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Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Best Comedy Shows on Hulu Right Now


Ready to yuck it up? If you’re in the mood for some bingeable laughs, good news, Hulu is jam-packed with some of the best comedy shows, from sitcom classics to the latest hits. Whether you’re looking for animated gems like Rick and Morty or Bob’s Burgers or live-action staples like Seinfeld and Frasier, workplace comedy favorites like The Office and Brooklyn Nine-Nine or genre-defying essentials like Atlanta and Community, not to mention underrated must-watch shows like Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23.

In addition to a heavy selection from NBC, Fox and FX comedy favorites, Hulu is also bulking out an original content roster of their own with comedy winners like the Aidy Bryant-fronted Shrill, the Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg-produced Future Man, and the heartfelt early-aughts nostalgia trip PEN15.

RELATED: The Best Comedy Shows on Netflix Right Now


What We Do In the Shadows

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Image via FX

Created by: Jemaine Clement

Cast: Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, Mark Proksch

Turning the simple premise behind writer/directors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi‘s 2014 deadly-funny vampire mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows into a TV show seemed like a tall task. Fortunately, Clement himself took it upon himself to just double down on the film’s oddball polite-horror comedy stylings and assemble the funniest cast currently working on television. Pretty simple formula, really, as easy as screaming “bat!” Like the film, FX’s What We Do In the Shadows follows the everyday lives of a coven of vampires who have settled in Staten Island: Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak), his human familiar Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), Nadja of Antipaxos (Natasia Demetriou), and Laszlo Cravensworth (Matt Berry), who at one point in his life was almost definitely Jack the Ripper. Much like the creatures who populate it, this show absolutely freaking kills, every single episode, whether it’s big reoccurring gags like Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) the “energy vampire”—he’s just really, really boring, basically—or the way Matt Berry says, uh, literally anything. Over three seasons and counting, it’s never not been a bloody good time. –Vinnie Mancuso

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

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Image via FX

Created by: Rob McElhenney

Cast: Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson, Danny Devito

For the past [checks notes] 16 years, dozens and dozens of sitcoms have come and go, their characters learning valuable lessons, forging heartfelt relationships, and ultimately becoming better people. Over that same stretch of time, the absolute trash monsters of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have been there, striving to never change or learn anything resembling a lesson, and it’s been wonderfully depraved every step of the way. The very first episode of this show is titled “The Gang Gets Racist,” and not much has changed since for the show’s commitment to its core characters—Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (Rob McElhenney), Charlie (Charlie Day), Dee (Kaitlin Olson), and Frank (Danny Devito)—being the worst people possible at all times. The key to the show’s likability, and the reason it’s lasted 14 seasons and counting, is how clearly the creative team condemns the behavior they’re creating. The Gang never “wins.” They’re never “right.” They simply toss gasoline and a match onto any social situation they find themselves in and then sneak out the back door, back to the same exact pub for another beer. –Vinnie Mancuso

30 Rock

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Image via NBC

Created by: Tina Fey

Cast: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, and Jack McBrayer

When 30 Rock debuted in 2006, it was the underdog to West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin’s dramatic take on an SNL-like show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. But as it turns out, Tina Fey’s ridiculous, slightly surreal half-hour comedy would not only outlive Studio 60, but go on to become one of the best and most iconic sitcoms of the 21st century. Fey plays the head writer of an SNL-like series, juggling her corporate boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) and image-obsessed stars (Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski) all while trying to have some semblance of a personal life. The amount of laugh-out-loud jokes packed into each and every 30 Rock episode is crazy, but what endures about the series are its characters. Its lovable, strange, certifiably insane characters. – Adam Chitwood

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Image via NBC

Created by: Dan Harmon

Cast: Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Jim Rash, and Chevy Chase

Before Dan Harmon brought us Rick and Morty, he tried his hand at a more traditional network sitcom with Community. The NBC series wasn’t without its many ups and downs, but its core ensemble—a group of misfits attending a community college for various reasons—remains tremendous throughout, and Harmon always managed to find the humanity in his characters. The show would get more experimental as it went along, bringing in directors like The Russo Brothers or Justin Lin to craft epic homages to famous film genres. The back half of Season 1 through Season 3 are where the show really hit its stride, before Harmon was fired and then re-hired and the writing got a bit inconsistent, but the characters are endearing enough to keep things compelling throughout. – Adam Chitwood

