13 Shows Like 30 Rock to Watch for More Quirky Comedy - VRGyani News and Media

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Sunday, October 17, 2021

13 Shows Like 30 Rock to Watch for More Quirky Comedy

The mid-2000s era of Saturday Night Live was blessed with talent. Amy Poehler, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Chris Parnell, Fred Armisen, Jason Sudeikis, Kenan Thompson, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Will Forte teamed up in one of the most legendary casts of an already iconic spawning pool of comedic talent. These bonafide living legends, one by one, splintered off to create and or participate in television shows of their own to varied success—30 Rock king among them. It captured critics’ eyes and audiences’ hearts while consistently delivering high-quality comedic writing and performances across its seven-year run.

30 Rock is a self-aware show about a comedy writer, Liz Lemon (Fey), trying to have it all in New York. She discovers her dream of success means sacrificing some element of her life, be it sleep, social time, or family time, but endlessly struggles to balance more spinning plates than she can handle. It’s a sitcom, a workplace comedy, and a political satire show wrapped up in a cinematic presentation. It won 16 Primetime Emmy’s—more than The Office and Parks and Recreation combined—to cement its legacy as one of the most critically successful comedy series of all time. The heart and humor are enhanced by the energy and rhythm of the big band soundtrack. The sardonic, satirical world is populated by hyperbolic characters who’re brought to life in career-defining performances by Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, and series creator and writer Tina Fey.

Fans who’ve recently finished 30 Rock on Netflix may find themselves asking, “What now?” Outside of the 30 Rock: A One Time Special, the pandemic-inspired reunion episode currently streaming on Peacock, there are only so many shows that capture the pace, wit, and comedic glory of Tina Fey’s comedy classic. We’ve put together a list of the best shows like 30 Rock to help fill the Rural Juror-sized hole in our hearts—and you can expect to see several familiar faces, from the series itself and from Fey’s fellow SNL alumnus.

RELATED: '30 Rock': The 7 Best Liz Lemon Episodes

Archer

For consistent comedy from increasingly odd characters, join Archer and co. at Isis. Poorly-aged spy agency name aside, Archer is an Emmy award-winning comedy, and undoubtedly one of the funniest, best-written shows on television. The barrage of jokes never stops, not even during the action inherent to a workplace comedy about an independently funded black-ops intelligence agency. This animated show is slightly more dry in its delivery and tone, but the corporate commentary and absurdist treatment of the characters make it feel more in line with the wackier side of 30 Rock. The stellar voice cast features Arrested Development alumni Judy Greer and the recently departed and dearly missed Jessica Walter alongside H. Jon Benjamin (Bobs Burgers), Aisha Tyler (Criminal Minds), and SNL and 30 Rock’s own Chris Parnell. The cast is charged by an ever-growing list of celebrity cameos and side characters who’ve guest-starred across the 12 seasons. The show reinvents itself multiple times in the later seasons, carrying over long-running gags, but it continues to be a high-quality comedy for the ages.

Arrested Development

Arrested Development is a workplace sitcom that doubles as a family sitcom about the Bluth family; a corrupt, dysfunctional group of oddballs and moochers. Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) breaks his back to drag his family’s name out of the mire after his father’s arrest implicates the company in embezzlement, fraud, and the lighter treasons. His siblings, Gob (Will Arnett), Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), and Buster (Tony Hale) are laughably lazy and privileged obstacles Michael must overcome if he hopes to save the company, save his family, and spend more time with his son, George Michael (Michael Cera). Michael is obstructed by his parents at nearly every step along the way by his parents. The patriarch George (Jefferey Tambour) and matriarch Lucile (Jessica Walter) manipulate their children into harassing and competing with each other as a means of achieving their own selfish goals. The main cast also features David Cross (Mr. Show) and Alia Shawkat (Search Party), as well as frequent narration by Hollywood legend, Ron Howard, which completes the formula for the full comedic force that is Arrested Development. It’s goofy and odd with persistent one-liners and punchlines that have leaked their way into the pop culture zeitgeist, so much so that even people unfamiliar with the show might recognize them.

