25 of the best comedies on Netflix to watch now

Because, let's face it, we all need a laugh right now...

Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It

Not sure if you’ve heard or not, but there’s this global Coronavirus pandemic happening at the moment. But, if you have, it’s likely you’re looking for a laugh or two in these troubling times.

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Enter: Netflix. The streaming service not only hosts some of the best UK comedies (think The Thick of It, Fawlty Towers and The Office), but also the best gag-athons from the US, such as Friends, Brooklyn 99, Arrested Development and Modern Family.

Which are the best? Glad you asked: here are the top 25 shows to get you started.

The Thick of It

Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It
BBC

We’ll level with you now: this isn’t a political satire you can watch with the whole family. Not unless they like their language strong. Extremely strong. Like, a c-word thrown in almost every episode strong.

Somehow, though, the swearing never actually feel gratuitous in this fast-paced comedy following the inner-workings and mishaps of Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship. In fact, swearing is made an art form in the show, thanks to the near-perfect scripts from Armando Iannucci and terrifyingly funny performance from Peter Capaldi as machiavellian spin doctor Malcolm Tucker.

Although non-politicos may feel a tad lost as events more at lightning-speed, a wave of scathing put-downs (“He’s so dense that light bends around him”, “Your dress is way too loud, I’m getting f***ing tinnitus here”) will keep all laughing.

Watch South Park on Netflix

Arrested Development

David Cross and Jason Bateman in Arrested Development (Netflix)
David Cross and Jason Bateman in Arrested Development (Netflix)

This show is the definition of a cult hit. Either you’re obsessed with it and like to go round making chicken noises when you discuss it, or it has passed you by. This is the time to catch up, though, as TV’s most dysfunctional family has made its home on Netflix.

The series, starring Jason Bateman and Portia De Rossi, was the brainchild of Hollywood director Ron Howard and originally ran on Fox for three seasons from 2003 to 2006. It’s the story of a spoilt, once-wealthy family who continue their lavish lifestyle despite the fact they can no longer afford it.

After its cancellation there was a long wait before Netflix revived the show in 2013, much to the excitement of its loyal fanbase. But the show’s return to screen has not always been smooth, and the controversy surrounding Jessica Walters and Jeffrey Tambor in the run-up to season five certainly coloured fans’ expectations and left us wondering what the future of the show would be. But it doesn’t change the ground-breaking impact the series once had.

Watch Arrested Development on Netflix

Community

Created by Rick and Morty’s Dan Harmon, Community follows an eclectic group of Greendale community college students led by fraudulent lawyer Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) as they try to complete their diplomas whilst becoming involved in ridiculous shenanigans.

Although Community sounds like your typical sitcom, its meta-humour, parodical style and heavy-use of pop culture references picked up a cult following over its six seasons. The show also catapulted the likes of Alison Brie, Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino and Ken Jeong to fame and scored an Emmy win in 2011.

Watch Community on Netflix

The Vicar of Dibley

BBC Pictures
BBC Pictures

A classic British comedy, The Vicar of Dibley stars the hilarious Dawn French as Reverend Geraldine Granger, the new female vicar for Oxfordshire village Dibley. Although her arrival initially causes a stir within the parish council, Dibley’s inhabitants soon grow to love Geraldine as she attempts to raise the village’s public profile, match-make Alice Tinker (Emma Chambers) and Hugo Horton (James Fleet), and find love herself.

Witty and full of heart, The Vicar of Dibley is a timeless Richard Curtis triumph which boasts various star-studded guest stars (Hugh Bonneville, Keeley Hawes, Richard Armitage, Peter Capaldi) and a hilarious cast with buckets of chemistry.

Watch The Vicar of Dibley on Netflix

Friends

friends-cast
Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry in Friends

It only seems right to start with the most popular TV show ever made. Gen Z might turn their noses up because of a few outdated jokes, but for most of us this series has a special place in our hearts. Whether you were watching for Ross and Rachel’s will-they-won’t-they love affair, Joey’s silliness or Phoebe singing about smelly cats, it’s a series that defined a generation and can be rewatched over and over again. While we’ve just about quelled the urge to ask for ‘The Rachel” at the hairdressers, we’ll never stop wanting to be mates with this lot.

Although it’s never hard to find this series somewhere on the telly (we’re not complaining, these are the kind of repeats we love!), Netflix gives us the chance to either binge a series from start to finish or hand-pick our favourite episodes – the one with Ross’s sandwich, the one with the apartment swap, the one where Ross and Rachel were on a break – whichever one you fancy. The dream.

