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5 American Sitcoms You Need To Watch (But Have Probably Never Heard Of)

by Sam Diss
7 February 2012

Tired of bemoaning the lack of interesting sit-coms on television? Think they don't make them like they used to? Ready to shoot yourself in the face if you see Miranda Hart win another award? Then have no fear… There are options out there, if you can find them...

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5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

What is it?

It’s about four young Philadelphians running a bar, getting shenanigans. Some of you might recognised IASIP’s Charlie Day from 2011′s hit Horrible Bosses and he’s dialling up the crazy here as the illiterate and endearingly repulsive Charlie. From season 2 onwards, all of you will recognise Danny DeVito’s surprise turn as the repugnant Frank, Dennis and Dee’s illegitimate father.

Why should I watch it?

It’s fast, funny and dark. Though appearing to be semi-improvised, the show is meticulously scripted: full of strange and near-the-mark jokes, not to mention some surprisingly pertinent social commentary.

How many episodes are there for me to watch?

84 – equating to about 1848 minutes or around 20 football matches worth.

Where can I watch it?

It’s on UK Netflix now.

 

4. Happy Endings

What is it?

It’s the reoccurrence of that magical formula Friends had that producers spent, like, forever trying to repeat but have only now managed to succeed at. Ignoring the disingenuous promotional material, what you can find is a fast, funny and sharp show that knows it has likeable characters down pat, so proceeds to focus on joke-after-joke-after-joke-after…

Why should I watch it?

Well, the jokes, for starters, are hilarious. Happy Endings is one of those brilliant shows – much like many of those in this list – where the beauty is in the repeat viewing, making it an ideal DVD purchase. There are more jokes than you’ll know what to do with (laughter fatigue may be a problem for those with faces prone to soreness) as well as career-making turns from Adam Pally as loveable bear Max, ex-Scrubs star Eliza Coupe giving good crazy and Damon Wayans Jr. (yes, they made another one) as Brad topping the lot, stealing every episode with his pithy metrosexuality (better than it sounds, trust me).

Happy Endings is one of those brilliant shows – much like many of those in this list – where the beauty is in the repeat viewing, making it an ideal DVD purchase.

How many episodes are there for me to watch?

25 – equating to roughly 550 minutes or what my weight will be in pounds if I continue to say no to “No Sugar”.

Where can I watch it?

E4 has been showing the first season, though you may have missed it. Season two will be along soon, I’m sure. You can find imported DVDs of season one online but I’m sure it won’t be long until you can find the rest over here.

Though appearing to be semi-improvised, the show is meticulously scripted: full of strange and near-the-mark jokes, not to mention some surprisingly pertinent social commentary.

3. Archer

 

What is it?

It’s the animated Arrested Development meets James Bond. H J Benjamin stars as Sterling “Duchess” Archer; secret agent, globe-trotting philanderer and Burt Reynolds biggest fan. Oh, and there’s some stand-out supporting characters: Pam (head of HR, former pugilist and has a verse from  Lord Byron’s “The Destruction of Sennacherib” tattooed on her back), Dr. Krieger (possible clone of Hitler, mad scientist and creator of Fister Roboto), among others.

Why should I watch it?

I’m afraid if none of the last paragraph made you laugh then we may have already lost you. Apart from the aforementioned similarities to comedy darling Arrested Development (incest jokes, wordplay and light racism), there are an abundance of high-brow references smattered with low-brow humour to appeal to both sides of the room.

How many episodes are there for me to watch?

27 – equating to about 567 minutes or the same year that Liuva I succeeded Athanagild as king of the Visigoths.

Where can I watch it?

Season one and two are both available on DVD now. Season three just started in the States so they should be shown on FX UK sometime this year.

2. Parks and Recreation

 

What is it?

Originally pitched as a spin-off from the American adaptation of The Office, P&R boasts probably the best cast assembled for a television series since The Larry Sanders Show. SNL alum Amy Poehler stars as endearingly optimistic crazy-person Leslie Knope, solely dedicated to lending a helping hand to all Pawnee citizens, especially best friend and “loveable spinster” Ann (Rashida Jones). Also co-starring Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott and the inexplicably attractive Aubrey Plaza. Plus there’s two real star-making turns from Nick Offerman as man’s man’s man Ron Swanson and Chris Pratt as king of the prat-falls and lead singer of Mouse Rat, Andy Dwyer.

Why should I watch it?

You mean besides the kind of amazing cast and emotional pathos heretofore disregarded as impossible since the heady days of Cheers? Well there’s the revolving door of celebrity cameos (Twilight terrorist Will Forte) and memorable background characters (I would watch an entire spin-off series of “Ya Herd” with Perd Hapley). Not to mention the fact that P&R is probably the closest we’ll ever get to aping the majesty of the glory years of The Simpsons (RIP).

How many episodes are there for me to watch?

60 – equating to roughly 1320 minutes or only 164 off double-The Simpsons’ door number.

Where can I watch it?

Due to inexplicably low ratings in the US, your only chance is to hope you can find an imported DVD online.

1. Community

 

What is it?

You may know it as the cult show which finally gave Chevy Chase another job. What you SHOULD know it as is the smartest, funniest sitcom on television at the moment and up there with some of the best of all time. Besides Chase there’s Joel McHale as Jeff Winger who backs a bag of zingers (sorry), Alison Brie (aka Pete Campbell’s wife from Mad Men aka your next celebrity crush) as well as the dream-team of Donald Glover (who some of you may know as Childish Gambino) and Danny Pudi, as Troy and Abed.

Why should I watch it?

Well, managing to swing between smart-dumb jokes, smart-smart jokes, pop-culture pastiche, meta-commentary and genuinely powerful pathos at the drop of a hat is no mean feat. You might have to catch it quick because NBC (due to them really dropping the ball with their Thursday line-up) have put the show on hiatus, due to low ratings. It just goes to show that some people don’t know a good thing when they see it (or rather, “don’t see it”).

How many episodes are there for me to watch?

59 – equating to roughly 1298 minutes or at least half the amount of times you’ll laugh watching this show.

Where can I watch it?

Try your best to find the imported DVDs online. It’s your only hope.

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