Please recommend your soothing and friendly TV / games / films
April 16, 2017 12:00 PM   Subscribe

All of a sudden, the on-screen emotional human drama and violence and general human nastiness is really affecting me, I think real life is giving me my quota of horrid things at the moment - please can you recommend some certified non-pointy things that don't take me to the mental Bad Place?

I'm going through a stressful time at the moment and am finding the television/gaming things that used to make me happy are making me very sad. Among other things, I used to enjoy hard hitting drama (OINTB, The Wire, Sopranos, Breaking Bad), news / current affairs/ politics, horror and supernatural (Resident Evil/Supernatural/America Horror Story), and dark and twisty independent movies, as well as comedy that went to difficult / offensive places. I now can't stand it. I currently can't play one of my absolute fave games because the decisions I'm being asked to make are too high stakes and upsetting.

Successes have been achieved with:- Fresh off the Boat, Gilmore Girls, Parks and Recreation, reality shows and documentaries that are positive - would rather follow the team/individual to victory than understand the horrors of the tobacco/food/whatever industry - and some childrens/teen films such as Easy A, Mean Girls, Harry Potter, but I'm really really open to suggestions.

Please can you recommend some soothing, funny, comforting, friendly, happy-making telly or games for me to self-soothe when needed? I have PS4, Netflix, Amazon Prime so anything available on there would be great. Please no violence and not too much stress. References to darker things are OK, but not if it's a big part of the premise (e.g. 13 reasons why is a hard no for me!).
posted by eastboundanddown to Media & Arts (88 answers total) 99 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm right there with you.

The Great British Baking Show has been wonderful for this very thing.
posted by mochapickle at 12:08 PM on April 16 [39 favorites]


If you're into culinary stuff at all, Chef's Table (on Netflix) is very calmly paced and peaceful.

And also, yeah, GBBS (there are three seasons on Netflix right now, I think) for a competitive reality show is very positive.
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:09 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


GBBO is indeed perfect for this. Grace and Frankie and One Day at a Time have also been hitting the spot for me, lately.
posted by dizziest at 12:11 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Definitely thirding the GBBS rec. You could also try Escape to the Country on Youtube, I've heard really good things about it.
posted by Tamanna at 12:13 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


GBBS would have been my recommendation as well. You could also try Friday Night Lights, which is generally life-affirming and smaller-scale.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:19 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


After Gilmore Girls and GBBO I've been really into Parenthood lately (on Netflix).
posted by peacheater at 12:19 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


I've listed a few things I find soothing and that leave me feeling happier about life after I finish. My tastes tend to run to British comedies, period dramas, kid's movies and 1930s screwball comedy, though, so YMMV on some of this stuff.

Films: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day; the ITV production of Emma (with Kate Beckinsale); A Knight's Tale; The Shop Around the Corner; The Importance of Being Earnest (the one with Colin Firth); Rataouille; The Philadelphia Story; Bringing Up Baby; Galaxy Quest (if you like Star Trek or scifi or Alan Rickman at all, this one should work for you).

TV: the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice; the Jeeves and Wooster series with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry; The Human Planet documentary series; the Seven Up series (interviews a group of British men and women from the age of 7 to the age - so far - of 56 - some sad things happen but overall it's an optimistic and beautiful series about human resilience).
posted by Aravis76 at 12:23 PM on April 16 [7 favorites]


seconding Grace and Frankie
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:24 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


For games, Stardew Valley. Hits a prefect sweet spot for me of calm yet addicting. Don't start if you have something productive you need to do soon!
posted by carolr at 12:26 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Stardew Valley has been my go-to comfort game since it came out. There's a general set of goals for you to achieve, but you can just ignore them all and farm/fish/scavenge from sunrise to sunset if you so desire. The optional romance storylines are all very charming too.

I couldn't get into Undertale, personally, but it has a reputation for being heartwarming and you can apparently defeat every enemy with the power of friendship™ (or something)

nthing GBBO/S, which got me through the post-election blues.
posted by mcfighty at 12:27 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I really love Hart of Dixie
posted by Rohobe at 12:31 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Cold Comfort Farm (movie and book).
posted by Hal Mumkin at 12:36 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Pushing Daisies
Raising Hope
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:41 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Seconding the Jeeves and Wooster series (it used to stream on Amazon/Acorn TV, but I haven't seen it there recently... it might have moved to a different provider.)

