Netflix churns out so much content nowadays that it can be hard to keep up with it all. This is especially true in the world of comedy, where it feels like there’s a new wacky show with a quirky thumbnail pic dominating the streaming service’s homepage every other week.
To painstakingly separate the wheat from the chaff and save you from having to sift through this critical mass of series yourself, we have voted and decided which Netflix original comedy series are worth your time, and which ones really aren’t. You’re very welcome.
The scope of Netflix’s comedy ambitions is undeniably impressive. You don’t see regular broadcast networks, or even cable channels, devoting this much money to funnies. Nor would you find another outlet with such a broad range of comedic concepts, covering everything from talking horses to kidnap escapees, and pretty much everything in-between.
As you’d expect, there are some major misfires along the way. It’s impossible to make such a vast number of shows at the same time and have them all be successful winners. But when Netflix manages to strike gold with a comedy, it’s a beautiful thing to behold.
Read on, then, to see our verdict on Netflix Original Comedy Series: Ranked Worst To Best.
25. Real Rob
With a savage 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and no word-of-mouth hype to speak of, it’s hardly surprising that Real Rob is right at the sorry end of this list. The show finds Rob Schneider millions of miles away from his comedic heyday. The premise of Schneider playing himself, and encouraging viewers to sympathise with his high-flying celeb problems, really backfires.
Real Rob is a pure vanity project, which is bound to make even Schneider’s biggest fans long for his Saturday Night Live glory days. Heck, even Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo was better than this steaming pile of lacklustre rubbish.
24. The Ranch
Given that its decent cast consists of Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger and Sam Elliot, The Ranch could have been something great if it had anything resembling a unique hook. As it stands, the most interesting thing about it is the oddness of seeing a multi-camera family sitcom stuffed with swear words.
Once that novelty wears off, you’re left with a fairly generic show. Kutcher plays a former football star that heads back home and mucks in on the family ranch. There are no standout supporting performances, which is normally the sort of thing that makes a mostly-naff sitcom worthwhile.
The Ranch is essentially a bit of a bore. Foul language isn’t enough to make it feel like anything more than it is: an attempt to cash in on the nostalgia of a family sitting around a table with a laughter track in the background. It would help if genuine laughs were more forthcoming.
23. Fuller House
If you need proof that reviving an old show doesn’t always pay off, look no further than Fuller House. Unless you were a die-hard fan of Full House, you’ll find little enjoy here after the initial dose of nostalgia has dissipated, especially since there’s a gaping hole in the show where Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen should be.
Again, there’s some fun to be had just by being back in the house with the laugh track switched on. But beyond that, there’s really nothing to grab your interest, unless deep cut references back to the original show is the kind of thing that floats your boat.
It doesn’t help that Netflix opted to make the revival slightly more adult than the original. The occasional swear words and drug references feel like a forced attempt to seem relevant. Also, without the network-mandated episode length rules in place, quality control and tight storytelling are thrown out wholesale.
22. F Is For Family
F Is For Family isn’t a bad show at all, once you get beyond the initial jarring-ness of the subpar animation and the fact that it’s marketed like a cheap Seth MacFarlane knockoff. It helps that the show’s co-creator and star, Bill Burr, is a constant source of gruffly comedic fun. The 1970s setting was a brilliant choice as well, ensuring that the series feels fresh.
It helps that Burr’s Frank Murphy is often a complete ass of a character. While Peter Griffin and his ilk have their redeeming features, Frank is painted as a Korean War veteran with a serious temper and a tendency to be downright horrible towards those closest to him.
21. The Characters
Netflix Presents: The Characters is one of the most daringly original comedy shows Netflix has put into the world. The set up is that each episode is a 30-minute burst of uniqueness penned by a different stand up comedian. Essentially it’s a fresh spin on the sketch-show model.
Lauren Lapkus, Kate Berlant, Phil Burgers, Paul W. Downs, John Early, Tim Robinson, Natasha Rothwell, and Henry Zebrowski are the comedians featured in the series’ eight-part debut season, and they offer some sizeable laughs to viewers willing to take a chance on them. (One gag, about Game Of Thrones spoilers, is particularly brilliant).
20. Club De Cuervos
Soccer (or “football,” as it’s known to the characters in the show) is the focus of Club de Cuervos. It kicks off (pun intended) with the chairman of the eponymous club biting the bullet, leading to a conflict for control between the two heirs. Belly laughs, debauchery and no shortage of drama is found in each episode, with stereotypes and cheap gags left on the sidelines (pun also intended).
