PICTURED: Getting On

by Emily Dodi 

Of all the streaming content to choose from, why would I suggest checking out two short-lived comedies that ended their runs years ago? The main reason is that when they’re good, Getting On and The Comedians are really, really good. Bingeing won’t eat up an entire weekend, and both scratch that much-needed itch of wanting to laugh in a not-so-lighthearted way. Times such as these call for vinegar . . . but not too much. What is needed is delicious, gleeful laughter. Cue Getting Onand The Comedians.

You know you’re in rare TV territory from the first moments of Getting On, when one nurse announces to another that a patient has left a “deposit” on a chair. The series, which originally aired on BBC 4 and now streams on Hulu, takes place on the women’s geriatric ward of an NHS hospital and centers around the almost-always-kinda-professional staff played by the brilliantly deadpan Jo Brand, Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine. The three, who play off each other as effortlessly as a jazz trio, also wrote the series. Of note is that Peter Capaldi, of Dr. Who, directs the first two seasons, and Tilda Swinton makes a very Swintonlike cameo in the third. 

With genuine pathos, biting humor and spot-on social commentary, the series is all about getting on — both in terms of aging and pushing through what life puts in your path. Uplifting it might not be, exactly, but Getting Onis a dark gem.

Also streaming on Hulu is the FX Original series The Comedians, starring Billy Crystal and Josh Gad. When it aired in 2015, the series was not universally loved, to put it gently, but the mockumentary about the two comedians co-starring in a struggling series is worth a second look. Not every episode is great, but “The Red Carpet,” “Celebrity Guest” and “Damage Control,” in particular, are hilarious. The premise of the show pits the two comedians against each other because of their different ages and styles, but the best scenes show that Crystal and Gad are totally in-sync. They may be of different generations, but funny is funny. 

It’s too bad Getting On and The Comedians didn’t last longer. It feels like both series had more laughs to give. And that’s something we could all use.   

Out of the Box is a semi-regular column by VCReporter staff and contributors about television and streaming content.