Comedy Suggestions to Watch with my 70-year old Mother
June 23, 2022 8:43 PM   Subscribe

My mom has suggested that we watch a show together from our separate locations, but comedy only. The thing is that she is extremely picky about comedy (and I get it, I am too). When asked what she finds funny, she cited "Running Scared" and "Uncle Buck", but I think that's more nostalgia for the era and Chicago, where she's from. I floated "Ted Lasso", but she said she watched one episode and didn't like it. I'm coming up empty....please give me your best recs to make our 90 min runtime not awkward!

Both movies and TV recommendations are good! Some notes to help (or in my case, stump):

- She's enjoyed Friends and Seinfeld, but hates most sitcoms
- She enjoyed Derry Girls, but never went beyond the first few episodes; I think the accents were too much for her and she didn't want to read subtitles (she was forced to go to Catholic School when she was younger, so I think the content was relevant to her)
- No misogyny, no matter how slight
- No sex scenes (mostly because I don't want to sit through that with her)
- No "sophisticated" humor; I'm not even sure what I mean by things that require someone be well-read or understand the throwaway one-liners that deal in niche knowledge.
- She doesn't have any hobbies; she barely scraped by in high school; she mostly didn't work except as a teacher's aide and as a bus driver for kids who needed extra help, so she loves kids (just not her own -- we have a very distant relationship, the backstory isn't relevant here). I only mention any of this because I think the things most people find funny come from a place of knowing and experience. There's an element of truth we intimately recognize. And, I'm struggling to find something like that for her.

I was considering The Detectorists, but that may be a bit too slow with the laughs. I might also try an episode of Party Down or maybe Freaks and Geeks. Working-class sensibilities without being crass or maybe kid hijinks might be the sweet spot.

Thanks for racking your brains, even if you can't think of anything. The limitations make this a tough ask!
posted by pdxhiker to Media & Arts (45 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I cannot vouch for this (aside from the fact that its on my "to watch" list), but The Bear is supposed to be good. It centers around a young chef who moves back home to run his family's Chicago Beef sandwich shop.
posted by brookeb at 8:46 PM on June 23

I found Party Down had a lot of nudity.
posted by saturdaymornings at 8:56 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

I haven't watched Abbott Elementary, but some people with very good taste seem to be over the moon about it.
posted by praemunire at 8:57 PM on June 23 [14 favorites]

I thought Raising Hope was really sweet and charming and pleasantly weird. It does have some sex stuff because it’s about a guy who ends up with a daughter he wasn’t expecting, but it’s not drawn out and the show isn’t like a raunchy comedy or anything. There’s a lot of stuff about the goofy hijinks and bizarre situations that come from poverty and complicated family stuff. It’s a few seasons long and the later seasons have some cute toddler shenanigans, too.

Has she got opinions about the Simpsons? There’s fifteen gabillion seasons and tons of suggested episode lists out there, so you guys could pick and choose.
posted by Mizu at 9:36 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

One Day at a Time?
posted by latkes at 9:42 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

Our Flag Means Death? Bob's Burgers? Girls5Eva? The Wonder Years (the new reboot on Hulu)? All of these are funny (to me) and quite wholesome too, and relatively tame, although I think there's a bit of violence in Our Flag Means Death.
posted by buttonedup at 9:51 PM on June 23

Schitt's Creek and The Good Place.
posted by chbrooks at 9:57 PM on June 23 [10 favorites]

posted by miles1972 at 10:07 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]

I just watched Abbott Elementary and it might be good for you- American accents, gender balanced cast (there are a few moments of misogyny but combating it is part of the plots when it arises), no sex but some lightly raunchy jokes that some characters dont appreciate, any sophisticated humor is double layered so you are either laughing at the main joke or the meta-joke. It’s made by a kid of a teacher (so am I) so it rings very true to life for me.
posted by holyrood at 10:22 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

Mike & Molly takes place in Chicago & living in Chicago at the time I liked it cause it was funny without being too highbrow or too low brow, it was just the right amount of brow. Molly starts out as a teacher then becomes a writer and Mike is a cop. They live with her mom. It's a sitcom but it's not the excruciating kind. It's worth a shot anyway!

Seconding Raising Hope!

Also might like "What we do in the shadows" if you frame it as being a very silly show.
posted by bleep at 10:24 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

Also if she liked Seinfeld she might like Curb Your Enthusiasm.
posted by bleep at 10:25 PM on June 23

I also wanted to suggest Superstore. I'm not a big sitcom person, but this is a really great workplace comedy about about a group of people who work in a Walmart/Target type superstore.

Easy to grasp on a workplace comedy level, but with some smart stuff to say about about working in the service industry and living paycheck-to-paycheck in latter day capitalist 'Merica!

Your mom might really relate to some of the characters.
posted by brookeb at 10:30 PM on June 23 [6 favorites]

Corner Gas!
posted by wats at 10:35 PM on June 23 [9 favorites]

Ferris Buellers Day Off? Chicago. Humor. Not deep thinking.