Bob’s Burgers

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Image via Fox

Created by: Loren Bouchard

Cast: H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, and John Roberts

It’s something of a miracle that Fox has not only not cancelled Bob’s Burgers by now, but they’re actually making a feature film adaptation. Loren Bouchard’s animated series is delightfully, almost glaringly silly. Each episode is packed with oddball jokes and original songs, and the plots mostly revolve around trivial nonsense that the kids get into. It’s a weird show, but its focus is always on the love amongst the central family—a little heart goes a long way, and this is a goofy comedy with a lot of heart. If you’re looking for a pure feel-good watch, you can’t go wrong with this one. – Adam Chitwood

Shrill

Image via Hulu

Based on the book: Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Starring: Aidy Bryant, Lolly Adefope, Luka Jones, John Cameron Mitchell, Ian Owens

Shrill is a deeply honest series, one that can be extremely blunt in its exploration of Millennial life. It’s the show that Girls should have been; it has a lush aesthetic and a killer soundtrack, but its emotional beats will sear you to your core. Even if weight issues aren’t your self-conscious trigger, as they are for our protagonist Annie (Aidy Bryant), Shrill speaks to that pre-teen inside you who was cripplingly insecure about something and everything, that voice that still today makes you question your worth because of how the world perceives you (or how you think the world perceives you). It’s the voice that makes you willing to accept less than you deserve. The only real complaint about Shrill is that it’s too short. There are many, many layers to the relationships Annie has with her friends and co-workers, and the show does an admirable job of giving them as much shading as they can in such a short amount of time. But, some of them aren’t allowed to be more than caricatures when there’s clearly so much more to explore (hopefully in subsequent seasons), and interesting plotlines fade away or come to abrupt halts because of those constraints. Shrill is not yet about a loud woman, but a soft-spoken one who is just beginning to find her voice. We’re ready to hear more. — Allison Keene

PEN15

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Created by / Starring: Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman

To a certain subset of the millennial generation—those of us who can still distinctly remember the screech of a dial-up internet but also don’t quite recall never having an iPhone—Hulu’s PEN15 is going to be, as we used to say on AIM, 2Real4U. Created by Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle with AwesomenessTV and The Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone onboard as executive producers, the 10-episode series stars Erskine and Konkle playing seventh-grade versions of themselves surrounded by real grade-school actors. But that’s never a gimmick. It never devolves into, “Isn’t it weird these adult women are talking to kids?” Instead, PEN15 takes its leads’ genuinely huge-hearted performances and beautifully, achingly brings to life the moments from your youth that still keep you up at 3 A.M—good and bad. PEN15 is a slight show, because the dramas that upend your life at twelve-years-old tend to be slight. It’s the year 2000, B*Witched is a thing, and Maya and Anna head into seventh grade determined, as we all still are, to have the Best Year Ever. They experience first loves and heartbreak. Bullying and triumph.

There’s no way PEN15 connects with everyone on the same level, but moment after moment floored me in their sheer spot-on specificity. This is all led as un-gracefully as possible by two incredible, brace-faced performances Erskine and Konkle, all flailing dance moves and never quite knowing where to put their hands. Again, the joke of the show is never just the fact that Erskine and Konkle are 31 and 24, respectively. Instead, the two actresses use their character’s awkwardness like a comedic weapon. Really, PEN15 is less a cohesive show than it is flipping through an old yearbook on a warm afternoon. It is snapshots brought to life, memories revisited. Anyone looking for a plot-heavy binge won’t find it here, and I also expect some who see The Lonely Island’s name attached expecting Popstar-like madcap comedy to be a bit disappointed, too. (It’s still there in its most surreal form, but subtle and muted.) But there’s something irresistible about PEN15, similar to what I felt while watching Bo Burnham‘s Eighth Grade. It’s not a show that you’ll immediately take to social media to discuss with countless other people. But in its own, completely different way, it will make you feel less alone. — Vinnie Mancuso

