While hard work is obviously something we should all be participating in during uni, sometimes you just need to break. Whether it be you’ve been revising for hours, or you’ve just submitted an assignment that has been making your life a living hell filled with Harvard referencing and word counts for the past week, sometimes you just need to take a breath. To escape. To relax. And that is exactly what TV was invented for. Here are my top 10 shows to binge watch when you’re stressed out.
1. Gilmore Girls
I could write a whole stand alone article on the magical healing powers the world of Stars Hollow possesses. Everyone’s heard of it. Maybe you saw it in passing on E4 back when they showed re-runs back in the day or seen the title pop up on your Netflix recommendations. Either way, you’ve been missing out.
The show follows Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, mother and daughter who are also best friends through their respective romantic, academic, and career dilemmas all while residing in the too good to be true Connecticut town of Stars Hollow, which is of course inhabited by endearing, lovable, zany side characters. When Rory, gets into Chilton, an expensive private school and her mother can’t afford to send her there on a inn manager’s salary, Lorelai swallows her pride and and takes a loan from her estranged parents Richard and Emily. But there’s a catch, she has to go to Friday night dinners at their house indefinitely.
The show is a perfect combo of comedy and drama. The low stakes are part of it’s everyday charm. Sometimes you don’t need murder mysteries, or dramatic deaths. Sometimes you just want to watch an episode of television which revolves around the morbidly comical death of a neighbour’s cat and a hot tall boy. (Yes, this is an episode and yes it’s amazing).
Everything from the wonderfully catchy theme song and flip phones makes Gilmore Girls a delight. It’s just a happy coincidence it contains some of the snappiest and wittiest writing in television.
2. Grey’s Anatomy
I know, I know; I just sold you a show that was light-hearted and a warm blanket and now I want you to watch a show that is markedly more dramatic? But hear me out. The series follows Meredith Grey, and her friends as they embark on their surgical residency. The show kicks off when on her first day, Meredith realises her attending is the one night stand she blew off that same morning. It’s a great show. Despite multiple deaths (yeah, you’ll want to have tissues) and now coming up to 14 seasons, the show still manages to be funny and heart shatteringly brutal and unstoppably addictive.
Plus, the emotional descriptor “dark and twisty” is one of the greatest phrases pop culture has ever gifted us. So watch and join the rest of us who gladly let Shonda Rhimes rip out our hearts on a weekly basis.
If you love “will they, won’t they” romances and intense cynicism this is the show for you. Love follows Gus, a nerdy “nice guy” who tutors a child actor on a show about witches and Mickey, a self destructive addict who works at a radio station on their rocky path to love… maybe. The show isn’t exactly happy go lucky. It blends Judd Appatow’s familiar humour from hits such as Knocked Up and This is 40 with a unflinching look at both the character’s flaws, their stark differences and the odd circumstances which keep bringing them back together. With 2 seasons already up on Netflix, there’s a lot to disappear into.
Keeping on with the theme of dysfunction, Shameless is also a great binge watch pitch. While the stories tackles topics such as poverty, untreated mental illness, alcoholism and drug addiction it also is surprisingly a lot of fun. The series focuses on the Gallagher family as they cope with living below the poverty line in Chicago, their depraved alcoholic father, absent father and the normal every day matters of growing up. While there are a lot of moments of stark, heart breaking reality, most moments are tongue in cheek as they depict the characters desperately trying to scrape by. Plus it’s refreshing to have actors that are supposedly poor actually living in a place that actually resembles what a regular house looks like and not a giant mansion which we are somehow supposed to never question.
5. The Good Wife
I have no words. I have no words and will never have any words as beautifully written, stunningly prescient or magnificently orchestrated as the amazing series which I was lucky enough to watch for 7 seasons. And rewatch with reckless abandon on Netflix whenever I wanted.
