If you’re a fan of Arrested Development you’ll know that season five premieres this week on Netflix. But when you run out of new episodes – where do you go from there? We take a look at five other comedies that you might like to binge-watch.
Anthony and Joe Russo, who directed multiple episodes of Arrested Development, and enjoy adding Bluth-based Easter eggs into their work on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, also worked as executive producers on the first three seasons of Community. What Community also shares with Arrested Development is that it is based around a dysfunctional group of individuals – a study group at a community college, who in essence become a sort of family, if a somewhat incestuous one – and that it is Clever with a capital C. Now – advance warning – it takes a few episodes to find its feet, but once it does, it really takes off. It is packed full of pop-culture references – it stacks them up – and is just so quotable. It does pastiche and parody incredibly well, dedicating entire episodes to specific films, TV shows, and genres, creating stories that are tightly-written and laugh-out-loud funny. This is a show that can turn a glee-club into a horror movie and a paintball tournament into a vision of a vicious dystopian society. It’s fast-paced, self-referential, and liberally scattered with jokes and Easter-eggs that you’ll miss first time round. Which is fine, because Community is also eminently re-watchable, and deliciously bite-sized at 22 minutes per episode.
Arrested Development’s Jeffrey Tambor plays Maura Pfefferman in this touching comedy-drama about a trans woman coming out to her family. The 30 minute episodes see Maura’s ex-wife and children accept, examine, and sometimes struggle with her transition, whilst also exploring issues around their own genders and sexualities. There are no cheap laughs here, and the gentle humour comes from the very human drama of family dynamics with which most of us can identify. The characters are all flawed but highly likeable, and the meandering stories are nonetheless compelling. It’s a very adult show – expect sex scenes and graphic descriptions – but none of it is vulgar, and all of it is beautifully written and shot. If you’re a fan of Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat (and who isn’t!), you’ll be pleased to know that she makes an appearance in several episodes of the fourth season. This award-winning Amazon Original comes highly recommended, and will make you laugh as it opens your eyes.
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Currently standing at twelve seasons, Always Sunny might contain some of the most self-obsessed, sociopathic, and stupid characters on television. Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton) and his twin sister Dee (Kaitlin Olson) own Paddy’s Pub, which they run alongside friends Mac (Rob Mc Elhenney) and Charlie (Charlie Day), and their father, Frank (Danny DeVito, season two onwards). They spend their time cooking up ridiculous schemes, competing over the pettiest of things, manipulating one another for personal gain, and inflicting pain and damage on each other for entertainment. If this all sounds like car crash TV, well – it isn’t. Whilst the actions of the characters are base and to be condemned, the writing is tight, intelligent, and not afraid to throw into the ring issues such as gun control, racism, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. It has ongoing plotlines, call-backs and recurring characters, and comedy that will make you cry tears of laughter and horror. The Reynolds and their friends are certainly no Bluths, although they’d probably like to think they were, and if the two sets of characters could ever meet – well, that’s a crossover episode that I’d pay to watch.
As dysfunctional families go, it’s hard to beat the actually-not-related-at-all characters of 2006’s 30 Rock. Tina Fey plays Liz Lemon, harassed head writer and showrunner of an SNL-style sketch show, who has to wrangle lazy writers, egotistical stars, and a fractious boss, whilst juggling an increasingly chaotic personal life. She is essentially mom to this bunch of wailing children who are her colleagues and her friends. Created by Fey, and based on her own experiences whilst working on Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock satirises the American entertainment industry itself, as well as the ridiculous demands put upon career women, and the near impossibility of being able to ‘have it all’. Its humour is both clever and silly, and we laugh at Liz Lemon and her disasters at the same time as we are rooting for her. 30 Rock is an easy watch, and ran for seven seasons, so you can afford to get invested.
If the comedy of family dynamics is your thing, then look no further than the mockumentary style of 2009’s Modern Family. It revolves around three families: Claire and Phil and their three children; Claire’s brother, Mitchell, his husband, Cameron, and their adopted daughter; and Claire and Mitchell’s father, Jay, his much younger second wife, Gloria, their new baby, and Gloria’s son from a previous marriage. Fair warning: it’s not good with the stereotypes. Or rather – it is. It seems to happily reinforce stereotypes of gender roles, sexuality, and ethnicity, amongst other things. It’s definitely problematic, despite trying to be progressive. And yet it has a certain obvious charm to it, despite its flaws. Modern Family has a high volume of mainstream appeal, and is fairly family friendly if you’re willing to put aside its problematic content.