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5 Shows like Seinfeld: Stand up to the World

Ciara Ruane itcher‘Seinfeld’ is the king of the modern sitcom and the cringe-­comedy sub genre. TV shows like ‘Seinfeld’, such as ‘Veep’ and ‘The Office’ have a wide appeal thanks to their quality of writing and influential standard of observational comedy. ~ Ciara Ruane

Comedy of Many Errors

TV series like ‘Seinfeld’ are big names in the game thanks to their wide ranging appeal, intelligent writing and ability to stand the test of time and influx of lesser imitators.

If you want something that will still make you laugh in 20 years and your friends can enjoy with you, here are some shows to help you get your classic comedy groove on.


Shows Similar to ‘Seinfeld’…

‘Veep’ (HBO, 2012)

Starring ‘Seinfeld’s’ own Julia Louise Dreyfus as a hapless vice president with a gaggle of incompetent cronies, this show boost the embarrassment factor to a global scale. It’s one thing to get a bad haircut in real life, it’s potential career poison when you occupy the second highest position in the US government. It’s also searingly witty with some killer lines that are a helluva lot swearier than ‘Seinfeld’.

If you want your cringe comedy with more bite and higher stakes, ‘Veep’ is the critically acclaimed gem of a show that, like its British predecessor The Thick Of It, turns four letter words into floral poetry.

Small faux pas are beautifully overblown as VP Selena Meyer tackles speeches, dignitaries and smug White House cronies while being followed around by a dedicated entourage always on the point of a stress induced coronary. This series has the effect of both making you fear that the world’s most powerful country is under the control of image obsessed stressed out politicians, and make you feel sorry for them and the constant media scrutiny they live under.

A political comedy that has little to do with politics and a lot to do with saving face… so… kinda like actual politics.

Similarity Match: 90%
Starring a ‘Seinfeld’ alumni and sporting the same clever writing but with a lot more bite and satire.

‘The Office’ (NBC, 2005-­2013)

A rare successful remake of a popular comedy, ‘The Office’ takes enough from its UK counterpart to make it recognisable and adds enough to make it different. A mockumentary series about office politics, pranks, joke emails, pointless meetings, unrequited love and a man who probably should be branch manager of anything.

This is observational comedy and hugely entertaining, with plenty of touching human moments as well as outlandish pranks you wish you had come up with. Dunder Mifflin paper company, Scranton has more than its fair share of realistic yet eccentric characters that you probably recognise from your own working life.

Like ‘Seinfeld’ it finds the humour and oddities in everyday interactions and the weird ways people work, with boss Michael Scott providing the embarrassing situations and salesman Dwight being the perfect un-­self-­aware intense eccentric. The humanity is brought by Jim and the object of his affections, Pam, who is engaged to someone else.

If you’ve ever worked in an office you will find plenty to laugh at, or if you’ve ever put up with an odd co-­worker or workshy boss.

Similarity Match: 80%
Like ‘Seinfeld’ it examines human relationships and social mess­ups but with a gentler style and smaller workplace setting.

‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’ (FX, 2005)

This is also a show that focuses on a group of friends doing their best in a world that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, only this time they are all pretty much terrible people and seem to quickly forget the horrible outcomes of their ridiculous schemes. Charlie, Dee, Mac, Dennis and Frank run Paddy’s Pub, the ‘worst bar in Philadelphia’ and try and find ways to improve their lives while making each other’s worse.

It’s always sunny has the freedom of writing characters with such magnetically warped moral compasses that even the most outlandish schemes to succeed or pass the time are permissible. This includes pretending the image of the Virgin Mary has appeared in a mould stain at the bar, writing a musical to gain the attention of a waitress and drinking tequila out of sunblock bottles.

The characters are so brilliantly unaware of themselves and so narcissistic that they tumble through life, bumping into awful situations and making enemies along the way. This show isn’t afraid to show the dirty side of life, dive bars and dysfunctional friendship groups. It will make you laugh and it will make you feel like a better person!

Similarity Match: 70%
It has a much darker edge but it’s just as funny and appealing, and also looks at relationships that aren’t always perfect.


If You Like ‘Seinfeld’, You Will Like…

‘Seinfeld’ is a classic American comedy, so for the next couple of recommendations I’m gonna skip back across that ocean we call ‘the pond’ to the home of the embarrassment comedy and classic sitcom.

‘Extras’ (BBC, 2005­-2007)

Ricky Gervais is the most popular writer of comedies of errors since old Bill Shakespeare, and this follow up to The Office takes advantage of his fame and fortune to show the experiences of an ambitious movie extra and his attempts to hit the big time with a terrible agent.

Celebrity cameos are rife and all the stars willingly make fun of their image. The showbiz industry is shown as a minefield of cringe and a place you need connections and cash to succeed in with your career and dignity intact.

Andy Milman pushes on through the mire of background roles with his dopey best friend Maggie and useless agent, meeting the odd big star on the way. When it seems like he’s finally got his big break and his script is accepted by the BBC, he discovers just what corporate interference can do and how pride is sometimes worth more than success.

As he is torn between easy money and fame and his creative integrity and relationships, he learns just what fame can do to people and navigates hundreds of social errors and humiliations, mostly thanks to his friends and agent.

This is perfect if you love to cringe while you laugh and like celebrities sending themselves up.

It’s a comedy about people trying to succeed and keep their pride and sanity, but this time in the cut-throat world of showbusiness, allowing for glitzy cameos and movie send-­ups.

‘The Inbetweeners’ (E4, 2008­-2010)

This very un­American (pie) comedy about suburban teenagers was essential viewing if, like me, you were actually at secondary school when it came out. Four bumbling lads from a comprehensive with unfortunate tendencies to overuse hair gel and lie about sexual conquests attempt to gain ‘cool’ status and achieve success with girls.

In the far less glossy world of British high school, with drab uniforms instead of cheerleading outfits and rusty second hand cars instead of mercedes, pep rallies and house parties with those plastic red cups.

Featuring all the dullness, insecurity and social etiquette of the teenage years, ‘The Inbetweeners’ doesn’t polish or sugarcoat the time everyone except me probably bumbled through with constant knocks to their ego. The gang includes narrator Will, former private school loudmouth who has a ‘fit mum’, desperately lovesick Simon, sexual braggard and compulsive liar Jay and eternally happy, empty headed Neil.

This show had a big impact on its audience, introducing catchphrases and some really rather vulgar slang to the teenage vernacular, thanks to its horrible yet accurate portrayal of the average teenager and life in school and the suburbs. Teasing and cruel pranks appear often throughout.

An observational comedy set in the social mire of high school, with similarly well­-meaning yet buffoonish characters but more edgy humour.


Misadventures and Social Politics

Comedy series like ‘Seinfeld’ succeed thanks to their relevance to most people’s lives and exploration of what it means to work with people in the modern world.

What sitcom do you feel is most accurate to real life? Tell us in the comments section!

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