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Come on, you can admit it. #WFH was kinda fun at first – sweatpants (or no pants), lots of time with the pandemic puppy and no commute. But that thrill has long since faded, and now some people are actually back in the office.  For those facing a Labor Day mandate to return to the office for at least three days a week, cheer up. All those things that used to drive you batty about the office – the bad coffee, the bad jokes – will still be there. But the things that you’ve been nostalgic for will also be there. You know, the gossip, the free food and the camaraderie. To get you into the return to work headspace, and in honor of Labor Day, our correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum has curated a list of the best network television (TV), cable and streaming shows – both drama and comedy – about office life. 

why does office life make for great TV?

There are a lot of television shows set at the office. In fact, if you expand your definition of “the office” to include all places of business – such as restaurants, schools, theater companies and all other locations where people are paid to be – then we would hazard a guess that there are more workplace shows than any other kind of television.


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And what’s more, almost all of the buzziest shows of the last year (many of which we’re recommending to you here!) take place, at least in part, in offices.  

Why is this? Well for one thing, television and the workplace seem like a pretty good match – think about it. Both are serialized. Routine. We have our weekly television schedule, and our weekly work schedule.

Which is quite different than, say, a movie. A movie is an event. A movie is something you might put in your calendar. TV, on the other hand, is part of your regular life. It’s always there. …And so is work. For this reason, it doesn’t surprise us that there are many shows (and many fantastic shows) featuring people’s jobs.

The question is: has the pandemic changed the office life TV show landscape? With so many people working remotely, phasing “the office” experience out of their lives, will the lure of the office comedies and dramas remain strong? Will those shows stop resonating? Or will they feel appealingly nostalgic?

Only time will tell. But for the moment, here are twenty-one of our favorite TV shows set at the office. Old, new, and everything in between.

21 Best network TV and streaming Shows About Office Life

1. The Office

There is something immensely comforting about the world of Dunder-Mifflin. Even though you’ve probably already seen The Office a thousand times (hey, we all have), it had to get the number one spot on our list. And once you’re finished with all nine seasons (not to mention the British version), you can go back and watch two other beloved workplace comedies from creator Michael Schur – Parks and Recreation, and Brooklyn 99.

best TV shows office life

The Office. Courtesy Photo.

2. Scandal

Another classic from one of television’s most prominent showrunners (in this case, Shonda Rhimes) that you have likely already seen – but if for some reason you haven’t, this is the perfect time to dive in. Sometimes the “office,” is the intense political scene of Washington D.C, or specifically, Olivia Pope’s crisis management firm. Full of drama (and the titular scandal), the thriller’s seven seasons never lagged in quality – a rare feat – making it one of the best-ever series about life in politics.

best TV Shows Office Life

What to watch about office life: Scandel. Courtesy Photo.


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3. Slings & Arrows

If you’re looking for a show you’ve never heard of before, watch Slings & Arrows. In the case of this Canadian comedy, the coworkers are the team behind a declining Shakespeare festival. However, work gets a bit more complicated when the artistic director dies in a shocking accident, and comes back as a ghost to haunt the rest of production (very appropriate, since they’re performing Hamlet). If this sounds like the funniest television premise you’ve ever heard, then this delightful show was made for you.

best TV shows office life

Slings and Arrows. Courtesy Photo.

4. Superstore

For something that is still on the air: Superstore, starring America Ferrera, is the warm, honest sitcom about the employees of a fictional store called Cloud 9 in St. Louis, Missouri. Though the episodes are only half an hour long, they manage to masterfully and accurately portray both the horrors and humor of what working in a superstore is actually like.  A fantastic, underrated sitcom.

best TV shows office life

What to watch about office life: Superstore. Courtesy Photo.

