The modern world is a stressful place; we move at a mile a minute, information and news are forever at our fingertips, social media demands our attention, and even when we try to tune out with balancing rituals, the dread creeps in. Sometimes, pulling the duvet over your head, grabbing the remote, and disappearing into visual fiction is the only way to calm those jangling nerves. Forget the high intensity of Game of Thrones or the nail-biting binges of a true-crime show or even the sentimental yet shifting vibes of Stranger Things, we have a handful of soul-soothing feel-good tv shows for effortless escapism.
Fast, witty and wonderful – whenever you are feeling that bleak black cloud of dread, a trip to everyone’s favourite small town will wash that away. Following mother and daughter through their ups and downs, Gilmore Girls has the perfect storm of sarcastic humour, deep-set feminist roots, and Alexis Bledel - not to mention all the comfort food you could wish for. That’s not to say that turbulent times don’t happen in Stars Hollow, but when you have humour, resilience, and killer comebacks, you can be sure to make it through.
Where to stream: Netflix # of seasons: 7 Who’s in it:Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham, Kelly Bishop, Melissa McCarthy
Parks and Recreation
Ladies twitching in your seats let us introduce you to Leslie Knope. No matter how crappy you are feeling, Parks and Rec has the power to make you crack a smile. Set in fictional Pawnee Indiana, it follows Amy Poehler as she plays a mid-level city councillor trying her best to put Pawnee on the map. Not only is Parks and Rec downright hilarious and a true example of uplifting tv, but also pulls in female-driven passion, endless inspiration, and boundless joy – not to mention celebrating all that is awesome about female friendships. For all those craving a workplace comedy with a kick, Parks and Rec is it.
Where to stream: Amazon Prime # of seasons: 7 Who’s in it: Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza
Yes, Ross gives us the rage, Joey turns into an absurd caricature and representation isn’t great, but a quick thirty-minute blast of Friends when you are feeling shaky on the inside is sure to bring you back to the ground. Or to fictional New York. Following a group of six best friends, as they navigate life and love, Friends is full of instantly recognizable one-liners and utter silliness, even when things get serious its served with the lightness of whipped cream. This show made a massive dent in pop culture and has earned its rep as everyone's fave American sitcom for fluffing up a bad day. There's also a ton of great cameos from famous actors to watch out for.
Where to stream: YouTube # of seasons: 10 Who’s in it: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc
Neil deGrasse Tyson knows how to tantalize with the universe, but there’s something super soothing about the seventies and Carl Sagan. The original Cosmos invites you to climb aboard the spaceship of your imagination and question the mysteries of the universe. While it may sound like an existential nightmare, Sagan’s spiritual approach, poetic script, and soft colour schemes make for perfect bedtime bingeing.
Where to stream: Amazon # of seasons: 1 Who’s in it: Carl Sagan
The Great British Bake Off
Sifting sugar, creating cakes, and mishaps in the kitchen. The worst thing you will witness on Bake Off is someone’s Victoria Sponge refusing to rise. This isn’t your usual knock out kitchen show with Gordon Ramsey screaming abuse and throwing pans, instead, you get a wholesome bowl of kindness, tinkering laughter, and light humour to see you on your way. This delightful dollop of lifestyle tv is the perfect binge-watching antidote to rising levels of stress and anxiety and comes with the added bonus of nudging you into the kitchen to get creative with some scones. Who would have thought that a baking competition could be so addictive, but the great British baking show is like a sugary hug every time.
Where to stream: Netflix # of seasons: 11 Who’s in it: Sue Perkins, Noel Fielding, Matt Lucas, Sandi Toksvig, Mel Giedroyc
The Power of Myth
Another series session with the seventies. Joseph Campbell meets Bill Myers on George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch and together they talk about how mythology has shaped humanity. What’s not to love? Not only does Campbell's ingenious presence soothe the soul immediately, but he truly takes some of the worlds big ideas and theories and reduces them beautifully into soft and easily digestible messages. There’s some beautiful animation in this tv show, plenty of Star Wars references (if you are a fan), and it’s one of the best antidotes for those who feel anxious but want a little more substance when it comes to escapism.
Where to stream: Amazon # of seasons: 1 Who’s in it: Joseph Campbell, Bill Myers
The Emmy award-winning family sitcom that captured everyone's hearts and got us all through lockdown - Schitt's Creek is one of the best feel-good shows to watch. Following a wealthy family who is forced into bankruptcy and made to move to a tiny town off the map and reconnect to each other, Schitt's Creek may be a fish out of water story but it one of the most adorable and hilarious things you will see. Not only does Catherine O'Hara kill it as Moira Rose (the mother), but when you get the father-son duo of Daniel and Eugene Levy and the fresh-faced talent of Annie Murphy, magic is bound to happen. For all those who loved the mockumentary series of films like A Mighty Wind and Best in Show, you are going to fall head over heels for this series. This is one of those shows that is subtle, sweet, laugh out loud funny, and super moving all at the same time. Television doesn't get better than this.
