7 Best Modern Sitcoms to Lift Your Spirits

The world is extra grim right now with the Covid-19 situation, but I refuse to be sad or anxious if I can help it. A good way to keep my mood cheerful is by watching my favourite TV comedies.

I’m not going to mention Seinfeld, Friends, or The Office, which are gold standards in comedy and shows that everyone watches. My top 7 modern sitcoms may not be on everyone’s radar. There are plenty of good sitcoms out there, but these are shows that I don’t get bored rewatching.

1. Derry Girls

I love shows about characters behaving badly, so it’s extra delightful when they’re Catholic school girls. Set in the 1990s, the five Derry Girls (yes, James is a Derry Girl), navigate teen life during the time of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

There are only two seasons so far with a third in development, but it’s already an instant classic. Much respect to writer and creator Lisa McDee for the dark humour, unpredictable storylines, and ’90s nostalgia. At the very least watch the pilot (turn on the subtitles). That ending is just outrageous. The show has its touching moments too. Anyone else sob at the end of the season 1 finale?

Stream it: Netflix

2. Psych

With 8 seasons and two TV movies, Psych has a big cult following. Raised by an uptight police sergeant to be highly observant, slacker Shawn Spencer (James Roday) pretends to be a psychic to work with the Santa Barbara police. Together with his best friend Gus (Dulé Hill), they form a psychic detective agency to solve crimes while acting extremely immature along the way.

I’ve watched all the episodes years ago, but I’m in the middle of watching them again before I watch the movies. The comedy, likable characters, crime solving, action, and a little romance thrown in gives the show its winning formula.

Stream it: Prime Video

3. 30 Rock

Inspired by Tina Fey’s experiences working on SNL, 30 Rock revolves around the cast and crew of a fictionalized live sketch comedy show filmed at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. I’ve always admired the writing on the show. It’s zany and surreal that it sometimes feels like a cartoon. The humour can go from silly to sophisticated at the drop of a hat, but they never go for cheap laughs.

I’m currently in the middle of rewatching all 7 seasons. I think I missed some episodes in the later seasons.

Stream it: Prime Video

4. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmit

Every time a new season of Kimmy drops on Netflix, I spend a day or two binge watching. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock were commissioned to develop a show for Ellie Kemper (Erin from The Office). They thought about Ellie’s best traits (optimism, innocence, inner strength) and developed the Kimmy character, a doomsday cult survivor starting a new life in New York City. As dark as that sounds, the show is quite light-hearted. It shares 30 Rock’s world and kooky humour, so of course I’m a big fan. I’ll be rewatching all four seasons in the near future.

Stream it: Netflix

 

5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

This is the best workplace sitcom since The Office. Police procedurals don’t always have to be intense and dramatic. The detectives in Brooklyn’s fictional 99th precinct goof off on the job as much as anyone.

The cast is diverse but the show avoids lazy gags on race. Instead, recurring jokes focus on the character’s individual quirks, such as Captain Raymond Holt’s monotone voice or Detective Amy Santiago’s type A personality. Season 7 just dropped on Netflix, so I am going to be busy this pandemic.

Stream it: Netflix

6. Fresh off the Boat

 

Fresh off the Boat didn’t interest me for the longest time because I thought it was one of those mildly comedic, heart-warming family shows using immigration as its hook. While it is indeed heart-warming with likable characters, the comedy writing is clever and takes creative chances. Being Chinese-Canadian, some of the culture-specific humour is doubly funny to me, but it does not rely on racial stereotypes to work.

Based on chef Eddie Huang’s memoir, the sitcom follows a Taiwanese-American family’s move to Florida in the ’90s. Season 1 was by no means bad, but the show does take time to find its groove. Trust me, this show is hilarious, and you don’t have to be Asian to get it. Also, the child actors are adorable.

Stream it: Prime Video or iTunes

7. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Before I started watching Curb, a couple of people had said it reminded them of me. Now that I’ve seen a few seasons, I think it’s safe to say that I am Larry David. I like to listen to the theme song as I walk around town, anticipating getting into awkward conversations and idiotic situations.

Co-creator of Seinfeld, the real Larry David plays a curmudgeon version of himself, committing faux pas and starting petty arguments with everybody who crosses his path, including celebrity friends. Sometimes, he rejects social convention and gratifies the audience by saying what most of us are too polite to say. Other times, he’s just a jerk. I learn a lot from this show, such as the concept of the shit bow.

I’m watching season 10, but I missed a lot of episodes in earliers seasons, so I should really go back and watch them in chronological order at some point.

Stream it: HBO

What are you watching? Let me know in the comments below.

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