What a time to be alive. If you believe the news, it seems like we’re all going to hell in a hand-basket. It’s just so depressing. From the injustice that’s happening to Meiliana to devastating Lombok earthquakes, sometimes I wonder if we really are living in end times. The world has gotten so bleak that even our fictional world is depressing. HBO’s Sharp Objects is unrelentingly sad, the feminist sci-fi classic The Handmaid’s Tale is punishingly dark, even the world of Stephen King is joyless and morose, if you believe the new series Castle Rock (that really doesn’t have that much going for it, save Bill Skarsgard’s smoldering stare).
So what’s a girl to do? Thankfully, Netflix still knows how to chill. I’ve picked 10 feel-good shows I think will help get you through this perpetual summer, where the heat gets so bad it fries your brain and logic. Please note these shows are not pure escapism. In fact, some of them are so realistic you’re probably wondering why they’re on the list. These shows, in no particular order, are the equivalent of a Vick’s VapoRub when you have a nasty cold. It won’t cure you, but it does make you feel better.
What’s it about: A Korean immigrant family running a convenience store in Toronto.
Why should I watch it: It’s a grounded, realistic family sitcom everyone can relate to. The Kims feel like your own family, they bicker, they fight, but they love each other no matter what. Plus, the jokes are fresh and never feel forced.
When should I watch it: After you’ve read the comments section on Facebook and realize that the world is full of horrible people.
What’s it about: A high flying lawyer who leaves a thriving career in NYC and move to West Covina, California to chase after her ex-boyfriend.
Why should I watch it: It’s a musical comedy, so come for the song and dance, stay for the riveting story of a young woman’s descent into obsession, and maybe learn a thing or two about what love actually means.
When should I watch it: After running into your ex in the mall and seeing him look so dang good, you just want to cry into a tub of Haagen Dazs.
Jane The Virgin
What’s it about: a 23-year-old virgin gets accidentally artificially inseminated with the sperm of a rich hotelier, and chaos (understandably) ensues.
Why should I watch it: The family in the center of the drama, The Villanuevas, is so real and relatable, you forget the crazy things that happen to them don’t actually happen in real life (you know, like: an evil stepmother that turns out to be the leader of a notorious drug cartel, that sort of thing).
When should I watch it: After one of those crazy days at work where you feel like you want to strangle everyone you work with.
Brooklyn Nine Nine
What’s it about: An ensemble comedy about a quirky bunch of cops working out of the 99th precinct in Brooklyn, NY.
Why should I watch it: Because it’s more than just a cop show. It’s has one of the most diverse cast on network TV, it boasts complex but realistic relationships and most importantly, it’s got jokes, son! (Google Brooklyn Nine Nine Backstreet Boys and you’ll see what I mean).
When should I watch it: On the weekends, while you Netflix and chill on the couch with bae. And by Netflix and chill I mean literally watching TV, okay?
The Good Place
What’s it about: Bad girl Eleanor Shellstrop finds herself in “the good place” after she was killed, and discovers it’s all due to some clerical error and a case of mistaken identity.
Why should I watch it: Watching Eleanor tries to be a morally and ethically decent person is half the fun, the other half comes from watching the stellar cast (which includes Kristen Bell and Ted Danson) be funny with each other.
When should I watch it: Right after you read the most depressing news and your mind starts to wonder what the point to life really is.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
What it’s about: After being kept in the bunker by a doomsday cult leader for 15 years, Kimmy Schmidt tries to reclaim her life by moving to NYC where nobody realizes who she really is.
Why should I watch it: It’s absurd, surreal and loves to make fun of everything and everybody, which makes it the perfect antidote for when real life gets too hard to bear.
When should I watch it: After getting out of a toxic relationship where you feel like there’s nothing left in you and you need a reminder that females are, indeed, strong as hell.
What it’s about: Netflix reboot of the Bravo series Queer Eye For The Straight Guy that basically assembles 5 fab gay men to help out hapless people and teach them to live their best life.
Why should I watch it: It’s more than just a makeover show, it’s an uplifting, beautiful show about finding the beauty in everyone and accepting who you are as a person. It’s honestly wonderful.
When should I watch it: Whenever you feel like you’re not enough and you need five gorgina gay guys to rally around you and tell you how amazing you really are.
One Day at A Time
What it’s about: A reboot of the Norman Lear classic centering on a Cuban-American family led by single mother Penelope Alvarez and her mother Lydia.
Why should I watch it: It has impressively managed to tackle so many different issues like mental health, gender identity, racism, etc. without ever being preachy.
When should I watch it: when you’re relaxing before bedtime with your loved ones and/or pets.
Degrassi: Next Class
What it’s about: The show follows the kids of the fictional Degrassi High in Toronto as they deal with the normal teen problems like crushes and heartbreaks and also the heavier subjects like racism, mental health, alienation and domestic violence.
Why should I watch it: Despite having the look and feel of a teen soap, it’s absolutely endearing and earnest. And, though not all episodes are resolved neatly, at the end, you get a feeling that these kids will be alright.
When should I watch it: After coming back from your high school reunion and feeling a bit nostalgic for the simpler old days.
What it’s about: A young single mother raising her teenage daughter in a kooky small town in Connecticut while dealing with her disapproving parents.
Why should I watch it: It’s just a good, well-written, brilliantly-acted, sweet, quippy, odd little show that will instantly warm your heart like a delicious bowl of chicken noodle soup.
When should I watch it: After a family gathering where you’re left feeling exhausted by your relatives’ nosy questions (When are you going to get married? When are you going to have children? When are you going to have more children? etc.).
Binky Bee is an author, freelance copywriter and a self-professed TV junkie. When she's not writing or watching TV, she's usually taking care of her four cats and taking a nap. Binky Bee lives in Jakarta, Indonesia but dreams of moving to Montreal soon so she can get universal healthcare.
Illustration by Sarah Arifin