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Shows Like Dead Like Me That Dark Comedy Fans Need To See

Some shows never gain the popularity necessary to make it past a couple seasons. Most of these shows simply missed the mark. Some only work as a short-run series and the creators, recognizing this, opt to tell the story as it should be told, going out on a high note, rather than letting the show die a slow and painful public death. Then there are shows like "Dead Like Me," a brilliant dark comedy from the mind of Bryan Fuller, starring Ellen Muth as George Lass and Mandy Patinkin as Rube. "Dead Like Me" lasted only two seasons (2003-'04) on Showtime before being canceled, but the series has since garnered the status of a cult favorite.

This series sets the stage for a dark comedy in the first episode, when blasé 18-year-old college dropout, Georgia (George) Lass, dies from a falling piece of space debris. Death by toilet seat seems like the ultimate a cosmic joke, but poor George's day doesn't get any better when she learns she must continue on amongst the living, working as an undead grim reaper. It's a delightful dark comedy with sarcastic wit and charm. If you have a dark sense of humor, you've probably grown accustomed to your favorite shows being canceled after a couple of offbeat seasons, but don't fret, we know which shows you need to watch next if you loved "Dead Like Me."

Pushing Daisies (2007-2009)

If you loved "Dead Like Me," your obvious next viewing obsession should be "Pushing Daisies," which was also created by Bryan Fuller. "Pushing Daisies" is candy-coated, charming, and quirky, with a dark heart of pure comedy. Any show that begins with a boy's beloved golden retriever getting run over by a big rig is going to have a dark streak. But don't worry, this boy brings his dog back to life, letting audiences know we have entered a realm where fantasy and reality mingle, creating television magic. "Pushing Daisies" is the story of Ned, a lonely piemaker who can resurrect the dead with a single touch.

But the catch is, Ned can never touch them again or they will die. This ability has other limitations, too: If Ned doesn't touch them again within one minute, extinguishing the magic that revived them, someone else in close physical proximity will die, taking their place. Ned uses his unusual gift in a partnership with a private investigator, bringing murder victims back to life to ask who killed them, so Ned and his partner can claim a reward for solving the crime. This partnership goes swimmingly until Ned brings back his childhood crush. Unable to leave her dead, he teams up with her to discover who killed her. Two people solving crimes together and possibly falling in love, without being able to touch, brings tension to this delightfully dark comedy.

Wonderfalls (2004)

While you're at it, you might as well complete the holy trinity of Bryan Fuller comedies by watching "Wonderfalls," a show with all the quirk, charm, and fantasy elements of "Dead Like Me," and "Pushing Daisies," but less death. In "Wonderfalls," Fuller revisits the life of underachieving 24-year-old Jayne Tyler. Jayne graduates from Brown University with a philosophy degree before moving back to her hometown of Niagara Falls, where she works at a tourist gift shop, lives in an airstream trailer, and drinks beer at a local tavern while flirting with the bartender.

In the first episode of the one-season series, inanimate objects at the gift shop begin speaking to Jayne. At first, she thinks she's going insane, but within a couple episodes it becomes obvious something or someone (possibly God) is trying to help people who have lost their way through her. "Wonderfalls" is as much a heartfelt coming-of-age story about disaffected, over-educated and underemployed millennials as it is a kooky situational comedy about family dynamics, community, and human connection.

