As long as the city is on PAUSE, we're going to publish a guide every week offering different viewing recommendations—at least partially based on what's playing in the background of my apartment. Last week, we recommended a few baseball-themed shows including Brockmire, plus some brand new series. This week, we look at some classic TV comedies that will have you singing odes to your night cheese or getting nostalgic about your NYC commute.
Are you looking for something a little lighter, and you're getting sick of rewatching The Office or Friends? This is a perfect time to revisit 30 Rock, which is on Hulu and Amazon Prime. I recently started watching it from the start when I needed to detox from the news cycle, and let me tell you, seasons two and three are still all-time great seasons of comedy. There's an immediate dip at the start of season four, but it bounces back by the time you hit "Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001." Season five is better than you remember; season six is the show's weakest (it's kind of like Seinfeld season nine, where it just gets a little too wacky), but still has classics "The Tuxedo Begins" and "Leap Day;" and season seven was a surprisingly tight and very good finale that you probably don't remember at all—all the better to rewatch it now!
If you've already rewatched 30 Rock too many times to count, you can revisit one of the other great NBC comedies of the early '10s (one which has become relatively underrated in the years since it aired): Community. All 110 episodes are already streaming on Hulu, and as of April 1st, they'll also be streaming on Netflix. You can finally check out the Yahoo season you never got around to finishing! Even though almost half the original cast had left at that point, it's a fittingly emotional farewell to Greendale. You can also finally rewatch the "gas leak" season (season four) and decide if it is as bad as people said at the time (creator Dan Harmon had been ousted from the show, only to return in season five)! Or you can just watch seasons one-to-three and bask in one of the best high-concept comedies of its era.
Here's another no-duh comedy suggestion: all 600+ cromulent episodes of The Simpsons are streaming on Disney+. As someone who has fallen down a K(rusty)-hole more than a few times in my life, I can tell you that there is nothing as comforting as watching the greatest American sitcom of all time on a seemingly endless loop. And even though the first eight or nine seasons are rightly considered the peak of the show—literally a perfect blend of comedy, storytelling and pop culture satire—there are plenty of really funny random episodes from the later seasons worth checking out too, including: "The Regina Monologues," "The Mook, The Chef, The Wife and Her Homer," "24 Minutes," "The Girl Who Slept Too Little," "Homer The Whopper," "Bart Gets A Z," and "Holidays Of Futures Passed." And who knows, maybe you can see the future if you watch long enough.
If you've already seen all those shows too many times to count, this is a perfect opportunity to dive into Cheers, now on Netflix and Hulu. It still feels surprisingly timeless despite being over forty years old, probably because it was a direct influence on so many of the great comedies of the last decade, especially the work of Michael Schur (The Good Place, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine). And I'm happy to report, having started watching it myself last week, it doesn't fall into the "first season is the worst season" hole that many other comedies just finding themselves fall into (see: The Office (U.S.), Parks & Recreation); by episode four, "Sam At Eleven," everything is humming.
What We Do In The Shadows
If you somehow missed out on the first season of What We Do In The Shadows, please, for the love of god, go watch it on Hulu now. I don't think any "sitcom" made me laugh more last year. The show, created by Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi and Flight Of The Conchords comedian Jemaine Clement, is based on the absolutely hilarious 2014 mockumentary about three vampire roommates living in modern times; the TV series moves the story from New Zealand to Staten Island, but retains the same sensibility as the original. It also includes an all-new cast, including new vampire roommates (Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak and standout Natasia Demetriou) and new forms of vampires (Mark Proksch plays the energy vampire Colin Robinson, Vanessa Bayer guest stars as an emotional vampire). There's also a tribunal of international vampires featuring some very familiar faces. You can read an interview with Clement about why they decided to set the series on Staten Island.
And great news: it's coming back for a second season in just a few weeks on April 15th.
And last but not least: if you're a fan of the Judd Apatow universe, you should check out his followup to Freaks & Geeks (which is sadly not on any streaming services right now, or else I would have waxed poetic about it), the under-appreciated Undeclared, which is now streaming on YouTube.