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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Ten Heartwarming Sitcoms You Can Stream Right Now That'll Just Keep Adding Joy to Your Day

Spend your couch time getting a warm hug from these gloriously kind-hearted TV comedies.
By Sarah Ward
August 27, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
August 27, 2021
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Everyone has one, or several: a TV show you just keep going back to no matter how many times you've seen it before. Whatever series that is for you, you're probably always at some stage of rewatching it — and when you finish it this time, you'll start working your way through it again because of course you will. These are our soul-replenishing comfort shows, and they usually share a few traits. Sitcoms are particularly easy to rewatch over and over. Comedies with not only a big sense of humour but also a big heart are, too. Is your go-to series filled with characters supporting each other, overcoming everyday obstacles and helping each other be their absolute best selves? Then that fits the bill as well.

Basically, the shows we keep gravitating back towards are the ones Marie Kondo would approve of. Yes, they definitely spark joy, and do so again and again. Watching them feels like catching up with old friends, and they always brighten your day. Here are our ten picks for sitcoms that feel like the warmest of hug — and that you can stream right now.

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PARKS AND RECREATION

She's the government worker we all wish could be in charge of, well, absolutely everything — and she's the fictional Indiana city of Pawnee's most devoted employee and biggest fan. We're talking, of course, about Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler's super-passionate, waffle-loving character in iconic sitcom Parks and Recreation. Willing to work hard in any situation and always ready to lean upon her friends and co-workers, Leslie knows how to handle almost anything. In one particular fifth-season episode of the Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Adam Scott and Rob Lowe-costarring series, that also includes grappling with a pandemic. Created by The Office's Greg Daniels and Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Michael Schur, Parks and Recreation may have only come to the end of its seven-season run back in 2015, but the sitcom has been an instant classic from the get-go for one reason: focusing on relatable characters, the minutiae of their lives and the time working in local government, workplace-based comedy has never felt more kind-hearted, or — thanks to the show's penchant for letting its main players talk directly to the camera — so inclusive.

All seven seasons of Parks and Recreation are available to stream via Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime Video and Binge.

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TED LASSO

A sports-centric sitcom that's been like a big warm hug from the get-go, Ted Lasso is the current cheerleader for comedies that focus on nice and caring people doing nice and caring things. Like the other shows on this list, it celebrates folks supporting and being there for each other, and the bonds that spring between them — and not just to an entertaining but to a soul-replenishing degree. As played by Jason Sudeikis (Booksmart), the series' namesake is all positivity, all the time. A small-time US college football coach, he scored an unlikely job as manager of British soccer team AFC Richmond in the show's first season, a job that came with struggles. The ravenous media wrote him off instantly, the club was hardly doing its best, owner Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham, Sex Education) had just taken over the organisation as part of her divorce settlement, and veteran champion Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein, Uncle) and current hotshot Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster, Judy) refused to get along. Ted's upbeat attitude does wonders, though, in the best sitcom that's currently in production. You definitely don't need to love soccer or even sport to fall for this show's ongoing charms, to adore its heartwarming determination to value banding together and looking on the bright side, and to love its depiction of both male tenderness and supportive female friendships.

The first five episodes of Ted Lasso's second season are available to stream via Apple TV+, with new episodes dropping weekly. Read our full review.

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WELLINGTON PARANORMAL

Three of the best comedic actors currently on TV all star in New Zealand-made sitcom Wellington Paranormal. Playing Officer O'Leary, Officer Minogue and Sergeant Maaka, Karen O'Leary, Mike Minogue and Maaka Pohatu spit out devastatingly hilarious deadpan line readings. They need to in this mockumentary series, which follows a squad of Wellington cops who investigate the supernatural — as the show's title so succinctly explains — but every episode of the series so far has demonstrated just how perfect these three actors are for their job. That includes the recent third season of the program, which once again sees the team tackle cases of the paranormal variety (and, yes, of the often silly and always amusing kind as well). This batch of instalments includes an invisible foe and something lurking in the woods, and hearty laughs always ensue. A spinoff from  Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's excellent 2014 movie What We Do in the Shadows — well, one of the film's spinoffs, given that the very funny US TV series also called What We Do in the Shadows also exists — Wellington Paranormal aces its concept again and again. It's basically a low-key, comedic, NZ-based version of The X-Files, it's glorious, and NZ Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern's husband Clarke Gayford has even made an appearance.

