The Best Comedy TV Series of 2016: A Hilarious Lineup of Laughter and Entertainment
Looking for the best comedy TV series of 2016? Look no further! This list has got you covered with an exciting array of shows that are sure to leave you in fits of laughter. From critically acclaimed British gems like "The Get Down" and "Grayson Perry: All Man," to international hits like "The Crown" and "American Crime Story: The People Vs OJ Simpson," this collection of must-watch series will keep you entertained for hours on end. So, get ready to binge-watch some of the funniest and most captivating shows of the year!
The Get Down
The Get Down, a Netflix drama, set in New York in the 1970s, tells the story of the birth of hip-hop. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, known for his film Moulin Rouge!, the show combines elements of romance, historical fiction, crime drama, and musical. While some may find Luhrmann's party scenes overwhelming, the show's likable and complex characters, played by a talented group of young actors, shine in a world that showcases both their dreams of stardom and the harsh reality of poverty and danger in the '70s Bronx. The involvement of hip-hop legends Nas and Grandmaster Flash as producers ensures that the show accurately portrays the historical context and showcases great music.
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Grayson Perry: All Man (Channel 4)
Grayson Perry's documentary series on Channel 4, titled All Man, explores masculinity through conversations with different individuals, from aimless teenagers to successful city professionals. Perry's ability to listen without patronizing allows people to open up, resulting in funny, moving, and revelatory moments throughout the show.
NW is a television adaptation of Zadie Smith's novel, directed by Rachel Bennette and Saul Dibb. While some of the novel's stylistic tricks may have been lost in the adaptation, the show successfully captures the complex representation of black lives in London. Nikki Amuka-Bird delivers a standout performance as Keisha/Natalie, depicting the challenges of identity and sexuality with brilliance.
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Louis Theroux: Drinking to Oblivion (BBC)
Despite facing other controversial topics in the same year, Louis Theroux's documentary, Drinking to Oblivion, stands out as one of his most affecting works. The film sheds light on the lives of alcoholics, exposing the debilitating cycles of dependency. It portrays moments of hope and humor amidst the harsh reality of addiction, highlighting Theroux's unique ability to engage with his subjects.
National Treasure (Channel 4)
National Treasure, a drama series on Channel 4, tells the story of Paul Finchley, a man accused of multiple historic rapes. The brilliance of the show lies in its sustained ambiguity, leaving the audience to question whether they should sympathize with Finchley or suspect his motives. It powerfully explores themes of power and powerlessness, shedding light on the issue of abuse in society.
Happy Valley (BBC)
The second series of Sally Wainwright's masterpiece, Happy Valley, surpasses the brilliance of the first. While the violence may be less bloody, Wainwright's examination of the human condition in the Calder Valley becomes even bleaker and more brutal. The show centers around sergeant Catherine Cawood, portrayed by Sarah Lancashire, and her burden of shouldering the tragedies that unfold around her. In a world full of superficial dramas, Happy Valley stands out for its well-developed characters and their resilience in the face of adversity.
Flowers (Channel 4)
Flowers, a comedy series created by Will Sharpe, follows the lives of an oddball family residing in the English countryside. While the show's premise may suggest humor derived from their quirks, it manages to delve deeper into themes of mental health, relationships, and unhappiness in a way that is both funny and poignant.
Line of Duty (BBC)
Line of Duty, a police corruption drama created by Jed Mercurio, delivers a thrilling and intense experience. The show's third series is particularly gripping, filled with executions, cover-ups, revenge, and abuse. The intricate plot keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, constantly questioning the characters' loyalties and the truth behind the events unfolding.
War and Peace (BBC)
War and Peace, based on Tolstoy's acclaimed novel, offers a visually stunning and captivating adaptation. Written by Andrew Davies, the show stays true to the book's intricate details while delivering a compelling narrative. The series boasts superb performances and sets a high standard for literary adaptations on television.
People Just Do Nothing (BBC Three)
People Just Do Nothing, a mockumentary created by the brilliant minds behind the show, offers a refreshing and funny take on sitcoms. The third series delves deeper into its characters' lives, adding more meta and melancholic elements. The show continues to deliver hapless and hilarious moments centered around the antics of Kurupt FM, a group of pirate radio enthusiasts.