For more current light British comedy, I strongly recommend Detectorists!
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 12:41 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


30 Rock and Arrested Development are both good choices for me right now. Two documentaries to check out are First Position (follows a bunch of dancers at a major competition) and Pressure Cooker (follows a bunch of Philadelphia teens in a culinary program at a major competition). Top Chef Junior is usually a solid option. Good movies include Magic Mike XXL (trust me on this, but don't bother with the first one), Ghostbusters 2016, The Lego Movie (and the Lego Batman movie), and What We Do In The Shadows (supernatural mocumentary. Some characters die but it's played for ridiculousness.)

I'm also, somewhat embarrassingly, a total sucker for the high-school girl sports genre so I recommend Make It Or Break It (gymnastics), Bunheads (ballet), Bring It On (cheerleading), Stick It (gymnastics, so bad its good), and Whip It (roller derby, actually good).
posted by athenasbanquet at 12:42 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Yes to "Detectorists" and also "Last Tango in Halifax." There's an older British series called "As Time Goes By" with Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer that is delightful and very, very funny.
posted by Dolley at 12:45 PM on April 16


There are 14 seasons of Poirot on Netflix right now. I find it amazingly soothing.
posted by korej at 12:52 PM on April 16 [10 favorites]




Chewing Gum is amazing
Brooklyn 99
Bob's Burgers
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:04 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Seconding Poirot, books or TV shows: both amazing.

This one may sound stupid, but there's a half-hour show called 'Bait Car': cops set out a car with cameras and mikes and wait to see who'll try to take it. No violence beyond the occasional foot chase, plus wry cop chat over radios as they're waiting and staking out their bait car.
posted by easily confused at 1:06 PM on April 16


Hart of Dixie. I saw it recommended here and watched all four seasons over Christmas. It's super sweet and feel good (and the town community reminds me of Stars Hollow)
posted by kitten magic at 1:10 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


We've been hooked on Murdoch Mysteries. It's about a science-minded detective solving murders in Victorian Toronto, which sometimes involves singlehandedly inventing modern technology like fax machines. I'd never heard of it when I started watching it, and at first I was like "this is terrible!" But now here we are five seasons in, genuinely invested in all the characters and chuckling at all the series in-jokes (like how Crabtree is a secret genius). We keep joking about how oh, it's such a guilty pleasure, and it's so awful, and we might as well watch the next episode tonight. You know, ironically, of course.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:11 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Masterchef Junior. Talented kids cooking! The best part is how supportive of each other they are!
posted by epj at 1:11 PM on April 16


+1ing Chewing Gum, Friday Night Lights, Bob's Burgers, and Detectorists.

I haven't watched it in a while, so it's possible that there are some plot lines I'm forgetting, but the Danish TV show Rita (on Netflix last I knew) probably fits.

The Grinder works better than you'd think from seeing the premise described, and is fairly light in a Parks & Rec kind of way.

Jane the Virgin is occasionally a little violent, but it's all so cartoony that it doesn't seem particularly dark; might be worth trying the first couple episodes to see how it feels.

Master of None maybe?
posted by Spathe Cadet at 1:16 PM on April 16


Murdoch is great, and even greater is Miss Fisher, who is an exceedingly smart and beautifully dressed private detective in 1920s Melbourne.
posted by rtha at 1:17 PM on April 16 [11 favorites]


Corner Gas is wonderfully soothing to me. It's funny but never mean, and has some of the best writing I've seen on TV. The series ended several years ago but is available on youtube and if you end up liking it, DVDs of the series can be purchased on amazon.ca for a decent price. I ordered the set and it even shipped to the states for free.