5. Ugly Betty

Rather than include just one show starring America Ferrera, we decided to include two. It’s been a few years since Ugly Betty was on the air, but this wholesome and endearing comedy simply never gets old. Ferrera plays Betty, the charismatically clueless woman who starts working at a major fashion magazine under dubious circumstances. If you’re looking for something to watch that has the structure and arcs of an hour-long drama, but that is still sweet and entertaining, this is the one to start today.

what to watch office life

Ugly Betty. Courtesy Photo.

6. The Bold Type

If you’ve decided you definitely want to watch a show about a magazine, we also recommend The Bold Type. Based loosely on the life of a former editor-in-chief at Cosmopolitan, this is a lovely drama about three friends who work together at the fictional Scarlet, and are trying to find their way in the world. The show finds a perfect balance between the characters’ personal and professional struggles, making it a treat to watch.

what to watch office lifeWhat to watch about office life: The Bold Type. Courtesy Photo.[white_box]

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7. Empire

The only thing more fun than exploring the overlap between work and friendship, is exploring the overlap between work and family. Terence Howard stars as Lucious Lyon, the CEO of a fictional hip hop music company called Empire Entertainment.  In the pilot, he is diagnosed with ALS, and must pick one of his three sons to take over the business – a decision that is made more complicated when his ex-wife, played by Taraji P. Henson, is released from prison. Though the storyline has changed over the show’s run, it has stayed always engrossing.

what to watch office life

Empire. Courtesy Photo.

8. Better Off Ted

What is it about the name “Ted” and office comedies? We’ve mentioned shows set in the entertainment industry, in politics, and in paper products. But what about an extremely mysterious, extremely corrupt, technological conglomerate?  In this satire, Veridian Dynamics is the over-the-top nightmare company that is both absurdist, but also probably more realistic than we’d like to think. They experiment on their employees, tell egregious lies to their staff and to the public, and stop at nothing to amass power. For an often ridiculous, always hilarious show that sometimes veers into science fiction, check out this two-season gem.

what to watch office life

One of the best office TV shows: Better Off Ted. Courtesy Photo.

9. The IT Crowd

This British sitcom has an extraordinarily devoted base of fans, and for good reason. Chris O’Dowd, Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson star as the IT department of a large company, where they are often treated as less important than everybody else. Their social ineptitude also turns the episodes into comedy gold.

best shows office life

The IT Crowd. Courtesy Photo.

10. The Mindy Project

After The Office, Mindy Kaling created and starred in The Mindy Project, which is about a fictional medical practice in New York City. While it is technically a doctor show, it has none of the stress of procedurals, and instead turns coworker dynamics into an irresistible romantic comedy. For a lovable half-hour of wish fulfillment about work-life balance, check out this show’s six great seasons.

What are the best TV shows about office life. The Mondy Project. Courtesy Photo.


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11. Sports Night

If you don’t care about sports, don’t worry. Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night is as much about sports as The West Wing was about politics: though it creates the beautifully written backdrop for what’s happening, the dynamics between the characters are what really drive the story. This is a fantastic look at what running a nightly sports series would be like, with some deeply funny moments and plenty of heart.

what to watch

One of the best office TV shows: Sports Night. Courtesy photo.

12. In Contempt

In Contempt takes place in a legal aid office in New York City, with Erica Ash starring as public defender Gwen Sullivan. The show devotes most of its focus to Sullivan’s cases, spotlighting the racism and injustice of the legal system in the United States. Though there are only ten episodes, each is extremely well-written, with three-dimensional characters who come alive on screen. It is a must-watch.

what to watch

What to watch about office life: In Contempt. Courtesy Photo.

13. The Bear

One of the buzziest shows of the moment, The Bear takes place at a sandwich shop in Chicago, where a young chef comes to take over after the death of his brother. The show has received high praise for its performances, and for its portrayal of the kitchen environment – anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant will relate to the chaos The Bear depicts on screen.

What are the best TV shows about office life. The Bear. Courtesy Photo.