Lodge 49

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Image via AMC

Created by: Jim Gavin

Cast: Wyatt Russell, Brent Jennings, Sonya Cassidy, Linda Emond, David Pasquesi

The key to watching Lodge 49 is to just let go. It moves at its own pace, it does what it wants when it wants, and it’s never rushed. Thankfully, it also has just enough quirky interest to potentially hook busy viewers who (yours truly included) do not have time to wait for 4-5 episodes to see if a series “gets good.” Lodge 49 works on its own terms, and even when those terms aren’t particularly clear, it does so with enough charm to see it through. The series, from author Jim Gavin and EP Peter Ocko (Pushing Daisies) focuses on a young man — Sean “Dud” Dudley (Wyatt Russell) — who is adrift after his father’s death. He finds meaning unexpectedly (or perhaps it was destiny) in a fraternal lodge after stumbling across it one afternoon and befriending one of its officers, Ernie (Brent Jennings). Dud, who is currently out of work since the closure of his father’s pool business, has plenty of time to spend getting to know the other, exclusively middle-aged-and-older members of the lodge, for whom he has a deep and abiding affinity. Is he looking for a new father figure? Purpose? Meaning? A return to the idyllic Long Beach life he lived before his father’s death? It both does and doesn’t matter. The lodge provides. Lodge 49 is funny, occasionally dark, and very unique, but beyond that, it’s hard to define. Whatever it is, it’s certainly different. And worth the journey. — Allison Keene

Absolutely Fabulous

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Image via BBC

Created by: Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French

Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield, Jane Horrocks

To know Absolutely Fabulous (or AbFab) is to love it. Jennifer Saunders’ satirical BBC series chronicles the misadventures of two high-powered London women desperate to never leave the hard partying, high-fashion Mod scene they grew up in — despite the fact that it was quite a long time ago. As PR agent Edina and magazine fashion editor Patsy, Saunders and Joanna Lumley are truly exceptional, with over-the-top physical humor and fantastic one-liners, as they obliviously trip through a world that is often horrified by them (especially in the case of Edina’s daughter Saffron, played with tired resolve by Julia Sawalha). Though the series aired in the early 90s, the bizarreness of Patsy and Eddy’s world remains timeless. And despite their enabling, bumbling, hip-obsessed personalities, they’re also strangely lovable. — Allison Keene

Adventure Time

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Image via Cartoon Network

Created by: Pendleton Ward

Voice Cast: Jeremy Shada, John DiMaggio, Hynden Walch, Niki Yang, Tom Kenny

The wonderfully trippy Adventure Time is a true joy of television. Pendleton Ward’s animated series is a fantasy adventure (obviously) that essentially chronicles a boy and his dog, except that this boy, Finn, lives in a weird, post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo, and his dog, Jake, is really an adoptive brother who has magical powers where he can change his shape and size. The long-running series is a fantasia of wonder, as Finn and Jake help Princess Bubblegum battle the Ice King and others with the help of a vampire queen named Marceline, a video player named BMO, and so many other colorful characters.

What really puts Adventure Time a cut above other series of its kind is that there are no other series of its kind. It’s smart, emotional, and definitely not just for kids (and maybe not even for kids — it can also be scary!) There are some darker and more complicated themes and dynamics as the series goes on, but everything is always anchored by the joy that Finn and Jake have in their never-ending cycle of battle. Joy permeates Adventure Time, but it’s also a series that has won a slew of awards for its innovation and intelligence. As the song in the closing credits says, “Come along with me / And the butterflies and bees / We can wander through the forest / And do so as we please.” — Allison Keene

Man Seeking Woman

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Image via FX

One of TV’s most underrated comedies, the surreal Man Seeking Woman remains the best TV show about dating. It’s a show that takes a tropey idea (the follies of a young person dating in the city) and turns it into something that should not be missed. Man Seeking Woman approaches its episodes with a mix of harsh reality and exceptional surrealism, using visual metaphor to get to the core of the complex emotions of, well, the follies of a young person dating in the city. As its Everyman (except in the flipped “Woman Seeking Man” episodes), Jay Baruchel’s Josh navigates these complications with unerring sincerity and hopefulness that is never naive. Instead, it’s a reminder — in often vulgar, bizarre, uproariously funny ways — of our own experiences, and most importantly, that we are not alone. — Allison Keene

Futurama

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Image via Fox

Created by: Matt Groening and David X. Cohen

Cast: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, Tress MacNellie, Maurice LaMarche, and David Herman

