The 28 Best TV Comedies from the 2000s That You Can Stream Right Now

The 28 Best TV Comedies from the 2000s That You Can Stream Right Now

The start of the millennium may be remembered more for the dominance of reality competition shows like Survivor, The Amazing Race and Top Chef, and also, for approximately one million one-season sci-fi dramas trying to draft in Lost’s wake. But, amid and around all of those, some pretty good comedies premiered, too. Here are a couple dozen-plus that you can dig in on right now…

30 Rock (2006-2013)

In the fall of 2006, NBC had not one but two shows set behind the scenes at a network sketch show very like Saturday Night Live. One, from Aaron “The West Wing” Sorkin, was a deadly serious look at addiction and legacy — the kind of show where a comedy writer’s visiting parents might end up screaming at him that his “little brother was standing in the middle of Afghanistan!!!” The other, from actual former SNL head writer Tina Fey, was a workplace sitcom about a bunch of ridiculous clowns. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip lasted one ignominious season, while 30 Rock thrived for seven seasons, winning 16 Emmys (including Outstanding Comedy Series for its first three seasons) and a Peabody. Some aspects of the show have fared very poorly, but anyone who’s had an impossible, self-important boss will find something to relate to in its story of put-upon showrunner Liz Lemon (Fey) and Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), the GE microwave wunderkind whose complete ignorance of how television works doesn’t stop him from taking on a job running a network.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2000-)

A half-half-hour show about an anthropomorphic milkshake, carton of fries and uncooked ball of ground beef sharing a suburban house in New Jersey isn’t going to be for everyone. But if you can open your heart to Master Shake (Dana Snyder), Frylock (Carey Means) and Meatwad (series co-creator Dave Willis), absurd delights await. While the pilot introduces them as crime investigators, this conceit is quickly dropped in favor of adventures with their hirsute neighbor Carl (Willis), frequent space visitors the Mooninites and countless other weirdos. Warning: Lines like “That sounds like a personal problem” and “I am 30 or 40 years old and I do not need this” might become part of your permanent lexicon.

Archer (2009-2023)

Sterling Archer (voice of H. Jon Benjamin) is the greatest secret agent the International Secret Intelligence Service has ever seen — just ask him! (Don’t worry: a few seasons in, when a different ISIS started making headlines, the show ditches the name.) But as confident as Archer may be in the field, he’s less assured at home, being forced to work alongside his ex, fellow agent Lana (Aisha Tyler) and under his borderline emotionally abusive mother, Malory (Jessica Walter). The jokes come at the viewer fast and thick — the average episode script is 40 pages long, nearly twice as long as one typically sees for a 22-minute episode — and so, if you can’t place a reference, another one will be along any second.

Arrested Development (2003-2019)

The Bluth family of California’s Orange County are the subjects of this quasi-documentary — explicitly not mockumentary. Patriarch George (Jeffrey Tambor) is a successful real estate developer and father to four adult children, most of whom are living off his wealth. Eldest son George Oscar Bluth II, or GOB (Will Arnett), is an untalented “illusionist.” Daughter Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) is an unfocused philanthropist whose poor attention to detail also extends to parenting her daughter Maeby (Alia Shawkat). Youngest son Buster (Tony Hale) is a permanent student who doesn’t seem to have retained much knowledge from any of the degrees he’s studied for. Only Michael (Jason Bateman), a widower who entered the family business, seems to be capable of functioning in society, but tends to overestimate his talents while denigrating his nearest relatives — though they do make it easy, what with George’s arrest in the pilot for financial crimes. 

Single-camera sitcoms had existed before Arrested Development, but Fox’s breakout critical sensation seemed to redefine what could be possible in the form, with quick and precise cuts among its many locations and characters; the true complexity of what has been constructed can’t really be fully appreciated without a few series rewatches. (If you choose to step away after the original three seasons and skip the ones that were made for Netflix, you’re probably fine.) 

