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The best Netflix original comedy series to help you survive this week

Great Netflix comedy series tend to fly under the radar, but we’re here to remedy that.

Updated

Netflix is releasing new original content every week. This constant flood of new arrivals can seem overwhelming, especially when your watchlist is already over-populated with acclaimed titles you never find the time to get to. Between buzzy series, compelling documentaries and Oscar-worthy movies, there’s so much original content available that binging it all would entail quitting your job and becoming a hermit. No wonder some hidden gems end up slipping through the cracks. And when it comes to comedy, that’s a shame. With a few notable exceptions, comedy series aren’t as hyped as drama releases like Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why or House of Cards. You may be missing out.

True, Netflix original comedy shows are a mixed bag. But for every flop (we’re looking at you, Real Rob), there are three other charming series that will more than make up for it. The service is still experimenting with formats and genres, looking to satisfy even the toughest subscribers out there. As a result, regardless of what type of humour you fancy, it’s impossible not to find at least one title that will appeal to you. From animated shows featuring a talking horse to a touching dramedy about life in prison, there’s something for everyone. To help you make sense of the madness, we’ve picked the best of the best.

The top 10 comedy series to watch

  1. BoJack Horseman
  2. Master of None
  3. One Day at a Time
  4. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  5. Grace and Frankie
  6. Dear White People
  7. Lady Dynamite
  8. Orange is the New Black
  9. Love
  10. GLOW

1. BoJack Horseman (2014 – Present)


BoJack Horseman, although critically acclaimed, might be Netflix’s most underrated comedy series. It’s an animated show that centres on a has-been actor who just happens to be a horse. Because you see, the series takes place in an alternate world where humans and anthropomorphic animals live side by side. In Season 1, BoJack, the protagonist, is struggling to relaunch his career by writing a memoir with the help of a ghostwriter.

Despite a rocky start, the show grows on you, mainly thanks to the clever dialogue and skilled voice work. And after you’ve watched the first few episodes, the series starts to throw all sorts of emotional punches your way. Despite its satirical tone and countless visual gags, BoJack Horseman is one of the most realistic depictions of depression ever portrayed on television. It also deals with trauma and self-destructive behaviour. Four seasons are available to binge and it is as thought-provoking as it is hilarious.

Cast:

  • Will Arnett as BoJack Horseman
  • Alison Brie as Diane Nguyen
  • Aaron Paul as Todd Chavez
  • Amy Sedaris as Princess Carolyn

2. Master of None (2015 – 2017)


This acclaimed series won three Emmys and a Golden Globe, among other numerous accolades. Master of None follows Dev, a millennial who navigates life in New York while trying to jump-start his career as an actor and elevate his dating life. The series has charm, heart and humour, which makes it stand out from the crowd in spite of the familiar premise.

Master of None tackles subjects from immigration to religion to sexism in an extremely compelling way. And besides sharp observations about life, romance and culture, the show also offers an amazing soundtrack and great performances by the entire cast. Master of None might not change your life, but it’s likely it will help you become a better person. Worst case scenario, it will simply remind you to treasure all the small joys that come your way. Two seasons are currently streaming on Netflix.

Cast:

  • Aziz Ansari as Dev Shah
  • Eric Wareheim as Arnold Baumheiser
  • Lena Waithe as Denise
  • Kelvin Yu as Brian Chang

3. One Day at a Time (2017 – Present)


A remake of the 70s sitcom with the same name, One Day at a Time revolves around a Cuban-American family. The show focuses on a single mom dealing with PTSD, her kids and her Cuban mother, all living under the same roof. And despite being a comedy, it tackles important issues such as immigration, sexism, mental illness and racism to name a few.

One Day at a Time is compulsively watchable due to its cleverness and touching nature. The series takes the formula of the classic family sitcom and elevates it to fit modern times. It’s familiar, yet incredibly refreshing; and you’re clearly missing out from not tuning in. Two seasons are available to binge.

Cast:

  • Rita Moreno as Lydia
  • Isabella Gomez as Elena
  • Todd Grinnell as Schneider
  • Justina Machado as Penelope

4. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015 – Present)


One of Netflix’s biggest comedy hits, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is quirky in all the right ways. When a woman is rescued from a doomsday cult and lands in New York, she must navigate a world she didn’t think even existed anymore. Determined to be seen as anything besides a victim, Kimmy puts on a happy face and quickly restarts her life. It’s a charming and endearing show that might not have worked without a brilliant performance from Ellie Kemper.

While the show’s originality will make you tune in, its heart will make you stick around. Despite its dark premise, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a hilarious, feel-good series. It’s a story about losing yourself in the big city and finding your way in the process with a little help from your uniquely bizarre new friends. Three seasons are currently on Netflix, with the fourth scheduled to premiere in May.

