Laugh away social isolation with the likes of Friends, Grace and Frankie and The IT Crowd
While everything may seem all doom and gloom at the moment as we continue to face the trials of the current pandemic, it doesn't mean that we can't try to cheer ourselves up with the occasional laugh. With this in mind, we've put together a list featuring our favourite comedy series and sitcoms, which we believe may offer some light relief – even if it's just for a good 20-30 minutes.
Created by the father-son duo of Eugene and Dan Levy, Schitt's Creek follows the wealthy Rose family – parents Jonny and Moira and their adult children David and Alexis – who in episode one lose their mammoth fortune as a result of being defrauded. Their only remaining asset is a small town called Schitt's Creek, which the family bought as a joke for David in 1991. So the Roses are forced to rebuild their lives in this backwater town, with hilarious consequences and awkward interactions with the local residents. The cast are undoubtedly the highlight of the series, with the pairings of Eugene Levy (Jonny) and Catherine O'Hara (Moira) and Dan Levy (David) and Annie Murphy (Alexis) giving the show its heart and understated comedy. Sadly for fans, the sixth and final season began in January 2020 in the US and is due to finish up in April. UK audiences won't have to wait long though, with Netflix confirming Thu 14 May as the official air date. (Arusa Qureshi)
Nadia, a software engineer in New York City, is having a very bad 36th birthday party. She keeps being killed, and then waking up again in her bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror. Conceived by star Natasha Lyonne, director Leslye Headland and producer Amy Poehler, Russian Doll uses brilliant, puzzle-box storytelling and dark comedy to tell the story of a messed-up young woman and her effort to fix her life: you'll watch it in one night, and then want to watch it all over again. The whole cast is great, but Lyonne is raw, funny and brilliant as the by turns exasperated and haunted Nadia. The good news is that a second season is coming. (Alex Johnston)
The IT Crowd
It's not been unknown at List Towers over the past fortnight of home-working, to see someone suggest on Slack, 'did you turn it off and on again', a phrase long detested by office staff but sanitised by this memorable Channel 4 show. The similarities to our current situation don't end there, with the central characters Roy, Moss and Jen living almost as an isolating family as the basement-dwelling IT department of dodgy corporation Reynholm Industries. There they stay for the most part, leaving their den only for emergency repairs, their eccentric boss's whims, or endearing themselves to strangers that turn out to be bank robbers or friendly cannibals. Delivered as a traditional sitcom, drawing on the confined-space setting of Rising Damp, Porridge and Bottom, The IT Crowd somehow holds together as a gentle but occasionally zany comedy with a highlight reel drawing millions of viewers on YouTube to this day and enough geekery to keep the genuine IT community amused. An array of permanent and one-off characters spice up each episode, with Matt Berry's turn as idle, lecherous big boss Douglas Reynholm stealing the show from series 2 after replacing his on-screen father Chris Morris. Watch out for Limmy's brief appearance as a barely-legible Scottish window cleaner. Roy and Moss's ruse of giving easily-led technophobe boss Jen 'the Internet' in a box to aid a presentation, is a memorable scene offering a mixture of confusion and hilarity to the non-technical, back in 2008 at least. (David Low)
Since South Park, The Simpsons and Family Guy, adult targeted animations continue to be on the rise. And while there are some great shows on the air, for me nothing can compare to the story of the world's best secret agent aka Sterling Archer. The episodes following the ISIS spy agency (yes, they changed the name later on) are not only refreshingly witty, smart and laugh out loud funny in their not-so-PC way but offer genuinely exciting, complex and action-packed storylines that could be put in any James Bond film without the blink of an eye. The peculiar and somewhat damaged characters are incredibly well-written, so much so that when the series took a turn and started to experiment with various genres (sci-fi, neo-noir and adventure), Archer lost none of its charm, edge and wit. Creator Adam Reed serves you drama, humour, speed, action, sex and an arsenal of gut-busting jokes that you know you should not be laughing at but you cannot help it. Lucky for us, the 11th season of the series is coming on Wed 6 May. (Julia Kajdi)