Reaper (2007-2009)

"Reaper," running just two seasons, is another short-lived series that doubles as a thematic exploration of underachieving twenty-somethings. The story follows a slacker named Sam who lives in Seattle with his parents. On his 21st birthday, Sam learns that his parents sold his soul to the Devil before his birth. Under the terms of that deal, now Sam must act as a bounty hunter for the Devil, dragging fugitives back to Hell. Despite its rather grim premise, "Reaper" leans more toward the silly than the dark in its brand of humor, but the parallels between "Dead Like Me" and this series are too obvious to ignore. "Reaper" is a coming-of-age story about a young man struggling to find direction in life, and surprisingly finding his purpose through his role as a bounty hunter. Ray Wise, as the Devil, is a terrific treat for everyone who loved "Twin Peaks."

iZombie (2015-2019)

When overachieving medical student Liv Moore spontaneously attends a boat party with a classmate, she falls victim to a zombie feeding frenzy. Although Liv escapes the boat intact, she is no longer technically human, or alive. Understandably, Liv struggles to accept her newfound status as a living-dead zombie, and drifts into depression. She's determined to pass for human — and gain access to brains — so she begins working in the Seattle coroner's office. When Liv discovers she temporarily absorbs the memories (and behaviors) of murder victims after eating their brains, she poses as a psychic, helping a homicide detective solve murders.

"iZombie" enjoyed more widespread appeal than many of the series on this list, having five seasons to explore a fictional Seattle as ground zero of the zombie apocalypse. While it's a dark comedy filled with wit and heart, it also explores themes of prejudice, government corruption, unethical scientific research, and morality. People do morally reprehensible things in response to the lawlessness the zombie apocalypse has brought to Seattle, giving us many chances to question who the monsters really are. "iZombie" is a lot of things — a procedural crime drama and a love story, with a fair measure of absurd hijinks, and a comedy with a dash of social commentary. If you loved "Dead Like Me," the CW's "iZombie" just might be your next binging obsession.

Santa Clarita Diet (2017-2019)

The Netflix original series "Santa Clarita Diet" has a fresh take on being undead while keeping up with the Joneses in Southern California. Drew Barrymore leads the cast of this twisted, wacky comedy as Sheila, an awkward mom and realtor who sells houses with her husband Joel in Santa Clarita. They live in an expensive suburban Southern California neighborhood where gossip reigns and the latest fad diet is a common topic of conversation among the locals on their morning walks. When Sheila becomes infected with a zombie virus and craves fresh human flesh, she gives into her hunger, killing and eating the boss who sexually harassed her.

Despite struggling with the moral ramifications of her new food preferences, and the challenge of securing a steady supply of human flesh, Sheila feels more energetic, confident, and upbeat than she has in years. Even the neighbors notice she has a pep in her step and a glow about her. This dark comedy's plot goes in surprising, wildly funny directions as Sheila, Joel, and their teenage daughter Abby grapple with the challenge of covering up murders and evading the suspicion of local law enforcement while vying for house listing and sales against their competition in the local real estate market. Over three seasons, we watch Sheila struggle to maintain her humanity while eating humans in Netflix's wildly original "Santa Clarita Diet."

Being Human (US 2011-2014)

A ghost, a vampire, and a werewolf move in together. It might sound like the start of a joke, but it's the premise of the TV series "Being Human." Originally a BBC production in the UK, the show was reincarnated as a US-based series. The story begins with Aidan and Josh, two nurses working at the same hospital. Aidan is an experienced vampire trying to give up hunting humans, instead subsisting on blood bags from the hospital. Josh, a former med student and newish werewolf, is struggling with his monthly transformation into an animal that maims and kills. The duo decide moving in to an apartment together might give them a semblance of normality in lives dominated by the monsters they carry within.

After finding the perfect apartment, they come to find they have inherited a ghost for a roommate. Sally was the fiancée of their landlord and died in the apartment. She's trapped and doesn't know how to move on or accept her premature death. The comedy and the drama of this story comes from Aidan, Josh, and Sally struggling to maintain their identities as human beings after becoming something else entirely. Like most of the previous shows on this list, "Being Human" explores how people continue existing in this world once they are no longer technically human or alive. The UK version of the story leans into campy humor and the absurd while maintaining its oddball charm. The US version has better special effects and production values, with a brooding vibe. While the US version is certainly slicker, there is a well-matched competition between the UK and US versions for fan favorite status.

