Comedy is the perfect escape — any time. These days, it’s especially important. There’s no substitute for clever shows that make critical points about life, but with humor and élan. And Netflix has loads. Here are 10 worth watching:
The filthy-rich Rose family are now broke — and forced to live in a sad motel in a town they once bought as a joke. The show takes a while to find its rhythm; then it’s addictive. That’s thanks to a wacky ensemble: gay, snarky son (Daniel Levy), his ditzy, globetrotting sister (Annie Murphy), hilariously over-the-top actress mother (Catherine O’Hara) and Eugene Levy as his businessman father desperate to survive. What’s wonderful is the characters’ growth. Beneath their designer wear, beats a big heart.
Two women, one a lefty pot-smoker (Lily Tomlin), the other, an upscale, vodka-loving businesswoman (Jane Fonda), dislike each other. But they share a singular life-shattering event: After 40-years, their husbands want to divorce them — and marry each other! Forced to live together at a San Diego beach house most of us would kill for, the two eventually bond. Their chemistry is electric and real. And their attempt to carve out a new life is comedy gold.
“Atypical” is a touching coming-of-age dramedy that revolves around Sam (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old on the autism spectrum. A computer whiz, beguiled by penguins, Sam is just trying to fit in. Zahid, his nerdy but loyal friend, helps. So does his sister, a study in tough love, perfectly played by Brigette Lundy-Paine. That’s a plus, since his well-meaning parents are sorting out their own lives. The show doesn’t shy away from pain, but is injected with hope, off-kilter humor and genuine warmth.
4. Derry Girls
An Irish comedy created by Lisa McGee, “Derry Girls” is a delight. It revolves around the lives of four teenage girls at a Catholic school during the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the early 1990s. The world might be exploding, but the girls are oblivious. The quartet is outrageous, lovable, relatable and resilient. So are their families. And the principal of their school, Sister Michael, is the sassiest, most sardonic nun ever.
Who knew a meditation on the nature of good and evil could be so funny? Narcissistic Eleanor Shellstrop arrives at the Good Place after her death. Compared to all the other do-gooders, she’s woefully out of place. But worried about the alternative, she strives to fit in — even if it’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.
This is taking offbeat to a whole new level. After 15 years, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper, “The Office”) is rescued from a doomsday cult and lands in New York — with her enthusiasm intact. Each person she meets is kookier and seemingly more bizarre than the next. “Kimmy” is goofy and charming with a terrific cast, including Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski. Created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.
This is a chance to see two excellent actors at the top of their game. “The Kominsky Method” is created by Chuck Lorre (“Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon”). It focuses on the travails of close friends: aging actor (Michael Douglas), who makes his living as an acting coach, and his agent (Alan Arkin), a cynical, jaded widower who can spin an insult with understated bravado. They traverse issues of age, difficult children and romance, while commenting on the absurdities of fame and fortune.
A married team of British writers are asked to produce an American version of their tony hit TV show — but with Matt LeBlanc (“Friends”) as a fictionalized version of himself. What they discover is that Hollywood plays by its own wild-and-crazy rules. “Episodes” manages to send-up Tinseltown and create an entertaining story line that will hook you.
The Bluth family, self-serving and completely mad, careen from one insane disaster to another. The cast is amazing – Jessica Walters, Jason Bateman, Tony Hale, Portia De Rossi, Michael Cera — and the laughs fly fast and furious.
It’s eight seasons of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein satirizing the various residents of Portland, Oregon. From hippie-dippy artisanal light bulbs to an overzealous mayor to music festivals, the duo nails all the pretensions of the pristine city.