Film & TV
Finding a new show to watch on one of the many streaming sites out there may seem like a daunting concept–especially if your tastes tend to cross genres. Mystery shows may bring out our inner detectives, but some are so dark and gruesome that they can be tough to stomach. Thankfully, there is a subgenre that combines levity with the thrill of trying to solve a case.
These funny mystery shows are the perfect mix of laughter and suspense. The best thing about these shows? All of them are available for streaming now.
When Liv, a Seattle medical resident, becomes a zombie after a strange boat party, she thinks her life is over (technically, it is). She breaks up with her fiancee, quits her residency, and realizes that she needs to eat human brains in order to avoid going on murderous rampages.
She takes a job at the local morgue and eats the brains of the corpses that come in to be autopsied. Soon, Liv realizes that the flashes of the dead person’s life eating brains also gives her valuable information—information she can use to help solve crimes. She assists the police force, claiming that she’s a psychic to keep her new partner, Clive, in the dark about her abilities. This crime-fantasy-comedy sets its tone from the very start: The zombie’s name is literally Liv Moore.
In this darkly comic serial killer show, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) helps solve Miami murders as a forensic technician. Unfortunately, he’s also a serial killer himself. He hunts down rapists and murderers who, for one reason or another, are still on the streets.
Dexter is definitely a gruesome show with explicit murder scenes and gore. But, for those who like comedic breaks from the seriousness of murder investigations and imperfect central characters, this show will be a great fit. Dexter’s relationship with his adopted sister, Deb (played by Hall’s real wife for three years of the show’s run, Jennifer Carpenter) serves for a large portion of the humor, as she knows him better than anyone else–except she doesn’t know that he’s a serial killer.
Death in Paradise
This British-French crime show has a concept so unbelievable that it’s hilarious. A British detective named Richard Poole is sent to a small (fictitious) island in the Caribbean to investigate the murder of a British cop. After he succeeds in finding the murderer, he is hired to remain on the island as the detective inspector, though he is reluctant to do so because he hates sweating.
Somehow on this incredibly small island, each week two new visitors arrive. One is inevitably murdered, leading the detective to open up a new investigation. The structured formula of the show allows viewers to relax into its charming humor. One of the stars, Kris Marshall, referred to the show as a “cross between Columbo and Scooby Doo”, and we’d have to agree. Death in Paradise, which is currently filming its eighth season, has only increased in popularity over the years—it averaged over 9 million viewers during the last season.
The Mysteries of Laura
Laura Diamond is a homicide detective for the NYPD, a single mom to twin boys, and her boss happens to be her ex-husband–and he’s reluctant to sign their divorce papers. Solving crime might just be the easiest part of her life. The show only aired for two seasons, meaning that you can probably binge watch the whole thing in a weekend if you’re willing to commit to the couch. Laura is played by Debra Messing of Will and Grace fame.
Sean Spencer (James Roday) has a photographic memory, which allows him to memorize the details of crime scenes and suspects at an alarmingly quick rate. With this skill, he convinces the Santa Barbara Police Department that he is psychic in order to get the job of crime consultant. Along with his childhood best friend, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill), the two solve murders and keep Sean’s secret.
Almost no one at the SBPD takes Sean seriously, and they shouldn’t. He jokes his way through every investigation and has over-the-top “psychic visions.” His relationship with the usually serious and finicky Gus is another source of humor throughout the show, as the two could not be more different. The pair are like the mystery TV version of Chandler and Joey from Friends–although Gus is more like Ross (in the best, least annoying way possible.) Some episodes reveal who the killer is at the start, while most leave the murderer’s identity as a mystery until the end.
Detective Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) has severe OCD: His various phobias and a fear of germs prevent him from leading “normal” murder investigations. After the mysterious death of his wife, Trudy, he had a nervous breakdown and cannot cope with day-to-day life without the help of an assistant.
Monk works as a private detective for the San Francisco Police Department and solves every case he works on–except who killed his wife. He is scared of 312 things (he counted), including his food touching and milk. These phobias lead to some hysterical crime scene investigations, as he takes precautions more severe than those who are directly handling evidence. Shalhoub was nominated for both Emmy and Screen Actors Guild awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series each year that the show was on and won three Emmys, two SAG awards, and one Golden Globe.
Bored to Death
After a bad breakup, writer Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) decides to post on Craigslist about moonlighting as a private detective. When people actually hire him, he somehow uses techniques from detective novels to help solve various crimes. Zach Galifianakis and Ted Danson also star in the three-season series, and Jenny Slate and Kristen Wiig frequently guest star. With a cast this stacked with comedians, it’s no wonder that the show is one of the best funny mysteries out there.
In 2018, “ghosted” usually refers to a romantic partner who stops responding to all forms of communication without warning. In the case of this show, it means actually hunting mysterious ghost activity. Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) and Craig Robinson (The Office) play a bookstore employee and mall cop, respectively, who investigate paranormal activity in the L.A. area. Though the show might seem more supernatural than a traditional mystery, there is no shortage of suspicious crimes that need solving.
One plotline of the first season involves a date with an actual murderous demon, while another centers on the death of a golf caddy. Will you laugh? Yes. Will you also wonder how someone came up with these storylines and the show’s concept? Double yes.
Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan is a forensic anthropologist, played by Emily Deschanel. She and FBI agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) form an unlikely alliance to solve cases based on the decomposing bone fragments from murder victims. The two initially disagree on pretty much every subject, which certainly doesn’t detract from their constant sexual tension.
Deschanel's character, Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan lacks certain social graces, which leads to quite a few of the show’s laughs. Booth, on the other hand, doesn’t know much medical jargon, and his head-scratching moments are often a reprieve from the seriousness of analyzing bones for clues.
Featured still from 'Bored to Death' via Dakota Pictures
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