One of 2022’s best new shows is Abbott Elementary. While there’s a lot to love about the show — we’ll get into that in a minute — there’s also just something about a good workplace comedy. Older hits, like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Cheers, certainly gleaned a lot from their respective settings, and, decades later, The Office took the workplace comedy to new heights. Here, we’re rounding up some of our favorite must-watch workplace comedies — will your pick make the cut?
Abbott Elementary (2021–)
Set in South Philadelphia, this mockumentary-style sitcom centers on the titular public school. Underfunded and staffed by (often) under-appreciated teachers, Abbott Elementary feels all too familiar — and, in toeing that “too real” line, strikes a perfect balance between laugh-out-loud moments and heartfelt ones.
Creator Quinta Brunson (iZombie, A Black Lady Sketch Show) also stars as Janine Teagues, an optimistic second-grade teacher who not only wants the best for her students, but is green enough to believe change is possible. Her colleagues, fellow second-grade teacher Melissa Schemmenti (Parent Trap’s Lisa Ann Walter) and Janine’s hero Barbara Howard (Moesha and One Mississippi’s Sheryl Lee Ralph), are more realistic about their workplace circumstances. Rife with empathy and clever writing, Abbott Elementary manages to provide a scathing critique of the U.S. education system without losing its sitcom charm.
The cast is rounded out by Chris Perfetti (Looking), who plays an awkward history teacher; Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris), who plays a first-grade substitute teacher with dreams of becoming a principal; and comedian and writer Janelle James (Black Monday), who plays the school’s somewhat inept principal.
The first 13-episode season of Abbott Elementary is now streaming in its entirety on Hulu.
Mythic Quest (2020–)
Co-created by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia alum Charlie Day, Megan Ganz (also Community), and Rob McElhenney, Mythic Quest — subtitled Raven’s Banquet in season one — is a workplace comedy that follows the exploits of a video game studio that produces an immensely popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), also called Mythic Quest, or MQ for short.
With a cast and crew made up of familiar faces from both It’s Always Sunny and Community, you know off the bat — or shovel — that you’re in good hands. The MQ office is led by McElhenney’s Ian Grimm (pronounced much like the German word “Ein”), a creative director who is both the knuckle ring-wearing self-absorbed dude you expect — and also someone with a surprising amount of warmth and (at times) perceptiveness. The cast is rounded out by breakout star Charlotte Nicdao (Content); Danny Pudi (Community); David Hornsby (It’s Always Sunny…), Jessie Ennis (Better Call Saul); Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus); Ashly Burch (Adventure Time); Imani Hakim (Everybody Hates Chris); and Naomi Ekperigin (Broad City).
Whether Mythic Quest‘s insightful social commentary is shedding a light on industry issues, like crunch and burnout; or illustrating how women, people of color, and queer folks have to navigate the workplace, it does so with a real honesty — with an inclusivity as natural as its comedy.
Note: This clip originally appeared in our review of Mythic Quest’s second season.
30 Rock (2006–2013)
With seven seasons and 138 episodes, 30 Rock ranks high on our list of favorite workplace comedies. Set at the titular 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, 30 Rock depicts the innerworkings of NBC.
More specifically, most of the series revolves around comedy show head writer Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), who not only deals with her arrogant boss, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), but the stars of her show — the narcissistic Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) and the unpredictable Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan). With three Emmy wins for Outstanding Comedy Series (2007, 2008, and 2009), 30 Rock is a sharply-written contemporary classic.
The Office (2005–2015)
Can you speak of workplace comedies without mentioning The Office? Probably not. The mockumentary-style sitcom, which centers on the employees of Scranton, Pennsylvania’s fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, kind of launched the whole mockumentary-style half-hour comedy.
While both the U.K. and U.S. versions of the show will leave you in stitches, we can’t help but recommend the U.S. version. In addition to dry humor, the U.S. Office boasts Steve Carrell’s inept Michael Scott and a slew of comedy greats in starring and supporting roles, including Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Mindy Kaling, Ed Helms and Oscar Nuñez.
Parks & Recreation (2009–2015)
After rising to comedy writing fame with The Office, Michael Schur has since co-created hits like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place, Rutherford Falls, and, of course, Parks & Recreation. Arguably the most successful of Schur’s post-Office workplace comedies, Parks & Rec had something the other half-hour mockumentary sitcoms didn’t: heart.
That sounds cheesy, but its true. At first, the satirical show centered on the parks and recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana, just seemed like a great Amy Poehler-led show, but then it evolved into so much more. (Note: “Great” is probably too strong a word for that first season — but just get that under your belt and you’ll know why Parks & Rec is first in laughter.) With a killer ensemble cast that includes Rashida Jones, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, Adam Scott and other comedy greats, Parks & Rec will charm you — there’s Knope doubt about it!
