicon Valley lover has implanted a chip in your brain. The show tackles some serious themes – emotional abuse, grief, how tech isolates us, etc – but it always does it with a healthy dose of ridiculousness.
5 seasons, 45 episodes | IMDb: 7.6/10
There’s a reason Senator Elizabeth Warren stans this sports dramedy series starring Dwayne Johnson. Not only is the action star at his comedic best playing Spencer Strasmore, a former NFL player who embarks on a new career as a financial manager to pro athletes in the show’s premiere, but the whole vibe of this show is Entourage on steroids. In other words, get ready to laugh your a** off at some raunchy, physical humor and witty one-liners while ogling expensive suits, fast cars, million-dollar mansions, and a yacht or two.
4 seasons, 44 episodes | IMDb: 7.5/10
Michaela Watkins does not get the credit she deserves which is one reason why we were adamant about praising this Hulu dramedy. She’s terrific in it, after all, playing a forty-something mom whose husband just left her so she and her daughter move in with her womanizing brother – the co-creator of a dating website. There’s an organic, improvised feel to the series, which alternates between funny and heartbreaking as it seeks to find the humor in the devastation of loss and the awkward challenges of finding someone new.
4 seasons, 30 episodes | IMDb: 7.9/10
The premise of this HBO gem – which began as a popular web series – isn’t especially inventive. It’s just the story of an unsure, twenty-something Black woman trying to have it all. And yet, Issa Rae manages to infuse just the right amount of authentic melodrama and absurd situational comedy to make it feel refreshingly different. Come for Rae, stay for the witty insight into female friendship.