Staying In(stant): British Humor In A Nice, Easy Dose

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fryEmbedPhoto: Courtesy of the BBC.


Full disclosure: We love TV. So much so that sometimes we'd rather spend a whole weekend in front of the tube than dancing in da club. Is a lack of television service holding you back from feeling our joy? No problem! You can get by just fine on Netflix, Hulu, and the myriad other streaming services rapidly taking over the home entertainment industry (thank you, Internet!).

Some shows are just better when binge-watched. Whether it's the latest BBC comedy, a PBS miniseries from the '70s, or just that cultish show prematurely scrubbed from a network, we're hooked on the stream. Staying In(stant) is your guide to the best of streaming content. Each week, we bring you a show we're obsessed with and think you should be, too.


This Week: A Bit of Fry & Laurie, the next best thing after Monty Python.

Where To Watch: Netflix

How I Got Hooked: You may know Stephen Fry from his excellent narration of the Harry Potter books on tape film work or even his novels. But, I'd argue any day that A Bit of Fry & Laurie is the true gem of both his and Hugh Laurie's careers. Yes, that Hugh Laurie, as in House. Though, he's rather less grumpy on this sketch comedy show. (And, yes, I will be saying things like "rather" and "crumpet" as often as possible in this post, because it is about something British.)

I started watching because my boyfriend was putting down a solid five episodes a day, and it didn't take long for me to pick up the habit. It's important to have comfort TV you can put on in the background or settle in with to lift your mood without really committing. Futurama and 30 Rock are a great place to start, but eventually, I'd seen every episode five times and catalogued every sneaky joke by heart. I needed something new. That's where Fry and Laurie came in.

Best Episode: It's nearly impossible to pick a favorite, but the "concerning language" sketches (season 1, episode 2 and season 2, episode 6) are pure gold.

Why You'll Love It: Some British TV — like Black Books or The Office — can be awkward and cringe-worthy to the point that it's only watchable in short bursts. Binge too long, and you'll bite your lip bloody and your heart rate will rise to dangerous levels. A Bit of Fry & Laurie, though, is decidedly more ridiculous. You can catch the punchlines while you multitask around the house, or you can really pay attention and enjoy the truly next-level physical comedy from two ever-changing actors. And, while a lot of '90s non-sitcom TV has trouble staying relevant, this one is just as hilarious now as ever (probably because it's not as topical as a lot of other shows in its vein).

When it's not jumping between period pieces and segments set in a modern veterinarian's office, the show also mixes live performances and pre-recordings with seamless ease. Don't even get me started on the musical numbers. Though you may not know this unless you've recently seen his CDs on sale at Starbucks, but Hugh Laurie is a pretty accomplished musician, and he whips out that talent regularly on Fry & Laurie.

Also, fun fact: Fry and Laurie were introduced to each other by Emma Thompson. So, you know it's gold.