The Best Sitcoms to Binge on Netflix During Your Coronavirus Self-Isolation

Comedy Lists Netflix
Share Tweet Submit Pin
The Best Sitcoms to Binge on Netflix During Your Coronavirus Self-Isolation

First and foremost, hopefully you and your loved ones are okay. Hopefully you haven’t caught the coronavirus, and haven’t shown any symptoms of it, and if you have hopefully you’ve been able to get help from the appropriate medical professionals. Our goal here is not to make light of the real-life crisis rapidly expanding throughout America and the rest of the world.

Whether you feel sick or not, it’s absolutely vital for everybody to stay home for the next several weeks. Social distancing and self-isolation are the best way to prevent the spread of this pandemic, no matter how young you are or how healthy you think you feel. Hopefully your job or school are letting you work from home, and hopefully you’re taking the warnings of the world’s medical establishment to heart and staying out of the public. And if you are, you’re probably already desperate for something to watch.

Netflix is full of great movies, documentaries and stand-up specials, but if you’re really looking to keep boredom at bay and eat up those isolation hours, your best bet are TV series, the more episodes the better. And although there are also a lot of great dramas on Netflix, nothing beats a good comedy in my book. (I mean, I edit the comedy section. What did you expect?) Fortunately Netflix still has some of the greatest sitcoms of all time, along with a variety of newer sitcoms that are absolutely worth watching. So if you’re stuck at home and looking for something funny to take your mind off the stresses of today, consider these sitcoms, all of which can be binged right now on Netflix.

Cheers

20-90-of-the-90s-Cheers.jpg
Original Run: 1982-93
Creator: James Burrows, Glen Charles, Les Charles
Stars: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, Nicholas Colasanto, John Ratzenberger, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, George Wendt
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Netflix

The best reason to watch Cheers during your period of self-isolation is because it’s maybe the greatest sitcom of all time. It’s smart, hilarious, full of well-drawn and believable characters who deal with recognizable human issues, and often feels less like a sitcom than a joke-filled one-act play. It’s the model for the ensemble comedy, and its influence can still be felt in every sitcom about any group of adults occupying a common space. The second best reason to watch Cheers during your period of self-isolation is because it has, like, 300 episodes, or something. (Okay, 275, to be precise.) You could live off this show for over a week, and never regret it—somehow Cheers was almost as great in its 11th season as it was at its peak.



The Good Place

netflix the good place.jpg
Original Run: 2016-2020
Creator: Michael Schur
Stars: Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto, Ted Danson
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Netflix

Michael Schur traded in the workplace settings and everyday scale of The Office and Parks & Recreation for sweeping philosophical issues in this metaphysical sitcom, which just recently wrapped its fourth and final season on NBC. That last season isn’t on Netflix yet, but the first three are, and are worth savoring, whether you’ve already seen them or not. The Good Place proves that heart and brains aren’t at all incompatible in the world of TV.



Parks and Recreation

parks-rec.jpg
Original Run: 2009-2015
Creators: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur
Stars: Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Netflix

After a short, shaky first season as a too-familiar Office protege, Parks & Rec quickly adjusted into one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. When you talk about the classic sitcom casts, where every actor was perfect for the role, and every role was equally important, Parks & Rec has to be near the top of the list. With equally strong writing and the most fully developed sitcom town this side of Springfield, Parks & Rec was the ideal sitcom during its six year run.



The Office (US)

netflix the office us.jpg
Original Run: 2005-2013
Creator: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant; Developed by Greg Daniels
Stars: Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, BJ Novak, Craig Robinson, Mindy Kaling, Ed Helms
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Netflix

At its peak, the US version of The Office could be the best show on this entire list. Seasons two through six or so comprise one of the genuinely great sitcom runs, a body of work up there with the best of Seinfeld or The Simpsons. It had a weak start, and became a sad parody of itself over its last few seasons, but during that sweet spot The Office was both hilarious and able to wring genuine emotion out of Michael Scott’s insecurities and Jim and Pam’s relationship. And in terms of sheer size and consistency, it might have had the best extended cast of any sitcom. It might not have the precision or laser focus of the original, but that’s the difference between American and British TV.



