Sandra Oh is back with a new comedy on Netflix called The Chair. The series, created by Amanda Peet, follows Oh’s character, Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim, who is named the first woman chair of the English department of a small-town college called Pembroke University. She’s taking over for Dr. Bill Dobson, played by Jay Duplass, a close friend for whom she has romantic feelings, whose life is spiraling after the loss of his wife and his daughter’s departure to college. After Bill is videotaped giving a Nazi salute in class — a misconstrued incident that he is guilty of nonetheless — a whole chaotic mess follows during which Ji-Yoon is blamed and made to clean it up. Also starring Holland Taylor, Bob Balaban, Nana Mensah, and more, The Chair is a fantastic and hilarious satire that takes on misogyny, racism, cancel culture, and more in the world of academia, and it’s another must-watch series from Netflix.
But at only three hours total in watch time, The Chair is a short binge, and the show definitely leaves you wanting more. Thankfully the series is likely to get a second season, but what should you do until then? If fans of The Chair are eager to find a similar series to watch in the meantime, there are plenty of great picks out there. Check out seven great recommendations of shows like The Chair to watch.
If you like the smart, awkward style of humor at play in The Chair, you might want to check out the British TV sitcom Catastrophe. The series is created, written by, and starring Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, two influential voices in the comedy world. Catastrophe follows Delaney as Rob Norris, an American who has a random fling with Horgan’s Sharon Morris on a trip to London. Unfortunately, this short romance results in a pregnancy, leading Rob and Sharon to attempt to start a real relationship from the strange situation. The show is hilarious and down-to-earth, a very real portrayal of the embarrassing moments of daily life, and like The Chair, it’s an easy binge. It honestly feels like The Chair was modeled after British sitcoms like Catastrophe in more ways than one, with a similar style of humor and a short number of episodes. In comparison, Catastrophe also has six episodes per season, and you won’t ever have to wait for new episodes to come out, as the show finished its fourth and final season in 2019. Another bonus? You get to see Carrie Fisher as Rob’s mother in Seasons 1 through 3.
Dear White People
Based on the movie of the same name from 2014 starring Tessa Thompson, Dear White People is another Netflix college-set series that takes on race and modern society through comedy. The show stars Logan Browning as Samantha White, a biracial film student at a fictional Ivy League school called Winchester University who uses a radio show called “Dear White People” to call out casual racism from people around her. The show is itself a response to the systematic racism Sam sees in her life, but then a bunch of white students put on a racist “Dear Black People” party that kick-starts a whole new movement to reform the campus and beyond. Sam and her peers take a vastly different approach to changing current issues of racism at universities than Ji-Yoon and Yaz, and maybe the two college professors should take a few notes from them. Created by Justin Simien who wrote and directed the original film, the Netflix series is intelligently written with a distinct style, and the young cast is super talented.
Created and starring Pamela Adlon, Better Things is another modern comedy-drama that isn’t afraid to take on the darker parts of life. Like Oh’s character in The Chair, Adlon’s Sam Fox is a single mother dealing with the difficulties of raising a daughter, though she has three. Mikey Madison plays Sam’s oldest, Max, Hannah Alligood is the middle daughter Frankie, and Olivia Edward is Duke, her youngest. To round out the family, there’s Celia Emrie as Phyllis “Phil” Darby, Sam’s mother who is dealing with various mental and physical issues. The story of Better Things follows Sam, a divorced actress in Los Angeles, as she deals with getting work, raising her kids, taking care of her mother, the new dating world, and a lot more. The genre of comedy is constantly changing and expanding, and Adlon takes total advantage of that in Better Things, presenting a hysterically funny yet layered story about a complicated woman just trying to live her life. It’s the perfect followup for fans of The Chair whose favorite part is the imperfect and relatable female characters.
Please Like Me
Like Better Things, Please Like Me is another dramedy created and written by its star. The semi-autobiographical series comes from the mind of Australian comedian Josh Thomas, who some people might recognize from the just-as-amazing comedy Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, which is also created by and starring Thomas and aired on Freeform for two seasons from 2020 to 2021. While Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is certainly worthy of being on this list as well, Please Like Me is Thomas’s underappreciated first outing that truly deserves more attention for its brilliancy. Inspired by his own experiences, Thomas stars as Josh, a 20-something man who comes to the realization that he’s gay after his girlfriend breaks up with him and tells him so. Moving back into his mother’s house to help her deal with mental illness, Josh awkwardly navigates his first relationship with a man. Along with exploring sexuality, Please Like Me somehow treads that thin line of addressing tough topics like suicide, anxiety, and relationships with heart and consideration, while also weaving in constant laughs. Truly, if you haven’t watched Please Like Me yet, you’re missing out on arguably one of the best comedy-dramas of the past 10 years or so.
Insecure is a series created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore for HBO, based on Rae’s popular web series Awkward Black Girl. Also starring Rae, Insecure focuses on the everyday experience of two Black women living in Los Angeles, California. The series stars Rae and Yvonne Orji as Issa Dee and Molly Carter, respectively, two best friends navigating dating, working, and growing up together. At the beginning of Season 1, Issa is working at a nonprofit and seeing her relationship going nowhere, while Molly is having great success at work but none in love. Insecure does a wonderful job bringing comedy into a smart commentary on the modern experience of Black Americans, and Rae is a standout in the show, an auteur creator with similar skill and impact to others working in the dramedy genre like Phoebe Waller-Bridge. While Insecure and The Chair might not seem so similar at first glance, the two series both do an amazing job showcasing issues of racism, sexism, and privilege through spot-on humor, with extremely accessible and capable women of color leading the story.
If you really like the way The Chair blends comedy with the more personal, tougher-to-answer questions about life, then the recent Netflix hit series Feel Good is a great next watch. In Feel Good, Mae Martin — who created the series with Joe Hampson and also stars — tells a touching tale about her character Mae and the blossoming relationship with Georgina “George” Lawson (Charlotte Ritchie), an English woman she meets at a comedy show. While Mae is very comfortable and confident in her sexuality as a gay woman, George is only at the beginning her own journey to understanding her queerness. Still, Mae isn’t without her own problems, as she is a recovering narcotics addict with PTSD, and the two try to make it work as they learn from each other. Feel Good also stars Lisa Kudrow as Mae’s mother Linda, which makes this series an automatic win, in my opinion. With the lead character of Feel Good being a comedian, the series might seem like a straightforward comedy at first, but through the story of Mae and George as they grow and fall in love, the show becomes so much more than that.
Starring Rafe Spall as Jason Ross and Esther Smith as Nikki Newman, Trying is an Apple TV+ series created by Andy Wolton. The story follows Jason and Nikki, a British couple who have been desperately trying to have a baby but have so far been unsuccessful. When their doctor recommends they don’t try IVF again as it has a low chance of succeeding, the two decide to turn to adoption. This leads them down the difficult and intricate path to adoption, as they ready themselves for the challenges ahead. Spall and Smith give great performances as the charmingly earnest couple who are simply doing their best. The series premiered its first season in May 2020 with another following a year later, and Apple has already renewed Trying for a third, likely expected in spring 2022. Like The Chair, Trying looks at real-life challenges, like having children and ever-changing relationships, through everyday comedy, as the couple bumbles their way through the ups and downs of life in the same way that Oh’s Ji-Yoon goes through the struggles of being chair. Overall, the series is an enjoyable comedy-drama to check out after you finish Netflix’s The Chair.
KEEP READING: The Best Shows on Netflix