1 | It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Suggested by Daniel Carpenter, Andrew Kells, Clare Quincy and Kate Hannah Celia O’Brien
Reader Daniel Carpenter dubbed this “the most terrifying apartment in sitcom history”. The shared flat of Charlie Kelly and Frank Reynolds is always the scene of mishap in this rendition of the familiar “friendcore” genre (think Friends, The Big Bang Theory), but with more grit; the characters are unusually unsympathetic for a US sitcom. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia charts the foibles of five underachievers who run the dilapidated Paddy’s Pub in South Philadelphia. Danny De Vito adds a touch of class as wealthy lowlife Frank, who is probably Charlie’s biological father.
2 | Father Ted
Suggested by Matt08
The beleaguered trio of priests in Father Ted, marooned on Craggy Island for unknown clerical misdemeanours, spend their time trying to cope with various vicissitudes and their geographical isolation. Father Ted Crilly, played superbly by the late Dermot Morgan, longs for the fast life, but instead is joined by the endearingly simple Father Dougal McGuire and the alcoholic octogenarian Father Jack Hackett, who, when finally woken from years of inebriation, wails: “I’m not still on that feckin’ island?” The three live together in the parochial house, with no-one other than housekeeper Mrs Doyle and a troop of similarly hapless and dysfunctional priests for occasional company. Oh, and the odd novelist or rabbit. As well as being very funny, it’s a fine portrayal of frayed relationships in close proximity.
3 | Red Dwarf
Suggested by: Dogasui and JasonJ
The first eight series of cult classic Red Dwarf ran from 1988-1993 and 1997-99, before the Dave channel revived it in 2009. User JasonJ thinks of Red Dwarf as “like The Young Ones In Space”: Kryten is Neil the peace-maker, Cat is the vain and shallow Mike, and Rimmer has the deluded spitefulness of Ric, whilst Lister’s poor personal hygiene makes him a perfect equivalent to Vivian. Lister and his dead bunkmate’s hologram, Rimmer, play out an odd-couple relationship of cowardice and incompetence whilst hurtling through the cosmos: never before has space seemed so recognisable.
4 | Spaced
Suggested by Spargelhorz, ManofConstantSorrow, jd1931982, StephanoBentos and Lolly262
Emblematic of the current housing strain on young people, Tim and Daisy, the two hapless protagonists of Spaced, join forces to pose as a young professional couple to rent a flat. Mark Heap gives the cast a run for their money as Brian, the deranged conceptual artist downstairs struggling to express his emotions through painting, smashing boiled eggs with a hammer to explore his anger. The series followed these twentysomethings finding their path through career choices and relationships, with the disorientating editing techniques of fast zooms and jump-cuts (not unlike a later sitcom, Green Wing) making the series as much a product of the late 1990s as its name.
5 | Pulling
Suggested by LlivracNhoJ
A show from the early years of BBC 3’s commissioning, Pulling ran for two series, before being pulled. This female-led comedy about three single 30-something women, Donna, Louise and Karen, showed women behaving badly long before Girls hit the screen. Securing a Bafta nomination and a British comedy award for co-writer Sharon Horgan (who plays Donna), there might be rumours of a third series for 2016.
6 | Mary, Mungo and Midge
Suggested by RidleyWalker and marymungoandmidge
Produced in 1969, this animated cartoon by the BBC features Mary and her pets Mungo and Midge, a dog and mouse respectively, living at the top of a tower block. Their various adventures were interspersed with scenes of their slow lift descent, replete with useful life tips, such as Mungo saying “We must always wait to make sure the lift door is shut.” Good advice!
7 | Bottom
Suggested by JJ_Dane
No houseshare roundup would be excusable without mention of the late, great Rik Mayall’s doomed coupling with Ade Edmonson in Bottom, as suggested by JJ_Dane. A slapstick twist on Beckett, the two protagonists knock themselves senseless to begin anew each day, eking out their lives in Rik’s grimy Hammersmith flat. Eddie is Rik’s long-suffering (and only) friend, who is long overdue on his rent (“eleven thousand, six hundred and forty-five pounds. And sixty-six new pence” over, to be exact). Edging all the time nearer to tragedy, numerous scenes have a subtlety and observation of human behaviour that is wonderfully incongruent with the violent jesting, yet all the more marvellous for it. One gets the feeling that they are still there, somewhere in Hammersmith, fighting over the remote control.
8 | Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street
Suggested by FirstWorlder
Ernie, with his ubiquitous rubber duckie, and Bert were two lovable puppets in Sesame Street, said to mirror the relationship of creators Frank Oz and Jim Henson. The two roommate’ relationship also resembles that of Felix and Oscar in Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. And much like Morecambe and Wise, Bert and Ernie share a bed. There has always been the questions over whether the two characters are gay, an issue that has recently spilled over into political tension, when a bakery in Northern Ireland refused to create a cake bearing their image alongside a slogan reading “support gay marriage”.
9 | The Beatles in Help!
Suggested by Jeevan Rai
Reader Jeevan Rai suggests The Beatles in Help! “just for the four-door gag.” Their second cinematic outing, made in 1965, Help! is thought by many to be their best foray onto the silver screen, directed by Richard Lester. A baffling schedule of action takes them skiing, playing guitar on a Bahamian beach and escaping from as Eastern cult leader, who tracks them down to the aforementioned multiple entry house they share. On entering their respective doors, each Beatle has a colour-coded hallway and living space. Each room also offers an array of amazing living solutions, including a huge sunken bed, a vending machine, and a carpet of grass. If only all houseshares could be this luxurious.
10 | Withnail & I
Suggested by Yagga175
Reader Yagga175 rightly suggested 1987’s Withnail & I, written and directed by Bruce Robinson, about the eponymous I and his squalid existence with the penniless yet uppity Withnail. The thespian flatmates leave their infested flat, which boasts “nothing that reasonable members of society demand as their rights! No fridges, no televisions, no phones”, and travel to Uncle Monty’s Lake District cottage with nothing but a cigarette for warmth. Launching Richard E Grant’s career, the film developed a huge cult following, and also starred the late Richard Griffiths as the lecherous Monty.