For fans of television, time is perhaps as important an asset as their investments. Spending so much as an extra minute on a substandard show is saddening, and waiting for them to get better is even worse. But when you find a TV show you love, you want to stick around until the end. However, sometimes, time isn’t plentiful, and watching episodes in parts is frustrating.

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Thanks to innovative ideas, countless shows with episodes less than 30 minutes long exist. Sure, sometimes it may take a couple of episodes to intrigue interest, but it is the same time a 60-minute episode in another show would’ve taken. But if you need more than waiting for them to improve, it might be helpful to bookmark the best 30-minute shows to stream right now.

Updated on October 2, 2023, by Hannah Saab:

South Park‘s 26th season proves that it’s still among the best 30-minute TV shows that can pack a lot of wit, humor, and controversy into a limited runtime. Those looking for similar critically acclaimed shows with short episodes will be glad to know there are plenty to choose from.

12 ‘Emily in Paris’ (2020 – )

Emily Cooper from Emily In Paris talking on the phone

Episode Length: 24 – 38 minutes

Chicago marketing exec Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) has a great life: an incredible job and a loving boyfriend. But when offered her dream job in Paris, she has to risk it all to become what she always dreamed of. And Paris is worth it until reality sinks in. She doesn’t speak the country’s native language and is stuck in a weird relationship with her neighbor, who is committed to her friend. Can she escape this hellhole unscathed?

RELATED: Shows Where Characters Live for Drama

An American-French romantic comedy with hilarious anecdotes and a fabulous cast, Emily in Paris is a dream people look up to. It’s one of the most popular shows with short episodes today.

Watch on Netflix

11 ‘One Day at a Time’ (2017 – 2020)

Penelope and Alex from One Day At A Time hugging

Episode Length: 21 – 35 minutes

Recently single mom and military veteran Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado) lives with her Cuban mother and children, Alex (Marcel Ruiz) and Elena (Isabella Gomez). After divorcing her abusive husband, Victor (James Martinez), she decided to take the family forward. But being a single Latina mother of two teenagers isn’t the child’s play people think it is.

Brimming with her family’s shenanigans and their landlord, Schneider’s (Todd Grinnell), constant struggle to become part of their family, One Day At A Time wraps around you like a warm hug. Based on the 1975 series of the same name and one of the underrated best short TV shows, One Day at a Time covers numerous social themes without moralizing. The show was canceled after three seasons on Netflix but was later revived for a fourth season by PopTV.

Watch on Netflix

10 ‘The Good Place’ (2016 – 2020)

Chidi, Eleanor, Tahani, and Jason from The Good Place standing together

Episode Length: 22 minutes

Most comedies on television have the same premise: friends who hang out together and find love amidst their hilarious everyday lives. If you’re tired of the monotony of storylines, The Good Place is exactly the change in the pace you’re looking for. After their deaths, four humans end up in a realm their architects call “The Good Place.” A more organized and mathematical version of heaven, The Good Place has a few misfits in its population. Can they learn to change before the universe revolts?

The show takes on a serialized approach to comedy and offers 53 episodes. And if you’re worried about the ending, you’ll be glad to know that The Good Place features one of the best finales TV has ever seen.

Watch on Netflix

9 ‘How I Met Your Mother’ (2005 – 2014)

The gang from How I Met Your Mother dressed in Suits
Image via CBS

Episode Length: 22 minutes

Despite its absence on Netflix now, How I Met Your Mother continues to be one of the most-watched sitcoms of all time. The show revolves around Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), who is searching for his soulmate. The story is told primarily in the form of flashbacks as Ted recounts the tale to his children. While the show’s end thoroughly disappointed fans, the rest of the seasons are drastically better than most shows.

RELATED: The Best ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Episodes, Ranked According to IMDb

How I Met Your Mother has a unique premise, albeit featuring a group of friends that was quite the norm in its time. The four-time Emmy Award winner has something to offer to new fans today, and is a fantastic pick for those looking for laughs with a dash of drama.

Watch on Hulu

8 ‘Normal People’ (2020)

Marianne and Connell from Normal People hugging

Episode length: 23 – 34 minutes

Marianne (Daisy Edgar Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) are high school students studying at the same school but living worlds apart in Normal People. Connell’s mother works at a house for a living, and Marianne’s mother owns the said house. She’s an outcast at school, and he’s the popular jock. Eventually, they go to the same college, but this time, roles are reversed. She’s popular while he stays on the sidelines. What remains is a connection forged in a friendship that leads to the most meaningful relationship of their life.

The spectacular adaptation of Sally Rooney‘s novel of the same name, Normal People, garnered views and praise for the couple’s prominence and intensity. The show uses the half-hour format cleverly to explain Rooney’s incredible piece of work.