Alicia Florrick, an ex stay at home mom, is forced back into the work place when her husband a District Attorney’s infidelity with a stripper lands him in jail. Despite the harrowing betrayal, Alicia stays with him and tries to earn an income as a lawyer, despite being out of the workforce for many years taking care of her children. Due to the kindness of an old college friend, Will, she has a chance to shine and show that she is more than the meek woman standing by her man on the cover of tabloids.
When I was recommended this by a friend and she said “it makes me laugh more than a lot of comedies”, I thought she had to be kidding. But, The Good Wife, while being incredibly captivating drama, makes me laugh out loud with it’s glorious crafted characterization and dialogue more often than you’d think. This show is perfect, from dialogue, to character, to guest appearances, down to the incredible tense score. In fact, why are you still reading? Watch it. Now! Now!
6. Crazy Ex Girlfriend
The great thing about Crazy Ex Girlfriend is you’ll love it if you love romantic comedies and you’ll also love it if you hate romantic comedies. It’s here for the genre itself and also here to explain how toxic and harmful the common tropes of the genre are. In a word it’s fuckingamazing.
The series tracks Rebecca Bunch, a depressed New York lawyer who moves across the country to pursue the love of a guy she dated at summer camp when she was 16 years old. The whole sorry mess of a decision is complete with songs and dance numbers that’ll be unforgettable for both their frankness, hilarity and sometimes graphic imagery. Crazy Ex Girlfriend is a show which satirizes rom coms perfectly while also being a pretty great romantic comedy itself and one of the most fun viewing experiences a person could possibly have. Binge it. Binge it all now.
Another CW creation is iZombie. This zany police procedural/comedy/drama is about as escapist as escapism gets. I mean, what better way to let the responsibilities of the adult world fall away than concentrating on a world where the zombie virus is real and doesn’t instantly turn you into an extra from The Walking Dead? Nothing.
The show centres Live Moore (cue laughter) a promising medical student who when she makes the mistake of attending a boat party where she is infected with the virus. She subsequently has to resign herself to the mortuary to get her fill of brains, which she discovers gives her flashbacks of the person’s life. To use her affliction for good she poses as a psychic to aid the police department in solving crimes, all while Ravi, the other mortician and her only confidante works on a cure. It’s a lot. But it’s also a lot of fun. The melding of so many genres creates an experience so over the top it’s hard not to love. Definitely, perfect “I wanna turn off my brain” material.
8. The Good Place
If you think high concept fantasy sitcoms aren’t your thing . . . well, you clearly just haven’t watched this show yet. The Good Place is about Eleanor Shellstrop, a certified Trash™ person, who mistakenly ends up in heaven. She confesses to her soulmate Chidi, a moral philosophy professor and he tries to make her earn her place there by becoming better all while trying to hide her true identity. The show is almost pitch perfect serialized comedy. Every episode ends on a cliff hanger that bleeds perfectly into the next. The show is also a hot bed for great conspiracy theories about what’s really going on. A forking great show to lose yourself in.
Superstore is one of the best work place comedies out there. The series produced by the same mastermind behind The Office, stars America Ferrara as Amy, a floor manager at the superstore Cloud Nine, who’s been working there an amount of time that is unbearable to recall. The show follows the characters as they trudge through the monotony and also bizarre craziness of retail and is objectively hilarious. It manages to make you fall in love with the characters. The show is easy to breeze through for this reason.
10. One Day At A Time
I never go to the matt for sitcoms with laugh tracks. Like everyone else, I like to decide when to laugh and think the format can often feel outdated and embarrassingly forced. But with One Day At A Time, I am willing to make a bold exception. The show is a reboot of the 70’s series of the same name, the show revolves around a Cuban American family, comprised of army veteran and nurse Penelope, her two children, her mother and her land lord as they deal with everything life has to throw at them.
The show is funny. Not because there’s a laugh track. But because the jokes are well written and acted well. The show is comforting in a way that has become a distant memory in the time of grittier dramas such as Game of Thrones. It is a wonderful present to be able to fire up Netflix and deal with stories that are thirty minutes and take place most of the time, entirely in a small three bedroom apartment.