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Shows Like Netflix's The Chair That Dramedy Fans Need To Watch

Netflix released one of its new original shows, "The Chair," on August 20, 2021 to instant popularity. With the charming and talented "Grey's Anatomy" alum Sandra Oh as its star and a unique premise set within an English faculty department of a small college, it's no wonder that viewers eagerly began streaming the series immediately upon its release.

"The Chair" follows Professor Ji-Yoon Kim (Oh), the newly appointed chair of the English department at the fictional Pembroke College, as she navigates the challenging terrain of running a struggling department. Between decreasing enrollments and a school wide scandal involving a colleague, Bill (Jay Duplass), Ji-Yoon instantly has her work cut out for her. And on top of that, she must contend with her romantic feelings for Bill, in the wake of the death of Bill's wife, as well as the challenges she faces raising her strong-willed young daughter Ju Ju (Everly Carganilla).

For fans of comedy-dramas, "The Chair" is just about the perfect watch. It deals with difficult real world issues, while keeping the show steeped in more lighthearted and funny moments between the characters. Oh alone demonstrates a range of tones within the show, from being bashful about her feelings for Bill to firmly standing her ground in work situations. If you're one of the many viewers who loved "The Chair" — and likely devoured the short season of just six episodes way too quickly — we have some recommendations for dramedies to dive into next.

Dear White People

For another dramedy set on a college campus, look no further than "Dear White People," which premiered on Netflix in 2017. Based on the 2014 film of the same name, "Dear White People" follows a group of Black students attending the (predominantly white) fictional Ivy League college, Winchester University, as they confront race issues that arise on campus. One student, Samantha White (Logan Browning) hosts a campus radio show, called "Dear White People," encouraging students to pay attention to social issues.

The Atlantic had major praise for the show and its themes, with critic Vann R. Newkirk II writing, "I think 'Dear White People,' the show, is a tremendous artistic achievement. It's always hinting that there is something beyond the pleading and wokeness, something that the show's more militant characters can't see."

Much like with "The Chair," social issues and conversations are at the forefront of the plot, equally as focused on — and, in fact, intricately intertwined with — as the characters' personal problems. In a review of its second season (which has a perfect 100% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes), The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "More than anything, 'Dear White People' marks itself as a show that more people (and more critics) should be talking about, because few shows on TV feel as eager to instigate as many meaningful conversations."


Jay Duplass excels in his role as a messy and confused widow, Bill, on "The Chair" — plus he and Sandra Oh have palpable chemistry. So, if you liked Duplass's performance as Bill, then you'll definitely want to check out "Togetherness." He co-created this dramedy series with his brother (and fellow actor) Mark Duplass and their longtime friend Steve Zissis. The Duplass brothers write and direct most episodes and Mark Duplass also stars. One of his co-stars also happens to be Amanda Peet, who co-created "The Chair" — bringing it all full circle.

"Togetherness" introduces Brett (Mark Duplass) and Michelle Pierson (Melanie Lynskey), a married couple who have pretty much lost all of the spark within their relationship. Their stale home life becomes more complicated (and a little more lively) when Michelle's sister Tina (Peet) and Brett's aspiring actor brother Alex (Steve Zissis) move in with them. The four navigate their new living situation while simultaneously pursuing individual goals.

Amongst the significant praise the show has received (despite being canceled too soon after just two seasons), Vogue speculated what makes the show so compelling, writing, "There's a sweetness and familiarity underneath all the mid-life crises that causes us not only to relate to these seemingly ordinary people, but also to want to follow every step of their seemingly ordinary lives." Meanwhile, in terms of its relevance to this list specifically, Salon claimed that it "perfectly straddles the dramedy lines."


"Catastrophe," a British series, stars Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney — who also co-created and co-wrote the series — as Irish teacher Sharon and American ad executive Rob, who meet in London while Rob is on a business trip and instantly hit it off. What begins as the two of them agreeing to have a casual fling results in an unexpected pregnancy. Sharon and Rob then decide to pursue a relationship and raise their child together, despite barely knowing each other and living in different countries. 

