The mega post rolls on. In part four I bring you… Premium Comedies.
HBO, Showtime & Netflix cost a little extra money each month but they are well worth it additions to your entertainment budget (I used to work for one of these companies and worked indirectly for another. But I don’t now so I’m not trying to sell you anything) However for the extra money you get nudity and language just like in real life. And you also get expensive stars, writers, directors and sex scenes like real life should be. (If you’re lucky)
With the premium comedies on this list the theme of the day is: Amazing Ensemble Casts. Every single one of these shows has assembled an ensemble of top-notch, comedic talent and character actors. They mix comedy and drama at the perfect ratio.
To the list…
Arrested Development (Netflix)
Created by Mitchell Hurwitz
Narrated by Ron Howard
Arrested Development has one of the funniest casts of comic actors ever brought together in one sitcom. These guys show up often in other things that I like. These are some funny fucking people. I hope they bring this back for another season.
I wasn’t blown away by the last season (the first season to air exclusively on Netflix) but I watched it twice, I love these characters and would be bummed out if I thought that was the last we’d ever see of the Bluth family. The wacky Bluth family.
Created by Tom Kapinos
Writer, trouble-maker, sex-addict, David Duchovny as Hank Moody continues to smolder and shine in this racy, sexy and bat shit crazy Showtime comedy.
Eastbound and Down (HBO)
Created by Ben Best, Jody Hill & Danny McBride
Just when I think I know where these guys are taking this hilarious show they veer off in a new direction that frightens the fuck out of me. This show actually scares me because I have no idea what’s going to happen from moment to moment. Kenny Powers is fucking insane. A lot of great cameos throughout the series that just keeps getting better.
Getting On (HBO)
This little gem about a hospital geriatric ward doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves. This is a very funny show with a fine cast. There’s been only one season so far but I hope to see more of this. Alex Borstein is incredibly funny.
Created by Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow have created this cringe-worthy look at the hipster meme. Like a Portlandia sketch but a little more true to life. God damn it, I know all these people.
My favorite episode this season has the girls in the Hampton’s for a weekend retreat that goes horribly wrong as they get drunk and air their grievances. Some of the best writing of the series and one of the funniest scenes on TV last year.
But my favorite episode of the series is still the one where they go to a warehouse party in Brooklyn and Shoshanna accidentally smokes crack.
House of Lies (Showtime)
Created by Matthew Carnahan
This cast is outstanding. These guys do great improv. This is a funny show about the soul-less world of management consultants. Kristen Bell and Don Cheadle are amazing.
My favorite scene this past season has Jeanie (Kristen Bell) leaving an office after wreaking havoc on the place and setting them up for a major disaster… and as she gets on the elevator, she turns and pantomimes pulling the pin on a grenade with her teeth and tossing it out as the doors close. Gorgeous scene.
Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
One of the best shows about addiction. Edie Falco is sensational and the writing is top-notch but Merritt Wever steals every scene she is in. I love her.
Merritt Wever, after winning the Emmy this past year gave my favorite acceptance speech of all-time. She deserved the win and is not much for speeches. She said “Thanks. Bye.”
Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
Created by Jenji Kohan
One of the great surprises of last year. The cast is super-fantastic and I expect good things from this show going forward. From the creator of the consistently good Weeds. A funny, sexy, touching look at the prisoners in a minimum security women’s prison.
My favorite episode from season one was directed by Jodie Foster. I hope she directs another in season two. All of season two will be available June 6th on Netflix.
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky
Silicon Valley is too new to add to this list but screw that. Silicon Valley is one of the funniest new shows I’ve seen in a long time. After four episodes I am completely blown away by how hysterical it is. This show makes my sides hurt.
To harken back to an earlier rant, this is how you do nerd humor well. These guys are hysterical. The cast is sensational and the writing is genius. I loved Mike Judge’s movies. This is a wonderful send up of a startup that makes me crack up.
Created by Armando Iannucci
The great Julia Louis-Dreyfus everyone.
The entire cast is very funny but Julia carries the show and delivers in every episode. Tony Hale (Arrested Development) is also amazing as her body man and the very funny Timothy Simons plays her team’s arch-nemesis / major pain in the ass, Jonah who this season has started an insider D.C. blog that is hilarious.
The great Armando Iannucci can do no wrong in my book. I’ve loved everything he’s done. And I’ve loved every second of Veep.
…And that’s ten.
These are some good shows. Sure they’re only a half hour but they pack a lot into a half hour. Smart funny writing. Great performances. My favorite addition to the television landscape has been the premium half hour comedy. These aren’t your grandparents sitcoms people. There are sex scenes and cursing. These are cinema quality half hours.
Speaking of sitcoms, I do those next. (no sex. no cursing) Wow, I still have sixty more shows to go before I’m done but at least I’m getting the comedy out of the way. As Steve Martin says on his 1979 comedy album, Comedy is Not Pretty!, “Comedy… is not pretty.”
See you guys on the couch,