Get away from doom-scrolling for half an hour, yeah?
March 1, 2022 9:19 PM   Subscribe

Some Recent Good Half-Hour Comedies on TV. Classified as: Shows That Will Remind You of the Joy of Community. Shows That May Bring You Back to Your Younger Years. Shows That Can Inspire Self-Reflection. Shows That Offer Bite-Size Scares.

Atlantic also had this piece from 2020: 25 Half Hour Shows to Watch.
posted by storybored (38 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
If comedies were given by prescription, I would say one a day, just before bed. Do not binge.
posted by storybored at 9:20 PM on March 1, 2022 [4 favorites]

Do not binge.

Hey! I don't need fun to watch comedies!! I can stop laughing anytime I want!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:29 PM on March 1, 2022 [5 favorites]

No mention of South Side? That's a funny as hell half hour comedy show nobody talks about.
posted by eschatfische at 10:47 PM on March 1, 2022 [5 favorites]

Hrm, who's in the pockets of Apple, Hulu, HBO, and Peacock?
posted by zengargoyle at 11:51 PM on March 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

I May Destroy you is listed as a 'self reflective comfort watch'. 👀
posted by Faintdreams at 2:17 AM on March 2, 2022 [15 favorites]

My wife and I just started Abbott Elementary as she inhabits a very specific Venn diagram position in the target audience (she is a teacher who started her career in Philly and had Quinta Brunson as a student). There are some cringey parts* but we're appreciating the gradual build up of chemistry with the leads, and it end with everyone having a win, which I personally need as table stakes in any comedy that I watch right now.

(* - mostly around Jacob, the tryhard white liberal whose behavior would read off as insulting in real life but somehow remains friends with people in comedy world. He's just a badly written character)
posted by bl1nk at 4:58 AM on March 2, 2022 [6 favorites]

Mme Ardo and I both enjoy the hell out of "Reservation Dogs". It's sweet and deep and meaningful.
posted by donpardo at 5:39 AM on March 2, 2022 [10 favorites]

There is literally no way to be prepared for how good Schmigadoon! is. I'm here telling you to raise your expectations and it will still not be enough. You're thinking "Ha, ha, sure. Goofy little premise, probably plays itself out quickly" and you're not only wrong, you're going to be pumping your fist in the air and cheering by episode two. You are not ready.

Like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend often was, it's a knowing set of parodies of hoary old musical tropes used in service of a modern story with actual depth about relatable characters. It is contemporary insight sneaking up on you in the disguise of an old joke and you are not ready for how funny it is.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:45 AM on March 2, 2022 [6 favorites]

It's a crime they left Dickinson off this list. It's funny and the language is intentionally anachronistic, but it's also touching and really informative (though takes lots of liberties with the timeline) about Emily Dickinson's actual life.
posted by rikschell at 5:45 AM on March 2, 2022 [8 favorites]

Thanks for posting! I remember I'd really wanted to watch Los Espookys on HBO when it first came out and didn't have the service, and then I got HBOMax and forgot it existed.

I've been recommending As We See It and Somebody Somewhere to anyone who will listen. To this list I would add Gentefied on NetFlix, which was recently cancelled after its second season, and I found Everything's Gonna Be OK (Hulu) to be just that right balance between absolutely hilarious and emotionally moving.

I have fairly narrow tastes in TV (basically, this kind of stuff, plus the bigger hits that everyone knows about like Ted Lasso and Schitt's Creek), and every time an enjoyable series wraps up or fails to get renewed I worry whether I'm about to run out of shows to watch. Fortunately, I've got a short lil span of attention and whoa, my nights are so short, so an 8-episode season can still last me a couple of weeks. But that still means I need to find, like, 25 or so seasons of quality comedies every year to keep me in laughs!
posted by drlith at 5:48 AM on March 2, 2022 [5 favorites]

We are into most of these (absolutely loving "Somebody Somewhere) - plus just started some newer Canadian series (CBC Gem may have them - AFAIK, it's not region-locked, but does not have an app for Roku - other streaming devices/platforms may have the app); "Son of a Critch" (reminds me of "Moone Boy"), "Strays" and "Run the Burbs".
posted by rozcakj at 5:53 AM on March 2, 2022 [3 favorites]

Sex Education might not fit the half-hour comedy rubric here, but it's definitely worth watching and often laugh-out-loud hilarious. There is nudity and there are many very explicit conversations and situations regarding sex, so be aware of that.
posted by msbrauer at 6:04 AM on March 2, 2022 [4 favorites]