Cast:

  • Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt
  • Jane Krakowski as Jacqueline Voorhes
  • Tituss Burgess as Titus Andromedon
  • Carol Kane as Lilian

5. Grace and Frankie (2015 – Present)


How often do we get to watch a show about elderly women living their best lives? And when those women are portrayed by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, you know you’re in for a treat. Grace and Frankie follows two unlikely friends after their husbands announce that they are in love and plan to get married. The women are forced to live together and help each other cope with the surprising news.

The stellar cast definitely adds to the show’s appeal. Besides Fonda and Tomlin, we have Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen in supporting roles. The cast has great chemistry and it’s obvious from the very first episode that everyone’s having a lot of fun portraying these wacky characters. The series isn’t without flaws, but it’s highly entertaining and emotionally complex. And when it focuses on character-driven storytelling, it’s almost perfect. Four seasons are available to binge.

Cast:

  • Lily Tomlin as Frankie
  • Jane Fonda as Grace
  • Sam Waterston as Sol
  • Martin Sheen as Robert

6. Dear White People (2017 – Present)


Based on the movie with the same name, Dear White People follows a group of black students who face social injustice at a predominantly white school. Besides the finale, each Season 1 episode focuses on a particular character. It’s a rich, witty comedy that will give you lots of things to ponder upon besides making you giggle. The series explores life on campus through the eyes of mostly black students, who are rarely at the centre of the narrative.

Despite its satirical nature, the show makes storytelling its main focus, so viewers get a chance to connect with the characters and understand what they’re going through. All in all, Dear White People is relevant and necessary. And you can stream Season 1 right now.

Cast:

  • Logan Browning as Samantha White
  • Brandon P. Bell as Troy Fairbanks
  • Antoinette Robertson as Coco Conners
  • Ashley Blaine Featherson as Joelle Brooks

7. Lady Dynamite (2016 – 2017)


Lady Dynamite won’t be everybody’s cup of tea. It’s goofy, it’s weird, and it deals with some heavy subject material. The show follows stand-up comedian Maria Bamford as she’s trying to rebuild her life after spending six months away in recovery for bipolar disorder. Viewers also get flashbacks that provide insight into Bamford’s backstory.

The show mainly focuses on Bamford’s real-life experiences. It gives us a unique perspective from someone navigating personal and professional relationships while dealing with mental illness. More importantly, the show manages to keep things funny, which is a true feat. Two seasons are available to binge on Netflix.

Cast:

  • Maria Bamford as Maria Bamford
  • Fred Melamed as Bruce Ben-Bacharach
  • Mary Kay Place as Marilyn Bamford
  • Ana Gasteyer as Karen Grisham

8. Orange Is the New Black (2013 – Present)


Although it leans more towards the dramatic, this Netflix hit is still perceived as a comedy-drama. It’s also one of the most watched original shows the streaming service has ever made, even surpassing House of Cards. That’s probably thanks to the talented ensemble cast and wonderful writing.

Orange is the New Black revolves around Piper, a woman in her 30s who is sentenced to 15 months in Litchfield Penitentiary, a minimum-security women’s federal prison. However, especially from Season 2 onwards, the series shifts focus from Piper and gives Litchfield’s other, more interesting inmates their time in the spotlight. Overall, the show is a balanced mix of dark humour and grit, giving viewers an unfiltered look at life in prison. Five seasons are currently streaming.

Cast:

  • Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman
  • Laura Prepon as Alex Vause
  • Uzo Aduba as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren
  • Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols

9. Love (2016 – 2018)


This unconventional rom-com is a down-to-earth look at dating, exploring male and female perspectives on romantic relationships through the damaged main characters, Gus and Mickey. It’s a sweet comedy, but nothing close to sappy. In fact, it’s cynical enough to appeal even to the grumpiest of viewers.

Depending on the episode, you’ll find yourself rooting either for or against Gus and Mickey’s relationship. The two are an unlikely pair, and both of them are reluctant when it comes to intimacy, love and everything else that comes with a serious relationship. Two seasons are currently on Netflix, with a third schedule to drop on the streaming service in March.

Cast:

  • Paul Rust as Gus Cruikshank
  • Gillian Jacobs as Mickey Dobbs
  • Claudia O’Doherty as Bertie Bauer
  • Chris Witaske as Chris

10. GLOW (2017 – Present)


Set in Los Angeles in the 80s, GLOW revolves around a fictionalization of the characters and gimmicks of the 1980s syndicated women’s professional wrestling circuit, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. At first sight, the series is mainly about a group of scrappy women learning how to wrestle. In fact, GLOW is so much more than that. It’s a story about women in all their messed-up glory, and it takes the time to give everyone in the diverse cast a chance to shine.

GLOW is less about wrestling than it is about sisterhood and unlikely friendships between women. And not to be overlooked, Alison Brie gives the perfect performance as main character Ruth. One season is currently on Netflix.

Cast:

  • Alison Brie as Ruth
  • Betty Gilpin as Debbie
  • Marc Maron as Sam Sylvia
  • Britney Young as Carmen Wade

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