Home Alone? Again, Chicago. Humor. Slap stick.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:38 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

Kim's Convenience may work. It's usually gentle humor, and while there's a little family drama, particularly in the first season, it's a light program.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:57 PM on June 23 [18 favorites]

Pushing Daisies?
posted by delezzo at 11:19 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

2nding Bob's burgers. I also liked Schitts creek, but it takes a season to click.

USA had a comedy called Sirens set in Chicago. It only ran 2 (maybe 3 seasons). Main characters are EMTs, one of them dates a cop who's also regular. Sex is implied on occasion, but not often.

I loved The Good Place. It references philosophy, but the whole point is for some of the characters to learn about it, so I don't think a strong background is needed? But is my feel sophisticated in some parts.

Superstore and Brooklyn 99 have good chemistry among the cast.

What We Do In the Shadows is a bit silly, but has appealed to a wider range of friends than I thought possible.

If she liked Friends, the British version was Coupling. It's been years since I watched it, so there may be some nudity. Also, accents, so may be harder for her.

Would Disney or Pixar movies be too kiddish for her? I feel like they're generally not overly referential and would definitely not be too raunchy or too (I think?) sophisticated.
posted by ghost phoneme at 11:23 PM on June 23

Community or Parks and Rec?
posted by Bottlecap at 12:33 AM on June 24 [4 favorites]

Another British sitcom: Friday Night Dinner - very family based and warm hearted without any strong regional accents.

Are panel shows an option? I would recommend Taskmaster to almost anyone.
posted by crocomancer at 1:00 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]

A couple of classic British comedies:

It is difficult not to find Fawlty Towers funny, even if the humour does not translate one hundred percent of the time.

The Vicar of Dibley hits is softer note and is perhaps more culture-bound but is lovely.
posted by Erinaceus europaeus at 1:17 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]

I would suggest based on her age and suggested comedies, that you stick in that nostalgic realm of movies/tv.

Plenty of John Candy/Dan Ackroyd/Steve Martin-type comedies to choose from.

Planes, Trains, And Automobiles
Throw Momma from the Train
Mr Mom
Mrs Doubtfire
My Blue Heaven
Grumpy Old Men
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
The Dream Team
Brewsters Millions

To say a few. Just google those movies/tv-shows she likes and they'll show plenty of similar options.
posted by wile e at 1:44 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]

Bob Hearts Abishola - haven't seen any full episodes yet but was surprised by how much I liked the clips I saw online. Gentle, old-fashioned sitcom style* with laugh track, but with more modern cosmopolitan perspective (very American white sock maker falls in love with Nigerian single mother, families interact, etc.)

*Just noticed the part about her not liking most sitcoms. Still think this might be worth checking out - I'm not usually a big fan of sitcoms either and I like what I've seen of this.
posted by trig at 1:47 AM on June 24 [4 favorites]

Kid hijinks... Do you have access to Outnumbered? I don't tend to get on with sitcoms, but Outnumbered really hit the mark for me.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:44 AM on June 24 [4 favorites]

Seconding the recommendations for Friday Night Dinner and Brooklyn 99.
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:45 AM on June 24

Grace and Frankie
posted by guessthis at 3:32 AM on June 24 [7 favorites]

Ghosts - there’s an American version and a UK version. (I’ve only seen the American version). Fun, funny, and lighthearted!
posted by Sassyfras at 5:05 AM on June 24 [3 favorites]

The Nanny
posted by Dolley at 5:09 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]

Will she watch animation? King of the Hill is hilarious and does a truly wonderful job of mining the comedy out of blue collar neighborhood living. Really good mix of ages & situations, and something people from all over the political spectrum can enjoy together.
posted by apparently at 5:12 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]

Adding or seconding:
-Parks and Recreation
-What We Do in the Shadows (both the movie and the series are excellent and charming)
-Young Frankenstein
-Golden Girls
-Mary Tyler Moore
-Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
-40 Year Old Virgin (some sex scenes but they are either silly or brief/discreet)
posted by happy_cat at 5:17 AM on June 24

Also agreeing about Mike and Molly.
posted by Dolley at 5:18 AM on June 24

If you can find the British series Mum, that might work. There are only three seasons, and the episodes are short – under half an hour each – but it's easy to watch three in a row. The main character, Cathy, is a teacher's aide, so your mom might feel a kinship there? The show centres on her and her changing relationships with her family after her husband dies. (The death has already occurred; there's no grim suffering involved in the show.) There's gentle humour, lots of pathos, a long-simmering "mature" (as in, they're 50; there's no sex) romance...I've watched it through four times and I'll watch it again.
posted by notquitejane at 5:22 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]

Perhaps the sitcom "Mad About You". Same era and (in my opinion) same genre as "Seinfeld".
posted by metadave at 5:44 AM on June 24

My Name is Earl is hilarious, down to earth, and high on the hijinks.
posted by rue72 at 5:51 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]

I'm wondering whether your "no misogyny" rules out everything before about 1970. If it doesn't, there are some wonderful very old movies, and you don't have to worry about sex scenes. Bringing Up Baby (1938) is hilarious. If that appeals to you at all, search for "screwball comedies."

