Comedy

The 50 Best Sitcoms on Hulu (April 2018)

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The 50 Best Sitcoms on Hulu (April 2018)

If there’s a constant in the world of streaming media, it’s change. Okay, that’s a constant everywhere, but especially with sites like Hulu and Netflix. The shows available on demand change just about every month, and all that churn makes lists like this grow outdated with great frequency. That’s why we’re updating it here today: to help you find all the great sitcoms that are on Hulu today, without missing any great new additions, and without directing you towards shows that are no longer on the service.

If you’re a Hulu subscriber who loves sitcoms, you should be happy: the library here is shockingly deep, more so than Netflix or other competitors. It’s a killer line-up of shows from the ‘50s through today, including many of the best of all time that aren’t streaming elsewhere. (This is the only place you can stream every episode of Seinfeld, which, I’ll tell you right now, comes in pretty, pretty dang high on this here list.) Here’s how great the selection on Hulu is: there wasn’t enough room on this list for such long-running hits as How I Met Your Mother and Malcom in the Middle, or for cult classics like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Workaholics. This pool is deep, and let’s quit chattering and just dive right in. Here are the 50 best sitcoms currently streaming on Hulu.

50. Happy Endings

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Creator: David Caspe
Stars: Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans, Jr., Casey Wilson
Network: ABC

File Happy Endings under the dreaded “canceled too soon” category. Happy Endings could have and should have lasted far longer than three seasons, but sometimes the TV gods are cruel. Based in Chicago, the ensemble comedy had a pretty simple premise (“a group of friends in their early 30s hang out in the city”), with the clever twist that one of them (Elisha Cuthbert’s Alex) leaves another at the altar (Zachary Knighton’s Dave) in the pilot. They try to remain friends, hence the titular happy ending, and it adds a pretty strong “will they or won’t they” element to the show, but ultimately what made Happy Endings so great was the chemistry between its six leads. Sometimes “friends hanging out” is the only situation you need for a comedy to work. Also worth noting: this show doesn’t get nearly enough props for one of the least stereotypical portrayals of a gay character on a sitcom; Adam Pally’s Max is basically no different from Peter, the character he’d go on to play on The Mindy Project. He’s a goofy frat bro who just happens to be attracted to men, and that’s just one of the ways Happy Endings managed to subvert the standard sitcom formula, while still adhering to it. Bonnie Stiernberg


49. Scrubs

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Creator: Bill Lawrence
Stars: Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke, Donald Faison, Neil Flynn, Ken Jenkins, John C. McGinley, Judy Reyes
Network: ABC, NBC

J.D. and the gang gave a completely absurd (and yet often the most realistic) look into the world of hospitals. Each episode didn’t center around some outlandish disease that everyone thought was lupus, only to find out it was something else in the last five minutes of the show. Instead Scrubs was character-driven. It was consistently overlooked by the Emmy Awards, and viewership dwindled throughout the seasons. Still, the witty writing and off-beat characters deserved more. When NBC canceled the show, ABC was confident enough to pick it up for two more (laborious, unwatchable) seasons. But in its prime, it was one of the best sitcoms on TV. Adam Vitcavage


48. Baskets


Creator:   Zach Galifianakis, Jonathan Krisel, Louis C.K.
Stars: Zach Galifianakis, Martha Kelly, Louis Anderson
Network: FX

Liking this dark comedy hinges a lot on how you feel about Zach Galifianakis’ peculiar brand of comedy. He plays twin brothers Chip and Dale Baskets, one of whom (Chip) dreams of becoming a professional clown. Louie Anderson plays Chip and Dale’s mother, Christine, and he’s giving one of the best performances on TV in the role—he won an Emmy for it in 2016. But it’s not called a “dark comedy” for nothing. Baskets is not going for outright laughs—it’s the series’ humorous-yet-sad situations that viewers may connect with. Andrea Reiher


47. Difficult People


Creator: Julie Klausner
Stars: Julie Klausner, Billy Eichner, James Urbaniak, Andrea Martin, Cole Escola, Gabourey Sidibe
Network: Hulu 

Nestled at the intersection of jaded Jewish comedies (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm), backstage comedies (The Larry Sanders Show, 30 Rock), and comedies about comedians (too many to name), Difficult People is, on the face of it, so familiar it might appear uninspired. As Julie (Julie Klausner) and her best friend, Billy (Billy Eichner), struggle to break into the New York scene, they’re beset by indignities large and small: bombed auditions, feckless agents, mercenary producers, SantaCon. What distinguishes Difficult People is Klausner and Eichner’s fluent, acerbic approach to a nebulous substratum of pop culture, situated at the center of a voluminous Venn diagram that includes gossip rags, E!’s red carpet coverage, reality shows, Broadway, old Hollywood, and what Netflix categorizes as “dramas with a strong female lead.” The series is the deepest of cuts from a small slice of the zeitgeist, but this precision is the key to its caustic charm. Sadly canceled at the end of its third season, it has the feeling of a time capsule in the process of being assembled: If I watch this again in five years, or ten, will it all be Greek to me? Matt Brennan


