It’s been a very long three weeks since many cities around the world issued isolation orders to combat the spread of COVID-19, and life isn’t going to get back to normal any time soon. Now is the time to escape into TV shows that make you feel good—or at least make you feel something other than overwhelming existential dread.
“Soothing” means a million things to a million people, but above all, I think comfort TV needs to be familiar. During an extended quarantine scenario, abundance is also key—there should be so many episodes that finishing them all seems impossible. Whatever genre is your personal TV comfort food—fluffy comedies, trashy reality TV, nature documentaries or prestige dramas—now is not the time to dive into something unfamiliar and potentially disappointing. Stick with shows you already know you love that have enough of an episode backlog to keep you occupied for a long time.
For me, that means returning to my desert-island shows: The Americans (which is all on Prime Video) and King of the Hill. I simply cannot get enough of the Jennings, the Hills, and their myriad associates; every single character in both shows is so familiar to me that watching them feels like hanging out with old friends. (Or, for The Americans, a profoundly dysfunctional extended family.) It doesn’t hurt that both ran for long enough to give me weeks of ready-made entertainment.
Next up on the household TV agenda: Justified, which my boyfriend loves but I’ve never seen—and, if we’re feeling up to a brutal meditation on loss and grief, maybe The Leftovers. As committed fans of pain, suffering and Olivia Colman, yet another Peep Show rewatch also seems inevitable.
If you’re looking for more inspiration, here’s what else the Lifehacker staff is watching during quarantine.
Timothy Mulkerin, Social Media Editor
[Author’s note: Please be aware that every single episode of UNHhhh is wildly and gleefully NSFW. But if you’re working from home, maybe that doesn’t matter as much as it usually would? Just don’t accidentally play it during a Zoom call, I guess.]
Joel Cunningham, Managing Editor
David Murphy, Senior Tech Editor
Seconding Schitt’s Creek. I also love watching Hell’s Kitchen, which I find oddly comforting, as well as the usual roundup of chef’s shows: Master Chef this and that, the bougie “we used a really expensive camera to film this $700 meal in slow motion” documentary shows on Netflix or whatnot, and Nailed It!, which is a national treasure. I’ve also been catching lots of YouTube clips of Battlestar Galactica and Downton Abbey, which couldn’t be more at-odds with one another. I’m not sure what that says about the disruption of my life’s zen.
Joel Kahn, Senior Video Producer
Top Chef. I’m rewatching every season that has a current all stars contestant from the new season.
Abu Zafar, Video Producer
Chopped, The Great British Bake-Off, Master Chef Junior, Parks and Recreation, Key & Peele and Community.
Lisa Rowan, Finance Writer
Watching The Repair Shop is like a soothing British lullaby for fans of antiques, collectibles and the process of “making stuff.”
Claire Lower, Senior Food and Drink Editor
You already know mine—Star Trek: The Next Generation. I also rewatched all of I Think You Should Leave and a good bit of On Cinema at the Cinema, which is a YouTube show by Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington. I highly recommend Joe Pera Talks with You, which is soothing and funny and somehow extremely poignant and sweet, but also makes me cry a lot.
Perversely, I am absolutely unable to watch food content of any kind right now. I don’t usually watch a ton of it because it does not offer me any sort of escapism, but I am especially uninterested in it currently.
[Author’s note: Same.]