Watch Friends on Netflix

South Park

south-park
Comedy Central/Photofest

Netflix doesn’t have every episode of this outrageous animated series, but they have a very decent selection. If you’re new to South Park, the entire first season is available for your perusal, introducing you to its zany characters and very particular style of humour. Then, you can burn through a collection of 21 “top episodes” from between seasons three and thirteen, before picking up with the most recent offerings.

Unlike other long-running animated shows (we’re looking at you, Simpsons), South Park hasn’t lost any of its bite in its later years and still gets people talking with its sharp, unflinching satire even today. So, the fact that Netflix have seasons 19-22 available in full is a real treat, as creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone target political correctness, internet trolls, climate change denial as well as other social and political issues.

Come on down to South Park and meet some friends of mine…

Watch South Park on Netflix

Dead to Me

Christina Applegate puts in a career-best performance in this brilliantly binge-worthy black comedy from writer Liz Feldman, which became the must-see, most-talked-about Netflix show when it dropped last May.

The set-up is pleasingly original and completely gripping: Jen loses her husband in a hit-and-run accident and is consumed by her loss. Against her better judgement she attends a group grief counselling session and begrudgingly starts talking to Judy. They bond over mutual loss and quickly become firm friends, turning to each other in their darkest hours, much to Jen’s great surprise…

However, one of the women is guarding a terrible secret that threatens to up-end their friendship and derail both of their lives entirely. It’s a touching, funny and addictive exploration of bereavement and female friendship with a gripping, soapy undercurrent that will have you telling yourself that one perennial Netflix lie, “I’ll just watch one more episode before bed.” And season two has just landed, you lucky things.

Watch Dead to Me on Netflix

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski and Tituss Burgess in Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski and Tituss Burgess in Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

A show about a 29-year-old woman escaping from 15 years of enforced confinement in a bunker, imprisoned by a doomsday cult leader, doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs! But this is a bizarrely joyous and upbeat sitcom from the brilliant mind of Tina Fey.

As Kimmy (played superbly and sweetly by Ellie Kemper) breaks out into the real world everything is new and surprising. Rather than being traumatised she’s like a Disney princess, finding happiness in everything she sees. Kimmy ends up living with fabulous aspiring Broadway star Titus and working as a nanny for vain, self-centred mum Jacqueline, played 30 Rock star Jane Krakowski. As she gets to grips with the big bad world, it turns out she is much smarter than most of the people who have been living in New York City their whole lives.

Watch out for Jon Hamm, who is a million miles from Mad Men as the cult leader.

Watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix

Schitt’s Creek

Schitt's Creek
The cast of Schitt’s Creek (Netflix)

A brilliant Canadian sitcom about a deliciously entitled family discovering what life is like when all your money runs out. The show, which is currently on its sixth season, follows the privileged, once-wealthy Rose family, who attempt to rebuild their lives in the amusingly named titular town.

Dad Johnny bought Schitt’s Creek as a joke in 1991, when money was no object. Now, it’s the only place they can think of to go, and they are hoping for a hero’s welcome, but they are in for a rude awakening. You’d think, if you owned the town, you could at least expect a comfy bed for the night but reality is much grimier…

Forced to live in adjoining motel rooms, the family of four – including grown-up spoilt children David and Alexis – have to make the best of a bad situation. A nightmare for them to live through, a delight for us to watch.

Watch Schitt’s Creek on Netflix

After Life

Ricky Gervais – After Life
Ricky Gervais in After Life (Netflix)

Ever since The Office exploded onto the scene at the turn of the millennium, completely changing the expectations of viewers in modern comedy, every project that Ricky Gervais has been involved with on the small screen (whether with his Office writing partner Stephen Merchant, or alone) has garnered a huge amount of excitement in the TV comedy world.

Regarded by many as some of Ricky’s finest TV work since Extras, After Life is – as you would expect from Gervais – a very awkward and at times quite troubling comedy that explores the theme of grief. Following the story of a man called Tony whose life is turned upside down after his wife dies of cancer, we see a man who, after contemplating suicide, decides instead to take his misery out on the rest of the world by saying and doing whatever he likes.

It’s a lot funnier than it sounds, and the second season recently arrived on Netflix – so fill your boots.

