The Greatest Comedy Shows You’ve Never Heard Of

Since many of Netflix and Hulu's popular comedies have been being removed, what are some of the best lesser known comedies on streaming services?

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Since many of Netflix and Hulu’s popular comedies have been being removed, what are some of the best lesser known comedies on streaming services?

Netflix has had a tough year. In the span of just a couple of months, Netflix and its counterpart, Hulu, have lost some of their biggest titles: Friends, The Office (both U.S. and U.K.), Mad Men, Parks and Recreation, and many other top-tier shows have disappeared from the catalogues of their respective streaming services (most can still be found elsewhere but come on, who is paying $7 a month for the IMDB streaming service?). While it may seem like all the greatest comedies are slowly disappearing, there are still a lot of great TV shows out there that many either haven’t heard of or haven’t considered. Here is a list of comedy shows from both Netflix and Hulu that are definitely worth your time. 

Arrested Development (Netflix, Hulu): Arrested Development was a show made for binge-watching a decade before streaming services even existed. Premiering in 2005, Arrested Development tells the story of the Bluth family, a “wealthy family that loses everything” when the family’s patriarch, George Bluth Sr., is arrested for embezzling money through his real estate business. After George is incarcerated, his well-meaning son, Michael Bluth, must take over the family business. Unfortunately for him, this means dealing with the eight other members of his lunatic family, including his conniving mother, Lucille; emotionally stunted brother, Buster; and brother-in-law, Tobias, a doctor who leaves his job in order to pursue his dream of acting. The show holds the title of one of the best comedic ensembles of all time, with each of its nine main characters being consistently hilarious from episode to episode. But the show’s greatest factor is the absolute tidal wave of running jokes that inhabit every season. Every episode is so densely packed with visual gags and callbacks that you can find new jokes with every re-watch. For real proof, visit the “Previously, On Arrested Development : NPR” page, a website dedicated to documenting the hundreds of running jokes that run throughout the show. The tightly-knit story, unconventional narrative, and painfully funny moments make Arrested Development a show that is near-impossible to stop watching, and one that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. 

Episodes to start with: “Pilot 

Has the show ended?: Yes 

Episode count: 84 episodes across five seasons 

Pro Tip: If you make it all the way to season four, do not watch the version first given to you by Netflix. When season four was released, it was re-edited into a new set of episodes, titled Arrested Development: Fateful Consequences. The vastly superior original cut is still available; it’s just hidden in the “Trailers and More” section. 

What We Do in the Shadows (Hulu): What We Do in the Shadows takes one of the strangest premises you’ll find for a comedy show and runs with it. The show focuses on a group of four vampires living in modern-day Staten Island. When they are visited by their old vampire friend, The Baron, he tells them that they must take over all of North America– a goal they had forgotten about in the past 300 years they spent in America. The mockumentary-style comedy takes a couple episodes to really fully utilize its ridiculous concept, but once it fully embraces its weirdness, What We Do in the Shadows turns into one of the most hilarious shows on Hulu. Fans of The Office will appreciate its high levels of cringe-comedy (more than half of the jokes come from the vampires having no understanding whatsoever of modern society), and horror-movie buffs will love the incorporation of monster mythology into the humor. Really, you should give this show a chance; if you make it through the first couple of episodes, you’ll be surprised by how funny the show is. Or you could just skip to Episode 4, where things start to really pick up. 

Episodes to start with: “Pilot,” “Manhattan Night Club” 

Has the show ended?: No. A third season has already been confirmed and will debut around summer 2021. 

Episode count: 20 episodes across 2 seasons 

Fargo (Hulu): Fargo is as dark of a comedy as you’ll find. Based on the popular Coen Brothers film of the same name, Fargo is an anthology-crime series that focuses on regular people that make big mistakes. The first season tells the doomed story of Lester Nygaard, an insurance salesman who finds himself entangled with a dangerous hitman passing through town. The two become acquainted, and Lester’s curious new friend eventually convinces the insurance salesman to commit a rather grim crime. The show masterfully walks the line between funny and dark, and as Lester’s lies (and body count) grow, so does the humor. The show is also incredible to look at; the cinematography, costumes, usage of split-screen, and the snow-filled highways of Minnesota where the show resides all work together to deliver one of the most visually fascinating shows on TV. But what makes Fargo so special is that every season of the show tells a completely different story: so with every ten episodes you get a new setting, cast, and time period. Season two focuses on a gang war in the 1970s, season three tells the story of a small parking-lot company being taken over by a massive, secret corporation, and season four, which was just released a couple of months ago, follows two crime families fighting for power in Kansas City, 1950. Every season is interconnected, yet each has an entirely different tone and brand of humor. Together, they make Fargo one of the most original shows that you’ll find, as well as one of the most addictive. 

Episodes to start with: “The Crocodiles’ Dilemma,” “The Law of Vacant Places,” or “Welcome to the Alternate Economy,” if you want to watch the show in chronological order. 

Has the show ended?: Unclear. A fifth season has yet to be confirmed, but the show’s creator has said that he has an idea for another story to tell. 

Episode count: 41 episodes across four seasons 

Pro Tip: If you do want to watch the show chronologically, the order of seasons would go 4, 2, 1, 3, but I would recommend watching in order of release first. Seasons 2 and 4 work because of many references to previous seasons, and by starting with them you’re losing that extra layer of enjoyment. 

Documentary Now! (Netflix): An unabashedly weird show, Documentary Now! is a TV show that is made up entirely of fake documentaries. The anthology show, starring SNL alum Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, is basically a collection of deranged television episodes that are shot and told as if they were documentaries. Documentary Now! has a wide variety of stories in the mix: there’s “Sandy Passage,” a documentary about two elderly women who live in a dilapidated mansion, “Juan Likes Rice and Chicken,” which focuses on a restaurant that only serves chicken and rice, “Co-Op,” a filmed cast recording for a musical that doesn’t exist, and many, many other uncomfortably strange episodes. The show doesn’t have too many setup-punchline jokes, but gains most of its humor just from bizarre scenarios. Its tone and premise may not be for everybody, but if you’re a fan of absurd humor or extreme cringe-comedy, this may be the show for you. 

Episodes to start with: “Sandy Passage,” “The Eye Doesn’t Lie,” “Location is Everything” 

Has the show ended?: No. A fourth season has been confirmed. 

Episode count: 21 episodes across 3 seasons. 

BoJack Horseman (Netflix): BoJack Horseman, a Netflix Original show, is advertised as a mean-spirited adult animated show in the vein of Family Guy or South Park. And while the first couple of episodes certainly fit this template, BoJack slowly turns into a moving comedy-drama about the effects of alcoholism and depression on a person’s life. The show focuses on BoJack, an actual horse man who was a sitcom star in the ’90s (the show takes place in a universe where people are half-human, half animal. It is never addressed). Thirty years later, as he enters his fifties, BoJack hires a ghostwriter to help him write a novel about his life with the hopes of making a comeback. As far as bingeing goes, the story of BoJack Horseman is so incredibly well done that it feels like one long, six-year-spanning movie. And while at many times, the show feels like an absolute punch to the gut, it can also make you laugh out loud mere seconds later. Earlier episodes aren’t nearly as well done as future installments, but things really pick up by season two, and by the time the excellent finale arrives, you’ll be cracking up in between silent sobs.  

Episodes to start with: “BoJack Horseman: The BoJack Horseman Story: Chapter One” 

Has the show ended?: Yes. 

Episode count: 76 episodes across 6 seasons.