The first three seasons of Wellington Paranormal are available to stream via Google Play and iTunes.

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LOS ESPOOKYS

It has taken almost two years for the delight that is Los Espookys to reach Australian screens — and it'll take you less than three hours to binge its six-episode first season. This HBO comedy is both worth the wait and worth devouring as quickly as possible, though. The setup: horror aficionado Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco, Museo) wants to turn his obsession into his profession, so he starts staging eerie scenarios for paying customers, enlisting his best friend Andrés (Julio Torres, Shrill), pal Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti, Ready to Mingle) and the latter's sister Tati (Ana Fabrega, At Home with Amy Sedaris) to help. Torres and Fabrega co-created the show with Portlandia and Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen, who also pops up as Renaldo's parking valet uncle. This mostly Spanish-language series only uses its biggest name sparingly, however, because its key cast members own every moment. Following the titular group's exploits as they attempt to ply their trade, and to weave it into their otherwise chaotic lives, Los Espookys always manages to be both sidesplittingly hilarious and so meticulous in its horror references that it's almost uncanny. There's nothing on-screen quite like it and, thankfully, it has already been renewed for a second season.

The first season of Los Espookys is available to stream  via Binge.

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THE OFFICE

You're working. It's an ordinary day. You've been doing your usual tasks and, in a completely unremarkable incident, you happen to notice a stapler — whether you're in the office or doing the nine-to-five grind at home. If your first thought is "hmmm, I bet I could set that in a bowl of jelly", then you're obviously a fan of The Office. One of the rare instances where a TV remake is better than the original — it is based on the UK series of the same name, after all — this sitcom about paper company employees is far more amusing than it really has any right to be. In fact, it's downright side-splitting; it nails workplace relationships and minutiae in such a precise, knowing and relatable way that it sometimes feels uncanny (every office has a Creed, after all); and it's immensely easy to just keep rewatching. But that's what you get when you round up Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson, Mindy Kaling, Ed Helms, Ellie Kemper and Craig Robinson in the same show, and let all of them break out their comedic best. At a time when actually being in an office has become a bit of a novelty, The Office now comes with a different kind of nostalgia layered on top as well.

All nine seasons of The Office are available to stream via Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime Video and Binge.

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DETECTORISTS

Watching two men amble around grassy fields in Britain with metal detectors in their hands mightn't instantly sound like a compelling idea for a sitcom. Yes, much of Detectorists does indeed involve its two main characters — forklift driver Lance (Toby Jones, First Cow) and archaeologist-in-training Andy (Mackenzie Crook, from the original UK version of The Office) — simply walking, talking and scanning the earth for buried treasures. There's a peacefulness to this three-season gem, however, that gives it an enthralling and calming atmosphere. It makes you feel as blissful as you would if you really were just moseying through a field with few cares in the world, enjoying the scenery and leisurely hanging out with your best pal. This duo aren't just biding their time, though; in northern Essex, they're looking for historic finds from centuries ago, and they're there for each other through all the near misses, possible discoveries, and personal and professional ups and downs. Both Jones and Crook turn in layered, lived-in performances, too, in what's clearly a labour of love for the latter given that he also created Detectorists, and wrote and directed each of its 19 episodes.

All three seasons of Detectorists are available to stream via Britbox and iTunes, with season one and two also available on Netflix.