I can be tensed up and after I watch an episode I just feel better-about life, about the world, about everything. Sometimes I watch/listen to an episode on youtube with my ipod as I'm falling asleep if I can't get my mind to stop racing over whatever is getting me down.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 1:25 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Agree with all who have suggested 30 Rock and Detectorists; also Kingdom, which is delightful (the British TV series starring Stephen Fry, not the other one)! Games-wise, check out Machinarium and others from Amanita Design.
posted by LingeringMoon at 1:29 PM on April 16


Michael Schur, who helped co-create Parks and Rec, is behind The Good Place, which is funny and charming dialed to 11.
posted by xenization at 1:30 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Angie Tribeca, if you want a new take on Police Squad/Naked Gun. It's incredibly silly (as FanFare can attest) and you should watch each episode twice because it's the only way to keep up with all jokes.
posted by lmfsilva at 1:33 PM on April 16


Mystery Science Theater 3000 is always my TV comfort food :).
posted by celestine at 1:35 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I'm actually in the same boat as you (can't deal with life drama anymore, please keep TV as light as possible), so I've thought some more about what I've recently been watching on Netflix:
*Murdoch (as mentioned above)
*Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - even when bad things happen, people generally mean well and try their hardest to help each other, and gosh darnit sometimes that's what I need to see. This is literally the maximum amount of drama I can handle, and I think I can only handle it because everyone always means so well.
*MacGyver - he hates guns and abhors violence, and he uses (wildly exaggerated) science to solve problems and help people, and he says stuff like "gosh darnit" because I'm pretty sure this show was intended for children, but I don't care, I have a stressful life and don't judge me for being like four seasons into this. "Don't thank me, thank the moon's gravitational pull!" (Fun story: when I worked at a video store, I convinced my boss to order the box sets of MacGyver, and when he complained that no one was renting them, I said yes they are, and we looked at the record together - see? They've been rented a few times. But then we looked at the customer codes, and literally the only person who ever rented them was me, and I got them for free because I worked there)
* Great British Bake-Off - yes, this is wonderful, and they're so great to each other. It's the only competitive reality show I'm willing to watch, because it's the only one where people will say stuff like "oh, I'm glad I made the cut, but I don't think I deserved it over so-and-so, and they've been such a great inspiration for all of us." They hug all the time.
* Escape to the Country - this is like my emergency TV, because I think it is the least offensive program (or rather, programme) I could imagine. People are moving to the country. The show has selected three properties for them, including one "mystery" property. Which one will they choose? I feel like it's always the mystery house. Literally the most tense thing about it is that sometimes you have to watch them awkwardly engaging with local culture in some way (this town is known for its lardy cakes, so we're going to teach you how to make a lardy cake! "Oh, I don't think I have the hang of this! I'd better not quit my day job!" Laughs all around).
* Various Norwegian Slow TV programs: It is surprising how long I was able to watch people sitting around knitting a sweater without feeling bored. The program lasts something like eight hours in total. Literally zero tension, except that occasionally they complain about how the lanolin makes it more difficult to knit than normal wool.
* Mystery Science Theater 3000 - You can actually watch every episode on YouTube, but Netflix just posted some classic episodes in anticipation of the reboot that just came out. This is the TV equivalent of watching bad movies in someone's basement in Wisconsin in 1993, and I don't think it gets more cozy than that.

I'll look at my Netflix "recently watched" list later and see if there's anything I've forgotten. I'm still so upset that they took Murder, She Wrote off Netflix streaming.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:41 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Dogs with Jobs on Amazon Prime
posted by invisible ink at 1:44 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]




Someone already mentioned Stardew Valley so I'll just sing na naaaaaa na na na na na na na katamari damacy
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:21 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Yes to Hart of Dixie!
posted by Sassyfras at 2:22 PM on April 16


And Korean dramas!
posted by Sassyfras at 2:22 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


(Katamari games can be stressful in the TIME RUNNING OUT! sense but that's it)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:23 PM on April 16


Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon Prime.
posted by purpleclover at 2:24 PM on April 16


I believe Pinky and the Brain is on Amazon Prime.

Glee, How I Met Your Mother and Friends are (mostly) silly shows that I find pleasant to have on in the background.

Bones is about a forensic anthropologist - the show revolves around crime and cadavers, but for the most part it's not too gory for me (and I'm pretty sensitive to gore and violence). The show seems to downplay the gross factor and focus on the relationships between the characters, and how they all grow and change. YMMV.