Watch on Hulu

7 ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ (2013 – 2021)

Jake and Holt from Brooklyn Nine Nine interviewing a criminal

Episode Length: 21 – 23 minutes

If you love workplace comedies, Brooklyn Nine-Nine should be at the top of your watchlist. Set in the ninety-ninth precinct of Brooklyn, the show revolves around the cops of the district as they solve crimes left and right and save the day, but not without a massive dose of comedy. Each character brings out their individuality and quirks, blending into what can only be called a chosen family.

While fiercely loved by fans over the world, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is less popular when it comes to mainstream sitcoms. The show is a must-see for viewers who just want a good laugh, as it’s guaranteed to lift fans’ moods with its cast’s wacky antics.

Watch on Peacock

Community

Episode Length: 22 – 30 minutes

When smooth-talking lawyer Jeff Winger’s (Joel McHale) phony degree is revoked, he must return to community college to complete his education to start practicing again. But a failed attempt at a fake study group to get a date leaves him with a group of social outcasts who become the best friends he’s ever had.

RELATED: The Funniest ‘Community’ Episodes, Ranked

Yet another comedy about a group of friends but unique in its own way, Community focuses on the struggles of people in community college at different ages. Community is a humorous, witty, and often surprisingly emotional series with a loyal fanbase.

Watch on Netflix

5 ‘Arrested Development’ (2003 – 2019)

The Bluth family from Arrested Development sitting together

Episode Length: 22 – 48 minutes

George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor), founder and former CEO of the successful Bluth Company, is the patriarch of his family. However, his son, Michael (Jason Bateman), decides to leave the company and apply elsewhere after being passed for promotion. Just as he’s about to resign, George is arrested by the Securities and Exchange Commission for embezzlement. Upon realizing the family’s incompetency and his son’s attachment to them, Michael takes it upon himself to save the business, but it won’t be easy with the family’s shenanigans.

While Arrested Development was canceled by Fox after three seasons due to a lack of regular viewership, the growing fan following led Netflix to revive it in 2013 for the fourth season. It’s a good thing, too, as it has become a legendary series with countless fans today still referencing the most popular quotes and running gags on Arrested Development.

Watch on Netflix

4 ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ (2005 – )

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Episode Length: 18 – 25 minutes

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a gut-busting long-running sitcom centered on “The Gang,” a group of narcissistic yet hilarious bar owners in Philly – Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day), Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton), Mac McDonald (Rob McElhenney), Dee Reynolds (Kaitlin Olson) and Frank Reynolds (Danny DeVito). The series chronicles their wild activities and ideas, which often play out in their seedy dive bar, Paddy’s Pub.

The show is known for its chaotic and often offensive humor that uses manipulation and mockery, which almost always pokes fun at the gang and how ridiculously terrible they are as human beings. It’s not for everyone, but those who enjoy this specific brand of cringe comedy know that It’s Always Sunny is among the best to make use of it.

Watch on Hulu

3 ‘South Park’ (1997 – )

south-park-cast-social-featured
Image via Comedy Central

Episode Length: 22 minutes

The most iconic satirical animated sitcom ever, South Park is an award-winning show created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It follows the experiences of Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick, four young boys who often find themselves in comical situations in the titular town.

RELATED: The Best ‘South Park’ Episodes of All Time, Ranked According to IMDb

Known for its use of dark humor and biting political commentary, the funniest and best South Park episodes are often also its most controversial ones. The animated series doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to delivering brilliant commentary in the most offensive way possible.

Watch on Max

2 ‘BoJack Horseman’ (2014 – 2020)

Bojack from Bojack Horseman sitting on his couch looking sad.
Image via Netflix

Episode Length: 25 minutes

BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett) was the lead cast in a famous sitcom, “Horsing Around,” which was suddenly canceled. But, years later, he wants to make a comeback with a novel on his life. His long-time agent and ex-girlfriend, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), suggests he hire Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie), a ghostwriter who would help him write the story. But, as Diane tries to get Bojack to open up, she soon realizes his novel isn’t the only thing he needs help with.

One of the very few shows which talk about depression openly and accurately display mental illnesses, BoJack Horseman is a poignant series that stayed with fans long after it ended. It delves into sensitive and heartbreaking subject matters with boldness, charm, and humor, with its best storylines still worth rewatching today.

Watch on Netflix

1 ‘The Office’ (2005 – 2013)

Michael Scott and Jim Halpert from The Office smiling

Episode Length: 22 – 42 minutes

Scranton Branch Manager Michael Gary Scott (Steve Carrell) is the best boss ever, or that’s what he thinks anyway. But, of course, the employees at Dunder Mifflin would say otherwise. In reality, Michael is a problematic person with no knowledge of boundaries. However, he cares deeply for his employees and is prepared to cross leaps and bounds for them.

Filmed in the form of a mockumentary, The Office (U.S.) was actually a remake of the U.K.’s short-lived workplace comedy. It had a slow but steady ascent to legendary status, as more fans tuned in to watch the employees’ wacky storylines. It’s a fantastic go-to comedic series for those looking for quick feel-good episodes full of flawed yet loveable characters.

Watch on Peacock

NEXT: The Best Workplace Sitcoms Of All Time

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