With doom and gloom running amok on the evening news, we’re living at a time in history where everyone could use a good laugh. With that in mind, we here at Goliath have put together a list of 11 classic sitcoms that’ll make you laugh until your midsection hurts. Some of them are still on the air and some have been cancelled, some were on network TV and some were on premium cable, but all are sure to cure whatever ails you with a heaping dose of good times.
11. Better Off Ted (2009 – 2010)
This short-lived, yet much loved series ran on ABC and starred Jay Harrington as the head of research and development at the fictional Veridian Dynamics, an overwhelmingly evil corporation with a penchant for meddling in global affairs and creating killer robots (to name a few). The show, narrated by Harrington and with consistent breaks in the fourth wall (he addresses the audience directly), is heavy on the satire and features Portia de Rossi as the titular Ted’s very, very difficult boss, Veronica Palmer. The rest of the supporting cast is solid, especially Andrea Anders as the principle love interest. And the show throws an interesting wrench into the mix by making Ted a single father, with emphasis on how his position in such an evil company will impact his daughter’s development moving forward. It’s a smart show with a lot of heart, and while it only ran for two seasons, it’s well worth watching if you’re in need of a smile.
10. Episodes (2011 – Present)
A refreshing fusion of British and American humour, this Showtime original series stars Stephen Mangan and Tasmin Greig as a husband/wife screenwriter team who move to Los Angeles to adapt their successful British television show for an American audience. Things go awry when the television network begins to meddle in the show, heavily altering the premise and insisting upon the casting of Matt LeBlanc, formerly of Friends, in the lead role. LeBlanc, who plays a delightfully fictionalized version of himself, turns out to be a crass, arrogant and difficult to work with, leading to innumerable shenanigans as a strange triangle develops between the three leads. It’s a well-written show that leans heavily on LeBlanc for laughs, but it works; the stark contrast between this role and his more familiar one as Joey Tribbiani is enough to have most watchers howling by the end of the first episode.
9. Bored to Death (2009 – 2011)
Sticking with premium cable, this quirky little show ran on HBO for three seasons and starred Jason Schwartzman as Jonathon Ames, a struggling novelist who, after being inspired by a Raymond Chandler novel, begins a second career moonlighting as a private detective. With help from his best friend Ray (played by the always hilarious Zach Galifianakas), Jonathon solves several cases before being derailed by women and work. The show’s off-kilter brand of humor works perfectly with Schwartzman, whose awkward lovability remains his most winning characteristic on-screen. The show’s supporting cast, which features both Ted Danson and the underrated Olivia Thirlby, is also stellar. Danson, in particular, provides a whole host of laughs as the wealthy and eccentric George Christopher.
8. Workaholics (2011 – Present)
There’s nothing quirky or cute about this Comedy Central series, written by stars Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine and Anders Holm; it’s raunchy, puerile and filled with obscenities (in all their forms). It’s a hilarious combination that centers around three young men working at a telemarketing firm, where they attempt to earn a living while whittling away the hours until the next big party. The show focuses on the “in-between” phase of young adult life, between college and a career, with the main characters definitely closer to college than career. Blake, Adam and Anders, (the actors/writers retain their first names for their characters) and the lovable gang of losers they work with, are capable of providing endless hilarity with their frat-esque shenanigans, and the show is well worth a watch for anyone with a soft spot for that type of humor.
7. Life’s Too Short (2011 – 2013)
This one may not be for everyone, as it’s oh-so-British as far as the humor goes. As dry and awkward as a show can be, Life’s Too Short follows the adventures of Warwick Davis, an actor who happens to be a dwarf and is best known for playing Wicket the Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983). Warwick, who runs a small person talent agency where he is the sole client, has had some trouble finding work in recent years, and the show follows his exploits as he attempts to continue his career on the silver screen, usually by annoying his good friends Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The show features excellent guest spots by a whole mess of famous actors/actresses (there’s a cameo by Liam Neeson that will have you laughing so hard your insides will hurt) as Warwick attempts to forge new friendships he can exploit for parts in films and television. A great watch for those with a soft spot for British humor.
6. Happy Endings (2011 – 2013)
This light Friends rehash follows six young adults living and working in Chicago. When Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) decide to call off their wedding at the last second, the group dynamic changes as everyone tries to cope with the changing landscape. A very underrated show that had the misfortune of being labelled a “relationship sitcom,” when in truth the romantic relationships took a back seat to the shenanigans the friends got into on an episode-to-episode basis, Happy Endings is a great binge-watch for anyone looking for something smart and breezy with lovable characters; in particular, both Damon Wayans Jr. and Adam Pally bring riotous laughs to the table.
