20+ Comedy Sitcoms to Binge Watch When You're Feeling Low

by - August 10, 2020

2020 has been hard. There really is no way around that fact. We have all struggled at multiple levels, be it physically, professionally, financially or mentally. The stress of the unknown alongside the worries of getting a possibly fatal disease like COVID19 has driven most of us to the edge. 

Taking a break from the horrors of the world and diving into the fictional world of television shows may seem like escapism to some but my take has always been different. 

I always advocate that, in trying to heal, we need to hold onto anything that can help bring a smile on our faces. And if it means living a vicarious life for even a brief period of time alongside tv characters who bring you peace, it is fine. 

I would know. These characters have saved me during some of my worst moments across years.

A List of 20 Comedy Sitcoms to Binge Watch

Anyway, as you can guess from the title, this article will be dealing with television shows that act as anti-depressants and ease your mental stress. 


Things I have looked for while compiling this list included: 
  • not having to invest too much into the characters, 
  • the ability to jump right in at any episode and still understand the character dynamics and 
  • no heavy handed message lurking within the subplots. 
To give you an example, shows I love like The Wonder Years, M*A*S*H* and Scrubs will not be making it to this list because alongside their brilliant writing aimed at making you smile, there are tough life lessons imparted. After writing about the equally great Arrested Development, I have since cancelled it from this list purely because the brilliance of that screenplay frequently involves gags starting in one episode with the punchline often a season later!

They are awesome but this list is for you to just relax and laugh. You earned it.

Without further adieu, here are over 20 television shows to binge watch when you are feeling low.


30 Rock 

(7 Seasons, 138 episodes)
One of the most critically acclaimed comedy sitcoms of all time, Tina Fey's show about the struggles of the head writer at a dysfunctional television comedy show (meta much?) filled with the most eccentric characters ever. From Alec Baldwin as her cocky boss to Tracy Morgan as the deranged star of her show, the series was lively and laugh-out-loud hilarious right till the end.
Trivia: Like most shows in this list, 30 Rock had a sedate first season as it tried to find its footing. From Season 2, it was as though the characters were let off the leash and it shows (I would actually say start from Season 2, you will understand the dynamics fairly quickly.) At its peak, its writing was so fast-paced that one blogger actually sat and calculated that the show had 10 jokes per minute! Since you will miss some jokes as the quips come hard and fast, this show is ideal for a re-viewing. This show works because no cast member is relegated to the sidelines - everyone's eccentricity just adds up so wonderfully.



Parks and Recreations

(7 Seasons, 125 Episodes)
Having spoken about Tina Fey, it would be criminal of me not to speak about her real-life best friend Amy Poehler. The 'mockumentary' style show follows the workings of the staff in the Parks department headed by an earnest young woman Leslie Knope. 
Trivia break: Like with 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation was slow off the block but picks up beautifully by Season 2. For me, this show is less about LOL moments and more about pure positivity and sunshine - you will never not be smiling while watching it. And believe me, that is such an amazing quality for a show to have. Where do I begin? Nick Offerman as Leslie's boss is an iconic character with his own meme series (that is when you know you've arrived!), unafraid of anything barring his two ex-wives Tammy 1 and Tammy 2. Stars from this show really hit it big on the main screen, including Rob Lowe, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari & Aubrey Plaza, to name a few.

Brooklyn Nine Nine

(7 Seasons, 143 episodes +)
Unlike the first two on this list, Adam Sandler's show about the workings within a police station was a bonafide hit from the very first episode and remains beloved 7 seasons later. There is so much to like here - Every character has a unique personality that is now iconic, the team dynamics are effortless and you are rarely bound by continuity issues so can just drop in on any random episode at any point of team and still have a good laugh understanding what's going on. Its natural portrayal and support of LGBTQ+ is also a win (and a rarity in television sitcoms) Heck, even the theme song is awesome!! 




Schitts Creek

(6 seasons, 80 episodes)
If Brooklyn Nine Nine is the show that everyone has heard of, then Schitts Creek is the one no one knows (and that is sad.) This charming take on a former billionaire family who lose their money and now have only a small town they bought as a joke decades ago as their asset is the equivalent of a warm hug. Again, it takes you a whole season for the characters to get into their groove but after that, it is just absolute happiness. The show oozes kindness, love and absolute silliness as you enjoy the Canadian equivalent of the Kardashians living in a rustic setting and successfully adjusting to their new circumstances. Major points here for also having the lead character be LGBT, an absolute rarity (he said, in a list that featured Brooklyn Nine Nine, Will & Grace and Modern Family.)  