Death in Paradise is a guilty pleasure murder mystery show.
posted by bunderful at 2:35 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Also, check out Due South (most of it appears to be on youtube), which is about a Canadian RCMP officer who comes to Chicago in search of his father's killer and of course he ends up working with the Chicago PD and he has a snarky cop buddy. He also has a deaf wolf who reads lips and is named after a former Canadian PM.

And on Amazon, (also possibly on the youtubes?), check out Slings and Arrows. It's about a Shakepeare troupe, with each season revolving around the play they're doing. It's funny and poignant.
posted by rtha at 2:45 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories--gentle comedy and some mild drama centred around the patrons of a late night diner in Tokyo
Being Erica--comedy-drama about a woman spinning her wheels in her love life and professional life; she gets a chance at do-overs when her weird therapist sends her back in time to key points in her past
Freaks and Geeks--follows a brother and sister, Sam and Lindsay Weir, as they and their friends make their way through a year of high school in 1980. Poignant and very funny.
Community--sometimes absurd comedy about a group of people at a community college who form friendships through a study group.

And yes, if you are OK with non-gory murder mysteries, I 100% recommend Death in Paradise. Fish out of water comedy about an uptight British detective inspector who is sent from London to Saint Marie, a small Caribbean island, to head up the local police department. Soothingly predictable and delightfully undemanding.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:53 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Cougar Town
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
Grace and Frankie
One Day at a Time
Hart of Dixie
Murder, She Wrote
Lucifer
Jane the Virgin
posted by thetarium at 3:03 PM on April 16


Steven Universe and any Studio Ghibli movie except Grave of the Fireflies is 100000% recommended. The Orisinal games are also super cute and lovely.
posted by yueliang at 3:47 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Nthing Miss Fisher (who lives in St Kilda!)
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:53 PM on April 16


Just watched Paterson on prime and it was beautiful. So calm and slow.
posted by mgrrl at 3:58 PM on April 16


If you like Fresh off the Boat, you will probably like Blackish and the new family comedy this year Speechless.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:05 PM on April 16


Frasier!
posted by Dolley at 4:37 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Crazy Ex Girlfriend.
posted by bunderful at 5:08 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Big big nths to Great British Baking Show and Detectorists. The latter remains my Happy Place, with bonus soothing folk music score. Cannot recommend it highly enough. We tend to save up Bob's Burgers and binge many in a row for maximal oxytocin release. And if you're Gen X, nothing beats Spaced for nostalgia and larfs. Other generations may find it perplexing, though. Oh, and The Thick of It if you're feeling nasty.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:19 PM on April 16


I would strongly not recommend Friday Night Lights. I deeply love it but important plot points include severe injury, attempted rape, murder, and death of parents. I found the attempted rape episodes deeply triggering.

Call The Midwife is occasionally very sad, but generally lovely. You might like Community.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:23 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I totally feel you--I have a low tolerance for stressful media.

I like a lot of the "Blue Sky" shows from USA. Episodic, low-stakes, character-driven drams. I'd try Psych, White Collar (my fave show ever), and Royal Pains. (The latter two are definitely on Netflix.) I also like Burn Notice but it gets a little dark towards the end.

I also adore Miss Fisher as mentioned above, and Great British Baking Show (or Bake Off, depending where you live). All of Miss Fisher is on Netflix, and several Baking seasons are as well.

Jane The Virgin is another very fun show. It somehow manages to balance the parody of/tribute to telenovelas perfectly. You get really invested in the characters without getting stressed out. Two seasons on Netflix.
posted by radioamy at 5:23 PM on April 16


Chiming back in to second Freaks and Geeks.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 5:28 PM on April 16


If you're interested in cartoons, try Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, or Legend Quest.

Quantum Leap is a pretty feel good show, but it does have a couple of hard-hitting episodes. Those are pretty far and in between, though.

The Last Word, Detective Grimoire, and the Night of the Rabbit are some light-hearted games. Rayman Legends is great if you have friends/family to play it with.

Nthing Stardew Valley.
posted by brook horse at 5:49 PM on April 16


The Detectorists is really lovely and sweet.
posted by Doleful Creature at 5:59 PM on April 16


I recently saw and loved Jump Tomorrow. There is a brief scene with someone considering suicide (hence the title) but the whole thing is just lovely and sweet and charming.

