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Life is hard. Problems barrel at us at a steady pace, and social media has allowed us all direct access to almost every human being on the planet’s problems.
People weren’t made to handle so much — and you’re allowed to step away from it when you need. For some that could mean partaking in a hobby, or exercising, or spending your salary on face masks.
Life is hard – if you want, try these shows that could make it a little lighter
For me, it often means finding TV shows that transport me to a world where real-world problems are infrequent and, when they do crop up, are met with optimism and warmth.
These are my Netflix go-tos.
This police procedural sitcom is full of oddball characters that love each other and their jobs so damn much. Brooklyn Nine-Nine manages to stay topical without really getting too real, and it’s just the right level of light entertainment before bed.
Watch if: you enjoy Andy Samberg, police hijinks, and unconditional love
Avoid if: being reminded of crime dampens your mood
Grace and Frankie
Grace and Frankie opens on a double date during which two husbands tell their wives that for the last twenty years they had been cheating with each other. The wives, who can barely stand each other, are forced to move into their shared beach house together while the husbands move in to their own home.
Watch if: you enjoy family comedies, reluctant friendships, and sex positivity
Avoid if: you prefer your sitcoms with fast-paced dialogue or you get mad at rich people
If your idea of escapism is getting wrapped up in a good mystery, you don’t have to follow something as intense as a murder. American Vandal is a compelling mockumentary about a high school student pinned as the vandal who painted dicks on faculty member’s cars — though he insists he didn’t do it.
Watch if: you felt a little guilty for loving Making a Murderer
Avoid if: you don’t think detective-like models of alleged handjobs are funny
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
Dirk Gently is detective who uses the “fundamental interconnectedness of all things” to solve interdimensional mysteries. Based on a Douglas Adams novel, the show is confusing, quirky, and unadulterated escapism.
Watch if: you’re into sci-fi, Elijah Wood, and being pulled along by a hyper-active plot
Avoid if: you don’t like shows cancelled after two seasons
Netflix’s Queer Eye reboot follows a new Fab 5 who help other men in the areas of fashion, grooming, interior design, food, and culture. The reality show preaches self-love and acceptance, and is filled with men hyping each other up. What more could you ask for?
Watch if: you love makeover shows and watching people gain self-confidence in the span of 45 minutes
Avoid if: you don’t like media that pretends it’s “woker” than it actually is
Jane the Virgin
Jane, a devoutly Catholic virgin, falls pregnant when her gynaecologist mixes up her appointments. What follows next is a myriad of telenovela tropes including long-lost fathers, identity swapping, and cliffhangers galore.
Watch if: you’re into silliness and melodrama
Avoid if: you can’t stand to watch any more love triangles
Please Like Me
Please Like Me is an Australian sitcom centred on a 20-year-old, Josh, who realises he’s gay. The show is quick-witted, laugh-out-loud funny, and deftly handles emotion without ever feeling overly sentimental.
Watch if: you like coming-of-age stories that handle topics like mental illness with humour and care
Avoid if: millennials making poor decisions makes you angry
There are a bunch of comedy specials on Netflix, but not all of them are too feel-good. Patton Oswalt’s Annihilation deals with the death of his wife, and Bo Burnham’s Make Happy — while fantastic —does a deep-dive into the psychology of performance that keeps it too real to be escapist.
Oh, Hello! is a Broadway show about characters devised by John Mulaney and Nick Kroll. Septuagenarians Gil and George are roommates who pronounce everything wrong and have plenty misinformed opinions.
Watch if: silly old men make you giggle
Avoid if: creepy old men make you squirm
This list isn’t (and will never be) complete
And there you have it — my go-tos for TV shows that hold me when I’m sad. Is that sad? Either way, this list is by no means complete.
I’m still looking to check out Chewing Gum, a British sitcom about a 24-year-old religious virgin ready to have sex and learn more about the world, Reggie Watt’s comedy special, Spatial, which is said to combine music and lights and existentialism into one strange yet exciting performance, as well as RuPaul’s Drag Race, which I had no idea was on Netflix but I’m already ready.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments if I’ve left out your anxiety antidote!