2020 has been a year, and probably a year in which the only friends we've learned more about were the 3D ones on our TV screens. The respite of the small screen was necessary for a lot of us, a welcome escape from the pandemic. While most TV is inherently escapist, there are some shows that don't exactly help ease your real-life anxiety (I learned this when I chose April as the month to finally finish Breaking Bad). If you're like me, TV comedy shows are the antidote to a lot of having to think about, oh, everything, and if you're like any parent, you have very little time to squeeze a TV show in. I got you.
These are the best (30 minutes or less!) TV comedy series currently streaming* on Netflix, so get to it!
- Schitt's Creek. This show exploded this year, and it seems reasonable to assume that lots of people found it on Netflix while looking for something light. If you haven't done Schitt's Creek yet, it's time—Dan Levy's Emmy juggernaut is life-affirming, a positive family affair, and one of TV's best portrayals of an LGBTQ+ relationship.
- Community. Somehow already over a decade old, this ensemble about an unlikely study group who come to loathe and love each other (often simultaneously) is a gut-busting and frequently absurd (but still accessible) escape. I wouldn't be surprised if you missed the original run—lots of people did, as the network comedy was constantly on the bubble—so give it a shot now. Most of it holds up pretty well, and the best thing about it is a young Donald Glover in a purely comedic role.
- The Good Place. OK, this show is underhandedly deep, but it still qualifies as a goofy comedy because it is. A show about the afterlife being a silly romp sounds unlikely until you learn that Parks and Recreation's creator is behind it. You might start thinking more about philosophy than you have since college, but I promise you'll be cracking up.
- New Girl. Even if you watched this show the first time it was on, a 2020 rewatch feels pretty great, because it's airy, fun, and undemanding. Zooey Deschanel anchors the cast, but Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson, and Lamorne Morris are comedy standouts in a show where no one ever has an unsolvable problem.
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The premise is dark—a woman gets released from a bunker as part of a doomsday cult after 15 years—but the execution is pure silliness (give it up for Tina Fey.) The fact that Kimmy has a sunny outlook after all she's been through is inspiring, especially when you too have felt like you've been shut up for 15 years.
- Portlandia. Oh, you really don't have time? This sketch comedy series starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen delivers offbeat comedy in tiny bits. Though the show is skewering Portland, there's a skit everyone can relate to.
- Ted Lasso. A new-to-2020 show from Apple TV+, this comedy is nonstop delight and warmth. Jason Sudeikis plays an American coach transplanted to Britain, and he goes on a journey to essentially charm every resistant person in his orbit. He'll do it to you, too.
- The IT Crowd. Since The Office is leaving Netflix*, try this similar series instead. It's a multi-camera (so it feels far more sitcom-y) and stars a pre-Bridesmaids Chris O'Dowd, who runs the IT department with a super-goofy partner (Richard Ayoade).
- Arrested Development. This cult comedy is required viewing for anyone who has ever thought of themselves as a fan of TV comedy. Watch the downfall of the Bluth family after the patriarch is hauled to jail while admiring the comedy chops of Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, and a young Michael Cera.