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5 Shows like Wilfred: Friends with Fleas

James Thomas itcherWeird and raunchy things are almost always funny. The best comedians in the world play with the absurd – no one wants to see a grown man in a diaper but put him on stage and make him tell a story and it could be comedy gold. TV shows like Wilfred make people giggle at all the wrong things. When I want a show to remind me why my sense of humor is inappropriate, I watch ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’, ‘Archer’, and ‘The League’.~ James Thomas

A Dog in Men’s Clothing

I’ve had my dealings with a few overly-affectionate dogs but none like the mutt in the show ‘Wilfred’. The first thing that sets Wilfred apart from other canines is the fact that to at least one person, he resembles a 35-year-old man in a poorly made dog suit.

Other than that, he is also selfish to the point of endangering every life around him and is emotionally insightful enough to know how to manipulate the formerly-suicidal main character, Ryan.

Wilfred does a great job of putting Ryan in terrible situations involving drug use, grand theft auto, and at least a few occurrences of assault on the elderly – all of which are handled in a hilarious manner by the writers of the show.


Shows Similar to ‘Wilfred’…

‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ (FXX, 2005-)

When I think of what TV show best captures humanity, I kind of want to say ‘Friends’ – but if I’m honest, the answer might be closer to ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’. The characters are the ‘worst case scenario’ in terms of human nature. Comprised of Dennis and Dee Reynolds, Frank Reynolds, Mac, and Charlie, the self-described “gang” exhibits an infectious sort of selfishness.

Some examples of the terrible things that the gang has done include faking a miracle to promote their bar, ruining the life of a priest for personal gain, selling children alcohol, and stealing cocaine from the Mafia.

The reason the show works is that no one is even remotely close to being redeemable in this cast of terrible folks. When one of them tries to do better (morally or otherwise), the others make a concerted effort to pull that individual right back down to the gutter.

Similarity Match: 85%
Like the dog in ‘Wilfred’ the gang from ‘Its’s always sunny in Philadelphia’ runs on pure uncut selfishness to the detriment of the unfortunate people who cross their paths. However, the gang from Paddy’s pub has no intention of teaching anyone any life lessons.

‘Archer’ (FXX, 2009-2015)

Similar to many TV series like ‘Wilfred’, ‘Archer’ takes the worst impulses of human nature and fictionalizes them in hilarious ways. ‘Archer’ is a show about the worst types of people found in an office setting at an independent spy agency. At its head is the world’s most dangerous spy (and worst person), Sterling Mallory Archer, who has more venereal diseases than character traits.

Archer works for an organization called ISIS, which was founded by his mother Malory Archer – a woman who is just as selfish and self-absorbed as her son and shares his bizarre hedonistic nature and ambivalence towards killing. The rest of the cast is a collection of neuroses and psychopathy that would send Freud screaming into the wilderness.

One of the people who exemplify the collection of mental quirks in ISIS is Dr. Krieger who spends his time genetically splicing interns with farm animals in the sub-basement.

Sound good? Make sure to also have a look at these other shows like ‘Archer’.

Similarity Match: 80%
Both ‘Wilfred’ and ‘Archer’ take place in strange versions of reality where the rules of decorum have been burned beyond recognition. But ‘Archer’ is an animated show about spies who have no deeper philosophical reasons for the horrible things they do.

‘The League’ (FXX, 2009-2015)

‘The League’ deals with male relationships and fantasy football the same way Animal House deals with higher education. The show follows five friends who have been harassing each other and loving football since they were old enough to feel awkward around girls. Thankfully for the audience, their jokes and insults have not matured at all.

The show is very football oriented with players of note showing up in awkward situations to be berated by folks like Andre Nowzick a gangly plastic surgeon from Chicago who dresses like a blend of the Great Gatsby and an extra from the Jersey Shore.  

Similar to many TV shows like ‘Wilfred’ the comedy in the show is based around cruelty and gross-out humor. The show gets really interesting when fantasy enthusiasts face actual athletes and make complete fools of themselves.    

Similarity Match: 80%
‘The League’ is a show filled with inebriated, abusive, and selfish friends that are very similar to Wilfred, but the excuse these folks use for their actions is playing fake football rather than being the hallucination of a depressed person.


If You Like ‘Wilfred’, You Will Like…

‘Wilfred’ is a show that takes an alternative perspective on comedy building a premise around mental illness and making a figment of a man’s imagination into an anti-hero. The next shows do similar things with comedy by challenging what’s acceptable but move away from the gross and lean more towards the avant-garde.

‘Community’ (NBC/Yahoo Screen, 2009-2015)

As in many other series similar to ‘Wilfred’, ‘Community’ works on what’s called a meta level. Basically, the people in this series are aware they are on a show or, at least, some of them happen to be. The show takes place at what is called a Community College where people pay less for their education and get to their scholastic destination at a slower pace.

The show mainly follows a disgraced former lawyer who is forced to attend Community College to earn his degree in order to get back to practicing the law. On his way out of this maze of strangeness, our main character meets a collection of misfits that are on their own paths. This show’s ensemble cast tends to buck tradition and do things that are just bat crap crazy.

Sometimes this show goes to places that are bordering on science fiction and more than once the show seemed to become a serious crime drama.

Similar to the show ‘Wilfred’, the characters in the cast of ‘Community’ seem to have a weird awareness of being in a comedy and of how comedy works. However, ‘Community’ is decidedly a lesser dark show.

‘Bored to Death’ (HBO, 2009-2011)

Moving away from awkward soul searching and onto awkward neurosis, we find the show ‘Bored to Death’ starring Jason Schwartzman as Jonathan and the enigmatic Zach Galifianakis as Ray. Taking place in the weirdest and most wonderful part of New York this show deals with a floundering writer who finds success as an amateur detective.

Of course, he doesn’t jump right into cases of mobsters in trouble with the CIA or Governors taking bribes. Mostly he helps the quirky and weird people who post on Craigslist actually make those missed connections.

One of this show’s assets is the way that Jonathan’s writing begins to reflect his acumen as a private detective and how often he ends up getting and slap fights on the streets of Brooklyn in broad daylight.

Similar to many shows like ‘Wilfred’, ‘Bored to Death’ is built around offbeat and postmodern comedy. However, this show has a much more traditional story structure.


Good Boy with Bad Intentions

The show ‘Wilfred’ was based on an Australian show with the same basic premise and the same actor playing the titular character. The changes made when it came to America were significant, but the show is still an underground hit. Do you think shows can be reinvented for the better?

Let me know in the comments down below.

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