The Bernie Mac Show (2001-2006)

Those of us who will emphatically promote Bernie Mac’s as the most hilarious supporting role in Ocean’s Eleven — thank god this GIF exists or I would have had to make it (snif snif…pout) — were thrilled when the Original King of Comedy started headlining his namesake sitcom on Fox. Mac plays a moderately fictionalized version of himself, enjoying life as a prosperous comic married to a high-powered executive (Kellita Smith’s Wanda). Then misfortune befalls his sister, the never-seen Stacey, and when she enters rehab, Bernie and Wanda take in her three children. Bernie’s crash course in parenting provides the show with myriad funny episode premises, from his shock at how much the new church he brings the kids to imposes on his time to his disappointment when eldest Nessa (Camille Winbush) doesn’t invite him to a daddy-daughter dance. Recurring performers include future Suits star Rick Hoffman, future Claws star Niecy Nash and future black-ish star Anthony Anderson.

Better Off Ted (2009-2010)

The extremely underrated surrealist sitcom Andy Richter Controls the Universe is, sadly, not streaming, but you can still access this later follow-up from its creator, Victor Fresco. Here, Jay Harrington plays Ted Crisp, a middle manager at Veridian Dynamics. The company, as is barely acknowledged in vague interstitial spoof ads, is a multifariously evil organization, forever pitching for military contracts. Ted is ethically neutral but extremely effective relaying orders from his amoral boss Veronica (Portia de Rossi) to the scientists charged with developing the various doomsday devices. Those scientists, Lem (Malcolm Barrett) and Phil (Jonathan Slavin), are the show’s true secret weapons. Ted’s crush on Linda (Andrea Anders) — a new hire who is appropriately horrified by most of what Veridian does — could be hack, but Harrington and Anders have charming chemistry that makes you regret the show’s tragically short run.

Clone High (2002-)

For the first several years after its first season, MTV’s Clone High was a cult hit legitimately accessible only as a DVD set released by the Canadian cable network that had aired it there. Then co-creators Phil Lord and Chris Miller made the 21 Jump Street movies and The Lego Movie and produced the Spider-Verse films and basically amassed enough power to do whatever they wanted — which is get the original season onto streaming (first at Paramount+, now Max) and make a new one, which was released this spring

The premise is about as delightfully overwrought as an animated show can get (think Futurama, but for history nerds): A secret government initiative has been undertaken to clone historical leaders, and when we meet them, they’ve reached high school age. But they’ve retained very few of their clonefathers’ and -mothers’ heroic qualities. Abraham Lincoln (voice of Will Forte) is an indifferent orator, and insecure besides; Joan of Arc (Nicole Sullivan) is brave in some respects, but mostly just pines after Abe; and Gandhi (Michael McDonald), an avowed party animal, is unlikely to hunger-strike for anything. The second season wisely sidelines the controversial Gandhi, and introduces a whole raft of new Zoomer clones to mix with their thawed-out millennial classmates.

The Comeback (2005-2014)

Starring in a wildly successful and long-running sitcom is a “problem” most actors would be thrilled to have, but it does have its downsides — like how to follow it up. After her 10-year run on Friends, Lisa Kudrow decided to take her fate in her own hands co-creating (with Dan Bucatinsky) and starring in this HBO mockumentary. In what is kind of a dark-sided version of what Kudrow’s own story could have been if she’d made a few different decisions and had slightly worse luck, Kudrow plays Valerie Cherish, the star of (based on clips we see) a very average 1990s multicam. 

As we meet her in the present day, Valerie’s been given the chance to audition for a new sitcom, but (a) she doesn’t initially understand that she’s not playing one of the cutie roommates but rather the thankless role of the sexless and annoying Aunt Sassy; and (b) if she gets it, she’ll have to agree to have her comeback documented for a reality show. There is, it seems, no limit to the indignities to which both productions subject Valerie; the highest compliment I can give this cringe comedy is that its ruthlessness makes its sensibility feel practically British.