Louis Theroux: A Different Brain (BBC2)
In recent years, Louis Theroux has shifted his focus towards more thoughtful and introspective documentaries. A Different Brain is a prime example of this change, as it explores the lives of individuals with life-changing brain injuries. The film offers a profound meditation on identity and mental health, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.
Motherland, a comedy series by Sharon Horgan and Graham Linehan, takes a satirical look at the challenges and rivalries of motherhood. The show revolves around a group of mummy bullies who gang up on its main character, Julia, portrayed brilliantly by Anna Maxwell Martin. However, amidst the chaos, Liz, played by Diane Morgan, offers support and comedic relief. While only the pilot has aired so far, the full series promises to be a hilarious exploration of parenthood.
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Mum, a sitcom created by Stefan Golaszewski, follows the story of Cathy, played brilliantly by Lesley Manville. The show begins with the funeral of Cathy's husband, Dave, and explores her relationship with his best friend, Michael. The series also introduces memorable characters, such as Kelly, Cathy's son's girlfriend, portrayed by Lisa McGrillis. With its sweet and poignant moments, Mum proves to be a delightful and heartwarming watch.
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Hillsborough, a documentary that aired on BBC2 and ESPN, provides a comprehensive and definitive account of the tragic events that unfolded in 1989. Through a combination of archive footage and interviews with survivors and police officers, the film exposes the catastrophic mistakes made on that day and the subsequent cover-up.
The Missing (BBC)
The Missing, a gripping crime drama, tells the story of the abduction of young Alice Webster. Written by Jack and Harry Williams, the show spans continents and timeframes, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats. The multiple plot twists and dead ends throughout the series create an intense and suspenseful experience.
Fleabag, a bold and filthy comedy series, stands out as a unique and refreshing addition to television. Created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the show tackles taboo subjects and pushes boundaries, taking viewers on a rollercoaster of emotions. The series expertly balances dark humor and poignant moments, culminating in a remarkable finale that leaves a lasting impression.
Planet Earth II (BBC)
Planet Earth II, a visually stunning nature documentary, captivates audiences with breathtaking images and compelling narratives. David Attenborough's narration adds depth to the show while showcasing the talent of the cameramen behind the scenes. The series creates a connection to nature that resonates with viewers, reminding them of the visceral and emotional response nature evokes.
Transparent (Amazon Prime)
Transparent, a series on Amazon Prime, explores themes of identity and transition with depth and poignancy. Created by Jill Soloway, the show challenges societal norms and offers a compelling portrayal of life's constant state of change. In a year marked by political divisions, Transparent stands out as a defiant and poignant act, shedding light on the transgender experience.
HyperNormalisation (BBC iPlayer)
HyperNormalisation, a documentary by Adam Curtis, takes viewers on a journey through a post-truth world. The three-hour film offers insights into history and the human condition, providing a thought-provoking and eye-opening experience. It challenges conventional notions of reality and prompts deeper reflection on the state of society.
Trapped, a sleeper hit, follows the story of police chief Andri as he investigates a series of murders in a small town after a blizzard leaves it in lockdown. The show combines suspense and mystery, keeping viewers captivated throughout. Olafur Darri Olafsson's portrayal of Andri adds depth and intrigue to the character.
Fresh Meat (Channel 4)
JP, Vod and their friends finally graduated this year, but not before one final series of the smart and funny comedy drama created by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain. Throughout its run, Fresh Meat has been a rare TV re-creation of university life that avoids typical student clichés.
Camping (Sky Atlantic)
Julia Davis's unhappy campers gave us the miserable comic masterpiece of the year. It was as far from a traditional campsite as possible.
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The Great British Bake Off (BBC1)
This year, Britain’s most popular show introduced us to Candice, who gave Mel and Sue a run for their innuendo money. We also witnessed Andrew's Leonardo da Vinci-inspired rotating cog pie and his knights jousting with caramel phalluses. Moreover, we were charmed by Selasi, the cooking cool king from Ghana.
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Louis Theroux: Savile (BBC)
For over a decade, Louis Theroux has regretted not questioning Jimmy Savile more when they first met. In this self-flagellatory documentary, he meets the victims of Savile, the man who turned out to be a monster and whom Theroux once considered a friend.