46. Speechless

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Creator: Scott Silveri
Stars: Minnie Driver, John Ross Bowie, Mason Cook, Micah Fowler, Kyla Kenedy, Cedric Yarbrough
Network: ABC

Like the show’s fiercely overprotective mother Maya DiMeo (Minnie Driver), Speechless thrives because it refuses to treat JJ (Micah Fowler) as anything less than a full realized person. JJ, who is confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, isn’t a character to be pitied. He’s a teen experiencing the joy and sorrow that comes with a first crush, learning how to navigate the high school social scene, and sparring with his parents over his independence. By giving JJ equal treatment and screen time, Speechless achieves what no other show has been able to do: JJ’s disability might be a facet of his character, but it’s not the defining one. And did I mention the show is hilarious? Speechless effortlessly avoids any cloying very special episode mentality. The always charming Driver is a force to be reckoned with and as JJ’s aide Kenneth, Cedric Yarbrough is the uproarious voice of reason in JJ’s wacky household. Fowler is terrific as are Mason Cook and Kyla Kenedy who play his siblings. We laugh with, but never at, the DiMeo family. Amy Amatangelo


45. Peep Show

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Creators: Andrew O’Connor, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain
Stars: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Matt King, Paterson Joseph, Neil Fitzmaurice, Olivia Colman
Network: Channel 4 (U.K.)

Although Peep Show has a similar sense of humor to other British sitcoms that came in the wake of The Office, it uses the same sort of awkward comedy for a very different purpose. The show’s title comes from the peek we’re offered into its leads’ brains, as throughout the show we’re offered running monologues of their thoughts in a way that almost no other sitcom has tried. More important than this stylistic quirk, though, is Peep Show’s preference for long arcs, continuity and running gags of the sort Arrested Development and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia would envy. The show has a deep memory and an equally deep sense of morality, so its characters are never let off the hook, even if it takes a few seasons to see how their horrible actions karmically return for their undoing. Peep Show can be difficult to binge-watch, especially early on, but its short seasons make for filler-free writing, and Mitchell and Webb are so good that they lend their characters a strange likability that’s closer to the U.S. Office than the original. Sean Gandert


44. Fresh Off the Boat

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Creator: Nahnatchka Khan
Stars: Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Ian Chen, Lucille Soong, Chelsey Crisp, Ray Wise
Network: ABC

It’s no wonder that Fresh Off the Boat continues to thrive in the network television environment. “Representation” is often tokenism, despite being a mainstream talking point for the industry, but FOTB is the real thing—and it shows. The specificity of experience written into characters we’ve grown to love over the past four seasons makes the sitcom able to navigate choppy emotional waters with a grace grown from reality. “Four Funerals and a Wedding,” a season highlight, is a perfect example of how dedication to not making a show solely about universal experiences makes Fresh Off the Boat one of the most complex, engaging, moving comedies on TV. Jacob Oller


43. Modern Family

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Creators: Christopher Lloyd, Steven Levitan
Stars: Ed O’Neill, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet
Network: ABC

When Modern Family premiered in 2009, it was coming off the heels of two shows that helped enforce its style: Arrested Development’s interconnected family comedy and The Office’s handheld, documentary-style approach. While not as good as its two predecessors, Modern Family learned from the shows that paved the way, combining the strengths of these two series and creating an overwhelmingly popular show—one of the few to get millions of people to watch each week and earn an insane amount of awards. But despite being quite hilarious, Modern Family’s success comes from evolving the way we see the American family. Whether its May-December romances or one of the best gay couples in television history, Modern Family’s warmth and humor brings light to the types of relationships that rarely get the attention they deserve on television. Ross Bonaime


42. Better Off Ted

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Creator: Victor Fresco
Stars: Jay Harrington, Portia de Rossi, Andrea Anders, Jonathan Slavin, Malcolm Barrett, Isabella Acres
Network: ABC

Better Off Ted is a sharp parody of corporate culture driven by a fantastic performance from Portia de Rossi. It’s a more pointed show than Victor Fresco’s previous underrated sitcom, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, with brilliant fake commercials that are frighteningly believable as the tone-deaf messaging of a multibillion dollar company, and great performances from a game cast. It’s been gone for years and its satire of technology companies and big business is still prescient. Garrett Martin


41. Home Movies

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Creators: Brendon Small and Loren Bouchard
Stars: Brendon Small, H. Jon Benjamin, Melissa Bardin Galsky, Janine DiTullio
Network: UPN; Adult Swim 

Before he launched Bob’s Burgers, Loren Bouchard hooked up with stand-up comedian Brendon Small to create Home Movies for UPN. It didn’t last long, getting yanked off that failed netlet’s schedule after only five episodes. Adult Swim gave it a new life, though, relaunching the show alongside the entire programming block in 2001. (Indeed, it was the very first show to air under the Adult Swim name.) It was a show worth saving—the kind of low-key, realistic, character-centered show that’s rare in animation, focused on an elementary school student named after Small who takes his video camera with him everywhere he goes. Like with King of the Hill, don’t expect the joke-a-second blitzkrieg pace of Family Guy or The Simpsons, but something that feels a bit more like a traditional sitcom. Garrett Martin


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