Watch on Netflix

Modern Family

In the US, this is huge. Modern Family has won countless Emmys for outstanding comedy series along with crates of other awards and audiences of millions. But on this side of the Atlantic it remains a minor Sky One cult.

The curious thing about the show, created by two former Frasier writers in 2009, is it’s so simple. The premise is: a family. That’s it.

To make it interesting, the family is an extended one, split between patriarch Jay’s household (ruled by his curvaceous Colombian second wife), his daughter Claire’s brood and his son Mitchell’s relationship. About the only angle is that Mitchell is gay and soon (in the finale of season 5, in fact) to be married to his partner Cameron.

So, there you have it. On paper, nothing fancy. But not since Dad’s Army has a comic ensemble worked so perfectly, so adorably, together.

Watch on Netflix

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Andy Samberg and Terry Crews, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Truly one of the most binge-able, easy-going series you’re likely to find anywhere.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is hardly a deep-dive into the psyche of police detectives and the criminal underworld – instead, it’s a terrific playful comedy following the misadventures of the boyish, immature Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg), eager-to-impress Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) and a host of other wacky individuals under the stoic, often despairing stewardship of Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher).

Each of the characters brings something special to the table, whether it’s Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) the loveable try-hard or super-sarcastic lone wolf Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti). There’s a vibe of The Office (US version) throughout as the 99th precinct engages in just about every activity possible outside of their professional remit.

It’s hard not to fall for the show’s bouncy charm with some hilarious recurring themes and very cleverly written episodes, including the must-watch annual Halloween Heists. Noice.

Watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix

Fawlty Towers

Fawlty Towers
BBC

Often hailed as one of the best British sitcoms of all time, Fawlty Towers is a must-watch for anyone wanting to see comedy done right. Set inside a fictional hotel in Devon, John Cleese stars as rude owner Basil Fawlty who farcically attempts to keep the establishment running with help from a staff of big personalities.

Prunella Scales puts in an iconic turn as his bossy wife Cybil, supported by Connie Booth as level-headed waitress Polly and, of course, Andrew Sachs as Spanish waiter Manuel. It’s hard to believe only 12 episodes of this series were made, given the immense impact it has had on the landscape of British comedy.

Watch Fawlty Towers on Netflix

Sex Education

Ncuti Gatwa and Asa Butterfield, Sex Education
Ncuti Gatwa and Asa Butterfield, Sex Education (Netflix)

You might think that revisiting teenage sexual experiences would be no laughing matter, but this hilarious, intelligent show proves otherwise. Otis (Asa Butterfield) is a teenage boy unable to spend his evenings doing what a lot of teenage boys might be doing, and while he’s struggling to get any satisfaction, his mother Jean – played to perfection by Gillian Anderson – couldn’t be more relaxed about the whole thing. She’s a sex therapist after all, and every time she tries to talk to her son about intimacy, he becomes more repressed about it.

But life changes when Otis realises he can sell his mum’s advice to his fellow pupils, all of whom are facing their own sexual insecurities. As we see Otis become more confident we also follow his best friend Eric, as he becomes more open about his sexuality and Maeve, the coolest girl in school who is facing her own demons. One of the biggest shows of the decade, and rightly so.

Watch Sex Education on Netflix

The Office

The Office (BBC)
Ricky Gervais in The Office

Never has a Slough paper merchants got so much attention. This was the comedy that changed everything: almost every funny show that followed for the next few years was directly influenced by The Office and the mockumentary series soon made an international star out of its lead actor and co-writer Ricky Gervais.

Gervais plays David Brent, a boss who makes you cringe with his terrible jokes and desperation to be famous, but who is ultimately a decent bloke. While he comes up with game-show formats in his office, Tim (Martin Freeman)  mercilessly winds up office geek Gareth (Mackenzie Crook), by putting his stapler inside a jelly or hiding his chair. Mostly it’s to impress receptionist Dawn (Lucy Davis), in the hope that one day she might leave her nightmare fiancé Lee.

Romance, pranks and big laughs made this unmissable viewing – and it’s still just as funny today.

Watch The Office on Netflix

New Girl

All seven seasons of this quirky sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel have recently arrived on Netflix UK. The show follows Deschanel’s quirky school teacher Jess Day adjusting to life with three male room-mates in LA, documenting issues with their romantic relationships and their jobs, and their hopes and fears about the future. Guaranteed to make you laugh, New Girl combines dysfunctional yet loveable central characters, flights of fancy – which avoid becoming too self-consciously “kooky” like so many US comedies – and a whole bunch of brilliant one-liners, delivered with beautiful comic timing by a talented cast.