Better Off Ted

It’s a shame Better Off Ted didn’t get a chance to further its specific shade of satire. The first two seasons were silly, fun, and a singular spin on the workplace TV comedy. It’s clinical in its dissection of corporate greed, and the inhumanity of corporate jobs and ethics. Jay Harrington (S.W.A.T.) is the charming and handsome middle management hotshot at Veridian Dynamics, a pharmaceutical and technology development company. Their questionable practices in researching and developing helpful medicines and appliances are almost unconscionable yet consummately hilarious. The percussive and funky soundtrack, the will they won’t they relationships, and the interoffice politics between idiosyncratic characters make Better Off Ted feel like it’s happening on a different floor of 45, Rockefeller Plaza. There’s a will they won’t they, there’s a they already did, but the best relationship is the fraternal bond between R&D scientists Lem Hewitt (Malcolm Barrett) and Phil Myman (Jonathan Slavin). Their boyish charm, brotherly bickering, and constant experimentation on the staff is a wacky flavor specific to this show.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Somewhere between Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, and police procedurals exists Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a workplace comedy about a New York precinct. It’s home to an eclectic cast, including SNL alumni Andy Samberg. Co-created by Michael Shur—producer on The Office, Parks and Rec, and The Good Place—and fellow Parks and Rec producer Dan Goor, Brooklyn Nine-Nine captures a similarly mismatched variety of characters forced together via a common job. The show walks a fine line poking fun at the police while presenting them in a competent light. It’s certainly light-copaganda, but the show uses its platform to confront modern social issues through its diverse main cast. Andre Braugher’s turn as a homosexual, African American police captain named Raymond Holt, in particular, is a vessel for comedy and commentary that sings among the stellar cast.

Community

Community replaces the workplace with the classroom, and the study room, but maintains the dynamic of the workplace sitcom. It checks all the boxes of a broadcast network comedy—a will they won’t they, a love triangle, a pair of inexplicably bonded boyish-men, and characters who don’t change despite the lessons learned by the end of each episode. It’s been memed into oblivion thanks to its sharp writing and visual comedic styling, and it made household names out of its cast including Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, Gillian Jacobs, and Donald Glover. Created by Dan Harmon (Rick and Morty), Community struggled to keep its cast as its future remained in constant jeopardy. The handful of seasons are packed with inside jokes, self-reference, and balls to the wall action thanks to episodes directed by Justin Lin (Fast Five) and The Russo Brothers (Avengers: Endgame). It’s one of the biggest departures thematically from 30 Rock’s style, but fans of Tina Fey’s award-winning sitcom will find the laugh-out-loud antics at Greendale Community College as ridiculous and hilarious as the behind-the-scenes look at The Girly Show offered in 30 Rock.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

When it comes to jokes, running bits, and celebrity cameos, few shows can go toe-to-toe with Curb Your Enthusiasm. Through its 100 episodes and 21 years on air, it’s hosted A-list actors, comedians, politicians, and sports personalities. Larry David’s long-running sophomore TV series after Seinfeld is a hilarious, meta-comedy about Larry himself. Like Tina Fey and Liz Lemon, Larry David is an exaggerated representation of himself slinking around LA, stumbling into social faux pas, making up unspoken rules, and forever navigating his way around actually apologizing. It’s an unscripted comedy that only gets stronger through its 11 seasons. The show took a break from 2011 to 2017 before returning with season 9, and season 10 a couple years later. Bonus: unlike most shows on this list, Curb Your Enthusiasm is expecting a new season this year.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

On the subject of the few shows on the list with a new season on the way, Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s 15th season arrives later this year. Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia has evolved. The character’s histories and oddities have taken specific and amusing paths that slowly alter but respect the core of the Philly natives everyone loves to hate. What started as a comedy series about trashy nitwits gradually shifted to contemporary social commentary and satire. Like 30 Rock, the people that populate the world of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are dumb. Their lack of self-awareness coupled with their narcissism sees ‘the gang’ assert themselves into just about any argument or conflict that catches their attention. The Irish bar setting is simply a backdrop that acts as a play place that adapts to the theme of the episode: Paddy’s Pub has been a courtroom, a classroom, a funeral home, a restaurant, a quarantine zone, just about anything but a functional bar. But despite the success of the show and its longevity, Its Always Sunny continues to deliver quality episodes 16 years after it debuted.

Parks and Recreation

Tina Fey’s comedy tag-team partner Amy Poehler struck gold after Saturday Night Live too. Parks and Recreation is one of the most adored series for an entire generation of TV watchers. The uncompromising and incomparably diligent Leslie Knope is a classic character brought brilliantly to life by Amy Poehler. Her wacky but fastidious nature alone could carry this Greg Daniels (The Office) giant, but the ensemble cast elevates it almost beyond compare. April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), Andy Dwire (Chris Pratt), Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), Donna Meagle (Retta), Gary/Jerry/Terry Gergich (Jim OHeir), Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), and Rob Swanson (Nick Offerman), these are beloved characters that opened the doors of opportunity for so many members of the cast. Even the side characters are so rich and funny that they’re worth a chronicle of their own. It’s one of the most laugh-out-loud funny shows ever made, and it shares the same values and strengths that made 30 Rock such enjoyable television. There’s a levity to the tone, even when the story is an allegory for actual government errors and atrocities, and an energy to the jokes that puts Parks and Rec on a pedestal with the greats.