There’s no lack for animated programming these days, but in terms of rewatchability and satisfaction, it’s tough to beat just about any of the 140 episodes of Futurama. The show was a huge deal when it premiered in 1999, hailed as the new series from the creator of The Simpsons, and the story possibilities seemed to be endless for a show about a guy who gets frozen in 1999 and wakes up in the year 2999. Buoyed by a fantastic voice cast and whip smart writing, the series is constantly engaging and packed with spot-on humor that never leans too hard on any one element (sci-fi, pop-culture, etc.), instead succeeding on its own merits as simply a great show. – Adam Chitwood

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Image via FOX

Created by: Dan Goor and Michael Schur

Cast: Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Stephanie Beatriz, Joe Lo Truglio, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Chelsea Peretti, Dirk Blocker, and Joel McKinnon Miller

If you’re in the mood for a show with the smart humor and compassion of Parks and Recreation mixed with the procedural aspect of a compelling network cop drama, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the series for you. Created by two of the minds behind Parks and Rec, the Fox series stars Andy Samberg as a New York City detective and revolves around his unit’s various cases and workplace grievances. The show is consistently hilarious and surprising, unafraid to introduce plot developments that shake up the core dynamic of the series. And the procedural element adds an exciting mystery to a lot of the episodes. Through it all, there’s not a single unlikeable character in the bunch. Much like Parks and Rec or The Office, this is an ensemble that just works, and it’s consistently one of the funniest—and sweetest—shows on TV. – Adam Chitwood

The Office (UK)

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Image via BBC

Created by: Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant

Cast: Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Crook, Lucy Davis

The mockumentary comedy that started off what feels like a never-ending wave of imitators is still one of TV’s greatest series. Far bleaker than its younger American cousin, Gervais and Merchant’s The Office follows the work lives of a group of people at a fictional paper company, and is also a whip-smart character study and satire of cubicle life. Gervais is excellent as the horribly cringe-worthy boss David Brent, but Martin Freeman’s likable Everyman, Tim, is the element that gives The Office its heart through his crush on secretary Dawn (Davis) and his low-key antagonistic relationship with team leader Gareth (Crook). Still, it’s Brent’s buffoonery that provides the best quotes and memorable scenes, and yet, he too gets his emotional moments and earned viewer empathy.

The Office broke the mold when it arrived in 2001, but its universal themes of frustration, disappointment, hope, and desire remain forever relevant. Running a mere 2 seasons (12 episodes total), and 2 Christmas specials (as is the British way), this outstanding, funny, dark, engrossing series is still the pinnacle of mockumentary television. — Allison Keene

Cougar Town

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Image via ABC

Created by: Bill Lawrence, Kevin Biegel

Starring: Courteney Cox, Christa Miller, Busy Philipps, Dan Byrd, Josh Hopkins, Ian Gomez, Brian Van Holt

Probably the most infamous example of a great show with a terrible name, Cougar Town actually played with the fact that it hated its title by retitling itself each week in the opening credits, illustrating how playful and meta it has always been. Though the series did lamentably begin as one focused on “man-hungry women of a certain age” (using the now outdated and still regrettable slang “cougar”), it evolved into a really beautiful (and very funny) look at a close group of adult friends and neighbors living along the central Florida coast. The unusual TV locale played a big role in making the series unique, and its great cast brings exceptional warmth and humor to a show that manages to be hilarious, subversive, and cozy all at once. — Allison Keene

Atlanta

Created by: Donald Glover

Cast: Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Keith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz

FX has commissioned a number of out-of-the-box comedies in the last few years, but none have been as successful as Atlanta, which was truly experimental on a number of fronts. For one, it focused on an all-black cast on a network not previously known for giving a voice to minorities (something they are actively changing), and the show’s form and format was one that could, refreshingly, never be pinned down. The general trajectory was that a smart young guy named Earn (Donald Glover) tries to make some money by managing his cousin’s (Brian Tyree Henry) rap career, while also needing to step up as a father. But wrapped up in that was a very specific look at a variety of facets of life as a young black man in a city like Atlanta, told through a juxtaposition of raw truth and surrealist effects. Atlanta had a number of stand-out episodes that focused on just one topic, and “B.A.N.” in particular is notable not just because of how it uniquely it told its story, but in the way it incorperated fake commercials that played out as long, drawn-out jokes within the series. For the weary TV viewer it can’t be overstated how fresh and exciting that is. A huge amount of kudos also goes to Hiro Murai (who directed most of the first season’s episodes), for setting up the show’s visually distinct and atmospheric tone. While Glover created something wonderful here in a series that easily cut through the din of Peak TV, he also showed how collaboration can make a singular vision into something extraordinary. — Allison Keene

Better Things

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Image via FX

Created by: Pamela Adlon, Louis C.K.