14. Succession

You’ve probably heard of Succession. One of the most-discoursed (and most-awarded) shows of the last few years, Succession tells the saga of the Roy family – the uber-wealthy, powerful, and dysfunctional dynasty behind major media company, Waystar Royco. Succession is as much a family show as it is an office show, and that’s what makes it so much fun – and a stacked cast and superb writing seal the deal. If you haven’t yet made time to watch, jump in before the start of season four.

What are the best TV shows about office life. Succession. Courtesy Photo.

15. Abbott Elementary

This year, Abbott Elementary stole our hearts. Quinta Brunson’s comedy is one of the most universally loved shows of 2022, and it happens to take place in a workplace – specifically, in an elementary school. At a time where so many stories are so difficult to watch, Abbott Elementary is exactly as warm-hearted and low-stress as you might hope. Because can you imagine an office environment more delightful than a kid’s school in Philadelphia? We can’t.

What to watch about office life. Abbott Elementary. Courtesy Photo.


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16. Severance
Imagine if there were a procedure where you could have your brain divided between your work life and your home life… so that your work self has no memories of who you are outside the office. That’s the premise of Severance, and if it’s already sounding great to you, we promise it’s even better than you’re thinking. Another one of the hot shows of the year, and worth every minute of your time. Adam Scott leads the talented cast.

What to watch about office life. Severance. Courtesy Photo.

17. The Chair

The Chair premiered last summer, and was one of our favorite shows of the pandemic era. Sandra Oh stars as Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim, the first woman of color to chair the English department at fictional Pembroke University. Stories of academia are a popular niche within the genre of the workplace drama, and this one does an excellent job of unpacking the racism and misogyny that run rampant within those environments.

What to watch about office life.The Chair. Courtesy Photo.

18. The Dropout

Another popular series of 2022, The Dropout depicts the goings-on at a real company – specifically, Theranos, the fraudulent biotech company of Elizabeth Holmes. If you’re interested in a story about a real workplace catastrophe – or if you simply find yourself fascinated by the tale of Theranos – then The Dropout is a must. Amanda Seyfried and Naveen Andrews star.

What to watch about office life. The Dropout. Courtesy Photo.

19. Ten Percent

Have you seen popular French show Call My Agent!? If not, that is another office show we 100% recommend. And after you finish it, check out Ten Percent, the British rendition that premiered this spring. Like Call My Agent!, Ten Percent takes place at a talent agency that is struggling to stay afloat, where many well-known actors show up as, well, themselves. You are sure to enjoy if you are a maven of pop culture, or if you have a particular love for British celebrities.

Ten Percent. Courtesy Photo.

20. Ted Lasso

Ah, Ted Lasso. The show about soccer (sorry, football) that isn’t really about soccer. If for some reason you haven’t yet seen an episode of the Emmy-award winning comedy, we are here to tell you that it really is as good as people say. And it’s one of the few shows that really makes the office – which in this case is the management behind soccer team AFC Richmond – seem like a warm, loving, and supportive place to be. At least, most of the time.

Ted Lasso. Courtesy Photo.

21. Industry

The first season of Industry arrived in the fall of 2020. Created by the former investment  bankers Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, the series follows a multiracial cohort of recent university graduates working for the fictional London finance firm Pierpoint & Co. Season 2 dropped a few weeks ago, reigniting the buzz around this soapy and yet oddly accurate portrayal of life on a trading floor. Deemed “the most thrilling show on TV” right now by The Atlantic, you’ll find “schemes, schmoozing, bullying, and betrayal,” along with lots of sex, drugs and stunning outfits. What more could one ask for from a show about office life?

Best network TV and streaming Shows About Office Life

That’s it!  It’s Peak Office Life TV, if you ask us. Why not pop the popcorn and settle in for a marathon of shows about office life this Labor Day weekend? ‘Cause the joys and woes of life in the office may be coming your way soon.

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Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.

Abbie Martin Greenbaum

Abbie Martin Greenbaum is a writer, reader, and pop culture connoisseur, who loves storytelling, coffee, and dessert. Her work has also appeared in Playbill.