"Catastrophe" ran for four seasons, from 2015 to 2019, and remained acclaimed throughout its entire run. Much of the praise by critics points to the ways in which the series takes tropes from the romantic comedy and turns them on their heads, while still remaining a love story at its center. The Boston Globe wrote, "It's a really likable romantic comedy that takes a lot of familiar material and smartens it up, gives it intimacy."

Adding on to the point made by The Boston Globe, Esquire Magazine wrote, "It has no interest in portraying romance through rose-colored glasses or providing sweet meet-cutes; instead, it focuses on the realistic, relatable, and brutally honest aspects of an adult relationship."


For one more series set on a college campus — and, like "Dear White People," focused on the students' perspectives, rather than the faculty like in "The Chair" — there's "Grown-sh," the spinoff series to the popular ABC sitcom, "Black-ish." Airing on Freeform,"Grown-ish," created by Kenya Barris and Larry Wilmore, follows the Johnsons' eldest daughter from "Black-ish," Zoey (Yara Shahidi) as she moves away to college at the fictional California University of Liberal Arts. Initially eager for independence and adulthood, Zoey quickly learns that college life is not exactly as she expected.

Like "The Chair," "Grown-ish" doesn't shy away from exploring how racial issues play out on campus and how the experience of a Black woman will differ from her peers (reflective of what we see Yaz, a young Black professor, face within her department on "The Chair"). On this topic, Variety wrote, "Grown-ish entertainingly examines socially conscious, striving young people with both wisdom and wit."

And addressing the show's success overall, Yahoo! TV wrote, "The effect is nicely confiding rather than jarring. Funny and sometimes surprisingly dramatic, 'Grown-ish' feels both like a hit and like an artistic success. Further, Refinery29 wrote, "FreeForm has mastered the art of telling young adult stories. The network doesn't operate under the premise that teens aren't dealing with some of the same issues that grownups are ... it's clear that this is also the case for 'Grown-ish.'"


Arguably one of the best dramedies to come out in recent years is HBO's "Insecure," created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore. Set in Los Angeles, "Insecure" follows nonprofit worker Issa (Rae) and her best friend, Molly (Yvonne Orji), a successful lawyer, as they navigate their personal and professional lives as two late 20-something Black women. At the start of the series, Issa is feeling discontented with her longterm boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis), while Molly longs for a serious relationship but has a hard time finding a man who wants to commit to her.

The series has received praise across the board throughout its run. During its first season, The Wrap summed up the best details of the series nicely, writing, "It's an honest, unflinching look at dating, relationships and life, told from a refreshing and hilarious perspective."

Attention has also been brought to the ways in which "Insecure" is a refreshing focus on Black women that is still somewhat a rarity — especially with Black creators behind the scenes. On this topic, the New Yorker wrote, "The authenticity of their relationship harkens back to such nineties shows as Living Single and Girlfriends, series that feel like artifacts of what Black-female friendship can look like onscreen if written by people who know what they're talking about." And, on top of its well done depth, "Insecure" is also just an entertaining show with complex— and captivating — characters.


Created by Andy Wolton, "Trying," the Apple TV+ dramedy, centers on Nikki Newman (Esther Smith) and Jason Ross (Rafe Spall), a committed couple who want to become parents. After struggling to conceive, including a failed IVF attempt, they decide to begin the adoption process — only to find just as many complications with this process as they found with natural fertility.

The two leads are largely behind the success of "Trying." The New York Post declared, "It's Smith and Spall who provide the heart and soul of 'Trying,' with a charming, easy on-screen chemistry that never feels forced." Similarly, NOW Toronto wrote, "Spall, who is always the best part of whatever he's in, is as natural as ever, while Smith proves endlessly endearing."

The core theme of the show has also been praised, such as by ScreenRant, in their Season 1 review: "'Trying' offers a fairly grounded take on modern love and how two people can change and be changed by a relationship that, despite some evidence to the contrary, is maybe the best thing they have going for them." Plus, the series is only getting better as it goes along — while its first season has a high 86% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes, its second season moved up to a perfect 100%, giving viewers a reason not only to begin the heartwarming series, but to stick with it.


Another of the most popular dramedies of recent years, "Fleabag" is a perfect show — if you're going off of its Rotten Tomatoes score, anyway. Additionally, its second season received 11 Emmy nominations and won six of those — including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Phoebe Waller-Bridge (four other women on the series also received acting nods). Created by Bridge herself and based on her one woman stage show of the same name, "Fleabag" follows a fourth wall-breaking woman known only as Fleabag to the audience, as she struggles to navigate her life after the death of two people extremely close to her: her mother and her best friend.