Exodus followed the secret journeys of refugees like Hassan, a kind-hearted English teacher fleeing Syria, and 11-year-old Isra’a, resigned to death. From nightmarish negotiations with people smugglers to the heart-wrenching scenes of bailing out sinking dinghies, this documentary provided a devastating and essential account of the refugee crisis in Europe.
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This three-part Saturday night comedy-horror was a rare gem. The Wrong Mans’ Jim Field Smith created a thrilling stag do from hell in the Scottish Highlands, complete with a glorious double twist.
Black Mirror (Netflix)
Charlie Brooker takes us into the dark abyss of our morally decrepit society. His series of six near-future nightmares presented thought-provoking questions about our humanity. Are we kind enough? Interesting enough? Do trolls dislike us? And if we're not nice or interesting, can technology help us fake it to improve our social standing? This compelling show offers relentlessly dark answers.
The Crown (Netflix)
Peter Morgan’s lavish portrayal of the private lives of the royal family captures the stoicism of Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and the humor of Matt Smith as Prince Philip. John Lithgow's performance as Winston Churchill is especially moving. This show refuses to bow down to royalty, something the BBC could never achieve.
American Crime Story: The People Vs OJ Simpson (FX/BBC)
This campy high-soap-opera revived the entire trial of the century, featuring John Travolta's eyebrows, Sarah Paulson's power perm, and David Schwimmer as Sad Ross. Cuba Gooding Jr.'s portrayal of OJ Simpson was too short but captivating. The show manages to entertain while also providing insightful commentary on racism, sexism, and celebrity culture.
Westworld (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Michael Crichton’s robot-cowboy-on-the-rampage movie has been transformed into a tremendous television series. With its grand scope, stunning visuals, and thought-provoking ideas, Westworld is a show that keeps you engaged and fuels endless fan theories.
The Young Pope (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Jude Law delivers a career-best performance as an orphan from New York who unexpectedly becomes pope and shocks the Vatican with his peculiar ways and beliefs. This visually stunning 10-part series by writer-director Paolo Sorrentino takes an astute look at power and features timely parallels to the rise of President-elect Trump.
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Veep (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Veep's fifth season reached new heights, thanks to Julia Louis-Dreyfus's impeccable performance. In a year filled with political turmoil, President Meyer's short term in office reminded us that politics can still be funny.
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Insecure (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Issa Rae, known for her web show The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, impressed with her full series Insecure. It provided a refreshing, candid, and hilarious portrayal of black female friendship, with a stellar soundtrack curated by Solange.
Silicon Valley (Sky Atlantic)
Still the funniest show out there. In its third series, the team behind Pied Piper finally gets everything they've always wanted and realize how terrible it is. Plus, there's the memorable horse sex!
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Donald Glover's Atlanta offers a uniquely weird glimpse into contemporary black life in the southern city. Through surreal humor and stellar performances, the show manages to be both entertaining and thought-provoking, providing insightful commentary on our world.
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Grayson Perry: All Man (Channel 4)
Grayson Perry's ability to listen and never patronize allows him to build trust and have meaningful conversations with his subjects, whether they are aimless teenagers or successful city boys. The result is a funny, moving, and sometimes revelatory exploration of masculinity.
National Treasure (Channel 4)
National Treasure captivated audiences with its sustained ambiguity and powerful performances. The drama focused on the accusations against Paul Finchley, a man accused of multiple historic rapes. It explored themes of power, powerlessness, and the ability of public figures to escape judgment.
Ash vs Evil Dead (Virgin Media)
Ash vs Evil Dead provides a delightful dose of silliness in contrast to the seriousness of most modern dramas. Bruce Campbell's chainsaw-handed middle-aged hero leads a hilarious battle against the forces of darkness.