It’ll take a top-notch second season to prove that this show has legs (does that count as a pun?), but, looking solely at the highly entertaining first season, it looks like Netflix has really hit the back of the net (ha!) with this one.
The show is notable for taking place largely in Spanish, like a sportier version of Narcos. If you’re looking for something to watch, you could do a lot worse than this.
Girlboss is receiving a fair bit of hate thanks to the accusations faced by its real-life inspiration, online fashion retail mogul Sophia Amoruso (aka Nasty Gal). But the show itself, which is pitched as a “real loose” adaptation of Sophia’s rise to success, has an awful lot to offer.
It’s particularly refreshing that Sophia Marlowe (the half-renamed protagonist, played by Britt Robertson) is an utterly unrepentant a-hole. There’s no one she won’t screw over to increase her eBay riches, with supporting characters routinely outraged and disappointed by her actions. We’ve seen male TV protagonists like this thousands of times, but to give that role to a female feels brave, and it certainly pays off.
The show packs in laughs, and it asks you to sympathize at times, all the while shocking you with an endless stream of selfish schemes from Sophia. In an age where a lot of comedies feel light and substance-free, Girlboss is breath of fresh air.
18. Haters Back Off
Not entirely dissimilar to Girlboss, Haters Back Off chronicles the rise of a self-absorbed YouTuber. Colleen Ballinger created the show, based on her YouTube character Miranda Sings, and she stars in it too. Miranda, despite having no discernible singing talent, believes herself to be destined for stardom.
Miranda is a much more palatable screen presence than Girlboss’ Sophia, though, which allows Haters Back Off to play to a far broader audience. Instead of getting bogged down with the lead character’s flaws, the show encourages you to laugh at her unconventional route from sofa to stardom. It’s fair to say these laughs come thick and fast.
Everyone loves Will Arnett, so even when he’s not working with the best scripts of his career, it’s still a joy to watch him in action. Though it isn’t quite the same as Arrested Development, BoJack Horseman or The LEGO Movie (despite sharing a creator with the first of these three), Flaked is still a lot of fun.
Arnett thrives in the man-child arena once again, playing Chip, a self-help guru who fails to live up to his own pearls of wisdom. The show promises giggles aplenty for fans of Arnett, and what the show lacks in originality it more than makes up for with barmy plot twists and piles of snark.
In the lengthy gaps between his BoJack, Batman and Bluth commitments, Flaked offers an enjoyable way to spend a few hours with Arnett at his slimiest. It’s more filler than killer, but there’s enough charm to cover up the cracks.
16. Trailer Park Boys
It may not be the most exciting example of Netflix taking an established comedy property and running with it, but Trailer Park Boys is still worthy of praise. The most amazing thing about it is that they’re still finding new things to do with these characters, twenty-plus years after they first arrived on screen.
The show chronicles the lives and times of some Nova Scotia trailer park dwellers (some of whom are ex-cons), in a mockumentary format, and has already run for 11 seasons and countless specials. It might not be high art, but it’s impossible to deny that it has its own brand of unique appeal.
15. Santa Clarita Diet
Netflix’s first foray into horror comedy earned mixed reviews, but if you’re down for a hefty portion of blood and guts alongside the charming Drew Barrymore comedy shtick, you should get on fine with Santa Clarita Diet. A lot of squeamish criticisms were thrown at the show upon its initial release, which seems a bit unfair when you consider what its premise is.
The aforementioned Barrymore stars as a real estate agent who develops a zombie-like taste for human flesh, with Timothy Olyphant playing her husband and Liv Hewson playing their daughter. Barrymore’s character kills and consumes numerous people over the course of season one.
Easy isn’t a number one contender in Netflix’s “young people navigating the world of sex and relationships in a trendy city” comedy subcategory, but it’s still a damn fine way to spend eight hours.
An impressive cast is assembled, including Atlanta/Deadpool 2 star Zazie Beetz, The Flash movie’s Kiersey Clemons, and Jump Street alum Dave Franco. The show plonks these attractive young peeps, amongst others, into modern day Chicago and lets sparks/sex/bad behaviour commence.
The format of the show – which was created by Joe Swanberg – is particularly impressive. Each episode focuses on a different couple, setting up new characters and plot lines, and tying them together when appropriate. Season two can’t come soon enough.
13. Arrested Development
Season four may be the weakest run of Arrested Development, but it’s still a run of Arrested Development. Seeing the Bluth family interact – even if it’s not as often as they used to, due to scheduling difficulties – is always enough to get viewers chortling. It’s also a joy that this season exists at all, after the Bluth’s future was so “abruptly cancelled.”
