Your friends are watching TV shows and films about fictional disasters, while others are watching horror films. If you’re anything like me, you want to watch the best TV shows that will distract the mind instead of a reminder about what’s happening outside our windows.
I tried Tiger King, but I can’t stomach watching bad things happen to animals. Yes, I know it’s popular, but I really need something to distract me from the rest of the world. I need shows like The Good Place.
Here is a list of shows to stream or watch on Blu-ray that are a welcome respite from the real world. Let us know what you think are the best TV shows to distract the mind in the comments!
The Good Place
A show about a jerk of a woman (Kristen Bell) who accidentally goes to heaven doesn’t sound like something that would soothe you, but The Good Place is so much more than its premise. You wouldn’t think learning about moral philosophy would be fun, but the writing on this show is beyond stellar, and the chemistry between cast members is so beautiful. It’s also absolutely hysterical while still being poignant. There are so many visual jokes that you’ll need to watch this over and over again.
While you’re at it, make sure to listen to The Good Place: The Podcast with host Mark Evan Jackson, who plays the Shaun. It’s worth it to listen after each episode to stretch it out, as the show is only four seasons. This one has a rewatchability factor that is similar to Friends.
Comedian Nicole Byer and dessert great Jacque Torres host this cooking competition that will make you feel really good about your baking skills. Based on the “nailed it” meme that showed a real item and a failed attempt to copy it, contestants have to recreate a fabulous dessert. They are terrible at it.
The thing is, no one is ripping them to shreds here. It’s all in good fun, and everyone seems to be having a really good time. The best part about the show is the interaction between Byer and Torres (and stage manager… at least that’s what I think he is) Wes (Weston Bahr), who Nicole summons to bring her things. Everyone is so… game in this show. It will make you giggle, and that’s what we really need right now, isn’t it?
If you want to dive into a world that no longer exists, Downton Abbey is perfect. If you missed it when it was out, the show takes place at the beginning of last century at an English manor house. We see the split between the lives of the upstairs and downstairs denizens; the nobility and the servants. It’s beautifully shot and the costumes will make you drool. It’s also insanely addictive. You think you won’t get hooked, but trust me, you will.
Also, when you find yourself quoting the acid comments from Lady Violet Crawley (Dame Maggie Smith), don’t blame me. You’ve been warned. They’re delightful, and you can even find complications of them on YouTube.
This Starz series is based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, and it’s chock full of drama and romance. Oddly enough, it’s also a time travel series. Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is a nurse living in post WWII England, and accidentally gets transported back to Scotland in 1743. She has to marry a Scotsman named Jamie (Sam Heughan) and falls desperately in love. Of course, she’s married in her own time as well. It’s very complicated.
Fans of this series are very… very active online. Once you start, you can’t stop watching. Maybe leave the kids out of the room for this series though. It’s racy.
Looking for some inspiration for your children’s (or your) LEGO creations? This reality competition series has pairs of builders creating some fantastic things. Some get dropped off a balcony. Some have monsters. Some have twists and moving parts. Remember that square house you built with clear window bricks? Yeah, they’ve got nothing on this!
There are some lovely teams here, and host Will Arnett is wonderful. Master Builders Jamie Berard and Amy Corbett get really emotional when they have to send certain people home. It’s just lovely, and hey, if you have LEGO in your house right now, maybe you’ll be inspired to compete for the second season of this Brad Pitt-produced series.
If you haven’t watching this Joss Whedon series yet, now is the time. A group of smugglers in a future where space travel is possible, trying to do the right thing is exactly what we need right now.
This series only lasted for a single season, but if you want to follow the story for longer (and you will), you can check out the comics digitally, as well as the follow-up film Serenity. Then you can join the rest of the geek world in hoping against hope that there will be a revival someday.
Still available on Netflix until it goes to NBCUniversal streaming service Peacock, this insanely popular show reminds us of simpler times. Get yourself a big tub of popcorn (if you have any left after the first day home from necessity shopping) and watch the romance between Jim (John Krasinski and his bangs) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) unfold as they deal with office nutter Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and best/worst boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell).
This is another show that just popped up for binging on Netflix. Just take a look at this cast: Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong, Chevy Chase, and Jim Rash. Just try to resist the charm of this show. Go ahead. We’ll wait.
The series is set at a community college and is absolutely absurd in the best way. The comedy is quick, the references are meta, and even with that, it manages to tug at your heart strings. The paintball episodes are the absolute best.
We don’t have to describe this show to you, do we? Six friends connected in a number of ways hang out. Seems simple, but the writing on this show was brilliant for the time. Could we be any more into this series? Sorry. Blame Matthew Perry, who was the last “Friend” to join Instagram. He’s making the jokes, so it’s all his fault.
Even before the world changed, watching Friends was a nice way to self-soothe. Most of the series was set before the average person had a cell phone, so we even have pagers as plot points. Yes, it’s a bit dated, and some of the jokes don’t hold up, but overall, it’s worth another watch.