If you're looking for something fresh, original and funny yet meaningful and incredibly British, make sure you check out Netflix's relatively new series about a teenage boy struggling to have sex – even with himself – and his sexual anthropologist / psychologist mother who on the other hand has no problem whatsoever in the area. The former is played by the baby-faced Asa Butterfield, who is once again spot on when it comes to portraying an insecure slightly loser-ish character, who is more intelligent but definitely more awkward than your average teenage boy. The latter is brought to us by Gillian Anderson whose embarrassing openness about sex does not make her (single) mother of the year. And while Sex Education deeply relies on their relationship, it also speaks about friendship, LGBTQ+ themes, love and of course safe sex. Because it's high time we forget the banana and the condom and start realising that sex education should also address the minds, souls, fears, questions and insecurities of the young. (Julia Kajdi)
Grace and Frankie
No one's living situation is exactly ideal at the moment, but if your misery loves company, then Grace and Frankie is the one for you. Grace and Frankie are played respectively by the great comedy doyennes Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, who move in together when they discover that their husbands are having a long-standing affair with one another. The two women are as different as night and day, but their history as rivals quickly develops a tender and powerful friendship that is as interdependent as it is empowering for them both. Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen are also in fine form as their husbands Robert and Sol, and a warm, dynamic supporting cast rounds out the Hanson and Bergstein clans, who quickly begin to feel like your own personal friends. Fonda and Tomlin's chemistry, however, is the true heart and soul of the show, as they explore the hilarity, beauty and dignity that can only come with age and experience. (Deborah Chu)
It's not possible for any sitcom list to get away with excluding the ever so hilarious adventures of the six friends, who technically grew up or at least became more or less responsible adults, in front of our eyes. The Central Perk's famous couch, Monica and Rachel's purple door, Marcel the monkey, the Ugly Naked Guy, the Unagi and Phoebe's granny's cab are just a few of all the unforgettable iconic elements from the show that ruled the small screen over ten years and still stands strong. Friends is original, witty, funny and relatable with just the right amount of drama, love and seriousness of life that we need. Not to mention one of the best 'will they / won't they' couples of all time, who were or were not on a break. One simply cannot get bored rewatching the episodes as they either offer something you've never seen or appreciated before or send you down memory lane. (Julia Kajdi)
That '70s Show
Beloved American sitcom That '70s Show aired from the late '90s to mid-2000s, launching the careers of stars including Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. Set in the late 1970s, the show is centred around the lives of awkward teenager Eric Foreman (Topher Grace) and his family and friends who live in the fictional town of Point Place, Wisconsin. Eric is dating and trying to lose his virginity to his next door neighbour and first love Donna (Orange is the New Black's Laura Prepon) and there is constant couple drama between the spoiled Jackie (Mila Kunis) and idiotic Kelso (Ashton Kutcher). Meanwhile, Hyde (Danny Masterson) is the group's rebellious lone wolf, while foreign exchange student Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) desperately tries to fit in and get a girlfriend. Each and every character is memorable and the show still holds up over 20 years later, consistently delivering on big hair, bad outfits and light-hearted laughs to help you forget your troubles. (Megan Forsyth)
If you've ever thought your family is complicated, that Christmas is always a hassle, that your cousins cannot agree on what to play and your uncle needs to be stopped before opening a second bottle of wine for himself, you definitely don't know the Bluth family. They stand for everything you'd never want your family to be; a corrupt, heartless, selfish and altogether hopeless bunch led by the only sane son, Michael (Jason Bateman). Depicting three generations, Arrested Development is a perfect showcase of every possible family and personal defect out there. It's about bad people making bad decisions and yet we still love each and every one of them. Hilarious characters, complex story lines, unexpected turns and highly entertaining complications. Not to mention that Bateman is joined by the likes of Jeffrey Tambor, Will Arnett, Jessica Walter, Michael Cera and Tony Hale. (Julia Kajdi)
Follow The List's Staying In is the New Going Out articles for more recommendations, alternative online events, press releases, refund policies, restaurant deliveries and further general information.