Cast: Pamela Adlon, Mikey Madison, Hannah Alligood, Olivia Edward, Celia Imrie

Though tainted somewhat by the show’s close association with Louis C.K. (who co-created the series and has a writing credit on most of its episodes), Better Things’ second season is a thing of beauty. Directed in full by Pamela Adlon, who also stars, it is once again styled — but even more successfully — as a series of New Wave-y vignettes about a hardworking mom and her three difficult children (well to be fair, only two are difficult — the youngest is essentially an angel). Several intense episodes, including “Phil,” which focuses on the decisions surrounding aging parents, and “White Rock,” where the family absconds to have some time to themselves, are visually stunning and emotionally perceptive. Adlon’s direction is exceptional, and it plays a major role in the success of the storytelling. While most of the episodes include fantastical moments, or ones that seem that way, it all complements the series’ desire to explore true both within and without. — Allison Keene

Don’t Trust the B in a Apartment 23

Image via ABC

Yes, Don’t Trust the B– in Apt 23 may be one of the worst titled shows in the history of television; it’s too long, it’s unwieldy, it’s a pain to write, to say, and to explain. Yet the show itself also happened to be one of the funniest, weirdest, and most innovative sitcoms to grace the airwaves. Nahnatchka Khan’s (Fresh Off the Boat) series starred Krysten Ritter as the scamming, titular bitch, alongside Dreama Walker as her doe-eyed roommate. But the show’s scene stealer was James van der Beek playing a hilariously augmented version of his real self. The series was one of the quirkiest and funniest things ABC has probably ever aired, what with its portrayal of the panty-hating Japanese superhero Shitagi Nashi, people getting “weird” on pills and playing Mario Cart, and unexpected John Woo references. But the show’s uniquely wonderful comic sensibilities can now be experienced all over again thanks to Hulu, or discovered for the first time. Do not miss out on this joyous show. — Allison Keene

Fresh Off the Boat

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Image via ABC

Created by: Nahnatchka Khan

Cast: Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Ian Chen, Lucille Soong

Fresh Off the Boat is a comedy that works on three very distinct levels in a way that feels seamless. It’s a family comedy, a 90s show, and series that highlights the specific experience of a Taiwanese family living in America. It also tackles each with aplomb. The show was unfairly maligned early in its run by Eddie Huang (on whose memoirs the show is based) for being what it was — a broadcast sitcom — yet it has continued to push the boundaries of the bizarre and avant-garde, particularly in Season 3. Few comedies can handle both adult and kid-focused stories with equal weight and humor, but Fresh Off the Boat succeeds in this and in extraordinarily well-rendered nostalgia jokes (Zoobooks! Tamagotchi! The Browns almost leaving Cleveland! Shaq Fu!) that never feels forced or like overkill. Plus, it cannot be overstated how much it matters that this is a show about an Asian family and exploring Asian culture — that was also very long overdue. — Allison Keene

Rick and Morty

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Image via Adult Swim

Created by: Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon

Cast: Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Sarah Chalke, and Spencer Grammer

Rick and Morty is not only one of the most delightfully twisted animated shows on television, it’s actually also one of the most consistently brilliant pieces of sci-fi storytelling in recent memory. Loosely based on the Back to the Future relationship of Doc Brown and Marty McFly, the series revolves around a meek young boy named Morty and his genius, sci-fi-gadget-equipped grandfather Rick. The two go on sci-fi adventures week-in and week-out, with the show consistently delivering wildly compelling science-fiction stories set on different planets or even sometimes different dimensions. While hilarious, the show also has a finger on its self-aware pulse, allowing the characters to behave badly, but not allowing them to go on like it doesn’t affect them and the loved ones around them. The result is this insane—and insanely entertaining—cocktail of humor, heart, philosophy, and sci-fi. – Adam Chitwood


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