The Great British Baking Show (Great British Bake Off)
The Great British Baking Show, which is called Great British Bake Off in the U.K. is the ultimate in comfort TV. It’s a baking competition where contestants play for a single prize; a cake plate and a bouquet of flowers. Oh, and they compete in a tent on a British estate full of lambs, butterflies and bunnies.
Each week, the nicest people in the world go through three bakes, supporting each other along the way, making jokes about host Paul Hollywood and how tough he is. Then they hold hands while the judging happens. At the end of the season, all the contestants and their families come back and have a garden party while the three finalists compete. Your heart rate has already gone down, hasn’t it?
This one is less comforting and more instructional. If you’ve already eaten through the supplies you thought would last you weeks, you’re not alone. Chopped will inspire you to come up with wonderful culinary creations using that onion top, an overripe banana, dry soup noodles and orange juice.
If you haven’t seen it yet, that sounds gross. In this cooking competition, chefs get a basket with four ingredients that have nothing to do with each other, and have to make something edible. Particularly fun are the episodes where the audience gets to pick the ingredients over social media. You’ll be hooked in a single episode.
We had a version of this series in the United States, but the British version of Total Wipeout is far funnier. It’s a simple premise. Regular people from all over the United Kingdom fly to Buenos Aires (for some reason) and compete on an obstacle course. The hosts gently make fun of them, and they’re mostly good sports.
You’ll be yelling good-naturedly at the TV, telling people to stop trying to jump across the big red balls like they’re going to hit each one with a single stride. It’s mindless, it’s entertaining, and honestly, it’s fun to watch people fall in the mud. It just is.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The adventures of Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) are not only streaming on Disney+, but we have a final season that is currently airing episodes. We’re likely going to be on our couches for a while, so if you haven’t watched this Star Wars animated series, now is a great time to start. Plus, we’ve recently found out that Rosario Dawson is going to play Ahsoka in the second season of The Mandalorian. Catch up and learn all about her before that happens!
Batman: The Animated Series
Oh boy, do we need a superhero right about now! Batman: The Animated Series is probably the best way to watch right now. It’s lighter than some of the live-action stuff, but it still hits you right in the heart. The animation was groundbreaking when it came out, and if you’re not up on your DC characters, you’re going to get a lesson right here.
There was no way we were leaving this one off the list. This series is about a lone Mandalorian fighting against… oh forget it. This is all about Baby Yoda. Yes, The Child. This is not Yoda. The timing isn’t right. Who cares? Grab your chickie nuggies and your chocky milk and curl up to watch the adventures of a tiny little green guy who drinks soup in a robe and eats frogs, but in an adorable way.
Seriously though, the series is on point, and one of the best things to come out of the Star Wars universe in a long time. Forget yelling at people about the last few films or the prequels and look up Baby Yoda memes. There is nothing more comforting in the world.
Britain’s Best Home Cook
This works along the same lines as Great British Baking Show. A bunch of home cooks come to live in a house and compete in a cooking competition. It even has Mary Berry from GBBS. Everyone is lovely and supportive, even the harshest judging is still kind and host Claudia Winkleman is a delight. I’ve started wishing people “enormous luck,” like she does to the contestants.
Unlike American cooking shows sometimes do, the show lets us peek at the group in their shared house, but it’s not to see backbiting and strife. It’s so we can see the contestants play board games, ask each other for shoe advice and tell each other how well they did that day. Ah, it would be lovely to live in this world for a time.
The Golden Girls
On paper it makes no sense why The Golden Girls is so popular. Four older women played by Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty live in a house together in Miami, Florida. Once you watch though, you get it.
The jokes are still bitingly relevant, and getting to watch older women lead fulfilling lives, have wonderful friendships and support each other is rare. All four leads won Emmys, as did the series. It still holds up. Ask anyone how much they love the show (over Zoom, please) and you’ll be listening for a long time.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
For those of us of a certain age, this was our Star Trek, full of moral dilemmas, bonds between friends and colleagues and an understanding of how to treat others. Yes, some of the effects don’t hold up, but do you really care about all that? The stories are wonderful and it brought us Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart, who is currently reading a sonnet a day on social media).
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
You heard everyone talking about this one, so now is the perfect time to binge watch. This Netflix series stars Ellie Kemper as a young woman who is rescued from an underground doomsday cult and has to adjust to a world that has gone on without her. Sounds dark, but it’s one of the cheeriest things you’ll see on television.
Kimmy befriends her roomie Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), her acerbic and a little bit wonky landlady Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane), and her wildly inappropriate temporary boss Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), and softens them up a bit with her unending cheer. If nothing else, just watch the “Lemonade” episode where Titus recreates Beyonce’s work to deal with his recent breakup. It’s wonderful!
So, what are the best TV shows that are the most comforting to you? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @vitalthrillscom!