Community (2009-2015)

By the late aughts, when the U.S. adaptation of The Office (see below) was at its peak, it may have felt like there were no new takes to be had on the workplace sitcom. Creator Dan Harmon came up with a different context in which a bunch of disparate characters might find themselves regularly in each other’s company: They’re all taking the same beginner Spanish class at a Colorado community college, and (kind of by accident) form a study group together. 

What is most notable in retrospect is how spectacular the casting is. Lead Joel McHale (who plays arrogant lawyer Jeff Winger) was somewhat known as the host of The Soup, and even back then, Chevy Chase (moist towelette heir Pierce Hawthorne) had a reputation for jerkitude stretching all the way back to his season of Saturday Night Live. But the rest of the cast were relative unknowns who’ve since become part of the comedy firmament: Alison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown, Gillian Jacobs, Ken Jeong, Danny Pudi and multi-hyphenate superstar Donald Glover. The show is remarkably assured, with some of its best episodes — a GoodFellas spoof revolving around cafeteria chicken strips; an episode that starts as a paintball battle but eventually folds in just about every action movie cliché — appearing in its first (of six) seasons. I’ll be the first to say it lost the thread at various points in its run, and the choice to cast the famously noxious Chevy Chase remains pretty indefensible. But those first few seasons of Community remain rock-solid.

Cougar Town (2009-2015)

Something that may strike you if you revisit sitcoms from the 1970s and 1980s is how they can feel like works in progress, sometimes well into their runs. Remember John from Taxi? Probably not, because he only shows up on the fringes of the first season, only to be unceremoniously dropped and never mentioned again. Newhart tosses its first housemaid character, Leslie, only to replace her with a lookalike cousin with a very similar personality profile, and also gives Bob Newhart’s Dick a whole new job hosting a local TV show. So in this sense, Cougar Town feels like a throwback. 

Created by Bill Lawrence toward the end of Scrubs (see below), Cougar Town was so titled — instead of using other possible titles like 40 and Single or The Courteney Cox Show — because Lawrence thought a “noisy” title would attract more curious viewers. But its lead, Jules Cobb (Cox) is never called a cougar in the show (in an “unbelievably big cheat,” her son attends a high school with a cougar mascot); and while she does date a couple of younger guys in the early going, this notion is quickly abandoned in favor of making it a true hangout show about Jules and the other goofs on her cul-de-sac, including her best friend Ellie (Christa Miller) and eventual love interest Grayson (Josh Hopkins). Everyone’s annoyance at the title becomes a runner in the opening credits for most of the show’s run, but once you get past that, you can settle in and enjoy the shaggy, wine-soaked comedy of early middle age.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-)

After co-creating Seinfeld — a show that topped the ratings for most of its run, famously anchored NBC’s Thursday night Must See TV lineup for years and has continuously aired in syndication since the rights were sold — Larry David probably never had to work again. But the year after Seinfeld’s series finale, he produced and headlined the HBO special Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm. In a departure from the usual format, it becomes a meta-exploration about David returning to comedy to star in an HBO stand-up special, but getting derailed by his own lack of commitment, drama with his agent Jeff (Jeff Garlin) and a misunderstanding between David and his wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines). This ended up being an effective proof of concept for the show we now know as Curb Your Enthusiasm. David and his comic friends play heightened versions of themselves, using loose scripts to improvise Seinfeld-esque plotlines about various annoying aspects of modern life. David never wavers from being his cheerfully irritable self, and is somehow still finding topics to rankle him more than two decades into the show’s run.

Everybody Hates Chris (2005-2009)

The Wonder Years was a gauzily nostalgic look from the 1980s (and early 1990s) back at the 1960s, and the fictional youth of a white kid’s mostly frictionless upbringing. Everybody Hates Chris went another way. Chris Rock, who co-created the show with Ali LeRoi, based it on his own youth, so we watch little Chris (Tyler James Williams) navigate various challenges in his early tween and teen years: getting bused to a faraway and majority-white school in Brooklyn where he’s bullied for being Black; a little sister (Imani Hakim as Tonya) who has no compunction using her status as the favored child against Chris; and a father (Terry Crews as Julius) who is serious about maintaining discipline to keep the household running, and works punishing hours to keep it out of debt. The show was a moderate hit in its day, but watching it now it’s clear that both future Brooklyn Nine-Nine cast member Crews and future Abbott Elementary cast member Williams were huge stars in the making.