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BROOKLYN NINE-NINE

Long-running shows become a comforting part of our routines, giving us something to look forward to with each new episode — and in the case of supremely warm-hearted comedies, giving us all plenty of feel-good laughs as well. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one such series. It's coming to an end after its current (and eighth) season, but it'll always live on in streaming queues. Heart and laughs: that's been a noice, toit and cool cool cool formula for the Andy Samberg-starring cop-focused sitcom over the years. "Title of your sex tape" jokes, Die Hard nods and Halloween heists have all worked well, too. And so have the multi-layered, always-supportive bonds between Jake Peralta (Samberg), his best friend and fellow detective Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), and their other colleagues Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz),  Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) and Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) — and the bumbling but always-affable Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) and Scully (Joel McKinnon Miller). In its final season, as it gears up to say goodbye, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has also been finding a smart and still amusing way to reckon with being a comedy about police officers in America today.

The first seven seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine are available to stream via Netflix, with season eight dropping new episodes weekly via SBS On Demand.

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BOB'S BURGERS

We've all grown up watching animated sitcoms about families, because The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Simpsons, Family Guy, King of the Hill, American Dad and Rick and Morty all exist. Bob's Burgers has been on the list as well for over a decade now, and it does what plenty of its counterparts also do — focusing on a family and their usual ebbs and flows, mainly — while also finding a tone that's sweet, goofy, cute, funny and filled with top-notch food puns. An animated TV series can definitely make you feel hungry, as this show manages all the time. It also enjoys exploring the eclectic and eccentric personalities of the Belcher clan, including burger-cooking father Bob (voiced H Jon Benjamin, Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later), his wife Linda (John Roberts, Gravity Falls), and children Tina (Dan Mintz, Adventure Time), Gene (Eugene Mirman, Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and Louise (Kristen Schaal, Flight of the Conchords). You do have to come to terms with the fact that Bob's voice is also Archer's voice — if you also watch fellow animated series Archer, that is — but you'll also get to enjoy the series' fabulous musical numbers, and the warmth that stems from more than just cooking up patties in a burger joint.

The first 11 seasons of Bob's Burgers are available to stream via Disney+.

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THE GOOD PLACE

Some shows are just so engaging and entertaining — so smart and heartfelt and hilarious all at the same time, too — that they just make you exclaim "holy forking shirtballs!" The Good Place achieves all of that, and easily. It's the show that found plenty of jokes around the kind of swearing you're forced to do in its titular spot, given that busting out the real versions of those words isn't really heaven's vibe. Because nothing in this life lasts forever, including beloved sitcoms about the afterlife stretching on into eternity, the existential comedy only ran for four seasons. They all followed the adventures of the very dead Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto), plus demon Michael (Ted Danson) and "not a person" Janet (D'Arcy Carden), and they all kept throwing delightful surprises our way. One of the spectacular things about rewatching this clever, creative and side-splitting mix of humour, philosophy and people actively trying to embrace their best rather than worst impulses is picking up all the breadcrumbs left along the way — and its all-round warm and wise approach thanks to Parks and Recreation, The Office and Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Michael Schur (yes, him again), of course.

All four seasons of The Good Place are available to stream via Netflix.

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SCHITT'S CREEK

The idea behind Schitt's Creek is immensely straightforward, and also incredibly obvious. If one of the obscenely wealthy families that monopolises all those trashy reality TV shows was suddenly forced to live without their money, like the rest of us, how would they cope? If you're thinking "not well", you're right. If you're certain that seeing the results would be amusing, you're on the money again. As envisaged by father-son duo — and the program's stars — Eugene and Daniel Levy, that's the scenario the Rose crew finds itself in, including moving to the titular town that it happens to own as a last resort. Yes, as the name gives away, they're in a sticky situation. The adjustment process isn't easy, but it is very, very funny, and remained that way for the show's entire six-season run before wrapping up in 2020. And, although plenty of other credits on her resume have made this plain (such as Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman and For Your Consideration, all also with Eugene Levy), the great Catherine O'Hara is an absolute comedy powerhouse as the Rose family matriarch. She deservedly has both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance here, too.

All six seasons of Schitt's Creek are available to stream via Netflix.

Published on August 27, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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