1. “The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo“
In this Gotham-nominated series, creator Brian Jordan Alvarez uses the traditional sitcom as a foundation to imagine a world a few marbles short of reality — one where gender, sexuality and even time is as fluid as a mindfulness practice on the beaches of Santa Monica. The characters speak at a breakneck pace, with eyes slightly crazed and voices raised a hair above natural. Dates are walks, siblings are different races, gender is whatever, and sexual preference is something to be tried on like a fabulous hat. Alvarez achieves what all storytellers should attempt at least once — to bring fantasy to life. “It’s a little bit of a magic trick,” Alvarez told IndieWire, and we agree.
2. “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee“
Even if you couldn’t care less about antique cars, Jerry Seinfeld’s obsession is a little contagious. He earnestly matches each car to his guest’s personalities, adding a silly structure and pretty visuals to the Emmy-nominated interview series. Stand-up comedy is almost universally acknowledged as the most difficult path in show business, and Seinfeld’s subjects have seen it all. Whether it’s because of his interview skills or his legendary status, Seinfeld’s guests open up about life on the road, crushing defeats, childhood tragedy, and why they put up with it all. The banter feels polished but real, the intimate moments practiced yet vulnerable. This season’s standout guests were Margaret Cho, J.B. Smoove, and Judd Apatow, but you’ll be knocking back episodes like you would a great cup of coffee.
3. “New York, Am I Right?“
No end of year list is complete without a curveball, and this improvised web series throws the curviest of balls. The Brooklyn-based comedy troupe consists of filmmakers Shaina Feinberg and Chris Manley (“The Babymooners”), Chris Roberti (“High Maintenance”), and train-hopping clown Jeff Seal, with some help from comedian Maeve Higgins. In tiny vignettes bearing no discernible through-line, these seasoned improvisers create surreal mini scenes out of bodegas and stumps. Capping each one off with a rousing Vaudevillian theme song, “New York, Am I Right” is what would happen if John Cassavetes and Woody Allen made a web series.