Seeking TV recommendations - relatively upbeat with great ensemble casts
April 22, 2020 6:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for TV recommendations for relatively upbeat shows with great ensemble casts (or varied casts of characters that really tie together, even if there's a main lead). A little bit of sarcasm and snark is always welcome, too. Stuff I've really liked: Schitt's Creek, Community, The Good Place, Zooey's Extraordinary Playlist, Doctor Who. Can you recommend what I should watch next while staying socially distant and indoors? Thank you!
posted by slateyness to Media & Arts (44 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Happy Endings is exactly what you want.
posted by lovableiago at 6:35 PM on April 22, 2020 [7 favorites]

We're working our way through Frasier, which is on Prime, and that would fit the bill well but you may also like Brooklyn 99 and Parks and Recreation, based on your previous enjoyment of the Good Place - they're also Mike Schur shows and funny and have great casts.
posted by urbanlenny at 6:37 PM on April 22, 2020 [4 favorites]

Try Kim’s Convenience? I found it a very warm, low stakes kind of show. There’s multiple seasons on Netflix.
posted by tautological at 6:42 PM on April 22, 2020 [7 favorites]

For snark, Gilmore Girls is what you want.
Also, I hate to say it, but Friends.
posted by libraryhead at 6:47 PM on April 22, 2020

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is great. We've been watching it from the start so I don't know if there's a standard "start from season X" like there was with, say, Parks and Recreation (start with season 2), but I will say my wife Does Not Like Andy Samberg and it won her over quickly. (Note: The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Parks and Recreation all share a creator, and there were references to Parks and Recreation details in The Good Place so they may have universe continuity).

We've been rewatching episodes of Happy Endings that we had on our DVR and never deleted, and it holds up well once it gets past its new show pains. We don't have anything saved from season 1 so … maybe start with season 2 and then go back for season 1 if you like it?

Maybe How I Met Your Mother, but don't watch the last season? I'm still angry about the finale, apparently

New Girl was great when it leaned into its ensemble, and less great when it just centered episodes on how quirky Jess was. There was a lot of character backstory that they just never explained, but I think that was the point. Hey, these people have backstory together, and it's weird, and no, we're not going to tell you what it is! More shows should do that. For that one I think you just have to start with the first season, if only because then you'll know which backstory is truly unexplained and which backstory actually did come up on camera. But some of the first season does try too hard.
posted by fedward at 6:48 PM on April 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

BTW Cheers somehow seems to have aged a bit better than Frasier, but both of them have jokes or entire plot lines that just haven't aged well at all (this one won a GLAAD award, somehow). On a modern rewatch Frasier is a surprisingly sexist and homophobic show when there really wasn't any reason it needed to be. On Cheers, on the other hand, Sam Malone is a horrible womanizer, but he gets taken down for it in almost every episode. Somehow the fact the bad behavior is reacted to on camera makes it seem less dated overall.
posted by fedward at 6:58 PM on April 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

30 Rock.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:04 PM on April 22, 2020 [6 favorites]

“Great News” is quite light and might fit, as well as “Trial and Error”, which did not last long but which I found fun.
posted by walkinginsunshine at 7:12 PM on April 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

The Durrells on Corfu
posted by Ideefixe at 7:20 PM on April 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Deadwood is the greatest tv series ever created. If you haven't seen it yet, you should watch it. Hopeful? Well, I get hope seeing/ reading/hearing things that make me feel alive for what is possible.
posted by dobbs at 7:25 PM on April 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

We're currently watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and it's basically exactly what you're describing. The writing is great and the cast is excellent all-around. It starts off strong so you'll know if it's for you after the first episode or two.
posted by pilibeen at 7:30 PM on April 22, 2020 [5 favorites]

Nthing Parks and Recreation (and, yes, start from Season 2) and Brooklyn 99.

Also, maybe The Magicians? There's some heavy stuff in there, but it's got a great ensemble cast and a good amount of snarkiness.
posted by Betelgeuse at 7:40 PM on April 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is funny and warm and snarky. For years I ignored it because of the title, but I binge-watched the whole thing recently and really enjoyed it. If you liked The Good Place you will probably like it too.
posted by Susan PG at 8:17 PM on April 22, 2020 [9 favorites]

Superstore is better than I expected it would be. Maybe The Almighty Johnsons. I don't remember if that one was upbeat, but I remember enjoying it a lot.
posted by willnot at 8:33 PM on April 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Seconding Parks and Recreation. We are still waiting for the last season of The Good Place to come to Netflix Canada, and P&R scratched that itch.

And yes Mrs. Maisel is wonderful!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:15 PM on April 22, 2020

Definitely nthing B99 and Parks and Rec.

You’ve seen Arrested Development, right? The first three seasons are amazing, the fourth season was so-so, and what I’ve seen of the fifth season seems pretty solid.

Silicon Valley regularly has my husband and me laughing out loud.

The IT Crowd and 2010 are fun older British shows.

If you’re okay with some action/mystery with your humor, Burn Notice, White Collar, and Castle are pretty fun.
posted by bananacabana at 9:16 PM on April 22, 2020

Corner Gas.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:16 PM on April 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Oh! And the excellent Sex Education. Don’t be put off by the title as I was at first—I ignored it for ages because I thought it would be a stupid teen sex comedy. It’s not.