What We Do in the Shadows

(2 seasons, 20 episodes +)
Have you seen the movie of the same name by director Taika Waititi (this human legend who Made Thor Great Again with Thor: Ragnarok?). Well, his mockumentary style comedy about 4 vampire flatmates was so hilarious, they decided to make it into a sitcom. The bumbling vampires trying to understand the modern world may be new but the comedy is refreshingly amazing with genuine LOL moments. A good Comedy-horror... heh. Who would have thought?



The Good Place

(4 Seasons, 53 Episodes)
This unique genre of utopian fantasy comedy focuses on a 'less than moral' woman who dies and is apparently mistakenly placed in heaven. The show is actually extremely smart and takes multiple twists across 4 seasons as we watch Eleanor and her 'gang' rework the mechanisms of 'heaven'.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

(14 Seasons, 154 Episodes +)
Do you like your comedy dark? I have just the thing for you with this long-running, extremely underrated show about 5 absolutely self-centered individuals running a pub who are always plotting against one another and frankly, everyone around them. Give it a shot... you'll love it.




Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

(4 Seasons, 52 Episodes)
The seemingly horrific premise of a woman being rescued after being locked up by a doomsday cult for years gives way to profound positivity instantly as we become a part of her journey forward, filled with smiles, happiness and wonderful characters.

The Golden Girls

(7 Seasons, 180 Episodes)
This was one of the first comedies I grew up watching and on re-viewing, I realized just how brilliant it actually was. The show revolved around 4 elderly women living together in Miami and was the original 'no filter attached women' of tv sitcoms, long before Sex and the City ever came into being.



Everybody Loves Raymond

(9 seasons, 210 episodes)
The show focusing on a geeky sarcastic sportswriter who is the apple of his mother's eye much to the chagrin of his jealous brother and his exasperated wife made for excellent family humour that was relatable to every household and had genuine laugh out loud moments. Star cast was pitch perfect and played off each other's idiosyncrasies perfectly.  

Frasier

(11 Seasons, 264 Episodes)
This classy comedy followed the life of psychiatrist Dr Frasier Crane who takes on the job of being a radio psychiatrist. The key word for this show was always 'class' with no room for innuendos or much slapstick comedy.

Two and a Half Men

(12 Seasons, 262 Episodes) 
The show about a rich casanova jingle writer (played to a T by Charlie Sheen reprising his real life persona in many ways) whose freedom gets curtailed when his brother and nephew arrive at his doorstep to stay 'for a little while' is pure joy. Or rather, impure, constantly naughty joy.

The Big Bang Theory

(12 Seasons, 279 Episodes)
Four socially awkward but highly intelligent friends slowly begin to open up when a new waitress moves across the apartment from them. The ultimate show for fans of science, comic books and TV shows.

Friends

(10 Seasons, 236 episodes)
Could a listicle on comedy shows really be complete without discussing friends. The show chronicling the lives of 6 friends based in Manhattan has attained cult status by now and extremely good repeat viewing value. 


Happy Endings

(3 Seasons, 57 episodes)
Criminal. It is absolutely criminal that this show ended on three seasons (It's cancellation was called 'one of the worst tv decisions' of the 2012-13 TV season by pop culture site, Vulture and I agree. In the format of 30 Rock and Brooklyn Nine Nine, this show focusing on 6 equally silly friends had rapid-fire jokes flying around constantly and makes for excellent binge-watching and re-viewing too.  





The Office 

(9 Seasons, 201 Episodes)
Much like Friends, the American version of the mockumentary style show The Office, focusing on the employees of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company is now the stuff of legends. This had a rocky first season (we have seen that earlier in this list, haven't we?) but persistence pays off as we get treated to iconic star turns by Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson, not to mention the magical Pam-Jim love story (that is way more heartwarming to me than Ross & Rachel of Friends ). 

Will & Grace

(11 Seasons, 246 episodes)
For me, this was the show that lost out because it was airing around the same time as Friends. The show starred two best friends Will, a gay lawyer & Grace, a straight interior designer and dealt with the shenanigans revolving around them and their over-the-top friends/colleagues Karen & Jack (who arguably stole the show). Frankly, at its peak, this show was miles ahead of Friends for me.

