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5 Shows like Scrubs: Medical Mirth-Making

Ciara Ruane itcherScrubs, along with ‘Green Wing’ and ‘The Office’, explore the absurdities of the workplace and how people deal with the stress of long hours and insufferable co-workers. These TV shows like ‘Scrubs’ use offbeat humour to explore the odd and the wonderful of the 9-5. ~ Ciara Ruane

No Supermen

‘Scrubs’ uses fantasy sequences and juvenile humour against the very serious and stressful backdrop of a working hospital. The workplace is good for comedy (OK, not in real life), with people who would otherwise avoid each other like the plague being forced to work as a team. Here are some series similar to ‘Scrubs’, with offbeat humour, drama and pop culture references.

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Shows Similar to ‘Scrubs’…

‘Green Wing’ (Channel 4, 2004-2007)

The biggest similarity here is that it is a hospital set comedy with surreal elements. This British doc-com has love triangles, over the top characters, pranks, and wacky jokes all set in a hospital. It is however, darker, dirtier and seeing as it’s written by women, thoroughly disproves the old idea that “women aren’t funny”. It’s side-splitting stuff.

This show shares some of its DNA with Scrubs, although if anything it has even less to do with medical science. Radiology classes are the locations for childish pranks, surgery is the perfect place for useless competition and hospital corridors host spontaneous ping-pong games. Like I said, it’s a lil’ darker and it has an even more surreal humour where the boundaries between reality and fantasy are blurred. It is hard to tell a genuine dream sequence from an outrageous character quirk, and anything goes.

Similarity Match: 80%
It’s a hospital comedy drama with characters prone to flights of fancy, but it’s perfect if ‘Scrubs’ is just too nice for you…

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‘The Office’ (NBC, 2005-2013)

Another workplace comedy with a love of pranks and eccentricity, this remake of the UK classic matches up to its predecessor, with a bit of a lighter tone. The mockumentary format allows for a way to learn the character’s thoughts, similarly to ‘Scrubs” voiceover, even if the feel is more realistic.

Most of us haven’t made it in the medical profession, some of us write articles online instead. For those of us who can’t relate to working in a hectic hospital but can understand a stifling office environment, maybe with some forbidden love and beet obsessed co-workers, we can find ourselves in ‘The Office’. This is also a rare example of a successful remake of a popular British show, which as a Brit I can say is nigh on impossible.

Similarity Match: 75%
It has the same lighthearted humour and eccentricity, in a different setting with a more realistic feel.

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‘Archer’ (FX, 2009 – )

It’s an animated spy sitcom that has little to do with spying. Following rude, chauvinistic, hard-partying ‘spy’ Archer, it deals with his misadventures, his overbearing mother and the co-workers who put up with it all. The humour is darker and more acerbic, with just as much of a capacity for silliness.

Like ‘Scrubs’ it has high-octane workplace jokes at its heart, although it’s ruder, cruder and even more anarchic in its humour. The characters are addicts, narcissists and irresponsible spies, which is entertaining rather than horrifying when it’s in a wacky comedy. It’s animated too, allowing for even crazier jokes and an anything-goes vibe. Just don’t expect a lot of tense espionage plotting, it’s a lot more unpredictable. It’s also very very funny, even if you probably shouldn’t be laughing.

And don’t forget to also have a look at these other tv series like ‘Archer’.

Similarity Match: 70%
Again it’s darker and has a bit more of a crackle to it, but if you want something off the wall and zany check it out.

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If You Like ‘Scrubs’, You Will Like…

Work isn’t the only place to find zany personalities, tense relationships and drama. Check out these TV series like ‘Scrubs’ in some different settings.

‘Spaced’ (Channel 4, 1999-2001)

The geek comedy that launched Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s careers, the series involves two awkward Londoners sharing a flat together with an alcoholic landlady and an abstract artist neighbour all while pretending to be a couple. It’s the main début of  Wright’s unique style, and it has pop culture references and fantastical scenes galore.

The gags again come from the eccentricity of the personalities involved, and the absurdity of the situation and the relationships. Potential romances bloom and Star Wars is examined when misfit flatmates are reluctantly thrown together for convenience. It’s also a callback to when renting in London was cheap and rave nights were the thing, and The Phantom Menace was fresh in the minds of geeks everywhere. Classic Brit-com.

It’s more of a slacker comedy with profound geekiness, but there’s heart to it and some kick-ass fantasy sequences.

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‘The Middle’ (ABC, 2009 – )

The family unit is the ultimate gathering of weirdos trying to do their best and ‘The Middle’ is the latest in family comedy. The Heck family (including Scrubs’ janitor) aren’t particularly well off and their kids are a slacker, a cock-eyed optimist and an odd bookworm. They struggle with constantly broken appliances and awkward school meetings, as well as the general oddness of family dynamics.

There’s a voiceover and quirky humour, with a familiar lightheartedness and a more typical family sitcom structure. It’s traditional, but not quite, with a family of loveable oddballs and a string of disasters of the domestic kind. Family comedies are hard to get right, but this has the required humour and depth as well as an unusual quirky sensibility that makes it stand out.

This family comedy has a more traditional structure and relateable premise but it’s just as fun and offbeat.

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Doctor Doctor, Gimme the News…

‘Scrubs’ can have life-or-death tension one minute, musical numbers the next. The shows on this list have similarly unpredictable stories and an eccentricity to them.

What comedies stand out as unique and entertaining for you?

Let us know in the comments.

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