My Dead Ex (2018)

"My Dead Ex" is a one-season series produced by Awesomeness TV that premiered at SXSW in 2018. The show was later picked up by Netflix and began streaming in 2021. "My Dead Ex" is a will-they, won't-they rom-com with a macabre twist. When typical teenage girl Charley's ex-boyfriend and unwanted suitor, Ben, dies in a tragic accident, Charley becomes nostalgic, reminiscing about their shared childhood. She finds and wears the matching medallion necklace Ben gifted her years ago and never stopped wearing himself. Reanimated by a magic spell cast on their matching necklaces, Ben digs himself out of the grave before finding Charley. While "My Dead Ex" has some questionable moments and problematic components, it's ultimately a funny and charming story with a fresh take on unrequited love and teen romance.

The Good Place (2016-2020)

This next series moves on form our theme of the undead living amongst us, to what happens after we die. When Eleanor Shellstrop, brilliantly played by Kristen Bell, dies, she finds herself in "The Good Place," an afterlife filled with wholesome people, frozen yogurt, a house built specifically to her tastes, and a soulmate as the cherry on top. The only problem: Eleanor wasn't a nice person in life and fears she may have been sent to the wrong afterlife, one belonging to another Eleanor. Of course, she doesn't plan on fessing up to the mistake. Despite finding the Good Place and its inhabitants insufferably annoying, Eleanor fears the other place might be worse. When Eleanor confides in her soulmate Chidi, who studied ethics during his life, hilarity ensues. Chidi agrees to teach Eleanor to be a better person, and she tries to change.

Eleanor's mere presence in the Good Place throws everything out of balance, creating disturbances that plague the architect Michael, played by TV veteran Ted Danson. In this four-season series, Eleanor tries to change her ways, with the help of some new friends and also a few frenemies. Of course, this series has some hilarious plot twists, making us question if Eleanor isn't the only one who made it to the wrong afterlife. Despite the dark humor, this NBC comedy about the afterlife asks "What it means to be a good person," according to show creator Michael Schur.

Russian Doll (2019- )

Much like "Dead Like Me," Netflix's "Russian Doll" keeps you laughing with acerbic wit and perfectly timed sarcasm. Emmy winner Natasha Lyonne plays Nadia Vulvokov, a smart-mouthed video game engineer traveling through New York City on the way to a birthday party where she's the guest of honor. Nadia becomes caught in a "Groundhog Day" loop where she dies in various ways before waking up unscathed each morning, doomed to repeat the day once more. (Lyonne not only stars in this show, she's also its co-creator, writer and director.)

Nadia wonders many things: Is she really dead? Is this her afterlife? Is she trapped in purgatory? During this phase of the show, she grapples with existential questions, eventually asking a rabbi for advice. She also meets a man named Alan in a plummeting elevator, where they realize they're both caught in the same loop. As Natasha and Alan repeat this cycle, elements are stripped away, slowly leading Alan and Nadia toward an important realization. Brilliant, funny and complex, "Russian Doll" was renewed for a second season, but experienced delays because of the pandemic. Filming started in spring 2021 after a one-year delay.

Six Feet Under (2001-2005)

In HBO's "Six Feet Under," we diverge from the fantasy world, finding ourselves in a bizarre new reality. This HBO original series shares none of the fantasy elements of "Dead Like Me," but it does explore death. "Six Feet Under" follows the lives of the Fishers, a family who run a funeral home in Los Angeles. Twenty years after the show first hit screens, it can easily be argued we wouldn't have the variety and quality of original programming now available without the early success of "Six Feet Under."

The cast of "Six Feet Under" is excellent, catapulting stars like Michael C. Hall, who would later star in the Showtime hit series "Dexter," into the limelight. In this series, we approach the subject of death from the perspective of the people who are there to help their clients put a loved one to rest. In "Six Feet Under" we must accept that death touches all our lives, and somehow find humor in the absurd ways we try to ignore the universal truth that everyone dies. "Six Feet Under" is one groundbreaking, offbeat, darkly funny, critically acclaimed show you simply must see.

