10 of the best original sitcoms you can stream on Netflix, Apple TV Plus and more

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(Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

The humble sitcom didn’t appear to be a priority for the streaming world initially. Netflix waited a full two years after launching its first original to truly aim for a high joke ratio (and with a remake of, er, Richie Rich to boot). And although the fledgling Amazon offered the show Betas in its early spate of new programming, it cancelled the Silicon Valley comedy after only a single season.

Thankfully, both services (and their newer competitors) eventually realized that not everyone wants to sit down to a prestige drama after a hard day’s work. Here’s a look at 10 of the best full-blown TV comedies to have emerged since.  

Trying (Apple TV Plus)

From Breeders and Motherland to Workin’ Moms and SMILF, the small screen has recently been awash with sitcoms documenting the hardship of parenthood. But Apple TV Plus’s Trying is the first to focus on the difficulty of attaining such a status, with its title referring to the struggles of both conceiving and then adopting. 

It doesn’t sound like rich comic material, but this underrated gem balances its emotive subject matter with a wonderfully playful sense of humour. This is buoyed by naturally charming performances from Rafe Spall and Esther Smith as the central couple and Oscar winner Imelda Staunton as their no-nonsense social worker.  

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) 

Few streaming comedies have provided more bang for your buck than Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The brainchild of 30 Rock’s Tina Fey and Robert Carlock packs so many laugh-out-loud one-liners, surreal non-sequiturs and niche pop-cultural references into each half-hour episode that you’ll struggle to catch them all even after multiple rewatches. 

And they’re delivered by a stellar cast of scene-stealers including Tituss Burgess as a self-obsessed aspiring actor, Carol Kane as a hipster-hating landlady, and Jane Krakowski as a socialite far removed from any semblance of reality. Tying all the crazy together is Ellie Kemper’s heroine who, despite spending 15 years trapped in a doomsday cult, emerges with more relentless optimism than SpongeBob SquarePants.  

Upload (Amazon Prime Video) 

Anyone whose favorite Black Mirror episode was San Junipero should appreciate this underrated Amazon original. Created by Greg Daniels (The Office), Upload stars The CW hunk Robbie Amell as Nathan, a computer programmer who, after dying in a suspicious car crash, has his consciousness transferred to a digital heaven. 

Of course, this virtual afterlife isn’t always as idyllic as its sumptuous breakfast buffets and lush golf courses suggest. Nathan has to contend with still-alive demanding girlfriends and the small matter of figuring out who murdered him. Luckily, he has Andy Allo’s smitten handler to help smooth the transition in a creative comedy that asks big questions and provides big laughs. A second season is on the way.

Medical Police (Netflix) 

If rapid-fire jokes are your thing, then look no further than this one-season wonder, which is a lengthier spin-off from the equally hilarious Adult Swim web series Childrens Hospital. Netflix’s Medical Police stars Rob Huebel and Erinn Hayes as doctors who find themselves immersed in a government conspiracy after discovering a deadly contagious disease. And yes, this was shot before...you know what. 

The eerily prescient narrative is, of course, completely inconsequential. It’s simply a way to unleash a never-ending array of increasingly absurd quips in the style of Leslie Nielsen’s finest works.  

Ted Lasso (Apple TV Plus) 

An American comedy rooted in the quintessentially English world of the Premier League? Ted Lasso seemed destined to follow The Cup, Warren United and Mike Bassett: Manager on the list of soccer sitcoms expelled after just a single season. Instead, it’s become a Golden Globe-winning word-of-mouth smash that even those with little understanding of the offside rule have taken to their hearts. 

That’s largely down to co-creator Jason Sudeikis, who exudes warmth as the eponymous fish-out-of-water tasked with coaching the type of football he knows nothing about. But the entire cast are pitch-perfect in a show so resolutely feel-good, it makes Parks and Recreation look like The Handmaid’s Tale.  

Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix) 

Out of all of Netflix’s premature cancellations, Santa Clarita Diet feels the most unjust. The horror comedy had undoubtedly hit its stride in its final third season, while its closing scene suggested there was still plenty of mileage left in its zany premise. This razor-sharp sitcom had already thrown everything from Serbian folklore to suburban real estate into its hilariously gory mix, of course. 

Yet the dynamics between Drew Barrymore’s zombified human and her impossibly supportive husband (played by a never-better Timothy Olyphant) were so engaging that the show would have worked even without all the flesh-eating and disembodied talking heads.  

Mythic Quest (Apple TV Plus) 

Co-created by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney, Mythic Quest sees the pair tone down their usual brand of unrelenting nihilism for something with a little more heart. That doesn’t mean this Apple TV Plus workplace comedy – which also stars the latter as a megalomaniacal MMORPG developer – is afraid to defy conventions. 

Its fifth episode is a highly personal decade-spanning insight into the stifling relationship between creativity and commerce, which ignores the main cast altogether, while the Quarantine-themed special was filmed using 40 iPhones. Add this to Dead Pixels and The Guild on the list of sitcoms that celebrate and lampoon gaming culture in style.   

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix) 

Wet Hot American Summer bombed on its 2001 release, but after developing cult classic status, the spoof of ‘80s sex comedies enjoyed an unlikely second-wind 14 years on. Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler are just some of the originals who returned to Camp Firewood for Netflix’s prequel series – meaning the 40-somethings were (consciously) playing characters under half their age. 

Leaning further into all the absurdity is a toxic waste conspiracy, musical ode to zoot suits and origins story for the talking can of mixed vegetables. First Day of Camp looked like a blast to make. Thankfully, it’s also equally as fun to watch.   

Schmigadoon! (Apple TV Plus) 

You don’t have to be a fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals to enjoy Schmigadoon!, but it sure helps. This Apple TV Plus original stars Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key as a constantly warring couple whose make-or-break vacation leads them to an idyllic mystery town that can’t stop bursting into song and dance.

Broadway stars Aaron Tveit and Kristin Chenoweth and the legendary Martin Short (playing a leprechaun, of all things) help to build a colourful world that combines its ambitiously staged show tunes with a healthy shot of cynicism and a knowing wink.  

One Day at a Time (Netflix) 

Netflix seems determined to keep the laughter track alive, having premiered more than a dozen different traditional studio sitcoms since reuniting the Full House gang in 2016. But only their revival of Norman Lear’s ‘70s classic One Day at a Time has brought something fresh to the format. 

Anchored by a terrific performance from Justina Machado as the head of her Cuban-American family, the two-time Emmy-winning series has addressed everything from PTSD to gender fluidity, impressively without ever descending into the usual schmaltz or preachiness. Little wonder that when Netflix gave it the chop after three engaging seasons, fans successfully campaigned for the show to be picked up elsewhere.