8 comforting TV shows to help take your mind off the apocalypse
As the world goes on lockdown, and TV sets everywhere are switched on simultaneously, there’s one big question on everyone’s mind: why on earth is Netflix is recommending Pandemic and Quarantine in its ‘must watch’ list?
I mean, we don’t NEED to watch movies about pandemics and quarantine, do we? That’s not entertainment: that’s just LIFE now. And how freaking bizarre is that?
Needless to say, I’m not going to be following Netflix’s recommendations on this one (To be fair, it looks like Quarantine isn’t actually about a virus, but it still sounds a little bit too dark for me under the circumstances…). No, what I need right now is something light and comforting that I can lose myself in for a couple of hours: and, with that in mind, here are some of my recommendations for anyone in need of a bit of gentle escapism…
I’ve written about this show before, but it’s so good that it’s worth mentioning again. Any time I’ve recommended it to someone, ‘gentle’ is the word I’ve wanted to use to describe it, and ‘gentle’ it is. It follows the adventures of two metal detectorists as they hunt for buried treasure, and I know that sounds boring as all hell, but trust me: it’s awesome. It’s also a real comfort watch for me: there’s just something about it that soothes that soul, and I kind of wish I hadn’t already seen it so I could watch it all over again. (Which, let’s face it, I’ll probably do anyway…)
OK, I can’t claim that Call the Midwife always makes for happy watching, exactly: it’s a drama about midwives working in one of the most impovrished areas of London during the 50s and 60s, so happy endings aren’t always guaranteed. Even the sadder storylines, however, have something heartwarming about them in this show, which might centre around childbirth, but which also provides a fascinating insight into the social history of the time.
Ultimately, though, it’s the story of good, honest folk, doing good, honest things, and you’re basically guaranteed a birth scene in every episode – so if you’re looking for an excuse to have a good old cry – and I think most of us ARE right now – this could be the show for you.
(Oh, and the 7th series just finished here in the UK, so it should keep you occupied for … well, maybe a couple of days at least, assuming you’re experiencing lockdown without young children…)
I’m going to assume here that I don’t need to explain Friends to anyone, so all I’ll say is that this is still my ultimate comfort-watch: like many of my generation, I’m pretty sure I know almost every episode by heart, but despite having watched all of them dozens of times now, it STILL never gets old.
An oldie but a goodie: Archie MacDonald is forced to give up his fast-paced London life to return to his family estate in the Scottish Highlands, and take over its running from his eccentric father, the Laird of Glenbogle. Hilarity ensues: and, OK, sometimes a bit of tragedy, too, but, overall, this is another heartwarming kind of comedy/drama that’s perfect for a bit of escapism, and worth watching for the Highland scenery alone.
Sit back and watch Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon travel around the UK, Italy, Spain and Greece, eating in swanky restaurants and bickering over who can do the best James Bond impression. Sounds pretty dull when you put it like that, but it’s surprisingly hilarious, occasionally poignant, and the kind of show Terry and I still regularly quote to each other 10 years after the first season aired. Right now it also makes for a nostalgic trip down memory lane, taking us back to the days when people still used to travel and eat in restaurants: so, a few weeks ago, then…
Speaking of Rob Brydon, I couldn’t fail to include Gavin & Stacey in this list, although I’m pretty sure most of you (At least here in the UK, anyway…) will be very familiar with it. If you’re not, you’re in for a treat: and if you are, well, you’re STILL in for a treat, because the BBC have just announced they’re going to be re-screening it on Saturday nights, in a bid to boost everyone’s spirits during lockdown.
If you loved the Anne of Green Gables books – or any of the various TV adaptations of them that have been made over the years – this should be right up your street. It’s not 100% faithful to the books, and I personally felt it jumped the shark a bit in season 3, when it almost entirely departed from the original, and everyone in it suddenly became woke as hell, but the first two seasons are charming and moving, so you can have a bit of a cry, and feel comforted by it, all at the same time.
Finally, another show I’ve written about before, Once Upon a Time posits the idea that the fairytale characters we know so well are all actually real, and living in a small town in Maine, with absolutely no idea who they are. So, Snow White is a school teacher and Prince Charming’s been in a coma for 28 years, without ageing. Sweet. From this, you’ll obviously gather there’s a very large suspension of disbelief involved in watching this one, but doesn’t that sound like a pretty nice holiday for your brain right now? Because I think so.
Got any other recommendations for non-scary, non-apocalyptic comfort viewing for me? Because, trust me, I’ve never been more in need…
[Photo @Lesia.Skywalker via Twenty20]