Also, nthing Detectorists.
posted by kristi at 6:13 PM on April 16


Neko Atsume is an incredibly adorable, soothing (with the music off), and addicting 'cat collector' game app found on Google Play Store. I have gotten as far as is possible to go within the game, yet I check it multiple times daily for how much joyous satisfaction the whimsical scenes within provide. Beyond endearing. It is truly a game I will never uninstall, it's that enjoyable. I sincerely cannot recommend it strongly enough!!

Fun fact:

My boyfriend even watches over my shoulder now while I am "Catting" (his term for it). He'll actually ask things like whether I have remembered to "feed" my cats, or what the daily password was. Not to mention, his regular offer of suggestions on what toys to set out for them! It's really sweet how invested he is.
posted by Amor Bellator at 6:15 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I know it's already been said, but seriously, Stardew Valley.

My perpetual comfort watching is Leverage--it's occasionally high stakes, but it's basically story after story about the corrupt assholes of the world being taken down by a team of Robin Hooding thieves, and every episode has an ending--each episode is a complete story. No gore, no sexual violence, and basically no graphic violence (depending on how you feel about thugs occasionally getting decked). Also, the bad guys (often megacorps, super rich dudes, etc) are always defeated, and the people who'd been hurt by them always get some kind of closure, and it's very satisfying to me.
posted by mishafletch at 6:47 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


You might try Lark Rise to Candleford, which I've found online. Also, The Middleman, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and Lost in Austen are on amazon.
posted by gudrun at 6:59 PM on April 16


Seconding Call the Midwife — it deals with some tough situations but is so heartwarming and comforting. It's my go-to when I'm having a rough time.
posted by third word on a random page at 7:14 PM on April 16


> My perpetual comfort watching is Leverage

I hesitated about recommending this, because there is violence - though it is almost entirely of the "BAM! POW!" sort. But we re-watch it, um, a lot. It's every great heist movie boiled into a 40some-minute episode, and the characters are awesome (Parker! So delightfully weird! So great!) and it's low stakes, emotionally. The good guys win over the bad guys. Worth a shot to see if it works for you - all five seasons are on netflix.
posted by rtha at 7:41 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Tearaway is a very pretty, relaxing game. I loved it. Made by the creators of Little Big Planet.
posted by SarahElizaP at 7:46 PM on April 16


Nth-ing Murdoch Mysteries. Also:

* Heartland. Light drama of a nice Canadian horse ranch family and friends. Many seasons, and still running.
* I love the early seasons of The Golden Girls.
* Jane Austen adaptation: Love & Friendship
* Shower -- Chinese film -- sweet drama about a family business
* Travellers & magicians -- Bhutan/Tibetan film -- slow story about travellers meeting on the road, and destiny.
posted by valannc at 7:57 PM on April 16


Escape to the Country was our comfort watch for a long time, though our primary youtube source got shut down. Its replacement currently, on youtube, any documentary hosted by Lucy Worsley. And if you have the technical know-how to obtain it, any season of Masterchef Australia (most seasons are 60 hours of episodes!), which is an even kinder, sweeter, crying-when-someone-goes-home show than GBBO.

When I am feeling extremely delicate, we watch Shawn the Sheep, all of which is on Amazon Prime right now I think.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:14 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Corner Gas is indeed the best answer to this question. it's so funny and lighthearted!

I'm in a similar boat right now and have also been enjoying Trial and Error and Superstore.
posted by notjustthefish at 8:27 PM on April 16


I really liked Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing". Among other things, Amy Acker manages one of the most delightful pratfalls I've seen in a while. Some other movies that I don't recall having violence that I find enjoyable would happily watch again: "Safety Not Guaranteed", "Bottle Shock", "The Right Stuff"

I'm not sure how much violence is okay. If you can handle tv murder mystery level stuff, I'm another vote for Miss Fisher's Mysteries. I've also been enjoying Supergirl. (It's such a pleasant contrast to the GRAARDARKDOOM DC movies - there's cartoon violence but it's not doomful.) Leverage was great, too, with some violence but it's lighthearted. Warehouse 13 and the Librarians are similar in feel but with more magic.

