British Invasion: 7 Hilarious Shows From Across the Pond


Anglophile alert: I am huge fan of British culture. I grew up on a steady diet of British comedy and I’ve never ever looked back. I don’t get the whole “it’s British humor” as an excuse for not finding something funny, because that shiznit is effing funny. American humor is funny; British humor is funny; EVERY KIND OF HUMOR IS FUNNY.

True story: my husband and I went to London for our honeymoon, and on the second day we both came down with horrible food poisoning. We took a day trip to Bath and ate at the English equivalent of a Chili’s, and each had half of the other’s entree. The next day we woke up and were dead. Nothing says love like being trapped in a closet-sized hotel room, sharing turns at the toilet. Also accidentally hitting the “bidet” button and spraying yourselves in the face. Sexy.

Even then, my love for British television was not diminished. Here are seven hilarious series that are all available to watch for free on Hulu.

PS. I used Misfits for the header pic even though it’s not on this list. Paul did a similar post awhile ago and included Misfits, so I decided to give it a rest. You don’t need to see Misfits on another list. We can all acknowledge it’s the Heroes we wanted Heroes to be, so let’s move on with our lives.

Peep Show


David Mitchell and Robert Webb are two of the funniest guys around, and Peep Show is one of their many projects showcasing their talents. The show follows the trials and tribulations of two twenty to thirty-something guys living together in London, often giving us the inside scoop into what’s going on in their minds, complete with voiceover inner monologues.

The Inbetweeners


The Inbetweeners follows a group of adolescent boys attending high school (comprehensive) in a British suburb. The main character is wonderfully snarky and his three friends fulfill some classic teen archetypes whilst still maintaining some very real humanity. For teenagers and anyone who ever was one.

Fresh Meat


From the creators of Peep Show, this series follows a group of freshman university students sharing the same student housing. Once you’re done with The Inbetweeners, see what happens to Joe Thomas once he matriculates into college life. Robert Webb, Jez of Peep Show, is delightful as a hapless geology professor with the twitter handle @DanDanTheGeologyMan.

Incidentally, the actual twitter account does not deal with inside jokes from the show. Poor showing, guy who runs @DanDanTheGeologyMan.



Shameless crush alert: I’m in love with Tom Hollander, the actor who plays the titular “Rev.” This series follows a rural Church of England priest who finds himself the vicar of an inner-city London parish. He drinks a bit too much, smokes with abandon, makes easy friends with local junkies and homeless alcoholics, and is married to an uber successful London solicitor. So you know, a real hilarious feel-good time is had by all.



Alan Davies stars as the executive chef at a posh hotel in this gem. My favorite character by far is played by Darren Boyd (of Spy fame, a series that almost made this list except Paul already covered it earlier), who suffers as his overqualified sous-chef. It also features Katherine Parkinson, star of The IT Crowd, which I literally just realized I should have added to this list as I typed this. So also watch The IT Crowd, because it features nerds being nerds, and I have a feeling you all can relate.



This is a great show about two young kids who find themselves in the “family way.” The boy is 16, so that’s horrible, and the girl is 18 and is a dead ringer for Ellen Page, which is also horrible. Not the looking like Ellen Page part, but the being so young part. There’s a great supporting cast of characters that complicate matters and add to the general hijinks of the situation. Babies having babies: too funny!

The Thick of It


Some of you may have caught In the Loop, which was a universally released major motion picture spinoff of this series. Tom Hollander, my fake husband (Rev.), features prominently. This series highlights the inner workings of British government, which I find fascinating because it seems so ridiculously close to our own. The show relies heavily on improvisation, and Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker is a revelation of quick-witted expletives.

So if you ever find yourself lacking in good television comedy, take a chance on the myriad of options available in British comedy. Even if you find yourself disappointed, you’ll at least get to listen to some lovely accents along the way.

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  1. As a humble Brit, I can vouch for many of those shows, especially The Thick of It and Rev.

    Thats all that me and my sexy accent have to say about it for now…

  2. I’m glad you mentioned the IT Crowd. That’s one of my favorite shows of all time! I’ll have to look into the other shows on this list though. I’ve stopped watching a lot of live TV and I end up watching things Netflix thinks I’ll like.

  3. Peep Show is the most consistently funny show on TV, maintaining its greatness even through the most recent season. It ranks right up there with my favorite TV comedies of all time: Seinfeld, Flight of the Conchords, and Trailer Park Boys.

    At 48 episodes, it’s not too terribly daunting for anyone wanting to catch up. Season 1 is the weakest season, so don’t be discouraged if you only sort of like it after that season, as it gets better in S2 and peaks in seasons 3-6. Seasons 7 and 8 are still great, but 3-6 are the cream of the crop if you ask me. Hulu has the series for any of my fellow Americans that want to give it a shot. You won’t regret it.

  4. I think Misfits may have made my life complete when Kelly headbutted Hitler and shouted “Why d’you gotta to be such a dick?!” at him while kicking him on the ground. you don’t get that kind of awesome on American television.

