The 21 Best TV Comedies from the 1990s That You Can Stream Right Now

Equipped with this knowledge, your remote control is basically a time machine back to 1993
The 21 Best TV Comedies from the 1990s That You Can Stream Right Now

A lot of big changes went down in the 1990s. The presidency changed from Republican to Democratic control. The internet evolved from the sole domain of nerds to an indispensable resource. And roller skates stopped having one wheel in each boot corner and lined all four up in the middle of the sole. While all these seismic shifts were going on, viewers could still rely on a pretty steady stream of great comedy on TV.

Which comedy shows from this era are worth revisiting — or watching for the very first time? Here’s an alphabetical list of all the best sitcom, sketch and dramedy series that premiered between 1990 and 1999, that are currently available to stream (click each title’s link for all its U.S. sources), and that will still make you laugh.*

3rd Rock from the Sun (1996-2001)


In the Ohio college town of Rutherford, four aliens disguised as a human family try to blend in and learn about Earthling society. While expedition leader Dick Solomon (John Lithgow) gets a job teaching physics at Pendelton State University — and a crush on his colleague, Mary Albright (Jane Curtin) — Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has to endure high school despite being the crew’s oldest member; security officer/second-in-command Sally (Kristen Johnston) uneasily attempts to meet expectations of American womanhood; and Harry (French Stewart), a last-minute mission addition who serves as a proxy for his crewmates to communicate with their leader, the Big Giant Head (William Shatner), has both the fewest responsibilities and the greatest ability to interact with humans he encounters. Created by ex-Saturday Night Live writer/husband-and-wife team Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner, the show was showered with Emmy attention, leading the comedy pack in 1997 with eight nominations and five wins.

The Ben Stiller Show (1992-1993)

After an MTV iteration since lost to time, The Ben Stiller Show — co-created and headlined by the titular Stiller — came to Fox. Stiller and his co-stars Andy Dick, Janeane Garofalo and Bob Odenkirk performed sketches about dating, other popular Fox shows and Charles Manson, from a writing staff including future Odenkirk comedy partner David Cross, future Community writer Dino Stamatopoulos, and future comedy godfather Judd Apatow. Though the show was canceled in 1993 after just 13 episodes due to low ratings, it went on to win the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program later that year.

The Chris Rock Show (1997-2000) **

Whereas some SNL alumni parlayed their fame into poorly fitting sitcoms — there’s no point asking if you remember the Rob Schneider vehicle Men Behaving Badly, because you don’t — Chris Rock burnished his cred as a standup superstar, then co-created this talk/sketch show for HBO. Unfortunately, Rock’s co-creator was Louis C.K.; fortunately, it also brought the great Wanda Sykes to a broader audience, and won the 1999 Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program. 

The Critic (1994-1995 )

Simpsons writers Al Jean and Mike Reiss co-created this adult animation series about Jay Sherman (frequent Simpsons guest voice Jon Lovitz). The titular critic, Jay hosts a TV show in which he reviews movies, most of which fall well short of his high standards; in clips, the Critic voice talent spoof contemporary movie actors and their corny star vehicles. A third season of webisodes was produced at, but the site ceased operations and those are no longer available.

The Dana Carvey Show (1996)

The titular Carvey was another SNL alumnus who returned to sketch for his follow-up vehicle, but anyone expecting him to revive beloved, crowd-pleasing characters like The Church Lady was probably disappointed by the first episode, in which Carvey plays then-president Bill Clinton using his lactating nipples to feed real baby animals. Louis C.K. crossed through this one too, as head writer, but so did Dino Stamatopoulos, Jon Glaser (future star of Delocated), Robert Carlock (future 30 Rock producer) and Charlie Kaufman (future Oscar winner for writing the screenplay of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). The show is also partially responsible for launching the careers of Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. It’s so influential in comedy, in fact, that in 2017 Hulu premiered a documentary about it, Too Funny To Fail.

Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005)

Before he hosted food documentaries, Phil Rosenthal’s most important achievement was creating Everybody Loves Raymond. A star vehicle for the successful stand-up comic Ray Romano, the show recast him as Ray Barone, a newspaper sportswriter living on Long Island with his wife Debra (Patricia Heaton) and their children. Directly across the street live Ray’s parents, Marie (Doris Roberts) and Frank (Peter Boyle), and his brother Robert (Brad Garrett); that Ray’s family members have no boundaries is a reliable source of conflict between the households — that, and the fact that Marie loves Ray to a nearly worshipful degree while disdaining his wife and ignoring his brother. Over its long run, the show won 15 Emmys, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Frasier (1993-2004)

Cheers fans spent part of that show’s final season watching Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth) struggle through the last throes of their marriage. And while things get pretty bad — like, very public suicide attempt bad — viewers didn’t have to wait too long to see him recover: Just months after Cheers ended its run, NBC premiered Frasier, in which the titular character moves back to Seattle, his hometown, and embarks upon a new career as a radio call-in host. The cast is rounded out by Frasier’s psychiatrist brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce); Martin (John Mahoney), the retired-cop father who’s apparently never known what to do with his elegant sons; Roz (Peri Gilpin), who produces Frasier’s radio show; and Daphne (Jane Leeves), a live-in housekeeper/physical therapist helping Martin recover from a shooting before the events of the series. It won a staggering 37 Emmys, including consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series for its first five seasons. A revival is coming to Paramount+ later this year.

Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)

Before Paul Feig was the acclaimed director of Bridesmaids and The Heat, he created this semi-autobiographical dramedy. Set in the Detroit suburbs, starting in 1980, the show revolves around siblings Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) and Sam (John Francis Daley). Lindsay has always been a serious student — even a Mathlete! — but part of the way through her high school career, she decides to change her image, making friends with a group of “freaks,” who are indifferent to academics and mostly listen to heavy metal and smoke weed. Meanwhile, Sam remains loyal to his geek brethren, Bill (Martin Starr) and Neal (Samm Levine), despite ostracism from the larger high school population. The show appears among the earliest acting credits for Busy Philipps, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel (freaks Kim, Ken and Nick), and came from executive producer Judd Apatow — not his first appearance on this list, nor his last.

Friends (1994-2004)

Siblings Ross (David Schwimmer) and Monica (Courteney Cox) form the nucleus of this show’s group of friends. It also includes Monica’s ex-roommate Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow); Ross’ former college roommate Chandler (Matthew Perry), who lives across the hall from Monica; and Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Chandler’s roommate. In the series premiere, the five are hanging out at their local coffee house when a bedraggled bride bursts in: It’s Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), formerly Monica’s best high school friends, and Ross’s long-standing crush. Once Rachel ditches her wedding, and her privileged life on Long Island, she moves in with Monica and starts over as a waitress trying to learn self-sufficiency. The show was a ratings juggernaut for NBC starting almost immediately after its premiere, and made comedy superstars of all six of its leads. 

Futurama (1999-)

New York pizza delivery boy Fry (voice of Billy West) doesn’t have huge plans for the turn of the millennium. He’s seeing out 1999 at work, and when the clock strikes midnight, he’s dropping off a pizza for an apparent no-show at a cryogenics lab. Leaning too far back in a chair, he falls into a cryo-chamber, the dial spins, and the next thing he knows, he’s waking up in New New York in the year 3000. Before long, Fry is meeting his nearest descendant, Professor Hubert Farnsworth (West again); the professor’s crude robot Bender (John DiMaggio); and starting over — along with his cryogenic counselor Leela (Katey Sagal) — working for the professor’s package delivery service. The show shares creator Matt Groening with The Simpsons, and has gone through many networks and runs; the latest revival is set to launch on Hulu in July.

Home Movies (1999-2004)

Creator Loren Bouchard had a cult hit with his Squigglevision show Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist — also an excellent comedy show of the 1990s that is, tragically, unavailable to stream at the moment. He then followed it up with Home Movies, co-created by and starring Brendon Small. An adult animated show that is, counterintuitively, about children, it follows the 8-year-olds Brendon (Small) and his friends Jason (H. Jon Benjamin) and Melissa (Melissa Bardin Galsky) as they amuse themselves after school making their own short films. During school hours, they goof around with the barely competent Coach McGuirk (Benjamin again). Small would go on to co-create the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse; Bouchard is still running his follow-up, the tremendously popular Bob’s Burgers.