Kim’s convenience. Four excellent seasons.
posted by skewed at 6:06 AM on March 2, 2022 [7 favorites]

Starstruck on HBO Max is totally worth seeing. From the plot description, you'd think it was a floofy, gender-reversed Notting Hill thing, but it's actually a prickly, acerbic comedy more along the lines of You're the Worst or Catastrophe.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:23 AM on March 2, 2022 [7 favorites]

skewed but Kim's has 5 seasons and a spin--- oh, I see what you mean. And agree.
posted by now i'm piste at 6:44 AM on March 2, 2022 [3 favorites]

I haven't seen most of these, but I can vouch for What We Do In The Shadows being hilarious and Reservation Dogs being fantastic. If you're looking for something funny and extra weird, smart with a side of gross out humor (I realize this may be a small group which is maybe why no one has heard of the show) check out Dream Corp LLC, starring a much transformed Jon Gries.
posted by gwint at 6:48 AM on March 2, 2022 [3 favorites]

"What we Do in the Shadows" is like the Babe Ruth of this list, and a few others are great, too, but mostly its a list of unmemorable, sometimes funny, 1-2 seasons streaming service shows.

To each his own and lots of exceptions on the lists - but so many of these you can literally *see* the accountant department planning them out: "affordable ensemble of four cute but cheap main characters, add in 3 or less shoot locations, 6-12 episodes TOPS, margins equal..."
posted by RajahKing at 7:36 AM on March 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

I’m surprised no one has mentioned Galavant! Sweet and funny and a whole cast of guest performers that you’d never expect to be so good at singing and dancing. One of my pandemic-discovered joys.
posted by Silvery Fish at 7:42 AM on March 2, 2022 [9 favorites]

We've been surprised at how much we are enjoying Ghosts on CBS (what?! a network show?!). It's genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, touching at times, and is good for parents and kids to watch together (two of the ghosts died in the 80s and 90s, so there are some nicely unexpected Gen X jokes). Great ensemble cast, highly recommended.

It's also available on Paramount Plus for the network-averse.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:43 AM on March 2, 2022 [10 favorites]

Che mentioned Emily in Paris ironically during Weekend Update so I checked it out. It's non-ironically fun and visually spectacular. If you liked The Devil Wears Prada, you might like this.
posted by hypnogogue at 7:52 AM on March 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

Here to sing the praises of We Are Lady Parts and Sort Of. Both are compelling, funny, and heartwarming, and both have been renewed for a second series.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 9:49 AM on March 2, 2022 [7 favorites]

I was hoping "Shows That Will Remind You of the Joy of Community" was about - well, shows that remind you of the show, Community. The show that feels closest to that for me is Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet.

I haven't seen Reservation Dogs: would you show it to a middle school kid? (I'm OK with the kid seeing a little swearing.)
posted by mistersix at 11:37 AM on March 2, 2022 [3 favorites]

If you like Dead to Me on Netflix, then Santa Clarita Diet should follow (or really you should watch Santa Clarita first, then Dead to Me). That show was very funny and both Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant were great.

Though Dead to Me does tick RajaKing's 'affordable ensemble' box by having a character play his own identical twin.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:45 AM on March 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

We Are Lady Parts is indeed rad. Can't believe it took 20+ comments to get that one on the board.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:51 PM on March 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

Our other recent favorite 30ish minute show about community (small 'c') is Letterkenny. The entire spirit of the show pretty much distills down to one of its characters usual lines: "when a friend asks for help, you help them."

For a show that's about hicks getting into fights and meth addicts trying to make money on The Dark Web, it's surprisingly sweet and wholesome. Very strong vibes about a small town being an extended family that has its fights and beefs, but bands together when some bigger problem comes along (and presents a good opportunity for a scrap)

Though, emphatically not family friendly.
posted by bl1nk at 1:02 PM on March 2, 2022 [5 favorites]

I find their lack of PEN15 disturbing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:31 PM on March 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

Letterkenny is great. Its offensive and crass and sweet and charming and deliberate and off-the-cuff, and grounded in some kind of fantastical realism.

They can turn small town bar fights into beautiful musical interludes.

If you like the very first cold open you'll like the show. If not, then don't worry, it's not for everyone.
posted by lkc at 1:44 PM on March 2, 2022

Half hour comedy that's really funny AND heart-warming ?