Flight of the Conchords (2007-2009)

Before his part co-creating both film and TV versions of What We Do in the Shadows, Jemaine Clement was half of the comedy-musical duo Flight of the Conchords, and when HBO was in a slightly desperate fallow stage — between the series finales of its powerhouse shows Sex and the City and The Sopranos — Clement and his partner Bret McKenzie (who co-created with frequent director James Bobin) were lucky to slide in with this quirk-fest. Clement and McKenzie play fictionalized versions of themselves: musical comics who’ve moved from New Zealand to New York City to try to make it. Murray (Rhys Darby) is both their manager and a staffer at New Zealand’s American Embassy, and unimpressive in both roles; Mel (Kristen Schaal) is the band’s most devoted and possibly only fan. Episodes are punctuated by songs on topics ranging from racist dragons to rocking parties, and are studded with guest shots from comedy luminaries like June Diane Raphael, Sutton Foster, John Turturro and Taika Waititi.

Frisky Dingo (2006-2008)

The day may eventually come when I don’t take the opportunity to scream about how good Frisky Dingo is. But not today! The series tells the story of Killface (voice of creator Adam Reed), an enormous, muscular, stark white alien who, when we meet him, is digging his talons into warning the world that he’s built a doomsday device, The Annihilatrix, and is holding the planet hostage with it. Meanwhile, Awesome-X (Reed again), a costumed superhero in The Town who’s the alter ego of billionaire playboy Xander Crews, is in search of a new challenge and thinks he can leverage an epic feud with Killface to revitalize his brand. Outside of their face-off, they have irritating problems at home: Killface’s troubled son Simon (Christian Danley) keeps breaking cereal bowls; and local TV journalist Grace Ryan (Kate Miller) keeps pressuring her boyfriend Xander for a commitment despite his palpable lack of interest in her. After a literally explosive first-season finale, Season Two goes places no viewer — at least, not this one — predicted.

Girlfriends (2000-2008)

Before co-headlining black-ish, Tracee Ellis Ross broke out in this L.A.-set sitcom. Created by Mara Brock Akil, the show falls into the “four ladies” comedy sub-genre (e.g., The Golden Girls, Sex and the City). Joan (Ross) is a lawyer whose career tends to go better than her love life. Her assistant Maya (Golden Brooks), the youngest Girlfriend, frequently runs afoul of Toni (Jill Marie Jones), a realtor who judges Maya for her unpolished manners. Finally, there’s Lynn (Persia White), Joan and Toni’s college roommate and a hippie-ish free spirit who holds a variety of jobs over the show’s run. Because it’s about four Black women and changed its network home (starting on UPN and transitioning to The CW when the former merged with The WB), Girlfriends doesn’t always get the respect it deserves for centering a romantic comedy on non-white characters — but The CW showed it valued it properly by spinning off The Game, which eventually set a record for the (then-)most-watched sitcom début in cable history.

Grounded for Life (2001-2005)

One of TV’s increasingly few working-class comedies, Grounded for Life was poorly promoted in its initial run on Fox, and sank even deeper into oblivion after Fox canceled it and it was picked up by The WB. But I promise it’s worth figuring out what Fubo is to check it out. Donal Logue and Megyn Price play Staten Island parents Sean and Claudia Finnerty, whose journey as spouses and parents began when they were just 18 — hence the title, describing the situation their kids’ births have left them in. New York indie darling Kevin Corrigan plays Sean’s brother Eddie; Office Space alumnus Richard Riehle (he’s the guy whose at-work injury and invention of the Jump to Conclusions mat sets him up for life) plays Eddie and Sean’s dad, who usually regards Sean and Claudia’s parenting as too permissive. There are kids, which is usually a deficit, but they’re not too kid-y, and the parents’ bumbling and immaturity are key in minimizing the treacle.

Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law (2000-2018)

Cartoon Network Studios’ first adult animation show draws directly from the company’s archives — specifically, the somewhat obscure superhero Birdman. In this take, a spin-off of the similarly-conceived Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Birdman (voice of Gary Cole) has undertaken a new career, practicing law at the firm of Sebben & Sebben, headed up by the cyclopic Phil Ken Sebben (Stephen Colbert). Episodes satirically dig into TV cartoon history — as in “The Dabba Don,” which reimagines Fred Flintstone (Maurice LaMarche) as an extremely Tony Soprano-esque Mafia boss; later episodes reference Batman lore by introducing aspiring crime fighter Judy Ken Sebben/Birdgirl (Paget Brewster), whose ineptitude at keeping her alter ego secret is no match for her father Phil’s obliviousness. The further the show gets from its on-the-nose ties back to classic cartoons in favor of developing its own lore, the funnier it is. 

How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)

Much as Community reinvents the idea of what a workplace sitcom can be, How I Met Your Mother was, in its day, an exciting innovation in marrying serialized storytelling and romantic comedy. The pledge of the series is contained in its title: We don’t need to trust that a man will meet his children’s mother, because we know he already did, and is in fact telling them the story years after the meeting occurred. Ted (Josh Radnor as a single man; an off-screen Bob Saget narrating from the future) is an architect in New York, sharing an apartment with Marshall (Jason Segel), formerly his college roommate; and Marshall’s girlfriend Lily (Alyson Hannigan), whom Marshall met mere hours into their freshman year and has been with ever since. These three are our grounded characters, while their friend group is filled out with Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), a catchphrase-spewing womanizer. In the pilot, Ted meets Robin (Cobie Smulders), and every beat of their first encounter through their date and its aftermath point to her being “Your Mother,” but if you glanced at the years the show ran you can probably make a reasonable guess as to whether she is. It’s not always clear that the show’s creators, Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, are sure where things are going on a season-to-season basis — and the series finale is, unfortunately, very bad — but there are still far more fun episodes than duds.

Jackass (2000-2001)

The four Jackass movies are, as we all know, tremendous achievements that changed culture — nay, the world — for the better. But if you only know Jackass as a film franchise, you’re denying yourself some of the funniest TV of the millennium. Star Johnny Knoxville partnered with Jeff Tremaine (his editor at the skateboarding magazine Big Brother) and director Spike Jonze (who had crossed over from shooting skate and BMX videos to music videos to the Oscar-nominated Being John Malkovich) to co-create Jackass, for which the concept is simple: While seeing gifted athletes nail tricks is cool, seeing them screw up is hilarious — and what if they were trying to do stunts where they could only hurt themselves? 

Knoxville is generally game to abuse his body by, for instance, stress-testing an athletic cup with everything from children’s kicks to a swinging sledgehammer, but he’s surrounded by a crew of skate and BMX veterans who are just as eager to risk broken bones, concussions and legal detention for your entertainment. And if you don’t watch, it will be as though they did it in vain! 

Monk (2002-2009)

While this summer’s biggest success story, Suits on Netflix, was a shock to some, others (me) celebrated the belated but absolutely correct appreciation of the gems of the USA Network’s “blue skies” era — low-key procedurals that place few demands on the viewer’s attention. In fact, Suits is actually at the edgier end of the blue skies spectrum; at the cozier end is the genial cop show Monk. The titular lead is Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub, a two-time Outstanding Lead Actor, Comedy Series Emmy winner for his performance), a former detective with the San Francisco police department who has retired following his wife’s violent death and his consequent nervous breakdown. Living with extreme OCD and assisted by a succession of nurses/assistants, Monk returns to work part-time as a consultant to his former department. The OCD symptoms that hinder him in some aspects of his life also make him highly observant at crime scenes and thus more effective in investigations; along the way, Monk’s quirks drive comedy in his interactions with basically everyone around him. ACAB does include Adrian Monk, unfortunately. But since there is no ethical consumption under capitalism anyway, you’re allowed to have a little fun sometimes.  

