Recess | Playground

Fall 2017 comedy shows we're excited about

There are several reasons to be upset right now. Whether it’s because the world is burning or school is starting, here’s the solution: laugh a little. Besides obvious crowd-pleasing hits like “Rick and Morty,” here are a few comedies we at Recess think will make you chuckle this fall.

“Difficult People”

If you haven’t heard of the TV show “Difficult People,” you’re definitely missing out on one of the funniest and most underrated comedies on the air right now. There are several excusable reasons for not knowing about this show: it streams on Hulu (I mean, who wants to buy a $10/month subscription if you already have Netflix and illegally watched “The Handmaid’s Tale”)—and that’s about it.

The show centers around Billy and Julie, played by Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner, who are two aspiring comedians trying to make it big, all while navigating show business and relationships and blaming the stupidity of the world for their failures or for not understanding their comedic geniuses. Billy and Julie are also the most unlikable people I’ve seen on TV I’ve ever seen, and I watched “The People vs. OJ Simpson.”

Brainchild of comedian Julie Klausner—known for her writing on “Billy on the Street” and for the late, great Joan Rivers on Rivers’ “reality show”—“Difficult People” shines as an example of what sassy, pop culture-saturated dialogue looks like. It’s not afraid to take swings at the industry it satirizes as well as point out the blinding, career-centered narcissism that consumes the main characters. What other show can stage a PBS roast, insult the audience as being sexless and say their “balls are bluer than Cookie Monster’s”?

Season one, while brilliant, was still was working out the kinks. Season two solidified the show’s scathing tone with heartier plots and showcased the more vulnerable sides of Billy and Julie. I didn’t know you could empathize with such awful human beings. The new season three, in addition to a ton of guest stars and gags like Billy trying out a Mike Pence gay conversion therapy kit, promises a new story line with John Cho as Billy’s boyfriend.

Give the show a chance with the first couple of episodes—though it takes a bit to warm up to their demeanors. You can’t help love-hating them.

Season three of “Difficult People” streams on Hulu starting Aug. 8.

“Broad City”

I’m surprised there are still people who don’t know this show exists because I know for a fact that they would love it. Entering its fourth season (which was pushed back to September), “Broad City” has become everything you ask for in a comedy: plenty of iconic jokes, sticky situational comedy and amazing chemistry between the two characters Abbi and Ilana, played by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. The show follows Abbi and Ilana as they navigate their twenties in New York City.

A friend of mine from the city told me that “Broad City” was very New York, meaning that the set of the show was integral to the plot and character dynamics. For example, you could probably transplant the cast of “Friends” in Chicago and most episodes would be fine, but with this show, that’s not the case. I didn’t really understand what he meant until living in New York this summer proved to me that the DNA of “Broad City” lives and breathes New York. Where else would a Bed Bath & Beyond shower pole be mistaken as a subway pole or Abbi’s drunken alter-ego be a jazz singer in a speakeasy? “Broad City” parodies the city as much as it parodies the world of being young.

In a fabulous perfume of weed smoke, “Broad City” is a show where being candid about drugs, sexuality and body parts happens in word and action. It treats these topics like the hilarious accomplices they are in our day-to-day lives rather than as shameful taboos, discussed only within the cone of silence during Sunday brunch. The comedy duo has teased season four with more outrageous hilariousness and a series of webisodes called “Hack into Broad City,” which has tackled the inauguration of Trump (whose name will be bleeped during every mention on the show) in an apocalyptic vibe. Plus, we’ll get to see the Abbi and Ilana friendship origin story.

By the way, Duke alum Paul W. Downs—former member of Duke University Improv (D.U.I.) and student sketch group Inside Joke—is a writer on the show and plays Trey, Abbi’s trainer co-worker/boss.