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is great - I remember it having one sex scene quite a few episodes in.
posted by FencingGal at 6:49 AM on June 24

It's the wrong time of year right now, but Netflix's 8 Bit Christmas ticks most of your boxes and is a nostalgia fest for the same era of Chicago and its suburbs as her named favorites Running Scared and Uncle Buck. It's surprisingly funny, too.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:52 AM on June 24

Kim's Convenience (link is to the show's YouTube channel, with lots of sample clips)
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:59 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]

What about The Blues Brothers? Second City humor + lots of Chicago, and not licentious. Lengthy though.
posted by jabah at 9:21 AM on June 24

It's been years since I watched it, so there may be some nudity.

There are some rrrraunchy jokes in the UK Coupling. Funny ones, but not ones I'd care to have to explain to my own mom.
posted by praemunire at 9:38 AM on June 24 [3 favorites]

Better Off Ted. Satirical workplace sitcom with occasional absurdity. From Metacritic:

Ted Crisp loves his job. He works for the team at Veridian Dynamics, where nothing is too far-fetched, or out of the ordinary. An average day for Ted could easily involve creating a suicidal turkey, for instance. The only problem is, Ted is ethical and the company is not.

Two seasons 2009-10. Good luck finding it.
posted by Homer42 at 9:52 AM on June 24

Ghosts - there’s an American version and a UK version. (I’ve only seen the American version).

The UK version is wonderful - according to Mike out of Red Letter Media the better of the two, though I don't know how that lands. In fact I watched it because he recommended it. There's a bit of crossover in the creative team with the Paddington movies, and they're tonally quite similar in a lot of ways. The Paddington films are also lovely, but ostensibly aimed at children.

I don't know how available they are, or how they would work, but tonally I wonder whether classic BBC sitcoms of the 70s, 80s and 90s might work - Keeping Up Appearances, Last of the Summer Wine, Open All Hours, The Good Life, that sort of thing. Actually, the first three of those were written by the same person, Roy Clarke, who's not fashionable, but generally they're what's called "gentle" comedy rooted in working and lower-middle class life. I'm not sure how the relationship between Compo Simmonite and Nora Batty works these days, but it's generally good natured. The Good Life - being about an advertising copy writer and his wife who turn their posh suburban house into a self-sufficient smallholding - not so rooted in working class life, but still beloved. Possibly known to American viewers from Vyvyan's tirade against it in the last episode of The Young Ones. Family comedies like the aforementioned Outnumbered, or 2point4 Children perhaps.

Though I have literally no idea how one would find them. However, if I'm going to be unhelpful, I might as well be unhelpful at great length.
posted by Grangousier at 10:09 AM on June 24 [3 favorites]

Those are tough criteria. I'm thinking Mrs. Brown's Boys? Hilarious, definitely not sophisticated, slapstick...some suggestive humor but no sex scenes. Accents, but not too hard to understand. Sweet and funny.
posted by kitcat at 11:21 AM on June 24

You want South Side! It's funny, working-class, and *very* Chicago.
posted by anotherthink at 11:39 AM on June 24

Hmmm. This is a bit of a stretch, but, The Bob Emergency Part I and Part II are on YouTube and, together, are approximately 90 minutes long. It's done by Jon Bois, who has this ironic yet earnest millennial humor, using the lens of athletes named Bob to demonstrate how "There are no dull stories. People are full of wonder. No matter how you study our history, you will always, always, find it."

It's funny, yes, but also heartfelt and educational and inspiring. There's graphs, but Bois' excellent graphic design talent and adroit narration make them very accessible. You could probably gauge the suitability watching ten minutes of it. I'm not a sports person but I loved it, and I showed it to my mom and she liked it too.
posted by foxfirefey at 2:05 PM on June 24

Go back a little earlier to Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther movies.
posted by yclipse at 2:14 PM on June 24

We really liked Nick Offerman’s new show The Great North - Simpsons like gentle humor animated comedy but a bit more updated. Occasionally too much singing IMO but funny enough that we’re ready to rewatch. Looking forward to season 3.

For a UK show, Upstart Crow. Lots of Shakespeare penis jokes that are a bit cheeky (eg “cod dangle”) but still not too racy. Historically naughty you might say, so maybe watch a preview or two.

We’ve been rewatching MASH and aside from the occasional storyline that is obviously dated, the series really holds up. Probably helped that they worked toward being socially progressive when it was being made.
posted by ec2y at 4:02 AM on June 26

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