The New Adventures of Old Christine (2006-2010)

When we think of the towering TV career of the nearly godlike Julia Louis-Dreyfus, we think of Seinfeld and Veep. But we may forget that among her 11 Emmy awards is one for the first season of The New Adventures of Old Christine. In the unjustly overlooked show (still a syndication mainstay), Louis-Dreyfus is the titular Old Christine; the unfortunate distinction has been added because, as the series starts, her ex-husband Richard (Clark Gregg) has started dating a much younger woman (Emily Rutherfurd) who is also named Christine. When she’s not trying to adjust to this situation, Christine is overbearing with her pre-teen son Ritchie (Trevor Gagnon); she also regularly tramples boundaries with her brother Matthew (Hamish Linklater), who lives in her guest house; and with Barb (Wanda Sykes), her friend, business partner and eventual wife in a marriage of convenience. Strange as it is to say given that Louis-Dreyfus’ next TV role was as the outwardly polished Selina in Veep, the greatest pleasures of Old Christine lie in the relish she takes in being a little gross.  

The Office (2001-2003)

Since, in our day, Ricky Gervais is one of the most irritating people in comedy, it can, paradoxically, be hard to remember that the reason we know him at all is that he played one of the most irritating characters in television… to general acclaim. In addition to co-creating The Office (with Stephen Merchant), Gervais plays David Brent, the regional manager of an unremarkable British paper company’s outpost in Slough, a small city west of London. His employees tend to do their work despite his various intrusions and attempts to engage them in his stultifying comedy bits for the benefit of the unseen documentarians shooting the branch. As the series goes on, the delicate flirtation between salesperson Tim (Martin Freeman) and receptionist Dawn (Lucy Davis) moves from the background to center stage; while the series finale Christmas special puts a perfect button on the show’s brief run, the many international adaptations take different paths…

The Office (U.S.) (2005-2013)

…like the U.S. version, for example. Its pilot is a beat-for-beat (nearly shot-for-shot) remake of the British series premiere, which may be why the brief first season failed to connect with American audiences: too British! But soon enough, producers figured out how to balance the proportions of cringe and heart for American sensibilities, and NBC found one of its biggest comedy hits of the new millennium. Former Daily Show correspondent Steve Carell stars as Michael Scott, the regional manager of an unremarkable American paper company’s outpost in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Like David Brent, Michael is desperately insecure and thirsty for his employees’ approval; like the U.K. version, a romance moves into the center of the story (this one between John Krasinski’s Jim and Jenna Fischer’s Pam). But unlike the U.K. version, the longer series run made room for secondary characters to be explored in more depth. The show probably could have (or should have) stopped when Carell decided to leave and Michael was written out, but just because it didn’t doesn’t mean you can’t. 

Party Down (2009-)

There could be something cynical in one actor who’s made it (Paul Rudd) co-creating a show about several actors — and other creative types — who haven’t. But somehow Party Down manages to place its characters in humiliating situations without feeling like it’s really punching down. Henry (Adam Scott) was an apparently talented actor who, long before the events of the series, was offered a poisoned chalice: the chance to star in a memorable “funny” beer commercial — and even get to utter its catchphrase, “Are we having fun yet?!” Unfortunately, he then became indistinguishable from his commercial character, effectively ending his acting career. Now, he toils as a cater-waiter with other people in a similar situation, including B-movie never-was Constance (Jane Lynch); actor/model/singer Kyle (Ryan Hansen), the kind of handsome idiot who might actually make it; and Casey (Lizzy Caplan), a comic/actor whose marriage is inconvenient given her and Henry’s mutual crush. It’s hard to say Ken Marino is never better than as their manager, Ron Donald, because he’s always spectacular. The show’s run has been short — just 26 episodes, to date — but it’s almost impossible to find a flop among them.