Fleabag (2016-2019)

What happens to those who are left behind? More specifically, what happens to people who love someone who takes their own life? This sounds like an utterly depressing premise, but somehow show creator, writer, and actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge creates something raw, tender and hilarious in Amazon's "Fleabag." In this brutally funny British series, we follow a young woman, who only refers to herself as Fleabag, while she self-destructs after her best friend and business partner takes her own life. "Fleabag" delves into the messiness and devastation of grief with a ruthless and relentless humor. It's dark, raunchy, filterless, and — much like "Dead Like Me" — utterly unapologetic.

The characters in "Fleabag" are hard to like, emotionally cold, and broken. But somehow, throughout the two seasons of this stellar series, we grow to care for them, seeing their humanity and hurt under their flaws and armor. "Fleabag" exemplifies the saying "hurt people hurt people," as it delves into subjects like family trauma, substance abuse, suicide, miscarriage, and infidelity with acerbic wit. "Fleabag" shows us the humor in heartbreak and reminds us that sometimes all you can do is laugh, releasing yourself into the chaos of life. It might contain some of the blackest humor on this list, but it's also some of the funniest.

Dead To Me (2019- )

What happens when you realize the husband you loved and lost tragically wasn't who you thought he was? Netflix's "Dead to Me" explores this question with Christina Applegate starring as Jen Harding, a Southern California realtor and mother of two, trying to pick up the pieces after her husband dies in a tragic hit-and-run accident. There are some mild similarities to Showtime's "Weeds," but "Dead to Me" goes in a different direction with surprising plot twists, leading to a tangled web of lies, regret and mayhem.

The casting in this series is flawless, with Linda Cardellini playing Judy Hale and James Marsden taking on two roles. As the title of the show suggests, "Dead to Me" leans into the anger phase of the grieving process, allowing a female character to fully explore an emotion women are often discouraged from expressing in our culture. This show also asks viewers to look at our own mistakes before judging others for theirs. "Dead to Me" explores this emotionally complex terrain while delivering non-stop laughs and asking how we continue to live while grieving and how we forgive ourselves for the mistakes we make along the way.

Barry (2018- )

In a collection of shows obsessed with death, perhaps the darkest comedy of all is about a hit man. In HBO's "Barry," we meet a former Marine who served in Afghanistan. After a bout of depression, Barry becomes a hit man; it temporarily gives him purpose, but as the show opens, he's experiencing depression, and it's clear he's lost and desperate for change. Sent to Los Angeles to kill a man who is having an affair with a mobster's wife, he follows his mark into an acting class and becomes enchanted with the craft as well as the tight-knit community of aspiring actors in the class. Barry is determined to quit working as an assassin, choosing to be an aspiring actor in Hollywood. 

Bill Hader is terrific as Barry, and the entire supporting cast is perfect. Season 1 pokes fun at the entertainment industry and LA culture, and the kooky characters keep you coming back for each episode. The second season of "Barry" gets even darker, as Barry, like Eleanor in "The Good Place," struggles to change his ways while questioning whether he's evil. One theme "Barry" really leans into, especially in Season 2, is the emptiness and isolation of modern life.

A life not fully lived and shared with others is at the core of all these dark comedies. Perhaps this is why so many of these shows are about characters like Barry, who struggle to connect to others. People not living up to their potential? These dark comedies are centered on characters who slowly realize low expectations and self-isolation do not protect them from disappointment and loss. Characters like George Lass from "Dead Like Me" ooze loneliness. Many of us have gone through the motions at some point, living like a zombie and feeling detached. Perhaps an increasing number of people can relate to this emptiness and isolation, and this is why these dark comedies are becoming more mainstream — offering reminders of the consequences of not finding a community that supports our growth.