 Modern Family

(11 Seasons, 250 episodes)
This documentary style take on three intertwined families was a true game changer. Over 11 years, we watched as the young children grew up in front of our eyes and relationships matured, the show walking a fine balance between LOL comedy and excellent writing. In the tradition of legends like The Wonder Years, Doogie Howser M.D. and Scrubs, this show too often straddled multiple storylines in each episode and tied them together with a wonderful life lesson at the end.

Cougar Town

(6 Seasons, 102 Episodes)
Not as beloved as the giants above it in this list, I feel it deserves a second chance from those who rejected it. I rewatched this show about a recently divorced mom handling her teenage son, uncertain love life, quirky neighbours and lots of wine and frankly found it wonderfully positive. The underlying theme running throughout the show is being there for another and taking life positively, something I feel people need to hear these days.



New Girl

(7 Seasons, 146 Episodes)
Much like Cougar Town, this show about an 'adorkable' young woman living with three men does not necessarily have many LOL moments but is a lovely kind of happy, with surprisingly well-written characters whoa are genuinely kind even if they are awkward and even jackasses.   

Full House

(8 Seasons, 192 Episodes)
If you don't want to risk some of the above 'new' shows, an easy one to fall back on is the classic Full House. The supremely family friendly show focused on a single father who along with his brother in law and best friend raise his three daughters. Extremely positive show with a genuinely talented cast, this remains a favourite even 3 decades later.



Seinfeld

(9 Seasons, 180 Episodes)
Another easy one to suggest is Seinfeld, the 'show about nothing' that chronicled a fictionalized version of standup comedian Jerry Seinfeld. The supporting cast was legendary and there are plenty of iconic moments from this show.

Community

(6 Seasons, 110 Episodes)
The perennially underrated show dealt with adults joining community college for various reasons and basically just goofing off, often in the most absurd ways. Look at the stars they created - Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Browne, Danny Pudi and Ken Jeong all got major breaks here.
Trivia alert: Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you have this show to thank. Why, you ask? While their earlier work on Arrested Development & Happy Endings were noted, it was the paintball episode from this show that apparently convinced the heads of Marvel that a certain director duo could be entrusted with a big budget film featuring multiple characters, plot threads and twists. I am talking of course about the Russo brothers who went on to make Captain America 2 & 3 alongside the insanely brilliant Avengers 3 & 4.  


Bonus shows -

Masterchef Australia

(12 Seasons, 808 Episodes +)
In spite of this show featuring literally (and metaphorically) pressure cooker levels of stress and frequently having a 'nooooo my favourite contestant has been eliminated' factor, I have added this here for those who love cooking shows simply because of the judges. The trio were the gold standard of how to be positive and supportive with the contestants, motivating them on even when they were served substandard dishes (as opposed to every other cooking competition we have to TV, including other variations of Masterchef).  


A List of 20 Comedy Sitcoms to Binge Watch when you are feeling low

Author's note:




 


 

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8 comments

  1. Oh I have watched some of them and wondered about some of these- thanks for sharing such a detailed list and now I will get down to some of them as the whole concept of picking up from anywhere is just the kind of episodes I want to watch at the moment. Brilliant idea for a post Roshan.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for this, Roshan. Will pick a couple of these in a few days.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've pretty much watched all these amazing series and I am glad to see all my much loved series featured in your list. Have you watched Doc Martin? You absolutely must!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I’m so glad you compiled this list Roshan. Slowly graduating back to watching some television I realise it is a great idea and that too light-hearted stuff. Had stopped watching tv almost!
    Like I said in my recent post.

    https://natashamusing.com/2020/07/laughter-or-despair-mondaymusings-mondayblogs/?preview=true&frame-nonce=321b1cf7ef

    Schitt’s Creek does take the cake.

    Modern family, Sienfield, Friends, Big Nang Theory are some old favs.

    I’m so glad I now have a ready recknor in hand when I feel like some cheering.
    Great list. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a kick-ass list! I have to catch up on so many though!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey Roshan, great minds think alike :) I have watched all but a couple of shows from your list. Great choice, btw. My favourite is Modern Family, I have watched the whole series many times and it is my go to show when I feel down.

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