King of the Hill (1997-)

After his first show, MTV’s Beavis & Butt-Head (1993-), became a gigantic multimedia sensation, creator Mike Judge followed it up with a more traditional, less controversial adult animation series that could reside with The Simpsons on Fox’s schedule. In King of the Hill, Hank Hill (Judge) sells propane and propane accessories in Arlen, Texas. Outside of work time, he lives with his substitute teacher/newspaper columnist wife Peggy (Kathy Najimy), son Bobby (Pamela Adlon) and niece Luanne (Brittany Murphy). Hank also has plenty of time to drink beer with his neighbors: exterminator/conspiracy theorist Dale (Johnny Hardwick); depressive Army barber Bill (Stephen Root); and mush-mouthed ladies’ man Boomhauer (Judge again). Its deep bench of voice talent includes Jennifer Coolidge, Johnny Knoxville, Chris Elliott, Danny Trejo and Matthew McConaughey, to name just a few. Though it has yet to be scheduled, a Hulu revival was announced earlier this year.

The King of Queens (1998-2007)

When we meet him in the pilot, everything’s going great for Doug (Kevin James): He has a union job as a delivery driver for the (fictional) International Parcel Service that lets him work every day in shorts; and he and his wife Carrie (Leah Remini) are still in the newlywed phase of their marriage. Then Carrie’s irascible father Arthur (Jerry Stiller) loses his home, and Doug’s treasured basement rec room has to be reassigned for Arthur to live in full-time. Admittedly, the first season and a half is a very generic couple-com, with most of the comedy deriving from clashes between Arthur and Doug. But as producers figure out Remini can actually do comedy, Carrie gets sharper (and meaner), and the show really comes into its own. 

The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998)

Arguably HBO’s first great sitcom, The Larry Sanders Show is set behind the scenes at the titular late-night show. Garry Shandling (who co-created it with Dennis Klein) plays Larry, the neurotic host of the long-running talk show, who stresses about everything from his status at the network to his appeal to the female celebrities he interviews to his comedic cred. Attempting to save Larry from his worst impulses are his unflappable assistant Beverly (Penny Johnson Jerald) and executive producer Artie (Rip Torn); generally less helpful are Larry’s sidekick Hank (Jeffrey Tambor) and writers (including Jeremy Piven’s Jerry and his eventual replacement as head writer, Phil, played by Wallace Langham). While most stars who come through play either themselves or “themselves” — the latter distinction will make more sense when you arrive at David Duchovny — there’s also a pre-fame Janeane Garofalo as talent coordinator Paula, and a pre-fame Bob Odenkirk as Stevie, Larry’s agent. Actual, non-fictional writers include future NewsRadio creator Paul Simms, future Modern Family creator Steven Levitan, future 30 Rock writer John Riggi and our old friend Judd Apatow.

Living Single (1993-1998)

It’s not for me to say whether Friends is a ripoff of Living Single: I’ll leave that to Google, where a search for “is friends a ripoff of living single” returns close to 6 million results. For example, there’s this one, in which Friends star David Schwimmer had to apologize for a 2020 Guardian interview in which he suggested, “Maybe there should be an all-Black Friends” and was quickly told there was one that had been on the air a year when Friends came along. Created by Yvette Lee Bowser — an alumna of A Different World and a future EP on Netflix’s Dear White People and Run the World on Starz — the show revolves around the residents of a Brooklyn brownstone. In one apartment are magazine editor Khadijah (Queen Latifah), fashion buyer Régine (Kim Fields) and Synclaire (Kim Coles), Khadijah’s cousin and would-be actress; Khadijah’s college friend Max (Erika Alexander) is a frequent visitor. Across the hall are stockbroker Kyle (T.C. Carson) and building super Overton (John Henton). Guest stars (including love interests) include Gladys Knight, Marsha Warfield, Heavy D and Cress “Black Lightning” Williams.

Martin (1992-1997)

Martin Lawrence parlayed his fame as a stand-up comic into his eponymous Fox sitcom, which reimagines him as Martin Payne, a DJ at a Detroit radio station. Martin lives with his girlfriend, and eventual (spoiler) wife Gina (Tisha Campbell), a PR professional, and frequently spars with her best friend, Pam (future Everybody Hates Chris and The Neighborhood star Tichina Arnold). Lawrence also plays a panoply of non-Martin characters, including elderly security guard Ol’ Otis, blaxploitation star King Beef and (probably most notoriously) hairstylist Sheneneh. Guest stars include In Living Color alumni David Alan Grier and Tommy Davidson, future Bel-Air star Reno Wilson and future White Lotus star Jon Gries.

