With the Emmy nominations already well in circulation, one of the big elephants in the room is that the Premium Channel (HBO and Showtime) shows are giving the networks a run for their money. Especially – and for one of the first times in years – in the category of comedy.
HBO and Showtime have always produced top, quality shows with their lack of restrictions and budget. In comedy, this upper hand gives their shows an edge that makes for a more daring and an arguably funnier show. The downfall is that not all viewers are willing to pay for the premium content that these channels offer. However, in recent years, with the new developments in on-line streaming, their programming is becoming more accessible to the public, and audiences are starting to take notice.
In appreciation for anything daring and funny here are the top five must-see Premium Channel comedies:
5. Nurse Jackie
Despite all her lies, adultery and drug use, Nurse Jackie is probably one of the best nurses on the tube. The Showtime series premiered in 2009 and has rallied for four chaotic seasons. The show centers on a post-Sopranos Edie Falco, but it is the ensemble cast, including Peter Facinelli and Merritt Wever, that makes the show great. Though the series is at best a dramedy, there’s not an episode that won’t tickle your funny bone.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been battling the “Seinfeld curse” since the late 90′s. In recent years, she has broken the pattern with, now, two hilarious shows. The latest, Veep, loosely based off of the BBC hit The Thick of It, is a show that HBO developed to follow the office of the Vice President. The show portrays a tongue-and-cheek look into the “least effectual post in the most powerful office in the world” (HBOgo.com). The show also boasts an impressive return of both Anna Chlumsky and Arrested Development’s Tony Hale.
The punchline of this show (and of real life) asks audiences, “Who knew Matt LeBlanc had it in him?” After just one season, LeBlanc won the Golden Globe for Best Comedic Actor in a television series. Episodes follows a British couple in attempt to adapt their hit TV show in America starring Matt LeBlanc. This not only leads to horrible results of Americanization, but puts a damper on their marriage. The show works from the opposites of perspective but also as a satire of show business.
Wunderkind Lena Dunham who is, despite the first episode’s guise, “the voice of our generation,” directs/created/stars in this heartbreakingly funny show about the mistakes you make while trying to “become the person you are.” Though the show is being compared to the other HBO girl group from Sex and the City, Girls has the realistic outlook on growing up mixed with awkward sex. Also, Judd Apatow is the executive producer.
1. Curb Your Enthusiasm
Since the 2000 premiere of Curb Your Enthusiasm, every time a nerve rattling encounter or self-inflicting awkward situation occurs, the show’s theme song “Frolic” has probably played through your head. The post-Seinfeld project of creator Larry David was not made with high enthusiasm but has become a sleeper hit and has cemented a special place within pop culture. The show follows David through the mundane situations of his life and the way he does everything you could think of not to do to handle them. The show has lasted an incredible nine seasons and counting.
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About the Author: Currently working on my B.A in Film Studies at CSU Sacramento full time, working part time, and playing the rest of the time. Began my love of comedy with Gene Wilder, and haven't looked back. Tweet me @steviewho