On a completely-not-violent side of things, I've just started watching "Grand Designs", which is a British show about people who are building custom homes (sometimes doing some of the work, sometimes not), and the problems and triumphs they go through. Other entertainment-documentary stuff, Mythbusters (I haven't watched the sort-of spinoff White Rabbit Project yet, but it's on netflix), Cosmos, Connections.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:30 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Anything that comes up in a search for David Attenborough is going to be soothing, cheery, and probably humorous, and also include cute critters (except the shows about bugs).
posted by bluesky78987 at 9:06 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I've been loving the game Factorio.

You're a person, who lands on an alien planet, and needs to take a hammer and wind up with a spaceship. You do so by building factories, conveyor belts, and putting robot arms to take stuff and move it to the other.

Takes maybe twenty minutes to start getting into it, and the most pleasantly addictive game I've run into since the original SimCity in the early 90's.

One nit. The alien planet has a problem with bugs. Large bugs. So you set up defenses, and whatnot. I think that's still within your request in this case. That said, once the regular levels got unpleasantly hard, I moved to "free play", and turned the bugs to "gentle", so I think that *definitely* fits the bill. (The regular levels help teach the game, to a point, but yeah.)
posted by talldean at 9:07 PM on April 16


Have you seen Veronica Mars? The main plot for the whole season deals with murder and rape, but really, each individual episode has lots of jokes abd good friendship/father-daughter relationships. Not exactly relaxing TV, but definitely fun and doesn't leave you witha bad taste after you're done.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:38 PM on April 16


I've only seen a couple episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix but from the episodes I have seen it seems to meet your criteria and gets great reviews.

My go-to popcorn no-stress comedy watch is New Girl (also on Netflix).
posted by phoenixy at 10:40 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Life in Pieces is on Amazon and is pretty charming. Done in the form of short excerpts in family life, so it's very moreish.

Catastrophe is very funny and centres on a couple that actually like and support each other.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 2:08 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to add another vote for Mozart in the Jungle, which I love for its warm-hearted and gentle tone.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:18 AM on April 17


Spellbound is a great documentary about a bunch of kids competing in the 1999 National Spelling Bee. It's intense in a way because they all take the competition really seriously and you want ALL of them to win -- but because it's ultimately just a spelling bee, I found it to be fun and suspenseful rather than upsetting and stressful.

Also you might consider Penn & Teller: Fool Us, where Penn & Teller watch magic tricks and try to guess how they're done. My only caveat: I've only seen clips of it, rather than entire episodes, so I can't speak for the series as a whole. But in the parts I have seen, it's all great fun and very positive -- the magicians all seem honored to be performing for Penn & Teller, and Penn & Teller seem to really respect the talents of the performers. There are tons of clips on Youtube if you want to sample it.

For games, all the Lego games are clever, silly fun. You might pick one based on whatever movie or franchise you particularly love, since they seem to stick pretty closely to the plots of the things they're based on.

You might also look into Double Fine games, which tend to be colorful and fun and very tongue in cheek. Psychonauts is one of my all-time favorite games. I also really liked Stacking. I enjoyed Brutal Legend for a while but eventually got tired of it; I probably would have liked it all the way through if I knew more about heavy metal.

Never Alone has very high stakes (it's about an Alaskan Native girl making her way through a blizzard to defeat an evil spirit) but it's told in a captivating, fairy-tale like way, so I never found it grimdark or stressful. And as you go, you unlock fascinating documentaries about Native life in Alaska.

Roundabout is a very silly game where you chauffeur people in an eternally spinning limousine. I found it a little frustrating because I never quite mastered the mechanic, but it's got a lighthearted and positive tone and if I didn't suck at it, I would have found it delightful.
posted by yankeefog at 3:19 AM on April 17


Up the Women - amusing sitcom set in 1910 about Suffragettes / Suffragists.
posted by paduasoy at 3:38 AM on April 17


I am all about Love, Lust, or Run for this. It's pretty empowerment focused for a reality TV show about clothes and everyone looks so great st the end! I watch it on YouTube while eating lunch.
posted by athirstforsalt at 3:57 AM on April 17


Parks and Rec.

