A good sitcom is like comfort food: it doesn’t have to be fancy, grand, or avant-garde to be enjoyable. If you want social commentary or layered thematic work, you can always tune into Black Mirror, Bloodline, or Breaking Bad. But sometimes it’s nice to just sit back, tune out, and wipe tears from your eyes while laughing maniacally.
Sitcoms provide balance to all the dark and gritty drama on TV. If you’re feeling down, a dose of hearty laughter could truly be the best medicine — it won’t cure whatever’s bringing you down, but it can certainly help lift your mood. And with Netflix’s strong selection of sitcoms, that laughter is available on demand.
With that in mind, here are 15 of the best sitcoms available to watch on Netflix right now.
1. Friends (1994)
10 Seasons | 236 Episodes | IMDb: 9.0
Friends is simply the greatest sitcom of all time. Not only did it revolutionize the idea of what a sitcom could be, and not only did it bring life back to a genre that was growing stale, everyone watched it. It was the Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead of its time — even if you weren’t a fan, you knew what it was, and everyone loved talking about it.
The greatest achievement of Friends is that it can still hold its own against all of the sitcoms that have come after it. It’s consistently funny, warm, cozy, relaxing, and emotional throughout its entire run. The production may feel dated, especially in the earlier seasons, but the jokes and characters are timeless.
2. Arrested Development (2003)
4 Seasons | 85 Episodes | IMDb: 8.9
Like many of FOX’s best shows, Arrested Development was cancelled too early in its run. However, thankfully, Netflix saw the cult following that had grown around this show and gave it a fourth season in 2013. As of this writing, an additional fifth season has been announced and is currently in development.
Often described as a “smart comedy about stupid people,” Arrested Development is extremely clever — perhaps the cleverest comedy ever made. It’s extremely layered, so much so that you’ll regularly discover missed jokes on repeat viewings. I’ve seen the series at least five times and still find subtle gags all over the place.
In other words, this isn’t the kind of show you put on in the background. It deserves your full attention, and that attention is well-rewarded.
3. The Office (2005)
9 Seasons | 188 Episodes | IMDb: 8.8
The best way to describe The Office? Highly-relatable cringe comedy. The early seasons do a great job capturing the essence of an office environment while exaggerating certain bits and characters for comedic effect — and boy is it funny, as long as you don’t cringe too hard. (“Scott’s Tots,” anyone?)
While the second half of the show doesn’t quite live up to the first half, it never drops into “bad” territory. It’s funny through and through, and more importantly, it evolves from start to finish. No two seasons are alike, with new characters popping in and out, and that’s what makes the journey so fun.
4. Parks and Recreation (2009)
7 Seasons | 125 Episodes | IMDb: 8.6
Do yourself a favor and skip Season 1, which tries too hard to emulate The Office and misses the mark. Parks and Recreation doesn’t find its footing until somewhere in Season 2, at which point it explodes into its own and instantly becomes a classic.
To describe Parks and Recreation in a word: “uplifting.” I’ve never seen a sitcom so warm, positive, and endearing — and that’s why it has such a huge fanbase. Parks and Recreation isn’t just humorous. It’s happy! It’s bright. Its humor ultimately derives from characters who, deep down, want to help each other and see each other succeed.
5. Futurama (1999)
10 Seasons | 124 Episodes | IMDb: 8.5
From the creator of The Simpsons comes Futurama, a smart animated series full of laughs, interesting stories, and an incredible amount of worldbuilding. It follows a dumb everyman who’s cryogenically frozen, awakes 1,000 years in the future, and joins a group of flawed misfits aboard a spaceship.
Futurama has two unique aspects in its favor. First, the creators are insanely dedicated to continuity. (Without giving away spoilers, you can hear about something in one season and see it referenced several seasons later.) Second, the creators are super geeky and love putting in scientific Easter eggs. Both of these make Futurama highly rewatchable and highly rewarding.
6. Archer (2009)
7 Seasons (Ongoing) | 90 Episodes | IMDb: 8.8
Of all the animated shows for adults on Netflix, Archer is arguably the best. The art style is one-of-a-kind, the animation is top notch, the stories are mature, and the characters are like none you’ve ever seen. But this show is really out there, so give it a miss if you’re easily offended.
In the first five seasons, Archer plays out as a spoof of the action spy movie genre, and is a masterclass in satire and character-based humor. The later seasons depart from this core and become a little too self-referential and self-indulgent (I stopped watching in the sixth season), but those first five seasons are must-see TV.
7. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005)
11 Seasons (Ongoing) | 143 Episodes | IMDb: 8.8
Think of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as what Seinfeld would have been if it had aired on cable TV rather than broadcast TV. The basic formula is the same — a show about nothing, with narcissistic characters who are so unlikable as to be funny — but ramped up to a darker and more hilarious level.
The first season works well enough as an introduction, but it doesn’t pick up until Season 2 when Danny Devito joins the cast. From that point on, it’s season after season of crazy antics. But what I love most about Always Sunny is its consistency: few shows have produced as steady a level of quality over so many seasons as this show.
8. 30 Rock (2006)
7 Seasons | 138 Episodes | IMDb: 8.2
30 Rock wasn’t the first broadcast sitcom to embrace meta comedy, but it was one of the first to succeed at it. This show-within-a-show follows a female TV writer and her cast and crew as they deal with the ups and downs of producing a network show and managing its celebrities.