Do you love animation — and adult humor? If so, Archer is the show for you. Across 11 seasons, the talented voice cast — H. Jon Benjamin (Bob’s Burgers), Aisha Tyler (Criminal Minds), Jessica Walter (Arrested Development) and others — will lead you through the daily drama that unfolds at a dysfunctional independent spy agency.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013–2021)
While Michael Schur’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine certainly has its issues as a show that centers cops, the sitcom did try to enter the conversation surrounding police brutality and negligence during its final season. It didn’t always hit every note, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine is commendable, thanks to Schur’s signature charm.
Much like Parks & Rec, the show made us care about the characters beyond their jobs (or in spite of them). It also bolstered an incredible ensemble, including Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti and Andre Braugher.
Getting On (2013–2015)
Based on a British show by the same name, Getting On (the U.S. version) is an unforgettable, under-the-radar sitcom. It portrays the lives of the dysfunctional staffers who work in the geriatric wing of a Long Beach, California-based hospital. Darkly humorous, Getting On brings the ridiculous bureaucracy that plagues senior institutions to light. Plus, it stars Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash and Mel Rodriguez.
The IT Crowd (2006–2013)
As the name suggests, The IT Crowd is set at Reynholm Industries, portraying the misadventures of two nerdy IT workers and their tech-illiterate supervisor. This British sitcom is not just cheery but downright hilarious. The cast is full of wonderful comic actors, including Chris O’Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkinson and Matt Berry.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005–)
This workplace comedy centers on five codependent and narcissistic friends, known as “The Gang”, who try to run the Irish bar Paddy’s Pub in South Philly. Although the bar is far from successful, The Gang always pulls it together — through all of the hijinks.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is already 15 seasons in (although it’s been renewed through 18), it features the signature cringe-meets-satire-style comedy of creator (and star) Rob McElhenney (Mythic Quest). The cast is rounded out by Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito.
Party Down (2009–2010)
Here’s a real under-the-radar must-watch workplace comedy. It portrays the lives of party plans who work at Party Down, a fictional “planning” company that’s trying to make waves in Los Angeles. If sarcasm is your thing, Party Down will be your new favorite. Plus, it boasts greats like Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan, Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Lynch.
Getting On isn’t the only workplace comedy set at a hospital that’s worth checking out. Yeah, I’m kind of surprised to be writing that sentence, too. But Scrubs is a bona fide classic, with all of its slapstic humor and daydream vignettes and, of course, The Janitor’s pranks.
Both in and out of their scrubs workwear, J.D. (Zach Braff) and co. are characters you’ll really grow to care about. In addition to Braff, the cast includes Sarah Chalke, Donald Faison, Neil Flynn, Ken Jenkins, John C. McGinley and Judy Reyes.
Human Resources (2022–)
Released on Netflix in March 2022, Human Resources is the second adult animated workplace comedy to grace our list. As you might know, the show’s a spin-off of the beloved series Big Mouth, which centers on teens going through puberty — and gives personifications to their hormones, bodily processes and urges.
Here, you’ll see the behind-the-scenes daily lives of Hormone Monsters, Depression Kitties, Shame Wizards — all those things that are helping humans through the many stages of life. Contemporary comedy greats like Aidy Bryant, Randall Park, Keke Palmer, David Thewlis, Brandon Kyle Goodman, Maya Rudolph and co-creator Nick Kroll round out the voice cast.
Superstore is a workplace comedy set in a Walmart-style mega-store. The staff of Cloud 9, the superstore in question runs the gamut, from jaded vets to optimistic new hires, which makes for comedy gold. Led by Emmy-winner America Ferrera, the cast also features the talents of Ben Feldman, Lauren Ash, Colton Dunn, Nico Santos, Nichole Sakura, Mark McKinney and Kaliko Kauahi.
Ted Lasso (2020–)
This comedy sports drama made a real splash when it debuted in 2020, giving us the charm and optimism our lives were so lacking amid the then-height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As you probably know by now, American college football coach Ted Lasso (Jason Sudekis) is hired on to coach a British football (soccer) team across the pond.
The ever-hopeful Lasso hired on by Rebecca (Emmy-winner Hannah Waddingham), the club’s owner, as a ploy to get back at her ex-husband, a club diehard. Of course, that’s just how things start off. As is the case with other heartfelt comedies, Ted Lasso eventually sees its memorable characters, like former football star Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), becoming a tight-knit family.
One of the sharpest comedies ever written, Veep is perhaps the political satire to beat. Following the ups and downs of Selina Meyer’s (Emmy-winner Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) political career, Veep is like the sitcom version of The Onion, and its bumbling array of narcissistic politicians and aides are just… too perfect, almost.
Nominated six years in a row for most Outstanding Comedy Series at the Emmys, Veep’s top-notch cast also features Anna Chlumsky (Inventing Anna), Sam Richardson (Afterparty) and Tony Hale (Arrested Development), among many other standout recurring and guest stars.