Watch on Netflix

Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie (Netflix, BA)
Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Lisa Kudrow in Grace and Frankie (Netflix)

Everything about this show is a treat. Firstly, reuniting Nine to Five legends Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin – amazing idea! Secondly, getting to watch the two of them on fiercely funny form in a sitcom, incredible. And then of course the show itself.

The concept is fresh and hilarious: two 70-something women are plunged into chaos when their husbands announce that they are gay and in love with each other. As they set up a new life together, Grace and Frankie are left wondering what the future holds for them. Although they are very different women, who have never been that keen on one another, they find solace in their shared frustrations and begin to form a friendship when they are forced to move in together.

The show has proved such a hit that it has now become the longest-running Netflix original show, with a seventh and final season on its way soon.

Watch Grace and Frankie on Netflix

Lady Dynamite

Lady_Dynamite

What happens when Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz and South Park writer Pam Brady pool their creative talents? One of the most absurd sitcoms in recent memory, that’s what.

Lady Dynamite tells the story of stand-up comedian Maria Bamford, who attempts to rebuild her life and career after being hospitalised with bipolar II disorder. This series provides a respectful depiction of mental illness, drawing from Bamford’s real experiences, but does so through a truly surreal comedic lens. Every episode is packed with hilarious jokes and zany editing tricks, as well as a cast of larger-than-life characters.

Bamford is superb in the lead, but she’s not alone. Other stand-outs include Fred Melamed as hapless manager Bruce Ben-Bacharach, Mary Kay Place as Maria’s overbearing mother and Anna Gasteyer as ruthless talent agent Karen Grisham. Fans of Arrested Development will feel right at home here.

Watch Lady Dynamite on Netflix

Gavin & Stacey

Gavin & Stacey series one
Mathew Horne, Joanna Page, James Corden and Ruth Jones in Gavin & Stacey
BBC

Few shows are as warm, relatable and funny as this one. If last year’s Christmas special reminded you just how much you love this British sitcom, go back to the start and watch the earliest episodes, when Gavin and Stacey fell in love and Nessa and Smithy fell into a “friends with benefits'” arrangement…

James Corden and Ruth Jones created sitcom magic with a simple story of two families brought together by a young couple. We’ll never stop giggling at Uncle Bryn’s grudge match with the sat nav, Pam’s conversion to vegetarianism and Smithy’s aversion to sharing a Chinese takeaway. It’s Nessa’s incredible life story that gives us the biggest laughs, though – her little black book includes celebs, MPs and members of HearSay, and she’ll top even the most outrageous anecdote with her own incredible tales.

Who knows, re-watching the series might give us a few more clues about what happened on the infamous fishing trip too!

Watch Gavin & Stacey on Netflix

BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
BoJack Horseman (Netflix)

You’ve no doubt seen a cartoon horse parading about your Netflix home screen at some point over the last few years, but BoJack Horseman is actually an adult animated comedy series and has garnered a cult reputation online for its black comedy and surreal humour. The brainchild of Raphael Bob-Waksberg, BoJack ran for six seasons before drawing to an ambiguous close, typical of the show.

Some critics have genuinely hailed BoJack as one of the greatest TV series of all time – including non-animated shows. It tells the story of an anthropomorphic horse, voiced by Will Arnett, a has-been star from a 90s sitcom who intends to return to the public eye with an autobiography. Far from a child-friendly cartoon, the series covers a diverse range of topics from depression, addiction, racism and sexism to name but a few.

It’s a truly unique, league-of-its-own dark comedy that should command great respect for the way in which it handles huge topics in its own quirky manner.

Watch BoJack Horseman on Netflix

Friday Night Dinner

Friday Night Dinner
Simon Bird, Tom Rosenthal, Paul Ritter and Tamsin Greig in Friday Night Dinner
Channel 4

As far as a show’s premise goes, it’s a basic one. It’s just…well…it’s just Friday-night dinner at the Goodman household. Producer Robert Popper was brought up in a secular Jewish household, and brings his experiences literally to the table for a comedic look at the traditional meal of Shabbat.