Just about every aspect of the show has been praised — from the razor sharp writing to the ultra talented cast to the smart direction. In a review of Season 2, NME wrote, "Few writers could pull off turning such a deeply upsetting turn of events into a ridiculous dark comedy; the return of Fleabag marks Phoebe Waller-Bridge out as one of the most talented faces in British comedy."

Adding on to the immense praise — and speaking for the show's most ardent fans — RogerEbert.com declared of the show's sophomore season, "A portrait of grief, fear, and love that's startling, painful, achingly funny, unbearably sexy, pretty much perfect, and somehow better than the first season. It is a marvel. It should not exist." Lucky for all of us, it does exist, and we can continue to admire its utter brilliance.

Sex Education

Another series set on a campus — although, this time, a high school one — "Sex Education" is as open and honest and charming as "The Chair." Created by Laurie Nunn, "Sex Education" focuses on shy high schooler Otis (Asa Butterfield), who, pulling from the secondhand knowledge he's learned from his sex therapist mother Jean (Gillian Anderson), begins a sex advice business at school with social outcast Maeve (Emma Mackey).

While the initial premise is an intriguing one, "Sex Education" also reveals unexpected layers to itself to make the watching an even more fulfilling experience. The Guardian wrote, "The season develops in tone and depth beyond its initial easy comic setup; at its heart is the notion that the problems, frustrations and disappointments of teenagers are as real and valid as those of the so-called grown-ups."

One detail about the show that critics and fans love is the way it's straightforwardly addresses sex with its teen characters, in a way that reflects real life (unlike several teen shows that oversexualize their young characters). The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "It's sex positivity at its finest."

Better Things

A major part of the Ji-Yoon character in "The Chair" is the role she plays as a mother. Throughout the series, we see her struggle to balance her work life with her home life, especially with a strong-willed daughter like Ju Ju, who, as an adopted child, raises even more challenges. Another series that paints a poignant look at single motherhood is the FX dramedy "Better Thing."

Created by Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K., "Better Things" follows single mother Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon), as she faces challenges raising her three daughters — Max (Mikey Madison), Frankie (Hannah Alligood), and Duke (Olivia Edward) — in Los Angeles while continuing her acting career. Sam faces additional responsibility looking out for her British mother Phil (Celia Imrie), who lives across the street.

"Better Things" has been praised for everything from its cast to its writing and more. Salon brought attention to its use of themes, writing, "Its naturalistic feel shows us the dance of modern female adulthood like no other series on television without coming across as maudlin or peddling unrealistic imagery." Similarly, the AV Club, in its review of the pilot episode, wrote, "From the opening scene in which Sam chastises a woman for judging her parenting to choices, Better Things announces what it is about and how it will get there." All in all, a show about not one but five complex women characters that is both well written and compelling is definitely worth your time.


Created by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky, "Hacks" premiered on HBO Max in May of 2021 to instant acclaim. "Hacks" centers on Deborah Vance (Jean Smart), a legendary stand-up comedian who has a residency in Las Vegas. But when the head of the casino announces his plans to pare down her performances, her manager suggests bringing in another writer to help freshen up her material. Enter Ava (Hannah Einbinder), a young writer who has recently been "canceled" due to an insensitive tweet and has found herself struggling to find work. Despite neither Deborah or Ava being enthusiastic about the prospect of working together, they ultimately decide to give it a chance.

A significant amount of the praise has gone to veteran actor Smart — who has acted in countless notable projects, from "Frasier" to, more recently, "Mare of Easttown" — who deftly drives the show forward. The Sydney Morning Herald called her a "marvel," while TIME Magazine wrote, "The core of the show is Smart's performance, which brings the perfect balance of steeliness and vulnerability."

And while jokes may be at the forefront of the show's premise, it has plenty of drama and seriousness to go around, as well. In fact, Vox declared, "'Hacks' is rare in its ability to be genuinely funny and dramatic in equal measure." Indeed, it's that balance that makes "Hacks" the perfect addition to this list.