Life is too stressful to only watch TV shows that make you feel like you’re going to have a panic attack before the opening credits even finish. (Looking at you, Euphoria.) Sometimes it’s best to cuddle up with a bit of comfort TV that warms your heart and calms your nerves like a big mug of hot cocoa topped with whipped cream and mini-marshmallows. Most of us have a few feel-good favorites that we turn to in times of need, but what happens when you can’t possibly bring yourself to press play on another episode of Gilmore Girls? What if Michael Scott’s cringe offensive in The Office is just too much to bear when you’re dealing with the Sunday scaries? What if—gasp—you become numb to Ted Lasso’s charms?
If you’re looking for something to ease your troubles, here’s a list of shows to watch when you’re feeling stressed. These are the series that are bound to give viewers all the positive feels and none of the negative ones. No hate-watching here: it’s all love. Unlike anxiety-inducing dramas such as Ozark or Squid Game, these happy-go-lucky half-hour comedies and heartwarming reality shows will keep your heart rate low and your doctor happy. Nail-biting cliffhangers? We don’t know them.
Parks and Recreation
Leslie Knope, the always sunny Pawnee politician played by Amy Poehler, is the kind of leader we need in these uncertain times: a hard-working, ambitious, mid-level bureaucrat who loves her job almost as much as she loves waffles topped with whipped cream. Don’t worry: Leslie understands the importance of finding work-life balance, which is why whenever she lists the three most important things in her life (friends, waffles, work) in order of importance, she puts “work” last.
If burger puns and fart jokes make you happy, you’ll fit right in with the Belchers. At Bob’s burger joint, there often aren’t enough butts in the seats, much to backside-obsessed eldest daughter Tina’s chagrin. But on this animated family series, there’s always a lot of love to go around.
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s Comedy Central series, in which they play hyper and often high versions of themselves, is like I Love Lucy for millennials. Instead of working at a chocolate factory to prove something to their husbands like Lucy and Ethel did, Abbi and Ilana have to clean the apartment of a diaper-wearing man-child to buy tickets to a Lil Wayne concert. Every episode of Broad City is a high jinks-filled lesson in survival that requires a partner in crime.
The Great British Baking Show
After a hard day at work, spend some time with the Great British Baking Show gang—whose critiques of even the most unsuccessful bakes are punny, not punitive. No one likes being told they have a “soggy bottom,” but these judges certainly aren’t Gordon Ramsay. The lovely can-do attitude of this beloved food competition series might be why you’ll find it hard to watch just one episode per day. Luckily, there are nearly 60 episodes full of sweet talkers and even sweeter treats to gobble up on Netflix.
Low wages, union busting, inhumane work conditions. These aren’t the most hilarious topics, but somehow this workplace comedy about a big-box store in St. Louis, starring America Ferrera and Ben Feldman, tackles difficult issues with so much humor and grace that viewers are left feeling better about humanity rather than worse.
A World of Calm
Don’t worry if you doze off while watching this immersive documentary series that covers everything from coral reefs to glass blowing. These ASMR-friendly “sleep stories” narrated by Zoë Kravitz, Nicole Kidman, Idris Elba, and other celebs were designed to send you off into dreamland. Falling asleep with Keanu Reeves beats counting sheep, that’s for sure.
One Day at a Time
This modern update of the Norman Lear classic, starring Justina Machado as a single mom raising two kids, is more than a nostalgia play. The Netflix sitcom focuses on a Cuban-American family, allowing for a too-often underrepresented view on major topics such as mental illness, gender identity, and racism. That might sound heavy, but no matter how serious the topic, One Day at a Time always lands the joke. It helps that Rita Moreno is often the one delivering the one-liners.
Parks and Recreation co-stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman are the creators and hosts of the kindest, gentlest reality show ever made. Each week, crafty contestants work on DIY projects that range from making one-of-a-kind wedding toppers to front-door holiday displays, all in the hopes of becoming the season’s “Master Maker.” The honor comes with an adorable little patch and, often, a whole lot of happy tears. Keep the tissues close, because you’re bound to bawl your eyes out before each episode is through. Tears of joy, of course.
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