When the real world has lost its luster, we must sometimes throw ourselves into the world of fiction. Comfort shows can be bona fide therapy, especially when so much time these days is being spent indoors.
The following is a carefully curated list of feel-good TV options to accompany the well-known not-so-good moments of life. May they instill your faith in humanity, warm your heart or at the very least, give you a moment of “ah.”
When you feel like a total outcast, hate your body and want to crawl in a hole where no one can find you: "Sex Education."
"Sex Education" gets all A's.
The great thing about this show is that everyone—both the teenagers and the adults—are sort of bumbling along the path to self-discovery. And though, as the title suggests, this show does have a lot NSFW moments, sex isn’t really the central theme. Rather, it's about identity, expression and authenticity. This show also tackles LGBTQIA+ topics with integrity and heart, particularly in Season 3.
When you take a gander at your bank account, and now feel just as empty on the inside: "Schitt’s Creek."
The Rose family provides an abundance of giggles.
First, there’s the initial bit of therapeutic schadenfreude, seeing the shallow, materialistic Rose family have their fall from grace, and their millions. Then you’re hit with purely delightful, totally unforgettable comedy moments. I mean, there’s a reason why there are “fold in the cheese” T-shirts. That bit was comedic gold. Finally, there’s the added hope injected into your soul after seeing the Roses not only overcome financial hardship, but become better people along the way. Certainly, if they can do it, we can do it.
Plus, “A Little Bit Alexis” is a straight up bop.
When it’s the third time you’ve been “mansplained” to this week, and are so done with the patriarchy: "We Are Lady Parts."
This show truly rocks.
"We Are Lady Parts," a new sitcom from Peacock, tells the story of an all-girl Muslim punk rock band trying to make their big break. Actress Anjana Vasan, who plays timid “Capricorn” Amina, the band’s new guitarist (facing just a dash of vomit-inducing stage fright), is particularly delightful. With every subtle look and awkward giggle, the girl just knows how to get a laugh. But truly, it’s an ensemble show. It’s hard to not root for cunning band manager Momtaz, whose face covering makes her “feel like Beyonce,” or bassist-slash-mother Bisma and her misunderstood comic about “a group of women who all become homicidal maniacs when they’re on their period,” or powerhouse drummer Ayesha who appears to be goddess Khali incarnate, or unbreakable frontwoman Saira, who screams out the lyrics to bangers like “Basheer With The Good Beard.”Yeah, they’re a LOT. And that’s what makes them great. And the best part is: By watching Lady Parts dismantle stereotypes and overcome their own insecurities, you somehow gain more confidence in the process.
When you haven’t seen your family in so long and just want a hug: "British Bake-Off."
"The Great British Bake-Off" always delivers the sweetness.
Remember when you used to tell your mom, “I don’t wanna go to school, I just wanna stay home and bake cookies with you?” That feeling you were chasing is exactly what "The Great British Bake-Off" delivers.
It’s pure soul medicine. Plain and simple. There’s the artistry of it all, as the bakers make the most creative, most exquisite and exotic desserts ever imagined. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, it’s hard not to drool over some of the showstoppers. Plus the judges and contestants are as warm as baked brie. I’m convinced that even if America produced it’s own version and replicated it to a “T,” it would still not be able to capture that special something the British one has to offer. It’s a high stakes competition for the Star Baker, sure, but without any normal tension-inducing gimmicks that normally come from similar programs. And because of that, audiences are left with a soothing balm that brings a sense of home, no matter where you’re watching.
Pro tip: Don’t watch on an empty stomach.
When you’ve read far too many dreary headlines exposing dark secrets: "Avatar: The Last Airbender."
A magical show that gets right to the heart.
Looking for a story where good guys win and even bad guys redeem themselves? Where concepts of mindfulness are broken down so clearly you can’t wait to meditate? Look no further.
Though the animated Nickelodeon fantasy originally aired in 2005, it quickly became one of Netflix's most watched shows at the beginning of the pandemic. And there's a reason for that. Even adults can appreciate the way this cartoon elegantly conveys moral lessons sans the preachiness. And as any Airbender fan will tell you, this “kid’s show” depicts a cast of nuanced, dynamic, flawed characters. And this is coming from someone who didn’t watch the series originally. So no leaning on nostalgia here.
Curl up in a blanket and watch kids fight the world’s injustices with the power of magical martial arts and friendship. Your heart will thank you for it.
When Facebook shows you that your ex is engaged, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever find love: "Four Weddings and a Funeral" (Hulu version).
The rom-com for people who hate rom-coms.
This mini-series never got the visibility (or good reviews) it deserved. Co-created by Mindy Kaling, “Four Weddings” adapts the classic rom-com movie of the same name, but with a “modern, diverse twist” (originally said by Entertainment Weekly, and it’s so accurate I can’t beat it). Let me say this first: I despise romantic comedies. But this one hits differently. As Kash and Maya go through their messy “will they won’t they” roller coaster, you fall in love with them in the process. It reminds you that love is complex, perfectly imperfect, and the basis for all healthy relationships, not just the romantic ones.
When you’re ready to just give up and let the planet destroy itself: "Earth to Ned."
Ned is the best late-night host in the galaxy.
Earth to Ned on Disney+ blends late-night show antics with puppetry in a way that’s out of this world. Alien space invader Ned is set on a mission to annihilate Earth, but instead he falls in love with its inhabitants, and beams up celebrity guests to answer his burning questions about earthly customs, and pop culture of course. It’s just so quirky, so wholesome and so silly in a way that only a Jim Henson project can accomplish.
When it’s been so long since you’ve laughed at anything, you’re not sure you remember how to: "Whose Line is it Anyway?"
1,000 points for bringing smiles.
Ah, "Whose Line," the long-running improv comedy show where the points don’t matter, but laughter certainly does. This really is my go-to when I’m down in the dumps. Something about seeing Colin, Ryan and Wayne unapologetically make utter fools of themselves while playing pretend, makes the world seem less bleak. Even bits I’ve seen a thousand times bring a smile to my face.And believe it or not, new episodes of "Whose Line" are still airing, now hosted by Aisha Tyler. And yes, it definitely still holds up. Try this one the next time you need an escape into pure joy.
When you simply can’t shake the feeling of being a loser: "Ted Lasso"
"Ted Lasso" is the champion of feel-good.
Call it a fish-out-water comedy, or call it an underdog sports drama. Either way, "Ted Lasso" tends to our need for creature comforts. The show manages to stay uplifting without being blindly positive, even as it explores darker topics such as toxic masculinity and father issues in Season 2. As Ted Lasso teaches his team to “believe,” it’s hard to not find yourself being inspired to look for the silver lining.
Though my list could be much more exhaustive (honorable mentions to Netflix's "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation"), I hope these can provide a little inspo next time you’re in need of a more nourishing binge watch.
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