13 British Comedies On Netflix To Help You Laugh Your Way To Stress-Free Bliss
Whether you're in the thick of a gruelling 9-5, or at the height of exam season, stress will sometimes come knocking on your door whether you like it or not. But who said adulting was easy? Thankfully, the comfort blanket that is Netflix will always be there for us. There's a thriving crop of British comedies on Netflix at the moment, proving that the streaming service's UK offerings can easily compete with its U.S. counterpart. The sitcoms and sketch shows up for grabs are more than we could ever ask for — Netflix, you're killing it.
The escapism that Netflix provides also exists in the climate of increased awareness around stress and anxiety. There are now guides published by health services across the UK describing the effect of stress and detailed solutions to alleviate its symptoms. According to the Mental Health Foundation, when stressed, your body creates "a stress response" which can present itself as feelings of constant anxiety, mood swings, depression, loss of appetite, and an inability to sleep. It is recommended that if you are feeling this way for a prolonged period of time, you should seek medical support, but if you're experiencing stress as part of a short-term pressure point, there are other ways to relax which might help you.
One such approach might be to look for a quick comedic pick-me-up. Hey, it might help restore your balance, or at least keep you distracted for a few hours. Below are just a handful of sitcoms and shows to calm your stress with the pure unadulterated joy of comedy. From the hilarious antics of the Derry Girls to the surreal stylings of Will Sharpe in Flowers, this is British comedy at its best. So pour a cuppa, sit down, and indulge in my picks of the best British comedies on Netflix.
1. 'Absolutely Fabulous'
A sitcom filled with addiction and self-destruction sounds like it might be light on the jokes, but when you throw Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley into the mix, it's downright hilarious.
PR agent Eddy (Saunders) and magazine fashion director Patsy (Lumley) relish in their fashion industry success just a tad too much, often blowing their money on alcohol and other pleasures in an attempt to relive their glory days.
Of course, they end up in dire situation after dire situation, accompanied by hilarious consequences, all of which will lift your spirits above and beyond where you started out.
2. 'After Life'
If dark comedy is more your thing, then After Life is the perfect series for you. Created and starring Ricky Gervais, After Life follows newspaper writer Tony, who is dealing with the recent death of his wife to breast cancer.
To cope, he decides to take on "a gruff new persona in an effort to push away those trying to help" by saying and doing what he wants without thinking of the consequences.
And with a second series well on the way, there's no reason for you not to dive into this hilarious and emotional series.
3. 'The IT Crowd'
The beauty of British comedy is its intrinsic relationship with the nation. The IT Crowd is a perfect example of this where one phrase — “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” — is relatable no matter where you like in the UK.
We all know where it’s from, and we’ve all spent nights marathoning the show to oblivion on E4. Who knew a group of IT nerds could steal our hearts, including a vampiric Noel Fielding?
4. 'French & Saunders'
Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders ruled the late '80s and early '90s with their sketch series, proving that yes, women are witty, hilarious, and damn right genius, too.
Often spoofing cultural moments, as well as contemporary TV and film, French and Saunders paved the way for future female sketch comedians, whilst also cementing their careers — and legacy — in British comedy.
5. 'Sex Education'
Everyone loves a teen comedy, and Sex Education totally delivers on that front. It's also a show that successfully traverses the awkward sexual awakening all teens experience, and the problems they'd much rather keep to themselves (in a very British way, ofc).
While Sex Education "finds the sweetness in the awkward and under-discussed parts of human sexuality" and has its fair share of drama, overall it's an absolute delight to watch — and thankfully one that will be returning for a second series sometime next year. Get in.
6. 'Derry Girls'
Derry Girls has been on the top of my comedy series list since it first debuted last year, and I'm so happy to see it gain the recognition it deserves. From it's stellar female cast to the hilariously unique writing and setting, it's hard to put the comedy of Derry Girls into words.
It's one of those series that you just have to see for yourself, because just writing the lines that these girls come out with doesn't do them any justice.
Admit it, the majority of us relate to Miranda on some level. I personally relate to Miranda's (Miranda Hart) height insecurity and her clumsiness. I'm sure there are countless other characteristics of Miranda, her friends, and her family that many Brits can relate to in some way, too.
That's what made the show so successful, especially in its portrayal of our well-known national awkwardness. Us Brits have a unique way of collectively laughing at ourselves, and Miranda is a champion at that — especially for a show that was semi-autobiographical.
8. 'The Mighty Boosh'
The surreal adventures of Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding were a once-in-a-lifetime journey that hasn't been replicated since. There's no roundabout way to describe The Mighty Boosh — I can imagine it's what you would see after taking some kind of psychedelic. It'll certainly take your mind off work deadlines or exams, that's for sure.
Nevertheless, it was (and still is) a staple of British comedy culture, one that has certainly outlasted itself.
9. 'Bad Education'
Bad Education is one of those rare shows that emulates the atmosphere of British secondary school perfectly. Alongside The Inbetweeners and Some Girls, Bad Education encapsulates the absurdity of school life here in the UK, from in-class rivalry to a teacher trying their hardest to be cool and down with the kids.
Those who have not been to an British secondary school may think Bad Education is exaggerating... but no, it is not.
10. 'Friday Night Dinner'
Friday Night Dinner's simple premise makes it all the more perfect. A family gets together every Friday night for dinner — what could go wrong?
Well, a lot. From sibling fights between Jonny (Tom Rosenthal) and Adam (Simon Bird), to the often naked and forgetful antics of father Martin (Paul Ritter) and an exasperated mother Jackie (Tamsin Greig), Friday Night Dinner certainly rings home to many British families, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
11. 'Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father'
As an adult, travelling with your parents can sometimes be a little embarrassing. Although, if you're willing to embrace your parents quirks holidays can become a lot more entertaining that you first thought.
I mean, take Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father. There's a significant generational gap between the two, which lends itself to vast amounts of humour — especially when it comes to Michael's total disdain of the world around him.
You really don't want to miss this. You'll be crying with laughter at their father-son dynamic.
The perfect show to follow The Mighty Boosh, Flowers is another surreal comedy albeit a bit more rooted in reality. There aren't any talking gorillas, shamans, or countless other weird and wonderful creatures in this series, but it does include a rather eccentric family intertwined with surreally dark humour.
Starring Julian Barrett and Olivia Colman, writer and creator Will Sharpe combines British and Japanese comedy making Flowers one of the most unique sitcoms on the platform.
13. 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'
When Netflix announced it would be uploading the entire Monty Python collection to stream, Britain collectively rejoiced. Probably best known among millennials for their films The Holy Grail and Life of Brian, their foray into television with Monty Python's Flying Circus is definitely the group's best work. If you want to laugh until your sides hurt, half an hour of Flying Circus will certainly do the trick.
This list isn't even breaking the surface of Netflix's catalogue of comedy, so go on, get to it — relish in that British humour!
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