Party Down

Cocreated by producers from Veronica Mars, Paul Rudd, and Dan Ethridge (The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Party Down is a workplace comedy about a catering organization based in LA. Would-be actors, screenwriters, and comedians tray up food and clean up at high society events while they attempt to mingle and posture among people they presume can help their careers. It was a short-lived show on Starz that featured the combined comedic talents of Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), Jane Lynch (Glee), Ken Marino (Tucker and Dale vs Evil), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Martin Star (Silicon Valley), and Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars), strengthened by rotating guest spots filled by party attendees and hosts. It’s a raunchier workplace comedy than 30 Rock, thanks to Starz being a premium cable channel, but the lack of severe scrutiny over subject matter creates more opportunity for comedic scenarios that simply can’t exist on broadcast TV.

The Office

The American version of The Office is arguably the most successful TV series of the twenty-first century. In the midst of his legendary King of the Hill run with Mike Judge, Greg Daniel set aside time to develop The Office for NBC, adapting from the British series of the same name and eventually carving out a long-running path all its own. Rising star Steve Carell, fairly fresh off The Forty-Year Old Virgin, filled the shoes of Michael Scott. Michael Scott is the blunderous boss of a midsized regional sales company that operates in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In addition to Michael Scott, there’s a large supporting cast that enriches the show through every look and documentary-style testimonial, but the bulk of the show rests on the shoulders of the now-iconic characters, Andy (Ed Helms), Dwight (Rain Wilson), Jim (John Krasinski), and Pam (Jenna Fisher). It revels in more awkward, dry humor than 30 Rock or Parks and Rec, which all aired simultaneously for a time on NBC, but it’s just as funny and heartfelt. Jim and Pam are, of course, one of TV’s most beloved couples, but love is a theme that permeates this show. Like in real life, everyone is searching for acceptance, comfort, and reliability as they misbehave at cringe-worthy levels.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

A few years after 30 Rock wrapped, Tina Fey returned to the world of television with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Along with 30 Rock alumnus Robert Carlock, she created a show about a young woman who grew up underground in a bunker controlled by a cult leader who claimed everything above ground was dead. She and her fellow mole women are rescued, and she decides to move to New York to experience life and start building a future. Her child-like naivety comically clashes with the harsh nature of the real world, but Kimmy’s (Ellie Kemper) spirit pulls the world up a peg as opposed to it dragging her down. Her roommate Titus Andromedon (Titus Burgess) steals every scene he’s in, and the legendary Carol Kane’s role as the no-nonsense landlady and den mother to Kimmy is kindhearted and intimidating. Jane Krakowski revives some of Jenna Maloney’s mania as Jacqueline White, Kimmy’s over-privileged, insecure employer. It’s colorful and ridiculous, and it treats its sensitive material with grace.

Scrubs

As a broadcast network medical dramedy, Scrubs had to hit a small moving target for success. In 30 Rock fashion, it’s an unconventional workplace comedy peppered with people who behave as caricatures more than characters. Dr. John Dorian (Zach Braff) struggles to balance his professional and personal lives as an intern, then resident, at a hospital fresh out of med school. His mentor, Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley) is a working class Jack Donaghy—complete with diatribes and a drinking problem. Donald Faison and Judy Reyes as Turk and Carla make one of the best TV couples of all time, outshining even the will they won’t they dynamic between Zack Braff and Sarah Chalke (Rick and Morty). The cut-away comedy stylings and narration dissolve under the weight of the moral and ethical quandaries the doctors and patients face each episode. It’s emotional and resonant thanks to its musings on mortality along with its moving soundtrack.

Veep

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld) leads this HBO comedy series about the office of the first female vice president. She won six Emmys for her performance as Selina Meyer, the crass, coddled, tenacious politician confronting the childish and petty world of politics. Her office of yes-men and women work tirelessly to squash scandals and rumors amplified by media and political opportunists. Selina fails to support her daughter, or take care of herself, as she tirelessly pursues to secure a political legacy. It’s a satire that doesn’t need to exaggerate its material thanks to the performative, con-artistry of actual American politicians. Veep is the only show on the list with more Emmy awards than 30 Rock, making it one of the most successful and somehow still one of the most underappreciated comedy series of all time. Political nuts in particular will mill every grain of comedy out of the commentary, but a poli-sci degree isn’t a prerequisite for enjoyment.

KEEP READING: NBCUniversal Is Pulling Four (4) Episodes of ‘30 Rock’ That Feature Blackface



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