2015 was a year of many things, but one of the best gifts the year gave us was the prevalence of a certain type of television show, the adult comedy. Now, here are some things I don’t mean by “adult comedy”:
—Comedies that are about adults or that adults might like. Yes, The League is a comedy for adults, and the characters on New Girl might strike a little too close to home in your struggles with your own version of Nick’s box of bills he hides in the closet.
What 2015 really gave us was the gift of a show that has no right to be a comedy. These shows are personal and painful and intimate. They aren’t just about adults. They take deep interpersonal relationships, with spouses, children, exes, and mine them for real pain and struggles. And then rather than glossing over it with comedy, that IS the comedy.
I know that this is not a new phenomenon for 2015. I also know that a lot of these shows did not have their premiere season this year. But in looking back at the year’s television, this type of show dominated in a way we haven’t seen before.
You’re the Worst
Season one of this show was so adult, and so funny, it was a major rarity. Then season two hit, and the issue of depression and how it affects ourselves and our relationships put this show in a category of its own.
Again, not its first season. But not only do we get to continue watching Maura’s journey of self-discovery, but we also had another season of every single damaged Pfefferman navigating their narcissism, desire for love, and sense of selves.
I can’t remember* who described this show as ‘You’re the Worst, but for grownups,’ but it’s perfect and accurate. Yes, YTW is a more adult comedy than we’re used to seeing on television, and Catrastrophe somehow takes it to another level.
*Edit: It was our own Lord Castleton! Well said, Castle Lord!
Master of None
Who would have thought Aziz Ansari had this in him? This show takes the adorableness of Tom Haverford, the obsession with dating and relationships of his standup, and tones it all down by about a million percent, without killing even an iota of its strength.
This is definitely the most “comedic” comedy on the list, and probably the least adult, just in that I know I totally would have dug this show in high school or college. But it makes the list because so much of the show— at least for Abbi, because Ilana lives in the kind of beautiful self-absorbed bliss we all dream of— is based in their pain. Abbi is struggling to be an adult, but also just to be a person who believes in herself enough to exist in the world unapologetically.
This one is easily overlooked as an adult show, because it’s animated. But my god, is there another show on television— even including You’re the Worst— that delves so deeply and honestly into the subject of depression? Both Bojack and Diane are fundamentally broken characters, and watching them struggle to simply exist is painful but also brilliantly hilarious.
Divorce, children, narcissism, dating, puppies, friendships, open relationships, parent issues— this show is upsetting and depressing as f*ck, and so, so funny.