The catalogue of great television comedies is endless. Some however have reached iconic status, be it by using better jokes, original humour, loveable characters, or, most probably, a mixture of all three. Here are the seven best.
To kick us off we have The Simpsons, because, well, it’s The Simpsons. The yellow coloured family have been a part of our homes for quite literally decades, offering its satirical commentary on all things, significant or not. Sure the latest seasons may have gone downhill, but The Simpsons has left a television comedy legacy. For all ages, this truly is one of the greatest series of all time.
Acclaimed by the critics and ignored by everyone else until only recently, Arrested Development tells the story of one man’s struggles to keep the family business – and the family itself for that matter – from destruction. Like most of these shows, Arrested Development created its own, fantastic style of comedy – one that has been replicated by numerous programs since. Sadly, due to its lack of audience, the show was scrapped after only three seasons, but Netflix have blessed us all with a new fourth season, 13 years later. With laugh out loud moments throughout, I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
A television comedy list wouldn’t be complete without Larry David’s Seinfeld. The pinnacle of observational comedy, Seinfeld makes something out of the show about nothing each episode. The characters and actors are all individually excellent, the laughs are consistent, and the episodes are eternally memorable.
Yes, obviously the classic Clarkson Top Gear. Yes, obviously the new one kinda sucks. But when Top Gear was good, it was really good. The chemistry and banter between the presenters meant the show was enjoyable for both car lovers and non car lovers alike. In my opinion, there is no other presenter-based TV show that comes close to the quality of the Clarkson led Top Gear, and it is unlikely there will be another one like it any time soon.
Archer chronicles the self-dubbed ‘world’s greatest spy’ – or in other terms, the most hilariously inappropriate, self-centred, chauvinistic spoilt brat of all time. In saying that, Sterling Malorie Archer is, albeit shamefully, still completely loveable. The humour is deadpan and irreverent, but also just plain funny. There have been countless spy spoofs in the history of television and film, but this to me tops them all.
If you’re looking for classic banter, then look no further. The Inbetweeners is an English comedy about four misfits at the tail end of high school, whose only desires seem to be, and I quote, “tits, fanny and booze”. And although that may be what they want, that is the opposite of what they get (not for a lack of trying). The characters and the banter-styled humour are iconic. It is relatable, ruthlessly irreverent and often absolutely cringe viewing in a classically British way. It’s also one of my all time favourites.
The Office (Both)
Speaking of classically British cringe comedy, the last item on the list is The Office. Both of them. Controversial as it may be, the U.S Office is genuinely very funny viewing. It is wholly rare to have a good remake, and it is even rarer to have a good American remake of a British show (for evidence, watch the American Inbetweeners – at your own peril). The American Office has successfully achieved both.
As for the original, unbearable to watch as it may sometimes be, it truly is a work of genius. While mocumentary as a style had been used before, none had achieved it with nearly as much success as Ricky Gervais’ debut sitcom. As for David Brent, I truly think he is one of the most complex and brilliant comedic characters ever. He will make you laugh, cry, and probably block your eyes and ears. But when the final season comes to a close, you won’t want to say goodbye.