Netflix is a beautiful thing. It’s allowed me to waste incalculable hours of my life watching documentaries about the colossal squid and typefaces between shitty horror movies and comedies, all the while convincing me that I’m actually learning something and that it’s normal to watch movies for 24 hours straight. I now know more about the brown bear than any sensible human being should. File under: useless knowledge that will never get me laid.
It’s not all a time-wasting succubus, though. In wandering through the seemingly endless barrage of content, I have found some true gems that really ought to be more beloved. So here are four of them; TV shows that will have you guffawing with side-splitting laughter until you sneeze your intestines out your nose.
1. Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil (Space Channel/FearNet)
Imagine a world where all your twisted hopes and dreams could be a reality, a world where darkness thrives and misanthropy reigns supreme. Such is the world in Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil. Centered around Todd, an awkward 16 year old whose only dream is to one day become a metal guitar god, the show finds him flung head first into the Book of Pure Evil and the possibility that he is the Pure Evil One destined to destroy the world. He and his ragtag group of friends must seek out and destroy the book, while up against a satanic cult run out of an old folks’ home, headed up by none other than their imbecilic guidance counselor. Sound like a disparaging mouthful? Well, that’s just the tip of the ol’ iceberg.
Each episode centers around a different Crowley High student who’s come across the book, usually after being ridiculed or bullied to no end. The book gives the respective student the demonic power to harness their deepest fears and insecurities and turn them against their tormentors (i.e. a bully who’s rumored to have a small dick conjures a spell which turns his penis into a giant monster cock, devouring everyone in its path). With the help of his friends Curtis, Jenny, and Hannah, Todd sets out to stop the possessed students, bringing about some of the coolest gore and special FX television has ever seen.
TATBOPE is the Evil Dead II of TV. It’s campy, splattered with gore, and lots and lots of fun. It’s also filled to the brim with metal, from Todd’s shirts to the badass soundtrack, and the creature design and FX are so over the top it’s a wet dream for any horror and/or metal nerd, or anyone who loves ridiculous humor and balls of cheese.
2. The IT Crowd (BBC)
“Hello, IT Department. Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
This is the line that the viewer is greeted with in nearly every episode, showing just how fed up and apathetic the show’s protagonists, Moss and Roy, have really become. The premise is ripe for parody, though, and that’s exactly what this off-beat British comedy delivers. It’s centered around the IT department at a failing corporation, Reynholm Industries, and the antics that ensue. Headed up by the rash and socially awkward tech-geeks Roy and Moss, and their tech-unsavvy new “relationship manager” Jen, this The Office style mockumentary series contains some of the ripest and staunchest comedy I’ve ever seen.
The episode-to-episode story arc is feeble at best, but that is not the point. It’s a situational comedy built around some of the most cooky characters on TV, each episode revolving around some sort of megalomaniacal antics that will have you rolling on the floor in minutes. For example, after being indicted for “inaccuracies in the pension fund”, CEO Mr. Reynholm himself nonchalantly jumps out the window to his death in the middle of a board meeting, making way for his sexually deviant son to take over the company and subsequently turn the show into an even more outrageous comedy romp. It’s tech-geek heaven.
3. The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret (IFC)
If you’re white and you love comedy, you surely miss the days when Arrested Development graced TV sets across America. Now imagine if Mitchell Hurwitz decided to collaborate with Mike Clattenburg (Trailer Park Boys) and you’ll begin to get the idea of what The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret is like. It’s crass, dark, morose, and utterly hilarious.
The show stars Arrested Development alum David Cross (Todd Margaret) and Will Arnett as a not-so-dynamic duo of blunderbusses tasked with the misguided responsibility of hawking a new energy drink called Thunder Muscle. Thunder Muscle is essentially Red Bull crossed with motor oil; so disgusting and potent that no living thing should ever ingest it. Todd is so unbelievably naive and excited to be “heading up” the sales division of Global National that his ignorance gets the best of him that, after a series of perilous mishaps, he ends up being indicted for a venerable laundry list of charges against the people of England.
It’s clear from the get-go (and the title) that there is not going to be a “happy ending” in Todd’s life, as each episode of Season 1 opens with Todd handcuffed in a courtroom being read the nauseating and irreverent list of charges against him. We then see the story from the beginning, and the downward spiral it takes is both hilarious and cringe-inducing. It’s one of the most off-beat comedies I’ve seen in years and one that will undoubtedly be a cult classic before long.
4. Trailer Park Boys (Showcase)
I’ve saved the best for last. Let me start by saying that if you haven’t watched this show yet, don’t even read what I have to say and just go watch it now! It’s more important than anything else you could possibly be doing in your life at the moment.
OK, now that you’re back let’s get down to it. Trailer Park Boys follows the lives of three down-on-their-luck drug-dealing ignoramuses and their lives in the Sunnyvale Trailer Park. Headed up by Julian, the “sexy” ring leader who’s never without his glass of rum and coke, and Ricky, his short-sighted and violent best friend and partner-in-crime, who’s never even passed his Grade 10. The show follows them on all of their criminal exploits, often landing them in prison or in the middle of a haphazard gun fight (oftentimes both, within the same episode).
The cast list is rounded out by an onomatopoeia of characters, including their kitty-loving bi-focaled friend Bubbles, the not-so-secretly gay raging alcoholic trailer park supervisor Jim Lahey; his lover and cheeseburger-addicted assistant Randy; the self-appointed rapper and gangster J-Roc; their lap doggish and desperate “fall guys” Trevor and Corey; and Ricky’s ex-girlfriend Lucy. And that’s only naming a few.
TPB succeeds in combining the unpredictability of reality TV, the self-aware irony of a mockumentary, the unabashed violence of a dimwitted crime series, and the likability of some of the most unlikeable characters ever to grace the screen. The series has become so successful it’s spawned two movies (with a third on the way), a live show, and a cult following rivaling that of The Big Lebowski, making it one of the most revered and beloved shows no one’s heard of.
So I say to you again, if you haven’t watched these shows, you’re seriously missing out. I implore you, make it your priority to watch them all, and if you’ve got any more suggestions, let me know in the comments section below.