Oh! And Derry Girls! So endearing and hilarious.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:27 PM on April 22, 2020 [5 favorites]

Party Down
posted by miles1972 at 10:06 PM on April 22, 2020 [10 favorites]

I'm not sure if there's anywhere to stream it, but NewsRadio was so good (though it's been awhile, not sure if it aged poorly).
posted by thebots at 10:11 PM on April 22, 2020 [4 favorites]

I’ve been rewatching most of the shows you mention lately and recommend/second: Parks and Rec, Brooklyn 99, Good Girls (a bit more dramedy but very good, for more reference it’s sort of a middle ground between Weeds and Breaking Bad). I rewatched Frasier a couple years ago and while it’s definitely a product of its time, it’s essentially a classic farce format so the humor generally aged well even if the details didn’t. I really enjoyed it on the whole this time around.
posted by notheotherone at 11:01 PM on April 22, 2020

Parks and Rec, Battle Creek (this show was SO good), The Lost Room, House, Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23
posted by fshgrl at 11:20 PM on April 22, 2020

Mad Men is about 90 hours of this, if you have not seen it.
posted by rongorongo at 11:34 PM on April 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Great News! It's a hidden gem that should have gotten famous but never did. It has kind of like a 30 Rock vibe except it's about a cable news show.
posted by bleep at 12:05 AM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Better Off Ted
No Tomorrow
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:23 AM on April 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

Jane the Virgin
posted by stinker at 2:50 AM on April 23, 2020 [6 favorites]

Gavin & Stacey, now streaming on Amazon Prime. So good.
posted by 6thsense at 3:34 AM on April 23, 2020

Derry girls!

In an offbeat way, Galavant.
posted by jeather at 5:36 AM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you can find it, Northern Exposure.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:50 AM on April 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

Sports Night!
posted by gideonfrog at 5:53 AM on April 23, 2020 [4 favorites]

Legends of Tomorrow fits the bill. Start with season 2 as it took a while for the writers to find the show's voice.
posted by plastic_animals at 7:27 AM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Our tastes seem to overlap to the degree that I'm going to check out the shows you mentioned that I haven't seen.

First, I highly recommend: One Day At A Time (the currently running remake)

Seconding: Brooklyn 99, Kim's Convenience, Gilmore Girls (at least all but the last season and boo on the recent return season), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Chuck

Not so sure: Mad Men (I watched this all and found it very bleak), Arrested Development (for most people AD fits in your category, but I found how much the characters dislike each other unpleasant), The Magicians (I love, love this show but the first two seasons are much more in the drama scope--if you could somehow skip to season 3 then yes!)
posted by past unusual at 7:31 AM on April 23, 2020

Episodes, with Matt LeBlanc, is on Netflix - 5 seasons, and seems to hit all the wishes. I enjoyed it a lot.
posted by uncaken at 8:17 AM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'll third Kim's Convenience, about a Korean-Canadian family in Toronto that runs a convenience store, with lots of quirky ensemble players. I've only seen the first 6 episodes (perfect 20-minute dinner viewing) but am sure I'll watch more. A "very warm, low stakes kind of show" describes it perfectly.
posted by mediareport at 8:46 AM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

It seems almost unnecessary at this point, but I will add my voice to those recommending Parks and Recreation.

Not mentioned yet:
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:12 AM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Parenthood had a big ensemble cast.
posted by mmascolino at 10:56 AM on April 23, 2020

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Modern Family, the first few seasons especially.
posted by Dolley at 11:38 AM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Slings and Arrows
3 seasons, each season is 6 episodes. It's about a Shakespearean theater company and often the themes of the play for the season mimics their lives outside the theater. Very funny. Very good. Hidden gem of a show.
posted by pdxhiker at 4:23 PM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's not a comedy, but The Good Wife and its spinoff The Good Fight have excellent ensemble casts. They deal with serious issues, but they're like candy to me and I found them highly bingeable.
posted by zeusianfog at 5:00 PM on April 23, 2020

The Drew Carey show fits your spec, lots of fun as I remember.

Also, seconding Northern Exposure.
posted by duoshao at 3:59 AM on April 24, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I have a new watch-list based on this thread now! :)
posted by slateyness at 11:58 AM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Coming in late:
Psych (hyper-observant goof pretends to be a psychic private detective. Fan note: there is a pineapple in every episode. Drink when you spot it.)
Warehouse 13 (he and she are Secret Service agents, who track down items for the Smithsonian of Haunted Objects)
Eureka (why does everyone sleep on this one? Eureka is a secret PNW town where all the mad scientists work. Lead is the new sheriff, unsure how to deal with a black hole at the high school science fair, etc each week.)

Recent, from the Brilliant But Cancelled file:
Whiskey Cavalier (he's an emotionally sensitive FBI agent. She's a prickly CIA operative. They and their team do fun spy missions filmed on location in Europe. Enemies-to-lovers with Lauren Cohan)
posted by bartleby at 7:57 PM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I came back to suggest Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, based on your enjoyment of Doctor Who. There are a couple of rough episodes right at the start of SG-1 (just skip episode 4), but both are solid all the way through and have much delightful back and forth. There are some stakes, but mostly solved. And much, much jovial banter.
posted by past unusual at 7:56 AM on April 27, 2020

No one has recommended Detectorists?

Please, please, find a way to see Detectorists. Three short seasons, absolutely delightful. (There's a focus on the two main characters, but there are a number of other related characters who appear throughout.)
posted by kristi at 7:49 PM on April 27, 2020

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