Dark comedy has been on TV arguably since the 70s, but in recent years it has gone through a bit of revival. Dark television comedy has become increasingly dominant in the television landscape, but with its increased presence has also come a slew of mediocre to downright bad series. Black comedy is an art form, and often difficult to capture in a serialized TV show (especially one with censors). Not only does the show need to have a darker/more serious main plot, but it also needs to toe that line and manage not to take itself too seriously so that the show can be fun for the viewers as well. It must be mocking in some way that intelligently illuminates the issues it is parodying.
Some shows are able to encapsulate the art of dark comedy perfectly, with some even going so far as to be mistaken for the very thing they parody. The shows on this list are newer and also show the recent trend towards women being anti-heroes in some way, but deciding to take more control over their own lives. Nonetheless, they make for the perfect dark comedy at a time when the genre has become so oversaturated. These are comedic shows that have gone ridiculously dark and are perfect for a deliciously dark binge-watch.
5 Kevin can fuck himself
Kevin can fuck himself is two shows in one, literally. The first follows a laugh-backed traditional sitcom couple in where the woman lives and exists only to serve her husband. This trope has been seen at least a billion times before (as in Kevin can wait, a show to which the title clearly refers) and, to be frank, the public has had enough. So comes the second show in Kevin can fuck himself is the one where the wife, Allison (played by Annie Murphy of Schitt’s Creek), is able to have a life of her own and openly hates her husband. Allison’s part of the show is the perfect black comedy– his outlook on life seems to mimic “prestige TV” shows like breaking Bad in that it follows a morbid plot (in which Allison plans to murder her husband with the help of the local drug dealer), and the show’s color scheme and lighting changes to a much darker tone when he stands out from the bright light, horrible sitcom. Yes Kevin can fuck himself looks like your next binge watch, you can stream it right now on AMC+ and get ready for Season 2.
4 made for love
made for love is one of the best dark comedies to come out in recent years. It follows Hazel (played by Cristin Milioti) as she escapes an abusive relationship with her billionaire tech husband. Once gone, Hazel realizes that her husband implanted a tracking device in his brain. Hazel’s journey throughout the show involves escaping her husband time and time again and removing the tracking device without dying. Not only is this show hilarious, but it makes viewers think a little more about technology and the billionaires who are getting rich off our data (looking at you, Mark Zuckerberg). Cristin Milioti in particular stands out in this role. Fresh off of her hit role in Palm Springs, Milioti is able to keep the ball rolling and stay hilarious, while never avoiding the trauma at the heart of her story. made for love is probably your next favorite show, and you can watch and prep for Season 2 on HBO Max.
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Talk about Succession feels repetitive at this point because everyone seems to know how awesome this show is. Succession follows the Roy family as their business and family dynamics come and go. The comedy of Succession is less obviously funny and more satirical about the tragedy of the characters. The show is primarily a drama, but elements of dark comedy and satire are ubiquitous, if often overlooked. Few viewers know that the show actually comes from British comedy writer Jesse Armstrong. His excellent comic roots (in peep show and Fresh meat) help influence black satirical and comedic storylines in Succession. Although it is easy to get caught up in the drama of Succession, keep an eye out for its comedic undertones on HBO Max and you can enjoy it in a whole new way.
2 dead to me
dead to me is one of the least talked about yet funniest dark comedies out there. With Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, dead to me follows the two women as they navigate the death and murder that seem to continually bring them closer together. Considering the show is mostly about death and heartbreak, but also features two great actors with impressive comedic pedigrees, it makes sense that it has the recipe for a ridiculously dark comedy. The series is able to spin the trope on its head and lets viewers laugh and joke through their grief with the characters. The show also addresses the fact that grief is not universal and how everyone should grieve in their own way and at their own pace. The show also looks at revenge and remorse, and how they can often occur with his grief, in a refreshingly comedic way. If you want a hilarious (and maybe a little sad) binge-watch, you can check out dead to me now on Netflix, and wait for season three to release later this year.
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1 Flea bag
Flea bag is certainly one of the most critically acclaimed black comedy series, often considered the benchmark of the genre peak in the last decade; anyone who has been on the internet lately probably knows the genius of Flea bag. The show follows the titular character as she navigates her life, frequently speaking into the camera in a familiar metafictional device, and yet creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge manages to incorporate tropes like this into her pitch-perfect tragicomedy. . The show’s subjects are objectively dark, but the most important element is how the character’s inner commentary engages and directly engages the viewer in their story. In the past five years there hasn’t been a show like Flea bag in which so many people see themselves reflected in one protagonist. It makes the story more relatable and even the darkest comedy all the more fun for viewers. When an audience can relate to a character on an extremely personal level, even the darkest comedies can get away with delving into deep and difficult subject matter. While Flea bag When a series is over, you can watch it as many times as you want on Amazon Prime.
These classic films may have extremely dark undertones, but are sprinkled with comedy and a levity that makes them deliciously digestible.
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