Tamsin Greig and Paul Ritter take up the mantle of parents Jackie and Martin, with Inbetweeners star Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal playing the roles of sons Adam and Jonny. Of course, no two meals are the same, and virtually no meals go as planned, with frequent spontaneous visits by the iconic figure of loopy neighbour Jim Bell (Mark Heap) and numerous pranks by the boys dominating the should-be reverent family occasion. Jim is textbook meme material, with bizarre anecdotes, snippets and catchphrases aplenty. Shalom, everyone!

The relatable humour extends beyond Jewish communities with so many hallmarks of middle-class UK life coming to the fore in this typically British self-deprecating take on life.

Watch Friday Night Dinner on Netflix

Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty season 4
Rick and Morty season 4

The cult of Rick and Morty truly took over the world in 2017, several years after the launch of its first season on Netflix in 2014. Pickle Rick was an inescapable social media sensation for weeks on end, while the fandom spilled out into the wider world when a McDonald’s publicity stunt involving a limited release of Szechuan sauce – featured in the show – sparked riots across the US with police called to multiple restaurants after the condiment ran out of stock, much to the fury of queuing fans.

Circling back to the show itself, Justin Roiland – voice of both title characters – and Dan Harmon put their minds together to create the madcap animation phenomenon, a sort of surrealist parody take on Back to the Future. The selfish, alcoholic Rick drags his grandson Morty along on numerous inter-dimensional travels in realms akin to those of Futurama.

The cynical, often fourth-wall smashing, comedy is not for everyone, with some episodes falling a little flat – in a purely subjective sense – but the show is mostly filled with outstanding comedy, clever commentary and writing, and is well worth at least dipping your toes in the water.

Watch Rick and Morty on Netflix

Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Monty Python's Flying Circus logo

Sometimes we get so obsessed with all of the shiny new shows dropping in front of our eyes, we forget to look back at some of the all-time greats.

Monty Python, formed by titans of comedy including John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin, is a comedy troupe with sketches so silly that they are ultimately timeless. The cult series inspired a generation of comedians with skits including Dead Parrot, in which a pet shop owner tries to convince a customer that his pet bird is snoozing not deceased, and the Ministry of Silly Walks, which will have you crying with laughter with its surreal humour (it’s what John Cleese’s long limbs were made for). The impact of these series can still be felt today, and for all the new comedians launching onto the circuit every year, you’ll still be hard-pressed to find anyone funnier.

You’ll also know the Pythons for their films including The Life of Brian and The Holy Grail, which are available to view too.

Watch on Netflix

The IT Crowd

The IT Crowd
Chris O’Dowd, Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson in The IT Crowd
Channel 4

Look at their faces! A young Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson star in this much-loved Channel 4 sitcom alongside a shaggy-haired Chris O’Dowd. Matt Berry also appears in the series about an IT department where very little work got done.

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” has since been trotted out in spectacularly poor Irish accents in every office and home in the land since The IT Crowd was fired out to the nation. Killer episodes include a look into the tense underground world of street Countdown, Jen believing she possesses the entirety of “The Internet” in a small black box, and an infamous trip to see GAY! A Gay Musical…

As with every top-tier comedy series, the stellar cast of recurring characters in this one provide some wonderfully weird moments with an honourable mention to Noel Fielding as basement-dwelling goth Richmond.

Watch The IT Crowd on Netflix

Peep Show

Peep Show
Robert Webb and David Mitchell in Peep Show
Channel 4

Robert Webb and David Mitchell are all grown up now, with wives, children and columns in posh newspapers. But in their early days they gave us a brilliantly fresh sitcom that would become Channel 4’s longest-running comedy (airing from 2003-2015). It no doubt would have carried on for longer had David and Robert not deemed themselves too old for it.

The double act played Mark and Jez – one’s a socially awkward loan manager, one’s a childish slacker. They met as students, hailing themselves the “El Dude Brothers” and together they’re two dysfunctional flatmates trying to fit into the adult world. Spoiler: they fail. Spectacularly. Again. And again. And again.

Everything about this show felt energetic and exciting – not just the performances and the jokes, but also the camera work. We see everything from the characters’ point of view, meaning the actors sometimes have cameras strapped to their heads to achieve this effect (seriously!). It all helps to create the show’s unique perspective – while comedies about losers are commonplace, this series always felt distinctive.

Watch out for Oscar winner Olivia Colman, who stars as Mark’s love interest, Sophie. She went to Cambridge with David and Robert, and worked extensively with them before Hollywood beckoned.

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Watch Peep Show on Netflix