Deutschland 83 (Channel 4)
It's the 1980s and the world is on the brink of nuclear war during the cold war. However, this German-American spy thriller presents the threat of global disaster in an entertaining and humorous way. [Read a full review](https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/mar/24/deutschland-83-box-set-review-a-serious-thriller-driven-by-jeopardy-and-wry-humour)
Halt and Catch Fire (Amazon Prime)
AMC's tech drama set in the 1980s remains one of the most underrated shows on TV. In the third season, the story moves to Silicon Valley, where a group of computer programmers pioneers new technologies. With secret weddings and surprising cliffhangers, it's a must-watch before the fourth and final season begins next summer. [Read more](https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/oct/12/half-and-catch-fire-season-three-mad-men)
Previously known as Scrotal Recall on Channel 4, this love-comedy with a time-jumping and gonorrhea theme has been renamed and revived on Netflix. It is considered one of the best "will-they-won't-they" shows since the US Office. [Read more](https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/nov/16/c4-comedy-scotal-recall-returns-as-netflix-series-lovesick)
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Netflix)
This quirky musical romantic comedy explores themes of obsessive self-deceit. What makes Crazy Ex-Girlfriend stand out is its ability to present complex ideas through colorful and entertaining packaging. It's a hilarious show where you'll recognize elements of people you know in every character. [Read a full review](https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/jul/29/crazy-ex-girlfriend-rachel-bloom-comedy)
BrainDead (Amazon Prime)
Set in 2016, this series offers a satire of today's polarized political discourse. According to BrainDead, the reason people are so angry and divided is because space bugs have infiltrated Earth, eaten our brains, and influenced our behavior. This timely and sharp show is a must-watch. [Read a full review](https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2016/aug/26/braindead-the-absurd-new-thriller-that-will-make-your-head-explode)
Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
Season four of this series was a chilling portrayal of the flaws in the US penal system. From Piper's branding with a swastika to the tragic death of Poussey, the show sheds light on the harsh realities of prison life. The tension and conflict between inmates and guards is perfectly portrayed, leading to a heart-stopping final scene. [Read a full review](https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/jun/24/orange-is-the-new-black-season-four-review-criminally-close-to-greatness)
The Girlfriend Experience (Amazon Prime)
Inspired by Steven Soderbergh's film, this TV adaptation improves upon the original in almost every way. Mixing coming-of-age, corporate drama, and erotic thriller elements, it presents a sleek and bold narrative unlike anything else. The jaw-dropping finale is not to be missed. [Read more](https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2016/jun/30/the-girlfriend-experience-amazon-prime)
[![Riley Keough in The Girlfriend Experience](https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/950d6dbe239c0f05a178776abcd681865cd58cdd/0_60_1800_1080/master/1800.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=4562b488310a374864952b736a963d6b)](https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/dec/06/best-tv-shows-of-2016#img-12)
Better Things (FX)
For fans of Louie, this FX comedy starring Pamela Adlon is a masterpiece. It offers a unique perspective by following single mother Sam as she navigates motherhood, relationships, and her acting career. The show isn't afraid to address important and uncomfortable topics. It portrays an imperfect woman and mother, which allows for realistic and relatable storytelling. This series deserves a bright future. - Daniella Bondar
South Park (Comedy Central)
The twentieth season of South Park breaks away from the show's traditional format by presenting a serialized storyline across all episodes. The season has improved upon the previous attempt at serialization in season nineteen. It cleverly utilizes the structure of a Hollywood blockbuster, creating a techno-action thriller with gross-out humor. The show also demonstrates an evolution in its treatment of societal issues, becoming more considerate of the complexities of the world. Notably, it features a compelling character arc for Cartman. - Joe Matar
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
In its fourth season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine maintains its formulaic sitcom style while injecting new twists into the comedy. The story picks up after a cliffhanger in which the main characters are in hiding. The show continues to explore the romantic relationships and career challenges of its characters with its signature tongue-in-cheek humor. Despite being on autopilot, the well-oiled comedy engine still delivers laughs. - Joseph Baxter
In 2016, the world of comedy TV series was filled with an abundance of laughter-inducing gems. From the witty and unpredictable plots of "The Get Down" to the thought-provoking humor of "HyperNormalisation," there was no shortage of entertainment for comedy enthusiasts. Whether you found yourself immersed in the gripping drama of "Happy Valley" or captivated by the satirical brilliance of "Black Mirror," this year offered something for everyone. With countless gripping storylines, talented cast members, and unforgettable moments, 2016 truly showcased the best of comedy television.
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