5. Party Down (2009 – 2010)
Here’s one you may not have heard of, but you can rest assured the laughs are here in ample supply. Party Down ran on Starz for only two seasons, but drew rave reviews and has developed a bit of a cult following since it’s cancellation. Starring Adam Scott (pre-Parks & Recreation) as a failed actor who takes a job at a catering company (filled mostly with other aspiring actors/actresses), the show is a deft exercise in how to write clever dialogue and craft lovable characters. The ensemble cast, which features a variety of contemporary comedy stars before they were household names including Jane Lynch, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr and Ken Marino, is absolutely terrific, with the banter between them remaining a highlight of the show even after repeated viewings. While the show’s second season is not as strong as the first, it remains a worthwhile watch for those looking for a new sitcom that’s a little off the beaten path, so to speak.
4. The League (2009 – Present)
Not unlike Workaholics, The League is a show the revels in the raunchy guy humor that’s become such a hit over the past decade. Aired on FX and following the conniving and manipulative members of a fantasy football league as they compete yearly for the top spot (and the coveted “Shiva” trophy, named after the homely valedictorian of their high school class), this show is a must-watch for any sports fan or anyone in the mood for some serious guy comedy. Starring Mark Duplass, Nick Kroll and Jon Lajoie (among others), it’s a hilarious meditation on masculinity in the contemporary age and illustrates just how far some people might go to win a fantasy football league. Truth be told, the football plays a much more integral part to the show at the beginning and seems to be phased out as the show progresses, perhaps to open it up to a wider viewership, an excellent idea considering the cast’s awesome chemistry and their ability to generate laughs just on conversation alone.
3. Archer (2009 – Present)
This one’s a whopper. Airing on FX, Archer is an animated series which sees the audience follow Sterling Archer, intolerable buffoon and super spy, while he and his team take on a variety of covert operations. The show, most aptly described as James Bond meets Arrested Development, is an absolute riot and a must-watch for anyone out there invested in excellent writing, hilarious voice acting and a big old dose of satire. Filled with in-jokes, one liners and the best banter currently on TV, Archer is a testament to the possibilities of animation; the show looks great, it plays great, and it just is…great. Seriously, do yourself a favor and watch this one. You’ll find yourself howling at the dysfunctional interactions between Archer and his mother, voiced by the always sour Jessica Walter, or at the maniacal mad scientist Krieger (Luck Yates), or at one of the innumerable hilarious guest spots they feature on the show (Brian Cranston, Timothy Olyphant and David Cross, to name a few).
2. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005 – Present)
The longest-running show on this list (and for good reason), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia also airs on FX and revolves around the owners of a small, dingy south Philadelphia bar, Paddy’s Pub. Created by the cast, which features Charlie Day (Charlie Kelly), Glenn Howerton (Dennis Reynolds), Rob McElhenny (Mac), Kaitlin Olsen (Dee Reynolds) and Danny DeVito (Frank Reynolds), the show plays like a darker, twisted version of Seinfeld, where mean spirits and excessive alcohol consumption are the name of the game. Filled with next level hijinks, ridiculous plot developments and some of the most downright awful people you’ll ever see on TV, the show is simply too funny not to have seen. Don’t get us wrong, it’s dark (not disturbingly so, just comedically), but it’s #2 on this list for a reason; we’ve told you there’s 10 seasons of sheer hilarity waiting for you on Netflix, it’s your job to go seek it out.
1. Arrested Development (2003 – Present)
It was kind of a foregone conclusion that this would be #1, wasn’t it? Was there really any doubt? Arrested Development has a long, storied history of critical acclaim and commercial failure, yet it’s legacy persists to this very day where it’s enjoyed a renaissance on Netflix, with the fourth season being released as recently as 2013 (after a 7 year hiatus). With an ensemble cast featuring Jason Bateman, Jessica Walter, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi and Michael Cera, among many others, the show is exactly what you’d expect from the weirdest, smartest and most dysfunctional sitcom in the history of TV. It’s so smart, in fact, that a good deal of the jokes require a second viewing to fully register, and a handful might even require a third viewing of the series to fully wrap your head around it. Seriously, it’s that funny and it’s that good. The show, which has always lacked a mainstream following (although that’s changed in recent years due to the overwhelming amount of good media attached to it), is set to return for its fifth season via Netflix sometime in 2016, an event its rabid fan base are eagerly awaiting.