  5. You should Definitely mention “Black Books”, it’s hilarious, and “Spaced” which are kinda older than these and not running anymore, but I thought I ‘d share because those shows and the “IT Crowd” are what got me started with British television. Great list by the way, I’m gonna check all these out.

  6. Good list but my DVD shelf is giving me ‘that look’, telling me you’ve missed some greats…

    – Leaving out ‘Spaced’ is a bit of a travesty, shame on you Unreality
    – Same goes foe ‘The IT Crowd’
    – ‘Green Wing’: hospital, hilarity, general brilliance
    – ‘ Episodes’ (two of the same cast members as Green Wing and Matt LeBlanc) I know it’s a joint British/American production but it does a fantastic job of detailing the sheer unbridled horror of American remakes
    – Without ‘Father Ted’ you would have no ‘Rev’
    – ‘The Smoking Room’: probably the greatest thing we’ve lost due to the smoking ban (also starring Robert Webb)
    – ‘Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace’ does an amazing job of parodying cheesy 80’s horror/sci-fi/everything we love here
    – ‘The League Of Gentlemen’ is definitely on the darker side of comedy but it’s damn funny
    – ‘Psychoville’ is somewhat of a spiritual successor to ‘The League of Gentlemen’ (you’ll recognise the cast/writers/all that jazz) with added mystery
    – ‘Nighty Night’ is delightfuly dark
    – If you like ‘Nighty Night’ you’ll like ‘Human Remains’
    – And if you really like your darkness then you may want to look up ‘Jam’ – it plays out like a surrealist art film at times and it’s by the brilliant Chris Morris (I can never go long without reccomending his most recent film ‘Four Lions’ to someone – it’s funnier, more intelligent and far more touching than a film about a group of would-be suicide bombers has any right to be)

    And thats all I can see without getting my glasses
    Happy watching

  7. As a Brit I’m shocked and appaled…..Where’s Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Spaced, Father Ted (Irish made for British TV), I’m Alan Partridge, Stewert Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, Brass Eye, Time Trumpet, Big Train, Green Wing…..All vastly superior to Whites, Rev and Pramface

    Peep Show is one my all time favourites but its quality has dropped dramatically over the last couple of season
    Kudos for the Thick of It shout out though, that show has taught me countless, inventive ways of insulting people, god bless Armando Ianucci!

  8. For shame, guys. You really missed some opportunities to tell me what I missed.

    What about Doc Martin? Say what you will about it possibly skewing more towards an older audience, Martin Clunes is a national treasure. And while we’re on the subject, how about Men Behaving Badly?

    Sure Father Ted was a definite predecessor to Rev., but what about The Vicar of Dibley, which did “vicar out of water” before Rev. was even a twinkle in James Wood’s eye?

    And are you really going to let me get away with mentioning Peep Show without at least paying some lip service to That Mitchell and Webb Look? In fact, what is with the dearth of sketch comedies on my list? Little Britain? Monty Python’s Flying Circus? A Bit of Fry and Laurie? The Benny Hill Show? And for something brand spanking new: The Johnny and Inel Show?

    How about some featuring funny ladies? Miranda, anyone? Keeping Up Appearances? Not mentioning AbFab should probably get my tv writer license revoked.

    Nothing with Rowan Atkinson? No Mr. Bean? No Blackadder?

    As a site that focuses so much on Sci-fi, you’re really going to let me get away with no mention of Red Dwarf? Or Hyperdrive?

    Fawlty Towers?
    Are You Being Served?
    Yes (Prime) Minister?
    The Young Ones?
    The Mighty Boosh?

    And for the love of Christmas, why didn’t any of us mention The IT Crowd?! What’s that? Oh, we all did? Including me in the original article? Well, glad that’s sorted.

    In all seriousness, though: I’m also a fan of many of the shows you guys mention, and will definitely check out the ones I don’t know. Thanks for adding such great options to the list for your fellow readers!

    I was focusing on newer comedies that were also available to watch for free on Hulu, because who doesn’t like free quality entertainment? I should have made the Hulu part more pronounced, maybe, but I didn’t want it to seem like some weird advertisement for them. Because they best be paying me for that shiznit, amirite?

    PS. regarding Spaced: I just did the laziest Google-fu ever and found eight Unreality articles that somehow praise Spaced. Unreality loves Spaced. Officially. Spaced + Unreality = 4Eva. In fact, now seems like a great time to formally announce our engagement to Spaced. We’re planning a modest ceremony in the spring, and will honeymoon in Bali. We’ll summer in London and winter here in the States. We’ll be hyphenating our names.

  9. Haven’t seen any of those, but I think I might check a couple of those out. I watch a lot of Brit comedy too. Vicious (Ian McKellan, Derek Jacobi) and also Plebs are really funny. Not British (It’s Irish), but Moone Boy is really good.

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