Mr. Show with Bob & David (1995-1998)

After cutting their teeth on some of the most important comedy shows of the era, the titular Bob Odenkirk and David Cross set up their own sketch show, Mr. Show, at HBO. Anchored by studio segments in which Cross and Odenkirk, as “themselves,” address their live audience, shows continuously flow from one sketch to the next, Monty Python’s Flying Circus-style. The supporting cast includes future SpongeBob SquarePants voice star Tom Kenny, future alt-comedy/podcast mainstay Paul F. Tompkins and future Capitol insurrection defendant Jay Johnston. Mr. Show also had a spinoff of sorts in Tenacious D (1997-2000), in which the titular metal gods Jack Black and Kyle Gass get into various sitcom/fantasy calamities.

NewsRadio (1995-1998)

Dave Nelson (Dave Foley of The Kids In The Hall) leaves Milwaukee for his first big radio job: News Director at New York City’s WNYX. Though he probably expected a lot of pressure jumping to such a big market, what he couldn’t expect — because it’s crazy — is that the station’s eccentric owner, Jimmy James (Stephen Root) would expect Dave to start his tenure by firing his predecessor (Kurt Fuller). Dave is generally the steadiest personality at the station, as compared to bickering anchors Bill and Catherine (Phil Hartman and Khandi Alexander); clumsy reporter Matthew (Andy Dick); goofy assistant Beth (Vicki Lewis); and reporter/math genius/on-and-off Dave love interest Lisa (Maura Tierney). Joe Rogan plays the station engineer, also named Joe. But whatever your feelings about Rogan may be today, NewsRadio is still one of the most consistently funny workplace sitcoms ever.

Northern Exposure (1990-1995)

It’s absolutely fair if shows like Gilmore Girls or Hart of Dixie have soured you on shows where the quirky small town it’s set in is almost like its own character, but Northern Exposure really is one of the original exemplars of the genre. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) attended medical school thanks to a financial boost from the state of Alaska. Once he finishes his residency, he is (somehow) shocked to learn that he’s expected to pay back his funding by spending four years as the town doctor in Cicely, Alaska. There, he meets retired astronaut/town father Maurice (Barry Corbin); pub owners Holling and Shelly (John Cullum and Cynthia Geary); radio host Chris (John Corbett); and Grosse Pointe deb turned bush pilot Maggie (Janine Turner). Fun fact: After Morrow and co-creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey left the show after the first four seasons, showrunning duties were taken over by (among others) future Sopranos creator David Chase.

Sex and the City (1998-2004)

When dating columnist Candace Bushnell partnered with Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place creator Darren Star to adapt her book into a sitcom, the result was a perpetual buzz machine. The City is New York (of course), where dating columnist Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her best friends — lawyer Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), gallerist Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and publicist Samantha (Kim Cattrall) — mix and mingle with a lot of different men. Most notoriously, these include Carrie’s mysterious Mr. Big (Chris Noth), but the guest star love interests include Mikhail Baryshnikov, Kyle MacLachlan, Justin Theroux, John Slattery and Jon Bon Jovi, among many others. The show eventually spun off two feature films, prequel series The Carrie Diaries, and famously Samantha-less sequel And Just Like That.

Strangers With Candy (1999-2000)

When she was a teenager, Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) washed out of high school because she was too busy doing drugs and sex work to attend classes. After several prison stints for various misdemeanors, a 46-year-old Jerri returns to her childhood home, where her mother Sara (Deborah Rush) and brother Derrick (Larc Spies) openly revile her, and her father (Roberto Gari)… well, it’s complicated, and watching the show doesn’t necessarily clarify it? 

Anyway: Jerri decides to complete her education not with a GED course, but by re-enrolling in high school and attending classes in middle age, where she (generally inappropriately) interacts with her teenaged classmates and gets iffy advice from teachers Geoffrey Jellineck and Chuck Noblet (series co-creators, with Sedaris, Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert), who are also in a very secret love affair. Though a prequel film followed in 2006, it is (as of this writing) not available to stream. 

* These shows are all products of their era; expect at least some jokes/characterizations/situations/cultural assumptions to bump you.

** Only four of the five seasons of The Chris Rock Show are available to stream anywhere.

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