The typical scripted television show makes no secret of being a piece of fiction, and while they may borrow real-life situations, the audience knows where they stand with a multi-camera show. But then there’s another type of series that’s grown in popularity over the years — the single-camera mockumentary style.
Mockumentaries can add an extra layer of entertainment, with the characters getting “interviewed” and giving space for somewhat natural fourth wall breaks where the audience can feel like they’re in on the joke, or sometimes it’s just a great way to present a parody of another type of series. These mockumentaries are some of the best around and have the IMDb scores to prove it.
10 ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ (2019-)
IMDb Score: 7.1/10
For fans of the High School Musical movies comes the Disney+ show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. The series follows the students of East High, the school featured in the original High School Musical movies were filmed, and they are now going to stage the musical that made their school famous.
Making this show a mockumentary lets audiences still savor their experience with the musical movies they loved from the 2000s while also adding a new and fresh way for this series to become its own story separate from it. It’s a perfect combo for fans of musical theater who also want to enjoy a teen TV show.
9 ‘Reno 911’ (2003-)
IMDb Score: 7.9/10
Reno 911 is a show that parodies law enforcement docu-series, particularly Cops. Through the comedy series, audiences can experience the fake cases and interactions of police officers in Reno, Nevada.
Part of the brilliance of Reno 911 comes from the brilliance of its actors, who know how to improvise with the best of them. The ad-libbing adds to the experience, making the show feel like a real docu-series that is also pure silly comedy and kept it going for a solid seven seasons.
8 ‘American Horror Story’ (2011-)
IMDb Score: 8.0/10
If horror stories are your cup of tea, American Horror Story is a must-watch. The anthology series has had different installments with different types of horror stories each season, including their sixth season: Roanoke, which delves into supernatural stories revolving around a haunted home in North Carolina.
While most mockumentaries tend to lean toward comedy, Roanoke brings something different to the genre. The first half of the season is filmed documentary-style, parodying paranormal documentaries. In contrast, the second half of the season is presented as found footage of the failed documentary and the surrounding horror, adding a unique flare to the series.
7 ‘Cunk on Earth’ (2022)
IMDb Score: 8.1/10
Cunk of the Earth is the anecdote for anyone who might be less interested in a regular history-related docu-series but still wants to learn. Philomena Cunk is the clueless and inept investigative reporter who hosts the series and asks the big questions about civilization, history, and more, much to the confusion of some of the experts she interviews.
The series is a perfect parody of David Attenborough-style documentaries, and Cunk never once breaks her character, which simply adds to the hilarity of the experience of watching. Audiences get taken on a journey in each episode where they are dared to learn and laugh through each subject presented.
6 ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ (2019-)
IMDb Score: 8.6/10
Comedy, fantasy, parody…What We Do in the Shadows has it all. Based on the film of the same name, created by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, the series follows four vampires living as roommates in New York and trying to adjust to the modern world.
What We Do in the Shadows has received plenty of acclaim from critics and fans alike, with many lauding it as a top-notch, original comedy. Part of its genius is the mockumentary style it uses as a great delivery for the comedic moments between the vampires and plays it to perfection.
5 ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ (2000-)
IMDb Score: 8.8/10
From Larry David, one of the creators behind Seinfeld, comes Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show follows Larry David as an exaggerated version of himself while living in Los Angeles and palling around with his famous friends and the antics they get up to.
One of the reasons the series was picked up in the beginning was because of a mockumentary David made with the same name that fans immodestly responded to. From there, the legend was born. Now going into an impressive 12th season, fans and critics still find themselves enjoying the comedy.
4 ‘Abbott Elementary’ (2021-)
IMDb Score 8.2/10
Being a teacher may not be easy, but that doesn’t mean there’s no humor to be found in it, which is precisely what Abbott Elementary reminds its audience. The workplace comedy follows several teachers working in an under-funded public school in Philadelphia and all the hard work and hilarity that goes with it.
Abbott Elementary is a comedy with a lot of laughs, but the mockumentary style also allows for the show to really dive into the struggles that so many public school teachers are facing in current times. The storylines are cleverly written, and the characters are lovingly crafted, all adding to an incredible show.
3 ‘Parks and Recreation’ (2009-2015)
IMDb Score: 8.6/10
People might not initially think of looking for humor in small local government departments, but those people have never seen Parks and Recreation. Starring Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, and Chris Pratt, among others, the show follows the antics of the Parks and Recreation Department in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana.
This mockumentary rose to popularity, with fans loving the humor and the way the show was used to talk about politics in a thoughtful and fun way. The absurd hijinks, mixed with the beloved characters, are just part of what had audiences falling in love with the series for all seven seasons.
2 ‘Modern Family’ (2009-2020)
IMDb Score: 8.5/10
Modern Family is a show that’s just that…a show about a modern family. Multiple generations and different family dynamics all come together to interact and provide audiences with constant laughs and moments to relate with their own families.
The three families that comprise the larger family in the show are the heart of this mockumentary. Beyond the love that can be felt between the characters, there is plenty of comedy to be found, even in regular family activities and holidays, propelling the show for many years before ending after 11 seasons.
1 ‘The Office’ (2005-2013)
IMDb Score: 9.0/10
Regarding workplace comedies, it’s hard to outdo The Office. Starring Steve Carrell, John Krasinski, and Jenna Fischer, among others, the series follows the day-to-day lives of employees of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The mockumentary style of The Office plays perfectly with showing the dynamics of the employees, from workplace romances to overly ambitious workers, to the somewhat inept boss, Michael Scott. The characters are endearing while also being subtly hilarious, and a huge part of why the series has been catapulted into becoming a fan favorite.
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