When season four hits the right notes at the right time, it really works, but on the whole it feels like a disjointed collection of stories that could’ve been told better. For example, the early scenes between Jason Bateman and Michael Cera work really well and push the pair into interesting new territory, but the obsession over Cinco de Cuatro gets utterly exhausting by the end and feels like a poorly-covered-up ploy to make the schedules line up.
12. Lady Dynamite
South Park writer Pam Brady and Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz teamed up to create Lady Dynamite, which stars comedian/actor Maria Bamford as a fictionalized version of herself. It delves into some deep material about bipolar disorder and recovery, and still manages to be funny.
Like a comedic Bloodline, Lady Dynamite uses flashbacks to show the different stages of Bamford’s life and highlight the changes in her mental health. The result is a highly meta and very thoughtful show, which has a humorous and talented actor – with an impressive emotional range – at its heart.
11. Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
An utter treat for fans of the show, Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life is one of the televisual highlights of last year. Not only did it offer fan service for the old faithful Stars Hollow devotees, but it also broke new ground with its leads and forced them to reflect on their lives.
A Year In The Life wasn’t just a return for Gilmore Girls, it was an evolution of it. How does Emily cope without Richard? Where does Lorelei go now that Sookie has moved on? Is Rory actually cut out to be a journalist in this day and age? (Bonus question: Is Rory even a nice person?)
The flaws with A Year In The Life were minimal. The lack of the opening theme montage felt jarring, and the Stars Hollow musical grated towards the end. But pretty much everything else – from Lorelei “doing Wild” to Rory’s “four words” – worked wonderfully. More please.
10. W/ Bob And David
W/Bob And David is the Mr. Show revival that HBO should have made. And, like the aforementioned Gilmore Girls comeback, it pushes the formula in new directions rather than allowing the leads to stagnate. The new sketches are quicker and punchier, never allowing the episodes to sag.
The only problem with W/Bob And David is that there isn’t enough of it. David Cross and Bob Odenkirk are endlessly entertaining together, so naturally thirteen half-hour episodes aren’t nearly enough to quench fan thirst.
Odenkirk is tied up with Better Call Saul at the moment, and Cross will be busy soon with Arrested Development season five. Hopefully, at some point, they can find room to put another sketch show season together. Fingers remain crossed.
9. One Day At A Time
One Day At A Time is one of the biggest and best surprises that Netflix’s original comedy has served up over the last few years. It’s a loose remake of a 1975-1984 sitcom of the same name (which was developed by Norman Lear, and starred Bonnie Franklin), and manages to remain fresh and funny despite its roots in the past.
Justina Machado stars as a newly-single mother of two, who manages to raise her children with the help of a veteran of the Army Nursing Corps (played by Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz) and the support of her Cuban mother (Rita Moreno, who put in a great performance).
One Day At A Time shows a promising example of what a sitcom can be in this day and age. It blends serious issues like PTSD with the struggles of raising a family, without forgetting about the importance of sharp humour and great performances.
8. Grace And Frankie
Beloved by many, Grace And Frankie is right up there with the best of Netflix’s comedy programming. The premise is a wonderful one: two women decide to live together when they discover that their husbands are gay and are planning to marry. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, who portray the two women, are wonderful as well.
It’s no surprise that Grace And Frankie is steaming ahead of most other shows on this list, with its fourth season already on the way. The writing gets better year after year, with the reviews improving to match. The chemistry between the two leads is a constant source of joy.
7. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp
Though Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp must seem baffling to anyone who didn’t see the film, the show is still geared at any audience, and, in fact, seeing it out of context may add to its charm. For those who are familiar with David Wain’s cult classic teen movie parody, this prequel reunion show is a slice of fried gold.
The brilliance of almost the entire cast playing younger versions of the characters they played fourteen years prior brings plenty of chuckles to the table, as do the scripts from Wain and Michael Showalter.
The fact that Elizabeth Banks, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Chris Pine, John Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Lake Bell, Jordan Peele, Michael Cera and Weird Al Yankovic could all be convinced to appear is a testament to how great this show is. You’d struggle to find a better cast, or a funnier comedy, on any traditional network.
6. Dear White People
Following the critical daring status of Justin Simien’s 2014 Dear White People film, which starred Tessa Thompson and Tyler James Williams, Netflix swooped in to adapt the movie into a series. Simien stayed on board, penning scripts and directing episodes. The result was something very special.
