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Celebrate American Independence by Laughing at These British Comedies

Depressed teens! Musical zookeepers! Metal detector fans!

Tim Surette

England, imma let you finish, but America had the greatest Brexit of all time. This Independence Day, you could celebrate the old-fashioned way by blowing off a few fingertips with fireworks or clogging an artery with a hot dog, or you could carve out some time to laugh in the faces of the dandies we broke off from 200-plus years ago. Yes, America, it's the perfect time to fire up some British comedies and laugh in England's face.

Below is a list of recent comedies from across the pond that are streaming online -- a great way to kill time before you sleep off that baby-sized lump of potato salad in your belly.


Streaming on: Hulu

For fans of: Rachel, Ross, Joey, Phoebe, Monica, and Chandler but with accents

America doesn't have a monopoly on the three-guys-three-girls formula of hangout. The success of Friends Stateside and abroad birthed Coupling, which was written by Doctor Who's Stephen Moffat, and added specific gender perspectives by frequently featuring the guys and gals off on their own talking about the same thing with very different results. If you have Friends (or even Seinfeld) withdrawal, pop this on and go knee-deep into British relationship quibbles. Yes, it was one of many British shows haphazardly adapted for American audiences -- NBC canceled it after just four episodes -- but we're trying to forget about that.

The IT Crowd(2006-2013)

Streaming on: Netflix, Hulu

For fans of: Community, The Big Bang Theory, nerds

Shame on you if you haven't seen this gem! Three misfits (Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson) make up the I.T. department of a fictional company, and their misadventures trying to fit in with (and simultaneously despising) the cool kids made this a cult classic Britcom that's still as funny as ever today. In true British comedy fashion, the fun came with how often they failed to meet their goals. Imagine the Silicon Valley guys, but without any of the drive and about a quarter of the talent. NBC tried to bring this Stateside with Joel McHale, Jessica St. Clair and Ayoade -- reprising his role as the lovable Moss -- but it never made it past the pilot phase.


Streaming on: Hulu

For fans of: The Mindy Project, traditional sitcoms, tall women

Miranda (Miranda Hart) is a romantic at heart, but unfortunately for her, not many men want to get romantic with a 6-foot-one-inch (1.85 meters) woman who often gets mistaken for a man. But her upbeat attitude and total comfort in her own skin drives this awkward comedy to heights beyond its multi-camera format. Whether she's accidentally finding herself in a wedding dress that looks like a circus tent or shopping at a store geared towards transvestites, Miranda always comes out of her situations smiling. It's Hart's charisma that makes Miranda better than you'd think it would be and earned the actress tons of awards. Bonus points: A young Tom Ellis (Lucifer) is handsome as ever!

My Mad Fat Diary(2013-2015)

Streaming on: Hulu

For fans of: Awkward, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and high-school dramedies with real subject matter

Rae (the excellent Sharon Rooney) is an overweight 16-year-old freshly out of a psychiatric hospital, coping with those issues on top of the typical complications, hormonally-charged and otherwise, that came with being a teenager in the mid-'90s. In short, her life is difficult, and her trials and tribulations are put on display for our amusement. Based on the Rae Earl novel My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary, the series uses witty voiceover and cute (and occasionally obscene) illustrations to craft a character you desperately root for as she tries to just "be normal" while meeting back up with her old friends. Full of heart, humor and hard truths, My Mad Fat Diary will make you laugh, cry and laugh-cry. And oh, that Britpop soundtrack!

Toast of London (2013-present)

Streaming on: Vimeo

For fans of: Matt Berry

The Unified Theorem of British Comedy states that a Britcom's quality is directly proportional to the amount of Matt Berry featured in it, and Toast of London puts the busy comedian (who won a 2015 BAFTA for the role) front and center as Steven Toast, an actor who thinks he's a lot better than he actually is. Berry's signature baritone and impeccable delivery carry the show, as it usually does, but the oddball world and characters -- particularly Toast's rivalry with another actor -- make it more than The Matt Berry Show. And yes, Berry sings in it!

The Detectorists (2014-present)

Streaming on: Hulu

For fans of: Indie films, blue-collar buddy comedies

Mackenzie Crook (Game of Thrones, The Office U.K.) wrote and created this quaint BAFTA-nominated buddy comedy about... let's call them less-than-popular metal detector enthusiasts. Crook and Toby Jones (Wayward Pines) are magnificent as small-town friends looking to make a historic discovery in Essex, and the gorgeous cinematography would make this fit right at home on FX or SundanceTV. Light on punchlines but heavy on humor about the banalities of life, The Detectorists is a wholly unique pleasure that's also poignant.

Flowers (2016-present)

Streaming on: Seeso

For fans of: Arrested Development, whimsy, humor in dark places

If Wes Anderson did television and was even weirder (yes, weirder), he might do something like the charming and grim Flowers, one of Seeso's first original series (a co-production with Channel 4). A fantastic cast led by Julian Barratt, the ever-present Olivia Colman and creator Will Sharpe, Flowers takes the interweaving dysfunctional family comedy to the next level by adding a heaping helping of eccentricity, like a kooky Arrested Development set in the English countryside. Though some of the plot lines deals with suicide, pedophilia and adultery (often failed or misunderstood attempts at it), Flowers manages to wring humor and earnestness out of the depressing nature of our menial existence. How totally British!


Streaming on: Hulu

For fans of: Shaun of the Dead, comic books, video games, movies, dream sequences

Before the geeks truly took over pop culture, Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, Jessica Stevenson and Nick Frost whipped up this legendary comedy about two roommates (Pegg and Stevenson) who posed as a couple in order to get an apartment. Rote premise aside, Spaced is steeped in loving homages to sci-fi movies, gaming and cult television, as well as Wright's trademark energetic directing style (which he would carry on to Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim and The World's End). This is the "before they were famous" reel for one of England's best comedy collaborations.

The Mighty Boosh

Streaming on: Seeso

For fans of: Flight of the Conchords, costumes, gorilla suits, insanity

It's late at night, you have the munchies and just enough energy to find one more program to blast you off into the cosmos of absurdity. The Mighty Boosh is all you need. Try and follow along: Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) and Vince Noir (Noel Fielding) are zookeepers and part-time aspiring musicians, I think, whose travels take them to fantastical, otherwordly places, usually with a strong helping of funk and jazz-fusion original songs. If Sid and Marty Krofft were even more stoned than they actually were, they may have come up with some of the sets and creatures featured in The Mighty Boosh. After years of cult fandom, the Boosh was finally brought into the streaming world earlier this year by Seeso.

Peep Show

Streaming on: Netflix, Hulu

For fans of: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, awkward closeups, first-person shooters

Comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb made this mismatched buddy comedy with a motion-sickness twist: the show is shot nearly entirely in first-person view that bounces back and forth between characters. It proves to be more than a gimmick as each P.O.V. gets its own internal monologue to show what the characters are really thinking, but fortunately, it's funny all on its own thanks to Mitchell and Webb's chemistry -- or rather, lack thereof when it comes to their characters, who are polar opposite roommates who try to get laid and party all the time. For more of Mitchell and Webb, watch their sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Look.

Happy Fourth, mates!