From cubicles to corner offices, people at work are just always doing something funny — or at least something laughable. Ridiculous or really annoying, the worst and weirdest parts of work can seem a little bit better when we take a minute to laugh at them. And, we all know that in real life work can be dull and life-sucking — so what better way to deal with the mundane or take a break from boring than to make fun of it?
Enter the workplace comedy.
This week my former co-worker and friend, Grace P. Cho, and I talked about the very best (and our favorite) workplace comedies on The Couch podcast. Our parameters meant our choices must be 30-minute comedies in which the main characters are connected first through the workplace. We tried to avoid law enforcement or medical shows, but it turns out that’s nearly impossible. You can listen to the episode here.
Want the full list of our favorites? Here you go…
The Best Workplace Comedies on TV
The Office (2005-2013, 9 seasons)
The gold standard for workplace comedies and mockumentaries. Cringe-tastic comedy with an eventual heart of gold. My favorite character: Stanley and his reactions crack me up! (But also, of course, obviously Jim and Pam.) Watch on Netflix
Parks and Recreation (2009-2015, 7 seasons)
Working in local government is so much funnier than I ever imagined. And, also, so much more absurd. I actually love this show even more than The Office, but if you haven’t watched it before, definitely start with season two. My favorite character: Leslie Knope, of course. Watch on Netflix
Superstore (2015-present, 5 seasons so far)
If you miss The Office, watch Superstore. These group of employees work in a big box store, and anyone who’s ever worked in retail (or shopped at Walmart) will recognize what’s happening here. My favorite character: I will say Dina grew on me like one Dwight Shrute. But Garrett is my favorite character. Watch on Hulu
30 Rock (2006-2013, 7 seasons)
Basically a look behind the scenes at SNL (and basically funnier than many seasons of SNL). Tina Fey as Liz Lemon is one of my favorite characters of all time. Watch on Hulu
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-present, 6 seasons so far)
Andy Samberg is a goofy guy but a great detective. I resisted this cop show at first but am a big ol’ fan now. Funny, sweet, and — did I mention? — funny. My favorite character: Rosa Diaz. But also Captain Holt. And Amy Santiago. Gah! It’s impossible to choose! Watch on Hulu
Scrubs (2001-2010, 9 seasons)
Medical residents balance work and life, learning lessons in both. This show is goofy and unrealistic, full of will-they-won’t-they angst, the best bromance of all time, and vicious (hilarious) insults from both a top doctor and a janitor. Pro tip: Don’t bother with the last season. My favorite character: Dr. Cox, because he’s so outrageously mean that he just makes me laugh. Watch on Hulu
Better Off Ted (2009-2010, 2 seasons)
A manager in a giant company has to work with scientists, customer service, and upper management. This is one of my very favorite shows of all time. It is ridiculous and sharp and so very funny (and also short-lived, so you can watch it fast)! My favorite character: Ted, hands down. Although the scientists crack me up, too. Watch on Hulu
Great News (2017-2018, 2 seasons)
Another short-lived show, this one takes place at a TV news station. A journalist’s mom somehow gets an internship at the station and meddles in her crazy work business. This one didn’t last long but I thought it was wacky in the best ways. My favorite character: Nicole Richie’s character (Portia), because I was so shocked to like her at all! Watch on Netflix
The Mindy Project (2012-2017, 6 seasons)
I know, I know, this is more of a romantic comedy than a workplace comedy. But the characters work together! That’s how they become friends! So there. This one is at its best in the first couple of seasons and takes a turn at the end, FYI. But those first two seasons? Outstanding. My favorite character: Hmmm. I don’t know that I have a favorite character in this show. They’re all pretty big train wrecks. And yet? I root for them anyway. Watch on Hulu
Benched (2014, 1 season)
I think I might’ve been the only person who watched this show. But it was funny! A big-shot lawyer loses her job and ends up at the public defender’s office. Sparks fly with another lawyer. Watch on Amazon
Of course, these aren’t the only workplace comedies out there. Honorable mention goes to:
- Veep: Politics and filthy insults. 7 seasons. Watch on Hulu.
- Murphy Brown: Opinionated TV journalist and her crew. 11 seasons. Watch on Amazon (or CBS All Access).
- NewsRadio: New York’s #2 radio station. 5 seasons. Watch on Amazon.
- Cheers: The bar where everyone knows your name. 11 seasons. Watch on Netflix.
- Spin City: The mayor’s office in NYC. Michael J. Fox (then, later, Charlie Sheen). Not streaming anywhere, but you can get the DVDs at Amazon.
What’s your favorite workplace comedy?
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