“Broad City” season four airs Sept. 13 on Comedy Central. Catch up on Hulu or ComedyCentral.com.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm”

The “Bald A**h**e” we all love is coming back after a six-year hiatus. While “Curb Your Enthusiasm” was a little before our millennial time, the show is evergreen in laughs. Attempting to explain the genius of Larry David is always a disservice to the work, but for me, the meandering comedy escalates a rather minor, but odd, social tick into a hilarious twist that brings together the plot strings in the end in a way that you often never see coming.

The show follows Larry David, co-creator of “Seinfeld,” navigating his post-“Seinfeld” years in Hollywood. David plays a heightened version of himself, whose internal logic and neurotic observations about humanity, with outsider-like insight, often clash with the rest the world and result in anger-fueled hilarity.

The magic of this show is that while David writes the general plot and ideas for what could happen in a potential scene, he trusts the actors he so meticulously casts to improvise much of the dialogue. The organic nature of the character exchanges brings out the sharpest and wittiest comedic talent. The tone sounds more like conversation rather than deliberate, Aaron Sorkin-like wordsmithery.

Back for season nine are our favorite characters like his manager Jeff, Jeff’s hellish wife Susie, friend Leon and Larry’s ex Cheryl (played by Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman, JB Smoove and Cheryl Hines, respectively). It’s better than “Seinfeld.” There. I said it. I've always liked George Costanza more. I await my crucifixion in the comments. In the meantime, definitely binge this show.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” returns to HBO Oct. 1.

“I’m Sorry”

Yes, truTV has more than just “Impractical Jokers” and the brilliant “Billy on the Street.” Andrea Savage’s “I’m Sorry” has been described as the female “Curb.” But it’s not really all that much like “Curb.” And that’s a good, refreshing thing.

“I’m Sorry” debuted earlier in July to mostly positive reviews. There’s a lot to say about this show right now even though it’s only aired a couple of episodes. You probably know Andrea Savage from her role on the critically-acclaimed show “Veep” as President Laura Montez or in the movie “Step Brothers” as Denise, Will Ferrell’s therapist love interest, but in this show, we see Savage unleash a neurotic, comical candidness and vulgarity about all aspects of life: marriage, motherhood and being a comedy writer in LA. Savage speaks her mind, riffing almost instantaneously on the subject at hand. What follows is cringe-filled, addictive punchlines redolent of those from “The Office’s” Michael Scott if he somehow cared even less.

As the character Andrea, Savage’s no-filter persona deals with scenarios like explaining what Nazis are to your child after watching “Sound of Music” only for the child to be afraid that Hitler could be the monster in the closet or having a daughter who may be racist. Key to the show’s success is her husband Mike (Tom Everett Scott) who is the perfect cool, straight man to foil and rationalize Andrea’s wild thought processes and helps the audience digest some of Andrea’s more out-there antics.

This is one of those shows that, like “Difficult People,” may suffer from being under the radar on an obscure network not known for much comedy. While the show still hasn’t found its sweet spot on the balance between situational humor and obscure, funny dialogue, I’m still waiting for the “a-ha” episode where the show figures itself out.

Watch “I’m Sorry” on truTV Wednesdays at 10 PM.

The return of “Will and Grace”

Another reboot! Eleven years after the series finale in 2006, we were graced (no pun intended) with the announcement of this show’s return. During the 2016 election cycle, the cast teased a return with a mini-reunion discussing the candidates to much popular excitement.

Yeah, this show is old and hasn’t had the same renewed, younger attachment that we’ve seen with “Friends,” but I’ve watched the show through reruns and the character dynamics are just too funny. To the non-initiated, the show follows best friends Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and Grace Adler (Debra Messing) living the hilarious trials of romance and life in New York with their other friends: rich, caustic and alcoholic Karen (Megan Mullaly) and flamboyant, sassy actor Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes). The show was critically acclaimed and one of the first successful sitcoms featuring the gay protagonists Will and Jack.

While little is known about the upcoming season, there are rumors that Grace might be single again?!

“Will and Grace” returns to NBC this fall—hopefully. 


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