The Andy Griffith Show

netflix andy griffith.jpg
Original Run: 1960-1968
Creator: Sheldon Leonard
Stars: Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Ron Howard, Frances Bavier, Jim Nabors
Original Network: CBS

Watch on Netflix

Don’t scoff. Sure, The Andy Griffith Show is exceedingly old-fashioned, and its utter lack of black characters (in North Carolina!) or any recognition of the horrible racial climate of its day might be unforgivable today. But! This is both an important show, and more importantly, a deeply entertaining one, that remained fundamentally decent—and fundamentally about decency—while rarely falling to mawkishness. Despite its glaring failure in the most central moral issue of its day, it remains one of the most moral shows in TV history, but never feels preachy or didactic. It is a show that you can learn something from, no matter your age, station or background, without feeling like you’re being lectured to. And it only works because of its comedy, from the iconic fecklessness of Barney Fife, to the diverse idiosyncrasies of Mayberry’s citizens. (In its cultivation of an entire town full of vivid characters, Andy Griffith is a clear influence on The Simpsons.) Unlike most of CBS’s other “hick” shows, like The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Ares, Andy Griffith never made fun of rural, working class Southerners. If it had held them more accountable for the society they lived in at the time, or acknowledged the existence of the massive population of non-white Southerners that it pointedly ignored, it might seem less problematic today, but that failure doesn’t make the lessons the show does present, or the performances that did make it onto the camera, any less significant.



BoJack Horseman

netflix bojack.jpg
Original Run: 2014-2020
Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Stars: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins, Aaron Paul
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

It can be easy to forget that the sad horse show is supposed to be a comedy. Bojack Horseman could be a bleak, unsparing look at depression, loneliness and addiction when it wanted to be, which was way more often than you’d probably expect from a cartoon about a horse. That gravity is what makes the show so special, though—Bojack might struggle with the same exact problems over and over throughout the show’s entire run, making the same mistakes and hurting people (and himself) in the same way, but that’s what life is like. The kind of pain, sadness and anxiety these characters are dealing with can’t be neatly wrapped up over the course of a season arc. Through it all Bojack Horseman remained hilarious, though, with a painfully dry wit and a cynicism that never quite curdled into cruelty.



Arrested Development

arrested-development.jpg
Original Run 2003-2006; 2013; 2018-2019
Creator: Mitch Hurwitz
Stars: Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Tony Hale, David Cross, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Alia Shawkat, Ron Howard
Original Networks: Fox, Netflix

Watch on Netflix

There was a time when Arrested Development was hailed as perhaps the greatest sitcom of all time. A couple of inconsistent revival seasons (coupled with Jessica Walter’s disclosure of being verbally harassed by co-star Jeffrey Tambor) soiled the brand a bit, but if you can isolate those first two or three seasons like you’ve isolated yourself, you’ll find an almost perfectly constructed comedy that earned all of those accolades. And with its tight plotting and deep layers of callbacks, it’s a show that rewards binge-watching.



New Girl

new-girl.jpg
Original Run: 2011-2018
Creator: Elizabeth Meriwether
Stars: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone
Original Network: Fox

Watch on Netflix

When New Girl started it was a sharp hang-out sitcom for the 21st century, updating the basic template of Friends into the modern day, but with a looser, more improvisational feel to the humor that makes it seem at least a bit less artificial. Like Friends, the show’s greatest strength is less the writing than the performances and chemistry of its cast—few shows can milk as much out of its characters lounging around a living room, or drunkenly playing a made-up game with no clear rules. It might’ve gone on a couple of seasons past its best days, but those will live on through Netflix forever, or until the current rights agreement runs out.



Schitt’s Creek

netflix schitts creek.jpg
Original Run: 2015-2020
Creator: Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy
Stars: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Chris Elliott, Daniel Levy, Annie Murphy, Jennifer Robertson, Emily Hampshire, Tim Rozon, Dustin Milligan
Original Network: CBC, Pop

Watch on Netflix

Everybody’s cult favorite Canadian sitcom is currently winding down its final season, but there are currently 66 episodes on Netflix to wade through, whether you’re a first-timer or simply wanting to relieve it. It might be anchored by a handful of legit comedy legends—Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are as excellent as you’d expect, and Chris Elliott brings the same absurd energy that he brought to Get a Life and Late Night with David Letterman—but Dan Levy and Annie Murphy are its true discoveries, as the spoiled adult children of a once-rich family now forced to slum in a small Canadian town. Beneath the caustic exterior of its lead characters, Schitt’s Creek is a surprisingly warm show, one worth discovering now that you have literally nothing else to do for weeks on end.



Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

netflix kimmy schmidt.jpg
Original Run: 2015-2020
Creator: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock
Stars: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, Carol Kane
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

I absolutely will not fault anybody who has an issue with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s central conceit. Yes, it makes a lot of jokes about women being held captive in an underground bunker by a man who abuses them, and I sympathize with anybody who can’t laugh at that scenario. I almost feel bad that I can laugh at jokes about Schmidt’s captivity, and find Jon Hamm’s depiction of her captor to be one of the more memorable and hilarious sitcom characters of the last five years. Fortunately there is more to Kimmy Schmidt than that (or the utterly tone deaf Native American humor). Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s follow-up to 30 Rock repeats the joke-a-second, cartoonish vibe of that show with an almost equally fantastic cast, including Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski and Carole Kane. The breakout star, though, is Tituss Burgess, whose portrayal of the lovelorn, temperamental, and perennially broke performer Titus Andromedon is simultaneously touching, sad, hilarious, and absurd. A show that pumps out as many jokes and ridiculous situations as this one is always walking a tightrope, and Kimmy Schmidt definitely takes its fair share of falls. When it’s good it’s great, though, and worth mainlining as long as you’re stuck at home.



One Day at a Time

netflix one day at a time.jpg
Original Run: 2017-2019
Creators: Gloria Calderon Kellett, Mike Royce
Stars: Justina Machado, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gómez, Marcel Ruiz, Stephen Tobolowsky, Rita Moreno
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Norman Lear’s single mom sitcom is reimagined as a modern-day look at the joys and struggles of a Latinx household, and the result is one of the warmest and most heartfelt sitcoms in recent memory. By introducing a Cuban-American household One Day at a Time doesn’t just coast on a familiar name; it recreates Lear’s socially conscious style of TV for a new generation, while focusing on people and a culture that isn’t seen enough on TV today. Crucially, it’s also funny. And get those images of ‘70s pop culture phenomenon Pat Harrington out of your head. This Schneider is an entirely different kind of idiot—one far more in tune with the world of today.



That ‘70s Show

netflix that 70s show.jpg

Original Run: 1998-2006
Creator: Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner, Mark Brazill
Stars: Topher Grace, Laura Prepon, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Wilmer Valderrama, Debra Jo Rupp, Kurtwood Smith
Original Network: Fox

Watch on Netflix

This long-running hit relied heavily on the charisma of its cast to help buck up some frequently lackluster material. If you get annoyed by slick network sitcoms where every line is a joke and every character is apparently a one-liner comedian, you might struggle to keep this one down, but that extremely likable cast (including Topher Grace, Laura Prepon, Ashton Kutcher and Mia Kunis) makes it hard to hate. Grace and Prepon are good enough actors to make you care about their conflicted boy-and-girl-next-door romance, and Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp anchor the show as two of the best teen comedy parents ever seen on TV. Plus it can serve as a double whammy of nostalgia—obviously it has you covered if you grew up in the ‘70s, but it’s now been over 20 years since the show started on Fox, so you’ll probably feel an even more acute form of nostalgia if you grew up in in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.



Dad’s Army

netflix dads army poster.jpg
Original Run: 1968-1977
Creators: Jimmy Perry
Stars: Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn, John Laurie, James Beck, Arnold Ridley, Ian Lavender, Bill Pertwee, Frank Williams, Edward Sinclair, Janet Davies, Colin Bean
Original Network: BBC

Watch on Netflix

This legendary British sitcom is almost unknown in the States, but in the UK it’s about as beloved and long lasting as Cheers is over here. This ensemble comedy about the World War II Home Guard highlights a part of history that was already being forgotten when the show launched in the late ‘60s, and today is itself an artifact of what British sitcoms were like 50 years ago. It might not hold up that well today, and it might not make a lot of sense to an American audience, but if you’ve ever been interested in British TV and comedy, here’s a crucial part of that history.


Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.

Also in Comedy