There is an abundance of dark TV comedies being made right now that are impressively varying in tone and format, like Bill Hader’s hitman comedy Barry, or Fleabag, the brilliantly deranged comedy about a woman struggling after the death of her best friend.
Sometimes, though, we don’t want dark. We don’t always want scathing, intellectual satire that makes us think, or awkward humor that makes us visibly cringe. Sometimes we just want to binge a show that makes us smile and feel comforted. A show where the stakes aren’t too high, the variables are minimal, and the characters feel like our friends.
Sometimes, we just want a hug (and we just finished binging Parks and Rec for the 47th time, so we need something new)!
The Good Place
From the brain of Michael Schur (known for writing The Office AND Parks and Rec) comes this feel-good show about second chances, with twists and turns that keep you on your toes. Though everyone in this show brings it to the table, Ted Danson is particularly fantastic in his plethora of snazzy bow ties, as is D’Arcy Carden as Janet, who is definitely NOT a robot.
Where to find it: NBC and Netflix
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Created by the quick-witted Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls), this show tracks its namesake, Mrs. Maisel, as she brawls her way through Manhattan’s 1950’s comedy scene to the astonishment of everyone in her life — including herself. While you would think a story about a woman’s life falling apart during an oppressive and unforgiving era for women would be a dramatic downer, Palladino manages to somehow allow us and Mrs. Maisel to be vulnerable without feeling exposed (above picture notwithstanding).
Where to find it: Amazon Prime
The Detectorists has the same pacing, humor, and temperament as The Great British Baking Show. Two unusual mates scour fields for gold, forever in competition with other equally eccentric and aggressive detectorists. Though undeniably British, this show doesn’t utilize the common awkward and edgy type of humor typical of other UK shows, such as The IT Crowd and The Office (original UK version, obviously).
Where to find it: Netflix
Whose Line is it Anyway?
Though many know this show from when Drew Carey hosted, Aisha Tyler has been hosting since the 2013 re-launch with most of the original cast. The series brings out that knee-slapping, guffaw-bellowing, tears-brimming kind of laughter. With some hilariously surprising guests (looking at you, Kathy Lee), this show is a true barrel of fun.
Where to find it: The CW
Bob’s Burgers has a committed cult following, and if you ask them, they will give you a multitude of reasons why. Things always end up working out for the Belcher family, mainly because, above all else, they stick together. With hilariously bizarre musical numbers, heartfelt life lessons, and embracing your odd individuality, this show is like a warm blanket at the end of a dismal November day.
Where to find it: Fox
The Durrells in Corfu
Set in the 1930s, a British family decides to start over on a Greek island with no real preparation, experience, or plan. Almost too charming for its own good, the Durrells provide a wholesome escape without a shred of irony.
Where to find it: Masterpiece Theater on PBS
Part of the fun of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the family that creates it — both onscreen and off. The cast is sweetly supportive of one another and was devastated after Fox’s cancellation before the show was picked up by NBC. This show has been under the radar for years, yet the characters interact like a well-oiled machine without it feeling tired or repetitive.
Where to find it: Formerly Fox, new home on NBC
Life in Pieces
Like Modern Family before it, Life in Pieces focuses on a large family with multiple vignettes per episode. Not only does it have the adorkable Colin Hanks, but it finds that balance between legitimate life problems and the comedic situational absurdism we all crave at the end of a long work day.
Where to find it: CBS
Like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Superstore’s ensemble cast has impressive chemistry from the eclectic characters, whose eccentricities range from naive quirkiness to sardonic wit. Its diversity feels organic while seemingly not having a political agenda. Despite each episode’s escalating shenanigans, it is always an easy watch that will keep your blood pressure down.
Where to find it: NBC
At this point, what hasn’t been said about the amazing Queer Eye reboot? It will make you laugh, cry, and possibly start flipping imaginary long hair while screaming “Yass!” at random strangers. Though all five are fabulous, Jonathan Van Ness is the sweet angel that has been missing from our lives, flitting between sass and sincerity seamlessly. Nearly all episodes are filmed in and around Atlanta, providing a side of Southern living that normally isn’t seen by coastal driven content. If anyone can unify this country, it’s these five gentlemen.
Where to find it: Netflix
If you like Game of Thrones and are a fan of Jonathan, check out his Emmy-nominated web series Gay of Thrones, where he cuts guest’s hair while they discuss the latest episode, complete with character nicknames like “evil Gloria Estefan” and “baby Barack Obama.”
Where to find it: http://www.funnyordie.com/gayofthrones