According to a global poll conducted by Gallup, a whopping 85% of employees are unhappy in their jobs. Whether it’s the work itself, office politics, or workplace conflict, many of us do not enjoy the time we spend at our jobs. Ironically, the success of the workplace comedy would suggest we enjoy being the fly on the wall at someone else’s job. Perhaps we enjoy vicariously living through the characters as they do things at their jobs, things we would not dream of doing at ours. Perhaps it is because the office makes for good comedy fodder, with the potential for conflict between colleagues or management. Whatever it is, workplace comedies have been a beloved genre for decades. TV comedies have portrayed a vast range of workplaces such as corporate offices, news media outlets, law enforcement, hospitals, and many more.
The best workplace comedies showcase the relationships that help get us through our days as well as, on the flip side, the annoying co-workers we have to put up with. While we may not want to work with any of these zany employees, we sure do like watching them do their job. Here are the best workplace TV comedies of all time.
Cheers is arguably the best workplace TV comedy in history, and it’s easy to see why. While it was technically a workplace sitcom, the staff and patrons of the Boston bar operate more like a family. As a viewer, you always get the sense that this group of people really enjoys each other’s company, despite any interpersonal conflict that may arise. Couple that with a terrific ensemble cast, and you’ve got gold. Nearly 3 decades have passed since Cheers aired its final episode, and yet it remains a fan-favorite to this day. The Cheers cast featured Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, George Wendt, and Rhea Perlman amongst others. Cheers spawned the successful spin-off Frasierstarring Kelsey Grammer.
11 Ted Lasso
Ted Lasso is a workplace comedy starring SNL alum Jason Sudeikis as an American football coach called to London to coach a Premier League soccer team. With little to no knowledge of the sport, he finds himself completely out of his depth; however, he handles his predicament with grace and humility. Lasso’s burning optimism and good-natured attitude make Ted Lasso an uplifting underdog story that the world needs right now and that everyone needs to experience at least once.
10 The Office
When you think of workplace comedy, the first thing that undoubtedly comes to mind is the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company from the American version of The Office – and what’s not to love? The palpable will-they-or-wont-they sexual tension between Jim and Pam (played by John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer respectively), the hilarious banter between Jim and Dwight (Rainn Wilson), or Michael Scott’s (Steve Carell) complete lack of social skills. It all makes The Office the meme-worthy cultural phenomenon we all know and love. There has been some discussion of a potential reboot of the popular series.
9 Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation was originally brainstormed as a potential spinoff from The Office, but eventually took on its own identity as one of the most beloved workplace comedies of the 21st century. Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope hopes to boost her career by turning an abandoned construction site into a community park, but her efforts are thwarted at every turn. Parks and Recreation featured lovable characters and a feel-good optimistic vibe that kept viewers entertained throughout its 7-season run. The cast reunited recently for a special reunion episode to raise money for charity.
8 The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a workplace comedy set in the office of a fictional televised news program WJM. The show aired 1970-1977 and featured the eponymous late actress Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards, a single, independent woman focused on her career. A sitcom centering around a woman character was a rarity in the 70s, not to mention one that was not dependent on a man. The show was groundbreaking in the second wave of the feminist movement.
7 30 Rock
30 Rock – which takes its name from a nickname for NBC headquarters – is based on Tina Fey’s real-life experiences in her stint as a writer for Saturday Night Live. The popular workplace comedy follows the writing staff of an imagined sketch-comedy series and the screwball executives that make it possible. The show features incredible characters and a star-studded cast including Tracy Morgan, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, and Jack McBrayer.
6 Ugly Betty
While technically billed as a dramedy, Ugly Betty makes our list due to the comedic nature of the show and, of course, its workplace setting at a high-powered fashion magazine. America Ferrera stars as the titular Betty Suarez, who, despite her unconventional outward appearance, lands a job at Mode Magazine. The show is brilliantly written, heartwarming, funny, and touches on important issues such as the difficulties of immigrant life and the struggles of being a gay teenager.
5 Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is brought to us by Mike Judge, known for Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, and the quintessential workplace comedy movie Office Space. The underrated but hilarious satire follows computer engineer Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) and the struggles he faces as his start-up company Pied Piper goes head-to-head with more established companies in the space. According to Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus, “Silicon Valley is a relevant, often hilarious take on contemporary technology and the geeks who create it that benefits from co-creator Mike Judge’s real-life experience in the industry.”
Taxi chronicles the lives of the disillusioned employees of the Sunshine Cab Company and their obnoxious dispatcher Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito). Despite the humor of the show, Taxi was a trailblazer in tackling difficult real-life issues such as drug addiction, mental health, queerness, racism, sexual harassment, and more. Taxi is one of television’s most highly acclaimed shows. During its 5-season run, the workplace comedy was nominated for 31 Emmy Awards, 25 Golden Globes, and the Humanitas Prize. The show has remained in syndication for four decades.
3 Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Brought to us by the creators of The Office and Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine takes inspiration from the classic buddy-cop movie, following the capers of a group of NYPD detectives from Brooklyn’s 99th precinct. The show is expertly performed, well-written and hilarious, but also carefully navigates real-world issues. It has been lauded as one of the best shows of all time. Season eight marks the final season of the well-loved series.
While television is always saturated in medical dramas, the medical comedy is lesser-known. Scrubs, however, sets the bar for medical comedies to come. It is the quintessential medical comedy rife with hilarious high jinx. Behind the comedy, the show dealt with real issues, like sexism and race inequality, in an open and honest way that still holds up to this day.
The workplace at the center of this comedy is WNYX a fictional New York news radio station. NewsRadio stars Dave Foley as a sensible news director who tries to keep his zany employees in line. The show is held together by its top-notch cast and witty banter amongst the eccentric characters. NewsRadio co-stars Stephen Root, Maura Tierney, Andy Dick, Joe Rogan, and the late, great Phil Hartman.
Theodore Kacyznksi (Sharlto Copley) lives in remote Montana while targeting victims with mail bombs.
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