Where to stream: Netflix # of seasons: 6 Who’s in it: Eugene Levy, Dan Levy, Catherine O Hara, Annie Murphy
The Good Place
There's no better place to enjoy the benefits of mistaken identity than when it lets you into heaven. For the recently deceased main character of Eleanor (played by Kristen Bell), she finds herself in a heaven-like afterlife despite living a morally corrupt life. Hilarity ensues as she does her best to hide her less than clean past. Towing that awesome line between fantasy and reality, the tv series was originally commissioned by NBC before being internationally marketed as a Netflix Original. It's got more than a pinch of craziness, incredible performances, and some awesome bittersweet analogies and big ideas exploration that are sure to make you swoon. Whenever you need a pick me up show to carry you to calmer days, The Good Place has got you covered.
Where to stream: Netflix # of seasons: 4 Who’s in it: Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, Jameela Jamil, D'Arcy Carden
Sometimes the best comfort comedy series comes in animated form. Bob's Burgers is a long term fave stuffed full of great jokes, an iTunes soundtrack to adore, and a wholesome feel that is hard to shake off. Following the Belcher family who runs a hamburger restaurant, the show delivers up a positive portrayal of working-class life, hits high notes when it comes to out-there absurdist humour, and gives us positive female role models to adore. While other family animated sitcoms like Family Guy and American Dad tends to skip over real human emotion for laughs, Bob's Burgers connects on a deeper level (kind of like King of the Hill and The Simpsons). It's one of those shows to love and we keep on coming back to an extra serving of this show.
Where to stream: Fox # of seasons: 10 Who’s in it: H. John Benajamin, Kristen Schaal, Dan Mintz, John Roberts, Eugene Mirman
It's fascinating how a show with such a stellar ensemble cast, low-fi gags, and long-running jokes seemed to fall under the radar for so many years. Arrested Development is weird and wonderful and follows the outright bizarre shenanigans of the Bluth family (the very antithesis of the Brady Bunch). There are banana stand empires, blue man groups, sweat lodges, and family dynamics that are downright haywire. For those who are new to this weird world, maybe skip the reboot and end your final season early as the rehashing out of season 5 didn't do much to inspire a buzz. But the early seasons are awesome and deserve every inch of applause than they get.
Where to stream: Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime # of seasons: 5 Who’s in it: Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, David Cross, Jessica Walter, Ron Howard
All singing all dancing, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of those wacky series that doesn't take itself too seriously but knows how to deal gently and smartly with all kinds of taboo topics in a way that feels good. From mental health to period puns, this show follows a woman who gives up her life in New York City to move to California on a whim and try and win back the love of her ex-boyfriend. Not only is the show well written but it is bursting at the seams with tongue in cheek musical numbers and parodies that totally charm you with their feel-good vibes. Also, who doesn't love a show that throws out a clever happy ending? This show is set to turn you as equally obsessed as Rachel Bloom's character is.
Where to stream: Netflix # of seasons: 4 Who’s in it: Rachel Bloom, Vincent Rodriguez, Donna Lynne Champlin, Vella Lovell
British humor, awkward teens, and the wonder that is Gillian Anderson - those are the only three ingredients you need for a laugh out loud comedy. Otis Milburn is your standard socially awkward teen living with his mother who is a sex therapist. Cue comedian gold. There are many reasons to adore this show - it's fresh, it's funny, it's got that lush soothing English countryside backdrop, and did we mention Gillian Anderson? While it certainly scores big on the irreverent comedy card, Sex Education is so much more, it manages to be insightful, beautiful, and perfectly poignant all at once.
Where to stream: Netflix # of seasons: 2 Who’s in it: Gillian Anderson, Asa Butterfield, Ncuti Gatwa, Aimee Lou Wood
Follow Sam, a teen on the spectrum who has decided to get looking for love. Above all its a coming of age story that sends the whole family into a funk as they grapple with the change that Sam's new desire for independence brings. Atypical is a cute family-centric show that feels real and authentic in its own way. It's not completely perfect (what is) but with characters that are easy to root for, low stake drama that won't send you into despair, and with the show shooting for good intentions, there's a lot to like here.
Where to stream: Netflix # of seasons: 3 Who’s in it: Keir Gilchrist, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Rapaport
Here are some honorary mentions for those feel-good binges: Any kind of guilty pleasure reality TV show, The Office (the Steve Carell one), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (with Andy Samberg), Star Trek, Big Bang Theory, New Girl (with Zooey Deschanel), Community (if you adore community college laughs), 30 Rock (with Tina Fey), and Chewing Gum (High fiving Michaela Coel in every way as Tracey Gordon).
Share your favourite episodes, shows, and even your favorite streaming service in the comments, together we can create a binge-worthy list of absolute bliss.