The show, which humorously investigates race relations within a fictional Ivy League college through the lens of student radio, boasts a 100% approval rating from 40 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. There has been something of a backlash from those that think the premise is racist against white people, but it’s hard to deny the critical consensus.
Logan Browning steps into Thompson’s shoes here, taking over in the lead role of a college radio host who addresses racist occurrences on a campus radio show, which shares the same name as the series itself: Dear White People.
5. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
With its third season dropping on Netflix right about now, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is showing no sign of slowing down or dipping in quality. Since 2015, fans have been tuning in merrily to see Ellie Kemper’s Kimmy and her on-going introduction into the normal world.
If you’re one of the few people who hasn’t yet checked it out, the basics are easy to pick up: Kimmy is rescued from a doomsday cult in Indiana after fifteen years of being held underground by a crazy reverend (played by Jon Hamm). She opts to move to New York and start life anew, making weird new friends (Carol Kane and Tituss Burgess, in a couple of great supporting roles) almost immediately.
Love is one of the very best shows on Netflix. It is created from the minds of Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin and Paul Rust, the latter of whom also stars in the show. Rust plays Gus, an on-set teacher in LA, opposite Gillian Jacobs as Mickey, who works at a radio station.
If this were a conventional romantic comedy, it wouldn’t be half as deep or funny as it is. Instead of the clichés, Love offers an honest look into life in the modern world. It doesn’t just cover dating, either. Living with friends, struggling with work, attempting to connect with your family, and recovering from addiction also play important parts in the plot.
On its most basic level, Love is about Gus and Mickey and the tantalising idea of them having a happily-ever-after moment. But it’s also so much more than that, offering hilarious insights into each and every aspect of their lives and showing how difficult it can be to actually make a relationship work.
3. Orange Is The New Black
It often veers closer to drama than comedy, but given that it’s officially classified as a “dramedy,” it would be harsh not to include Orange Is The New Black on this list, especially given the sheer number of laughs it has inspired over the years.
The show has earned a huge amount of love since its debut in 2013. It’s become the most-watched original show on Netflix, and has picked up four Primetime Emmy Awards. The streaming service showed its confidence in the series back in February, by ordering three more seasons at once. This is incredibly rare, but it proves just how successful the series has become.
Of course, Taylor Schilling’s Piper Chapman is at the heart of it, but Danielle Brooks, Laverne Cox, Uzo Abuda, and Ruby Rose have also done fine work on the show. Creator Jenji Kohan, of course, deserves a lot of applause, as does Piper Kerman, whose candid memoir inspired it.
2. Master Of None
Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang cooked up something great with Master Of None. On paper, it looked like a basic “funny man meets girls” show, but the reality proved to be so much better. As well as serving up cutting observations on the state of modern courting, Master Of None also tackles some really big topics in highly hilarious ways.
Across 20 episodes, Ansari’s character Dev explores everything from online dating to Islam. The series makes Dev and his supporting characters feel like real people, by giving them genuine problems to grapple with long-term, rather than throwing wacky sitcom moments at them just to fill 20 minutes.
Religion, regret, getting the morning after pill, aging, breaking up, struggling at work, coming out as gay, and failing to connect with your parents have all been the focus of episodes.
This show isn’t afraid to take risks with its content, or the way its content is presented: season two has a whole episode in black and white, as well as a solid ten minutes told from the perspective of a deaf person. It might be one of the best comedy shows ever, on any platform.
1. BoJack Horseman
And finally, there could only be one winner: Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s equine animation BoJack Horseman, which stars Will Arnett as an anthropomorphic horse/washed up actor. It is by far the finest original comedy that Netflix has to offer.
Three seasons in and the show just keeps getting better. Arnett’s former-sitcom star BoJack is one of the greatest comedy protagonists, with his desire to rekindle his career being in constant flux with his self-sabotaging behaviour. His journey is both hilarious and heartbreaking, often at the exact same time.
A stellar supporting cast surrounds the brilliant Arnett (who does career-best work here), including Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins and Aaron Paul. The scripts keep getting better, too, with a recent underwater episode managing to say so much despite BoJack being rendered mute for most of it.
As an added bonus, there are animal puns and fan-pleasing in-jokes around every corner with BoJack Horseman. This is a show that rewards you for watching it, treating you to a deep emotional journey, umpteen running gags, and a stable of loveable characters. Check it out today if you haven’t already.
How did you feel about these Netflix original comedies? Let us know in the comments!
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