Many fans of The Office would argue that it’s impossible to try and recapture the unique magic of the classic NBC sitcom, whose initially cynical edge gave way to more whimsical character studies. In case you don’t know, the popular show centers around a slew of likably awkward people and followed the various friendships, romances, and dreams they pursued in a seemingly dead-end office job at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
A remake of a 2001 British series of the same name created Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, The Office was adapted for U.S. audiences by Greg Daniels and aired on NBC beginning in 2005. At first, the American series was almost identical to the U.K. show, to the point that the pilot episode is practically a shot-for-shot remake.
However, as the years went on and the number of seasons in the U.S. show surpassed that of the U.K.’s original, even the idiotic and cringy boss Michael Scott, portrayed by Steve Carrell, became more sympathetic in the mockumentary-style series.
We can’t say that any other show captures the magic of comedy quite as precisely as The Office did, but after you’re done binging it again on Peacock, here are a few shows we think you’ll find similarly chuckle-worthy.
There’s no doubt that 30 Rock took inspiration from The Office in so far as having a single camera-oriented show, rather than a multi-camera live studio audience setup of pre-Dunder Mifflin sitcoms. However, 30 Rock has a style and humor all its own and not in the exact same format (it isn’t a mockumentary). The show is another workplace comedy, this time centered around a woman trying to run a sketch comedy show and loosely based on the real-life experiences of creator Tina Fey during her years as head writer for Saturday Night Live. It presents a number of lovingly flawed characters, like in The Office, such as the ambitious-to-a-fault Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), the somewhat intimidating boss and mentor figure Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), and the delightfully raunchy and unpredictable Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan).
Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, Peacock.
Arrested Development has some similarities to The Office stylistically, such as having a handheld camera style, but it isn’t quite formatted as a straight mockumentary. While there are no cut-away interviews of the characters like there are in The Office, the show does break the fourth wall on occasion, usually through narrator Ron Howard’s commentary. However, it’s not the show’s format that has us drawing favorable comparisons, but rather the sharp writing, lovably hapless and wacky characters, and recurring jokes.
Following a dysfunctional family called the Bluths, the show centers around Jason Bateman’s Michael, the seemingly sole level-headed member of his family that must take over family affairs when his father, Jeffrey Tambor’s George Bluth Sr., is imprisoned. A former psychologist and possibly closeted gay man trying to make a fresh start in an acting career (David Cross’ Tobias Fünke), an aspiring magician with very little talent (Will Arnett’s Gob Bluth), and the salty, overbearing, wine-soaked, judgmental family matriarch (Jessica Walter’s Lucille Bluth) are just a few of the reasons we keep coming back for more.
Where to watch: Hulu (seasons 1-3), Netflix (seasons 1-5).
Remember the judgmental, wine-soaked, overbearing disposition from a Jessica Walter-portrayed character in that last entry we just mentioned? Well, take a very similar character, Malory Archer ⏤ also played by Jessica Walter ⏤ and plop her into a dysfunctional spy agency with plenty of inner-office politics and drama and you have our next entry on the list: FX’s Archer. The mature-rated animated show, reminiscent of James Bond, focuses heavily on the notoriously “hostile work environment” of the fictional spy agency at its center, the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS). Its focus on witty, rapid-fire banter, self-referential and pop culture-heavy humor, fourth-wall-breaking comedy, and a slew of silly characters makes it a unique comedy you won’t soon forget. At the center of it all is the martini-swilling-to-a-fault spy, H. Jon Benjamin’s Sterling Archer.
Where to watch: FX, FXX, or Hulu.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a workplace comedy set in a police precinct that revolves around Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta, who often butts heads with his stern commanding officer, Andre Braugher’s Captain Raymond Holt. Striking a balance between contemporary issues ⏤ such as modern policing and LGBTQ representation ⏤ and side-splitting, sometimes slapstick humor, the sheer comedic talent of the show’s ensemble cast is simply staggering. Not only does Jake’s ying drive forward Captain Holt’s yang, but the other characters are just as likable and at times over-the-top and silly. Rounding out the cast are Chelsea Peretti as Gina Linetti, Joe Lo Truglio as Charles Boyle, Terry Crews as Terry Jeffords, and Stephanie Beatriz as Rosa Diaz.
Where to watch: Hulu, Peacock.
In terms of the style of its presentation, Modern Family is quite similar to The Office, and some would say possibly to a fault. However, a huge difference between the shows is Modern’s focus on, well, family. Rather than being a straightforward workplace comedy, much of the action takes place in the home largely following three separate families that are all interconnected by either marriage or blood. Yes, it’s filmed in a mockumentary style and yes, it features the signature cut-away interviews and snap zooms focusing on character’s reactions so often used to comedic effect in The Office. But its focus on family issues and characters inhabiting a wider age rage — from younger teenagers to the more senior among us — gives it a more distinctive warm-and-fuzzy vibe compared to The Office‘s cynical edge. Be warned, though, there are some mature jokes on the show, so it’s probably best for teens and up to enjoy as opposed to younger viewers.