What’s great about 30 Rock is that all of its characters (except maybe the protagonist) start off as unlikable, larger-than-life stereotypes but gradually grow into fleshed-out, sympathetic individuals whom you can really root for.
9. That 70s Show (1998)
8 Seasons | 200 Episodes | IMDb: 8.1
I think it’s sad that That 70s Show isn’t as fondly remembered as other 90s-era sitcoms like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Boy Meets World. Not only did it launch the careers of recognizable names like Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher, and Mila Kunis, but the show itself is just plain hilarious.
Yes, even though it’s a spoof on the 1970s, it’s still funny even if you were born after that decade. And with characters like hardass-but-loving father and traditional-yet-untraditional mother Red and Kitty Foreman, That 70s Show proved it could be as subversive as the rest of the sitcoms of the day.
Whatever you do, skip the last season. It’s like a completely different show, and not in a good way.
10. Cheers (1982)
11 Seasons | 271 Episodes | IMDb: 7.8
Cheers embodies the kind of show you can plop down to watch after a long, hard day at work. When you’re feeling sour, Cheers puts a smile on your face. When you’re feeling down, Cheers comforts you like a warm blanket. And when you’re in the mood for drama, there’s always Sam and Diane.
Cheers has aged surprisingly well, considering it started in the early 1980s. It’s just as relatable now as it was back then, and that’s why it has stood the test of time. Don’t be put off by it being an “old” show — after a few episodes, you’ll see why so many have a fond place in their heart for Cheers.
11. Frasier (1993)
11 Seasons | 263 Episodes | IMDb: 8.0
Sitcom spin-offs never work — except in the case of Frasier, which was a direct spin-off from Cheers and actually surpassed its progenitor. Its success can be partly attributed to the brilliant work of Kelsey Grammer as Frasier the psychiatrist, as well as the refreshing new direction of the show for its time.
When most shows were depicting men as stupid and oafish (think The Simpsons and Married… With Children), Frasier showed men who were classy, intelligent, and lofty. And all the while it was both fun and funny. If you want to see the birth of smart comedy, this is the show for you.
12. New Girl (2011)
5 Seasons | 124 Episodes | IMDb: 7.7
New Girl is sorely underrated. Part of that likely has to do with Zooey Deschanel starring as Jess, but if you can get past that, you’ll see that the rest of the cast is comedically gifted — especially Jake Johnson as Nick and Max Greenfield as Schmidt. This is one of the few Friends-esque sitcoms that actually works and gets better with every season.
Be aware that New Girl relies on quirky characters and situations that would never happen in real life, but that’s part of its charm. It’s wacky, it’s fun, and once you get to know the characters, it’s often laugh-out-loud funny.
13. How I Met Your Mother (2005)
9 Seasons | 208 Episodes | IMDb: 8.4
I know there are folks out there who’ll be shaking their heads in disbelief that How I Met Your Mother has made this list, but I think it deserved its place. The first few seasons are great, and I love some of those earlier episodes, but it’s always been hit-or-miss and long outstayed its welcome. Plus, that ending…
How I Met Your Mother is the epitome of “journey before destination.” Take each episode for what it is: a separate scenario that catalyzes jokes between these peculiar characters. If you think too hard about the plot or the direction, you’ll only end up disappointed. Instead, switch off your brain and enjoy.
14. Raising Hope (2010)
4 Seasons | 88 Episodes | IMDb: 8.0
Most people have never heard of this show, let alone seen it. And that’s a shame because it’s an underrated gem, full of heart and depth underneath its ratty exterior. Raising Hope is about a dead-end “white trash” family’s struggles that arise when the son unexpectedly fathers a child named Hope.
Raising Hope is another in a long line of quirky-but-sweet sitcoms, but this one elevates itself with its unique premise and wonderful performances. If not for anything else, you ought to watch for Martha Plimpton (a sassy-yet-lovable mother) and Garret Dillahunt (an oft-typecasted villain who plays the dopey father this time around). It’s pure, unrefined amusement.
15. Santa Clarita Diet (2017)
1 Season (Ongoing) | 11 Episodes | IMDb: 7.7
When I mentioned Santa Clarita Diet as one of the many Netflix originals to look forward to in 2017, I never expected it to be as good as it turned out to be. A zombie-based family sitcom that takes place in the suburbs of Los Angeles? It sounds silly but is actually clever, subversive, and meta.
Give it at least two episodes to win you over. The first episode is a bit rough and rushed, but the rest of the season is spectacularly good. And if the show’s acting feels over-the-top, keep in mind that’s intentional. It frequently plays against tropes and expectations, which may put off a lot of viewers, but it’s one of the reasons why I personally love the show.
What Are Your Favorite Sitcoms of All Time?
Remember that many shows on Netflix can now be downloaded for offline viewing. Furthermore, if you plan on watching Netflix on a Windows computer, you may want to consider using the Windows 10 Netflix app, which has several benefits that aren’t available in web browsers.
When you run out of Netflix sitcoms to watch, don’t forget to check out the high-quality shows on Hulu as well as the amazing shows on HBO Go. (And if you’re enrolled in Microsoft Rewards, you can even get Hulu Plus for free every month.)
Are there any sitcoms you watch on Netflix missing from our list? Which of the sitcoms we recommend above do you love? And which ones do you think are overrated? What are the essential elements of a good sitcom? Please let us know in the comments below!
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