Sometimes, humor ages poorly… and as audiences have seen with the massive shifts in society over the last few years, sometimes humor can age so badly that it becomes virtually unwatchable. However, true comedy is timeless. When done right, funny remains funny, even years or decades later.
And thanks to the rise of streaming services, it’s become incredibly easy for audiences to find older, often forgotten series. Whether it’s a fan rewatching one of their favorite series or a newcomer discovering it for the first time, tons of forgotten comedy shows are just waiting to be streamed.
Like some sort of prehistoric version of Roseanne, Jim Henson had an idea about a sitcom that centered around a normal family…that just happened to be dinosaurs. The show was eventually simply titled Dinosaurs and focused on the Sinclair family.
The show’s humor stems from how seemingly normal the family was, despite the fact that Dinosaurs takes place millions of years ago on Pangea. On top of that, Dinosaurs threw in tons of Flinstone-style gimmicks to highlight the show’s time period.
Drawn Together (Paramount+)
Inspired by reality shows like The Real World, Drawn Together was a Comedy Central animated series that was marketed as TV’s first “animated reality show”. The series focuses on a group of cartoon characters who all have to live together to film a season of a new reality show.
Naturally, tensions rise and the characters begin revealing their true colors. Drawn Together was initially hated by critics for its crude and smutty humor, but the show was a hit with audiences and has gained a cult following throughout the years.
Pushing Daisies (HBO Max)
Created by the brilliant Bryan Fuller, Pushing Daisies was a truly unique series. In the show, Ned discovers he can raise the dead, but only by causing someone else to die.
Despite the somewhat grim plotline, the show was actually upbeat, hilarious, and filled with bright colors, a storybook feel, and great chemistry between the cast that included Lee Pace and Kristin Chenoweth. Sadly, the show was one of the many victims of the 2007 writers’ strike and never got the long life it deserved.
Documentary Now! (AMC+)
From the minds of SNL alumni Bill Hader, Seth Myers, and Fred Armisen, Documentary Now! was a wild and wacky mockumentary series that aired on IFC.
In it, Armisen and Hader would star in fictitious (and hilarious) “documentaries” that were all inspired by real documentaries like Grey Gardens, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and the hit Netflix docuseries Wild Wild Country, which centered around the notorious Rajneeshpuram cult. Documentary Now! Is both witty and sly, yet laugh-out-loud funny.
Scare Tactics (Netflix)
Back when Syfy was still the Sci-Fi Channel, it premiered a new series that would go on to be an unexpected hit: Scare Tactics. Initially, the show was designed to set up elaborate pranks to scare the crap out of unsuspecting people. But what ended up making Scare Tactics so famous was the fact that people absolutely love watching others make fools of themselves.
And when tricked into believing they were being stalked by bigfoot or abducted by aliens, the innocent victims of Scare Tactics most certainly looked silly, creating some truly hilarious moments.
Before Breaking Bad captivated the world with the story of a man forced into the illegal drug trade, Showtime had already launched their own series with a very similar plot, Weeds. But whereas Breaking Bad was a gritty drama, Weeds took the opposite approach, following the exploits of Nancy Botwin, a single mother who finds herself dealing pot on the side.
From amateur to kingpin, Weeds followed Nancy’s hilarious journey through the world of marijuana. Though a comedy, the show also had great moments of social commentary, especially on consumerism, selfishness, and life in Southern California.
Ash vs. Evil Dead (Starz / Netflix)
Starring one of the biggest names in horror, Bruce Campbell, Starz’s Ash vs. Evil Dead takes place in the same universe as 1981’s famous horror/comedy The Evil Dead. Campbell reprises his role as Ash Williams and the story picks up 30 years after the original trilogy, with Ash now a deadbeat who lives in a trailer park.
However, upon discovering that supernatural forces are once again at work, he must become the hero he was always destined to be. For fans of action, immense amounts of gore, and a lot of laughs along the way, Ash vs. Evil Dead is a must-watch.
Space Ghost Coast to Coast (HBO Max)
In the 1990s, Space Ghost Coast to Coast showed the world a new side to Space Ghost. Originally, the hero starred in his own action cartoon from the 60s, but in Coast to Coast, he’s now taken on the role of a talk show host, and his former villains are now his co-hosts.
The premise is bizarre and awkward… and that’s exactly where all the comedy comes from. Space Ghost Coast to Coast is also credited with inspiring the creation of Adult Swim, according to The New York Times.
Lady Dynamite (Netflix)
Holding an incredible 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Lady Dynamite is one of the most underrated Netflix series of all time. The show is a fictionalized, absurdist look into the life of comedian Maria Bamford.
In real life, Bamford has struggled with mental illness and with landing (and keeping) roles in Hollywood. The series lampoons her real-life struggles to produce something outlandish and hilarious, but also tender and touching. Lady Dynamite not only shines a light on Bamford’s humor, but also her vulnerability.
Strangers with Candy (Paramount+)
Strangers With Candy follows Jerri Blank (played by the talented Amy Sedaris), who, 32 years ago, dropped out of high school and ran away from home. During those years she became a self-described “boozer, user, and loser.”
But now, at 46 years old, Jerri is picking up where she left off and is once again a high school freshman. On the surface, the show is highly offensive, but with a closer look, it becomes clear that Strangers with Candy is actually subversive and isn’t mocking the downtrodden, but instead, is mocking the society that treats them poorly.
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