It’s not always exhausting rooting for the anti-hero. Watching good people do good acts in a good TV show can sometimes be tiring and deprecating. It gets kind of cliche, predictable, and repetitive when you see more than enough.
These times call for anti-heroes. Those terrible people who keep messing up and doing the most unhinged and out-of-line feats. Those who never learn their lessons. To help you forget your awful reality, here are five of the best and darkest sitcoms we can recommend. So you feel better about yourself and laugh a little.
Five Dark TV Sitcoms To Help You Feel Better About Yourself
Arrested Development (2003-2019)
To start, Arrested Development is the easiest, most digestible entry on this list. The show follows a rich family, the Bluths, who lost everything when the father gets arrested for multiple charges when he was handling their company. The story is led by Michael, the middle child, and his bizarre relationship with the rest of his family that only strengthens amid their betrayal and schemes for and against each other.
Think of Succession, but less technical, and more relatable. Like Succession, it also includes siblings fighting for their seat at the head of the company in the absence of their father, and like Succession it also includes murder and corruption. And of course, like Succession, Arrested Development will make you more appreciative of the family you have.
Regarded as the parent of all modern dark television, Seinfeld is the quintessential 90’s sitcom with its very unlikeable characters, out-of-the-line plots, and incredibly judgemental friendship. Seinfeld centers around Jerry Seinfeld, the show’s co-creator, and his fictionalized life and friendship with George, Kramer, and Elaine as we watch their questionable misadventures.
In contrast to Friends which is like a companion to your growth and adulthood, Seinfeld is more like your older brother who has nothing going on with his life. He may be the worst person in your family but you still turn to him when you feel like the worst person in the world because he understands, and he’s done worst.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-Present)
Being the longest-running live-action TV sitcom ever should be telling of how good Always Sunny is, surviving through tens of trends, a couple of government administrations, and issues to make fun of. The show follows Charlie, twins Dee and Dennis, their supposed father, Frank, and Mac, their “friendship”, and the bar they own in South Philadelphia, Paddy’s Pub.
In hindsight, Always Sunny offers a satirical depiction of how social issues and realities (recession, inflation, abortion, pyramid schemes, health care system) apply to individual citizens, how the characters would react, and what lessons they are supposed to learn–but never do. It is painfully self-aware but never fears being cringe. You will never want to be friends with its characters, but you will never resist loving them.
Unhinge would be an understatement to describe the show, its characters, and their actions, as the plotlines range from finding a baby in a dumpster to gun obsession to disposing of a dead sex worker’s body. It’s the best comfort show, personally, more specifically when you are in a career slump and unsure if you will ever be successful—these guys aren’t, but they are still fine.
BoJack Horseman (2014-2020)
The second Will Arnett show, BoJack Horseman centers around an anthropomorphic horse, BoJack, as its protagonist—its anti-hero. He used to be in a popular 90s sitcom, Horsin’ Around. We follow him as a washed-up 40-something grasping at what’s left of his celebrity status decades later.
The best part about this series is BoJack’s unexpected friendship with his ghostwriter, Dianne Nguyen. But, like everyone on this list, he never gets better being mentally ill, alcoholic, and drug addict all at once. He ruins Dianne’s friendship and every relationship he has. There are times when you root for BoJack to do better but he just never does. This dark sitcom is unbelievably entertaining and philosophical.
South Park (1997-Present)
There is a fine line between dark comedy and disturbing television—and South Park lives in this line. Although animated in a child-friendly stop-motion manner, it is far from being a show for kids. The show explores deeply offensive themes and surreal humor. South Park (and its creators) takes pride in itself for being offensive, grotesque, and going where other sitcoms are afraid to go–the extremes.
The show centers satirized irreverent foul-mouthed children, Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman. They act, depict, and mock social realities, pop culture, and personalities through their misadventures since 1997 in a timeless manner. South Park’s humor may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But it sure is a strong shot of absurdism mixed with a strange sense of comfort and a dab of cuteness, that we desperately need sometimes.