Where to watch: Hulu.
Parks and Recreation
Probably the closest thing for us in terms of “capturing the magic” of The Office is NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Once again, it’s a mockumentary-stye workplace comedy that takes place in an office, but this time it’s a government office, more specifically the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana. The idealistic bureaucrat at the show’s center, Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope, is a protagonist whose high-minded ambitions for government ⏤ such as transforming a vacant pit into a playground ⏤ often fall frustratingly short. The show boasts an absolutely stellar ensemble cast that includes the polar opposite of Leslie, the Libertarian-leaning and bacon-loving Ron Swanson ⏤ pitch-perfectly played by Nick Offerman ⏤ and an absolute star-turning role for Chris Pratt as the lovable doofus Andy Dwyer.
Where to watch: Peacock.
While Comedy Central’s Reno 911! may be much sillier and more heavily reliant on improvised comedy than scripted jokes when compared to The Office, those are some of the show’s most admirable qualities. A spoof of real-world reality shows like Cops, Reno 911! also incorporates a mockumentary style into its execution. At the center of the show are its stars and co-creators Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, and Kerri Kenney-Silver. In the spectrum of offerings we’ve listed so far, Reno 911! leans more heavily into the raunchy and absurd. In that manner, it’s somewhat similar to Archer in tone, but the comedy style is much looser. The show features a slew of hilarious guest stars in addition to the hapless police characters at its center, including Michael Ian Black, Patton Oswalt, and Nick Swardson.
Where to watch: HBO Max, Paramount Plus, and select episodes on CC.com (Comedy Central’s website).
Silicon Valley is very smart, full of likable characters, and most of all a well-written comedy accompanied by extremely talented actors who masterfully pull off the material. Another workplace comedy of sorts, this time centering around a tech startup called Pied Piper, the show is a parody of the real-life Silicon Valley and its culture. Created by Mike Judge ⏤ the mind behind King of the Hill and Idiocracy ⏤ as well as John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, the series does a bang-up job of representing the shenanigans that might as well being going on behind garage doors of fledging tech companies as they struggle amid the competition of giant corporations. It’s a total ensemble powerhouse led by Thomas Middleditch’s hilariously nervous programmer CEO Richard Hendricks and some of his pals, portrayed by comedic talents T.J. Miller, Martin Starr, and Kumail Nanjiani, among others.
Where to watch: HBO Max.
The IT Crowd
Taking a decidedly more surreal take on the workplace comedy, with plenty of cringe moments sprinkled throughout, The IT Crowd is an excellent British sitcom centering around the information technology (IT) department of the fictional Reynholm Industries. Relegated to the basement of a large office building, the lovably lazy Roy Trenneman (played by Chris O’Dowd) usually leaves his over-the-phone troubleshooting technique to simply asking his client: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” But the nerdy programmer Maurice Moss, played by Richard Ayoade, and manager Jen Barber, played by Katherine Parkinson, makes for a trio of awkward misadventures that’s a binge-able as it is comforting. The mysterious Goth technician who lives in a darkened server room, Noel Fielding’s Richmond Avenal, and eccentric CEO boss, Matt Berry’s Douglas Rehynholm, are two side-splitting cherries on top of the whole affair.
Where to watch: Netflix.
What We Do in the Shadows
Speaking of Matt Berry, he stars in another show on our list, What We Do in the Shadows. Based on a 2014 mockumentary film of the same name directed by Taika Waititi, the show centers around a group of vampire roommates — Berry’s Laszlo Cravenworth, Kayvan Novak’s Nandor, and Natasia Demetriou’s Nadja — and the trials and tribulations they would encounter if the mythical creatures were real. Add to the mix some really strong side characters, like Harvey Guillén’s wannabe vampire and servant to Nandor, Guillermo de la Cruz, and The Office alum Mark Proksch’s Colin Robinson as the devilishly cringey energy vampire, and you have a recipe for success.
The format will be familiar to Office fans, as it features conventions like cutaway interviews. In fact, its humor is arguably so on point and its characters so hilarious that some have even gone so far as to call it “The Office with vampires.” That’s a largely spot-on description, but with a little more of the dry humor, puns, and visual gags that fans of creator Jemaine Clement’s previous HBO series Flight of the Conchords would enjoy.
Where to watch: FX, Hulu.