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Top 10 Best Mockumentary TV Shows

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Telly Vlachakis
Who said that brutal realism can’t be hilarious? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we will be counting down our picks for the top 10 best mockumentary TV shows. For this list we are looking at the most hilarious scripted TV shows that use faux-reality TV or a documentary style to tell their stories.
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Top 10 Mockumentary TV Shows

Who said that brutal realism can’t be hilarious? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we will be counting down our picks for the top 10 best mockumentary TV shows.

For this list we are looking at the most hilarious scripted TV shows that use faux-reality TV or a documentary style to tell their stories.

#10: “Reno 911!” (2003-09)

Reality television is full of golden opportunities for parody, and some of the writers from MTV’s “The State” banded together and decided to share their vision of a twisted, and mostly incompetent, police force in Reno, Nevada. A hilarious sendup of reality show “Cops”, the Comedy Central original series became an instant cult classic, giving the world some hilarious moments and unforgettable characters. We were lucky enough to get a full-length feature film in 2007, with another film rumoured to be on the way.

#9: “Summer Heights High” (2007)

One of the funniest shows to ever come out of Australia, “Summer Heights High” introduced the world to versatile comedian Chris Lilley. This mockumentary series follows the story of a spoiled rich teenage girl, played with hilarious perfection by Lilley, who transfers from a posh private high school to a public Melbourne school. Not just a fish-out-of-water story, the short-lived comedy created two spin-off shows, featuring the different characters all played by Lilley on “Summer Heights High”.

#8: “Fishing with John” (1991)

Hip actor and musician John Lurie knows nothing about fishing. Maybe this is why it was such a stroke of comedic genius to start a ludicrous reality show about going fishing with celebrities. His guest stars, such as Willem Dafoe and Tom Waits, sometimes don’t seem to know much more about what’s going on, and it is sometimes unclear if they are in on the joke. When first premiering on IFC in 1991, even audiences were unsure if the show was serious or not. One thing’s for sure: we probably will never see anything like it again.

#7: “The Thick of It” (2005-12)

Take “House of Cards,” turn it very British again, this time into a faux-documentary, and make it utterly hilarious. And that is “The Thick of It”. Politics in the UK are satirised a lot, but when it is done this well, you need to applaud it and share it with the world. Peter Capaldi as the brutal and vulgar spin doctor Malcolm Tucker is exceptionally hilarious, and thankfully put this show on the map, giving us the equally brilliant spin-off movie, “In the Loop”. Just the amount of creative insults you can learn by listening to Tucker is worth a binge watch.

#6: “The Comeback” (2005; 2014)

“Friends” fans were thrilled to know that Lisa Kudrow was bouncing back on her own TV show so quickly. Although here she plays a huge sitcom star trying to make a comeback, what audiences got in Valerie Cherish was nothing like Phoebe. The meta concept and scathing Hollywood commentary was what convinced HBO to produce this fake reality show that follows around the aging, fading starlet, as she tries to rekindle her sitcom success. The show was brought back a decade later as a found-footage documentary about the star’s career.

#5: “American Vandal” (2017- )

True crime documentaries are nothing new, but “Making a Murderer” created such a sensation that it revitalized a genre for the streaming generation with a slick new style. Netflix knew they had a monster hit, and did not waste any time green-lighting “American Vandal”, a hilarious parody that follows a troublemaking teenager accused of vandalizing cars at his high school. The humour is derived from how serious the vibe is and how deep this dick-painting investigation goes. The genius of it all is how riveted you become, forgetting this is all an elaborate joke.

#4: “Trailer Park Boys” (2001-08; 2014-)

Canadian darlings Julian, Ricky and Bubbles, known as the Trailer Park Boys, became an international sensation, and built a franchise that now includes movies, specials, a podcast, a revival series and a partnership with Netflix. But it all started as a simple mockumentary following the misadventures of the residents and ex-convicts of the Sunnyvale Trailer Park, in a run-down corner of Nova Scotia. The only thing funnier than watching them plan their illegal schemes is watching them fail at their illegal schemes.

#3: “Modern Family” (2009- )
What started off as a view into a somewhat atypical, very diverse family, which includes gay dads, adopted children, step-parents, and divorced fathers re-marrying younger women, has become much more commonplace. This immensely-popular show featuring the Pritchett/Dunphy clan has had its family members growing and evolving on our televisions screens for almost a decade, and they have all remained relevant and hilarious as ever. Although the characters often sit in front of the camera for interviews, it has always been unclear if they are making a documentary or being followed around by a crew for some project.

#2: “Parks and Recreation” (2009-15)

The beloved, side-splitting governmental answer to “The Office”, this award-winning workplace documentary follows the lives of some clueless office workers of the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana. Amy Poehler is hilarious as Leslie Knope, a bureaucrat trying to keep her staff in line and make some positive changes to this fictional suburb. The cult status and success of the show is undeniable, having made household names out of many of today’s stars, including Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt and Aubrey Plaza.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions:

“Derek” (2012-14)

“Tanner ‘88” (1988)

“Real Husbands of Hollywood” (2013-16)

#1: “The Office” (2005-13)

Speaking of “The Office” . . . was there really any doubt? The ultimate in workplace comedy, cringe humour, and mockumentary television, “The Office” will forever be a rewatchable classic. It was, of course, not possible without Ricky Gervais’ and Stephen Merchant’s original BBC series, however the US version took the show a million steps further. “The Office” gave us the endlessly quotable Michael Scott, hundreds of office prank ideas, and a sitcom romance to rival Ross and Rachel. But it was the on-camera interviews that created a sitcom trend that changed TV forever.
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