Open Thread: What Do You Watch When You Need a Laugh?

Please Like Me could easily be a depressing TV show. In fact, the synopsis of its pilot—young guy moves back home after his mother’s suicide attempt, while coming to terms with being gay—could almost double as a content trigger warning. Instead, what unfolds during the show’s four seasons is nothing short of joyful.

I was late to watch Please Like Me, which was created by (and stars) Australian comedian Josh Thomas and premiered in 2013. But still, watching it in 2018 felt like returning home. This might be because it’s set in Melbourne (which reminded me of Sydney) or because I could dreamcast almost every character in the show with people from my inner circle. But most of all, the comfort I found in the show came from its continuous reminder that, even at the very worst of times, things can be incredibly funny.

Last weekend, I went to see Josh’s new live stand-up show, “Whoopsie Daisy.” I hadn’t forgotten how special he or Please Like Me are (or how much I need to watch his new show, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay) but seeing him on stage did remind me that there are still so many people I need to convince to watch my favorite funny TV show. It reminded me how many people are missing out on the charm, tender humor, and fun.

Come Monday morning, I was still in the mood to rave about how good both Josh and Please Like Me are. And when I did, other people’s funny-but-underrated recommendations came out too. And then I realized: I wanted a reference list immediately. I’ve written about the importance of finding distraction in times of crisis before, but this week was a much-needed reminder of the importance of good digestible comedy—not just in bad times—but always. And so, after some recommendations from the team below, I open the floor to you: What’s the show you’re constantly surprised that more people haven’t seen? If someone (me) were to ask you for a TV recommendation that’s guaranteed laughs, what would say?

PS. Please Like Me is on Hulu and, if you haven’t already gotten the gist from this story, I think you should watch it.

Nate Bargatze: The Tennessee Kid (on Netflix)

“The Nate Bargatze comedy special came on recommendation from a man that I dated for two minutes, metaphorically speaking (thanks, sir!). I watched it first by myself and was in tears, and then showed it to my family—a mixed, tough crowd—and they also were in tears. If you appreciate some dry-as-my-eczema comedy, this is for you. The milk story will have you giggling.” —Amalie

Saturday Night Live, but backwards (on Hulu, Slight TV, YouTube TV)

Saturday Night Live is not at all underrated, but my strategy for watching it might be. This summer, I embarked on a project where, starting from the most recent season, I watched each episode in reverse chronological order. The ultimate objective is to watch the whole series until I land on the first episode in 1975. There’s something appealing about studying the various arcs of the show’s lifespan on both a micro and macro level. Hindsight is 20/20 and I love to see witness history unfold, backwards, in a new light.” —Edith

I Love Lucy (on Hulu, CBS, Philo)

“I grew up watching I Love Lucy and still return to it regularly when I need a laugh. While I’ll admit much of the show is definitely out-dated and a bit controversial re: gender and family stereotypes… Lucille Ball was a pioneer for female comedians and the writers were absolute geniuses.” —Sabrina

555 (on Vimeo)

“At this point I think it’s pretty well established that John Early and Kate Berlant are comedic angels (if you are uninitiated start with Early’s ‘Characters‘ special on Netflix, where Berlant also appears, then watch Early’s recent in-character endorsement of Bernie Sanders). 555 is a series of five shorts set in a bizarro (more bizarro?) version of Hollywood that showcases the best-friend-duo in their purest forms. It will make you laugh a lot and then it will make you desperately want to be friends with them.” —Mallory

Please do leave your suggestions in the comments! Many, many thanks in advance.

Feature photos via Everett Collection and Getty Images.

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