Bob's Burgers
posted by Pendragon at 2:14 PM on March 2, 2022 [12 favorites]

I'm so conflicted about Letterkenny. The great stuff (wordplay, weird sayings, callbacks, fighting+music) is *really* great, but the way it portrays any women is super-gross. The show tries to lampshade that in various ways (eg Squirrelly Dan's passing on lessons from his women's studies class), but it keeps undercutting itself - I end up feeling like the main characters are OK but the people making the show are skeevy as all get-out.
posted by wilberforce at 2:32 PM on March 2, 2022 [5 favorites]

I'm so conflicted about Letterkenny.

To be fair...
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:35 PM on March 2, 2022 [11 favorites]

When the pandemic began, I went through both seasons of I'm Alan Partridge (BBC 1997, 2002) and loved it. Even the DVD menus were great! When Stephen Colbert said that he would have taken his Stephen Colbert character into the real world if he wasn't the host of The Late Show, I like to think that it would have been a show like this. Kind of hope he still does it.

Something newer? How to with John Wilson (HBO 2020, 2021) was fantastic. Here's a quote from an interview with Allegra Frank at Slate:
[…] But then seeing Susan Orlean, I was like, “Wait, the woman that Meryl Streep plays in Adaptation? What is she doing here?” How did [she] end up working on the show this season?

[…] Then with Susan, I’ve always been a huge fan of Susan’s stuff. Saturday Night is one of my favorite books ever. I was asking HBO, “Can we get someone like Susan Orlean?” because I thought that she would’ve been past that point in her career that she would humor something like this. They were like, “Well, we could just ask her.” Then they put us in touch, and she was super into it.
posted by chinesefood at 3:08 PM on March 2, 2022

The Other Two, which was recommended in TFA, is criminally underrated. Perhaps because the first season was merely just good, but it didn't really come into its own until the second season.
posted by retrograde at 5:37 PM on March 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

I haven't seen Reservation Dogs: would you show it to a middle school kid?

There is drug use, low-level crime and tragedy. If I still had a middle school kid, I would let them watch it without hesitation.
posted by donpardo at 7:16 PM on March 2, 2022 [3 favorites]

Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. 3 seasons, all hilarious and kooky and show a sweet and loving marriage surrounded by tasteful splashes of gore. Reservation Dogs is great. Derry Girls is delightful & middle school appropriate (language, innuendo). What we do in Shadows is laugh out loud funny. All four have fairly low “cringe” factors, which make a show more enjoyable for me and mine.
posted by gryphonlover at 8:27 PM on March 2, 2022 [3 favorites]

Thank you for this, I finally watched Somebody Somewhere yesterday, the whole season is only 2.5 hours and it was fantastic! There was only episode one on Fanfare so I made a whole season post.
posted by ellieBOA at 5:20 AM on March 3, 2022 [4 favorites]

In what UNIVERSE is "I May Destroy You" considered a quick, bingeable comedy???

I mean it was excellent, some of the best writing and acting I have seen in years. Every episode left me in tears, shaking. I could never binge it because, like Handmaids Tale, you need time to sit and cry and recover from each episode. It was haunting and upsetting and uplifting and heartbreaking and beautiful and.... not funny.

More people should watch it but... definitely dont go into it thinking you're going to see a fun little blip of a show. It is the opposite of what this article is claiming.
posted by silverstatue at 8:27 AM on March 3, 2022 [4 favorites]

I haven't seen Reservation Dogs: would you show it to a middle school kid?

I am not a parent, but I am a middle school teacher and there is nothing in this that a normal 7th or 8th grader shouldn’t see. I’d be *delighted* if a kid told me they watched it and wanted to talk about it.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:02 AM on March 4, 2022

I'm going to put in a vote here for Netflix's new imagining of The Baby-Sitters Club. I'm 38 but loved these books as a kid, and this series has updated them but added an additional dose of positivity, activism, and political engagement in a way that I actually think is pretty astonishing. (See, e.g., updating "Mary Anne Saves the Day" to include a scene with Mary Anne advocating for her transgender sittee when the hospital misgenders them.) The young actors are all pitch-perfect, and the show has some genuine laughs amidst the feels. No previous experience necessary, but lots of nice call backs if you do know the books.
posted by soonertbone at 8:09 AM on March 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

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