Peep Show (2003-2015)

At first, it’s impossible not to notice the formal innovation of Peep Show: Characters are only visible to the audience in alternating shots from one another’s POVs, so that when they deliver dialogue, it’s generally directly into the camera; in the case of our leads — underemployed wastrel Jeremy (Robert Webb) and uptight bank staffer Mark (David Mitchell) — their perspectives are supplemented by voice-overs of their internal monologues. But soon enough, the style choices fade and the central story draws you in, because the degree to which these two absolute idiots are able to sabotage themselves is utterly fascinating. Peep Show is one of the longer-running British sitcoms, particularly of recent years, and seeing Mark and Jeremy date a variety of women (including future Oscar winner Olivia Colman as Sophie), try a variety of jobs, go through major life events including fatherhood and somehow still not really learn or grow is, unexpectedly, a joy.

Scrubs (2001-2010)

Bill Lawrence’s sitcom about brand-new med school graduates starting their careers at a hospital is not for everyone. For one thing, our lead and narrator is J.D., played by Zach Braff, who was a strong flavor even then and has since only become more polarizing. For another, it has almost as many cutaway fantasy sequences as Family Guy, which is an unorthodox choice for a live-action show. But if you can get past these potential stumbling blocks, there really is a lot to like. Donald Faison plays Turk, a seemingly arrogant surgeon with a deep core of sweetness. John C. McGinley is the new interns’ attending physician and one of TV’s most hilariously angry comedy characters. And Judy Reyes turns in one of the most criminally underrated performances of the decade as Carla, the hospital’s head nurse and the person without whose supervision the place would quite obviously fall apart. Flights of fancy get ever more flighty as the series goes on, but the breadth of its extended universe of secondary and tertiary characters rivals that of The Simpsons.

The Thick of It (2005-2012)

Though there was a too-brief period, in the early days of what was then called HBO Max, when the TV work of Steve Coogan as dorky, self-important TV presenter Alan Partridge was streaming for American audiences, it has tended to be an “if you know you know” kind of thing here. But if you know, you know Armando Iannucci has co-created all of the Partridge shows over the years, and you were very excited when he made The Thick of It. Our anti-hero is Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), the British Prime Minister’s savage and eloquently profane fixer; his main job is, apparently, to keep the Minister of the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship — DoSAC, for short — on task. As Ministers, including Chris Langham’s Hugh Abbot and Rebecca Front’s Nicola Murray, move through the department and in and out of power, Malcolm, and his rage, are the only constant. The show also spun off a feature film, In the Loop, in 2009.

The Venture Bros. (2003-2018)

Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law may be this list’s spoofiest take on a superhero story, and Frisky Dingo the most untethered. The Venture Bros. is the most ambitious. Dr. Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture (voice of James Urbaniak) has followed his late father Jonas (Paul Boocock) into the “super-science” business. However, whereas Jonas was tremendously successful in every arena of his life, Rusty hasn’t surpassed or even matched his achievements — nor those of his twin, Dr. Jonas Venture Jr. (Urbaniak), who has really made the most of his existence given that it began when he was mistaken for a tumor and removed from Rusty’s body. Having been raised by a man who was more interested in “adventuring,” Rusty also abdicates his parental responsibilities for his sons, Hank (Christopher McCulloch) and Dean (Michael Sinterniklass) to the family’s bodyguard, Brock Samson (Patrick Warburton), as though he doesn’t have enough to worry about given the frequent attacks by Rusty’s nemesis, The Monarch (Christopher McCulloch). The show’s planned final season was compressed into a feature-length movie, Radiant Is the Blood of the Baboon Heart, which came out on VOD this summer; though it does, at times, feel slightly rushed, it’s still a satisfying end to the story.

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