46. Black Books
Black Books was a comedy for people who hated comedies. And other people. And life in general. It centered on bookstore owner Bernard Black, who was expertly played by comedian Dylan Moran at his misanthropic, snappish best. Bernard was in a state of permanent unhappiness either because of what he perceived as everyone else’s idiocy or problems of his own making.
The series had us laughing at him as much as we were laughing with him, though; the pilot episode showed us that his idea of doing his taxes is dumping pocketfuls of crumpled receipts in front of a corrupt accountant who literally climbs out his office window. He was balanced out by his charming if bumbling colleague Manny (Bill Bailey), who was a big ray of sunshine, as well as neighbor Fran (Tamsin Greig pre-Episodes), who wasn’t afraid to tell Bernard where to shove it if need be.
Black Books was brilliant as it came from Moran’s razor-sharp sense of humor, and it got even better when Simon Pegg had a role in Season 3. There wasn’t a weak episode. But its laughs didn’t come from a place of cruelty. Bernard was the voice to all of our daily annoyances, and we were able to make them funny through him. At the same time, the show never treated him as the voice of right or even reason. His whole world was dysfunctional, but it did put the word “fun” in the term.
Next: 45. How I Met Your Mother