If you are into anime, I would recommend Natsume's Book of Friends, about a boy who can see spirits. Every episode tugs at the heartstrings in a beautiful way.
posted by awkwardpanda at 4:13 AM on April 17


omg I love Schitt's Creek so much! Created by Dan Levy and Eugene Levy, and with Catherine O'Hara and Sarah Levy and it's just so FUNNY and yet also very sweet. Streaming on Netflix. Here's the trailer.
posted by mimi at 5:38 AM on April 17


Puzzle Pirates is a puzzle-based MMORPG where you play a cartoon pirate solving puzzles to accomplish stuff. Some of it is free to play, other things require $$.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:05 AM on April 17


I like Japanese car driving videos. Just chill music and a beautiful landscape. Try cat2525jp and sakura2336.

Homes Under the Hammer is another British housing show that's pretty interesting. It's more friendly than soothing, but still interesting.

There's an anime called "Ore no Monogatari!!" which is an interesting love story. Unlike other love story anime, it doesn't get to the point where the MC and the LI have stupid misunderstandings for a thousand episodes, but it just stops the stupid misunderstandings.

If you can afford it, Voltage has a line of otome games (romance games) that are aimed at women in their teens, 20s, and 30s. Some of the teen ones are pretty soothing -- nothing seriously bad ever happens, and the stories can be pretty silly. You can read a few of the stories for free, but after that you need to pay.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 8:42 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


This is how I feel all the time! I have been more intentional about the media I consume in the last few years and I think it's been very good for me emotionally.

Parks and Rec is the best. Community pushes the same buttons for me, as do Better Off Ted, Steven Universe and Bob's Burgers.

Stardew Valley is my favorite video game at the moment. It's perfect.

The other way I self-soothe when the world feels nasty is with funny, gentle podcasts. Nothing nasty, just people who love each other trying to make each other laugh. I have been listening to The Flop House, My Brother, My Brother, and Me, The Adventure Zone, and recently Rose Buddies as much as possible. Rose Buddies is about The Bachelor, which I have no interest in watching, but the hosts are a sweet young couple who know it's ridiculous that they are making a podcast about dumb reality TV, and it's charming and low-stakes and I love it. Much better for my mental state than listening to NPR on my commute.
posted by beandip at 8:57 AM on April 17


+1 for "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt", "Chewing Gum", "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and for "Jane the Virgin". These are all lighthearted and fit your criteria. There's also this list.
posted by ATX Peanut at 9:26 AM on April 17


The Birth of Sake on Netflix does exactly this for me.
posted by Caxton1476 at 9:41 AM on April 17


Scrubs.
posted by bendy at 2:06 PM on April 17


For completely zoning out, Netflix has 12 or 13 hours of jellyfish doing their thing with background music. ("Jellies")
posted by rmd1023 at 2:24 PM on April 17


I've just rediscovered the joys of Malcolm in the Middle which is available on Netflix.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 6:29 PM on April 17


I Love Hue is an Apple/Android game, if that works for you, but very relaxing. There's no time limit to putting things in order and you can start over as you'd like. You get some credits each day, but they're pretty cheap to buy in bulk (you can also get more by "watching" commercials). I play with the sound off but the music isn't terrible.

Movies I like include We Are the Best! (3 Swedish teens form a punk band in the '80s and it's adorable -- should be on Netflix) and I Capture the Castle (based on the Dodie Smith novel about a 1930s British teen and her artistic family & their encounters with American -- shows up on Amazon Prime quite often). It's for pay, but I just watched Hidden Figures and hit my "this is gorgeous and empowering and a good cast and I love this movie" notes pretty well.

It depends on the specific episodes (not all are great!), but I also find both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine of Star Trek to be amazingly comforting. They're often about solving conflicts using intelligence or through non-violent methods. The pace is also slow -- in a good way! -- that makes them a thoughtful watch. Both are on Netflix (as far as I know) so they're easy to try out.
posted by darksong at 7:07 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


nthing Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And last I saw, Finding Dory was on Netflix.
posted by Zed at 6:44 AM on April 18


One more rec for GBBO. And yesterday I was reminded of how relaxing Bob Ross is.
posted by worldswalker at 3:58 PM on April 20


some super beautiful and soothing games:
Abzu, Flower, and my favourite Journey
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:46 PM on April 20


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