Feel good movies and TV shows.
December 21, 2013 8:30 PM   Subscribe

Please give me recommendations for feel-good TV shows and movies that are available on Netflix streaming or Amazon Prime to help get me through a tough time.

A few days ago I was robbed at gunpoint and assaulted. Since then I've been feeling rather fragile and traumatized, and like the world world is a bad, scary place. I've been comforting myself by watching the seasons of Glee on Netflix, but I'm almost through those. I need recommendations for other feel-good TV shows and movies. I don't want anything dark or depressing. I'm going to have a lot of down time the next week off work, so please recommend some free stuff to keep my spirits up. I have access to Netflix and Amazon Prime. I'm not particularly into Hallmark movies or frat-bro type comedies, but I'm open to anything. I am a fan of musicals, fantasy, historical, and indie movies. Tell me what I can watch to make me feel better about the world. (Also, I'm recovering from a head injury from the attack and the doctor recommended "brain rest" and avoiding action movies with lots of fast movement and explosions and such that can trigger symptoms. I'm mostly past that point, but thought I'd throw that in there.)

(Bonus question: I'll also take recommendations for any online groups or websites that might help me feel better or offer support.)
posted by catatethebird to Media & Arts (42 answers total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
Doc Martin should be just the ticket, I think. I hope you'll feel better soon.
posted by HotToddy at 8:40 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maybe it's because I'm American, but I find shows from the UK to be like comfort food. I watched one called "The Book Group" last year, which was a little silly but also comforting. (There's also The In Betweeners but that's very much [British] frat boy comedy -- funny and distracting, though.) These are both streaming on Netflix.

I'm sorry you're going through that -- someone was shot outside my apartment last year and (even being a party to) that stuff is stressful. I hope you find the support you need.
posted by aintthattheway at 8:45 PM on December 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Cheers and The Vicar of Dibley always make me happy when I'm in a funk. Both are on Netflix. Hope you feel better really soon!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 8:56 PM on December 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

watch the movie "castaway on the moon" on netflix. always made me think positive. also the movie little miss sunshine!
posted by zdravo at 9:11 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oooh you need to watch Emma on Amazon Prime. It's my favorite Jane Austen adaptation. It's very accessible for a modern watcher, very bright and sunny and cheerful with beautiful costumes and locations. It's great for a cheer up.
posted by katyggls at 9:13 PM on December 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Shows that are good if you need to give your eyes a break - Fawlty Towers & Blackadder. I'm Canadian, but like aintthattheway I find UK comedy comforting; probably because these shows were always on public access when I was growing up. And maybe take a chance on a cheesy Lifetime or Hallmark holiday movie - they try so hard to be inspirational and sweet that they either leave you feeling good or laughing at them. Take care.
posted by variella at 9:14 PM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would recommend Call the Midwife. There's one really sad episode (maybe skip the one with a woman who plays a string episode) and some tense moments, but mostly the take away feeling was of kindness. My favorite cheering up movie on Netflix is Bollywood/Hollywood, although your affection for Canadian content may vary.

On preview, Castaway on the Moon is charming.
posted by carolr at 9:15 PM on December 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Not sure if you've seen Parks and Recreation, but it's my go-to show if I ever need to cheer up. It's a great show with characters that care about each other. And it's pretty damn funny. The first season is good but it really picks up in the second season. Hope you feel better soon
posted by morning_television at 9:17 PM on December 21, 2013 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Binge on How I Met Your Mother or Don't Trust the B* in Appartment 23 or My Cat from Hell.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:22 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Parks and Recreation! Multiple viewings of that show got me through a really crummy/depressing year.
posted by littlesq at 9:31 PM on December 21, 2013

I'm so sorry that happened to you.

Ricky Gervais has made a charming British TV series called Derek, the first season of which is available on Netflix. When I stumbled on it, I was feeling pretty bleak, and it did a good job of lifting my spirits.

Best to you!
posted by trip and a half at 9:35 PM on December 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Too Cute is brain-numbing in a good way. Calming narration and lots of really cute baby animals going about their adorable little days.

I'm so sorry you had that happen - hugs!
posted by Fig at 9:36 PM on December 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Miss Congeniality is on Amazon Prime!
posted by salvia at 10:13 PM on December 21, 2013

Best answer: My Emotional Mental Sorbet: Star Trek Next Generation.

The episodes are like popcorn!

My Intellectual Mental Sorbet is Chopped, on Television Food Network.

Funny you should ask this today, because earlier I was thinking about how much my guilty pleasure was that Niecy Nash hosted makeover show - truly fluffy feel good turn off your brain TV:))

Next Generation has been a touchstone through hard times for years, but I'll also Nth Vicar of Dibley, and not mentioned yet, but also starring the AMAZING Dawn French - French and Saunders.

See if you can find the French and Saunders parody of the movie Titanic (forevermore Leonardo Dicaprio will be a middle aged Englishwoman in your mind's eye - thanks Dawn!!) Also there is a skit on French and Saunders where they play chamber maids for the Queen
Mum (before she passed) on holiday at Balmoral Castle over the Christmas Holiday that is the fucking funniest shit EVER.

Ditto the long past episode of The Young Ones that features Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders as guest stars ("Why look! It's a mousie!!") with musical guest, Madness.

And while we're on the subject of British humour....

If you don't fall in love with Eddie Izzard from his HBO Special: Dressed To Kill, well, trust me, you will fall in love!!

Also from HBO more recently, SUMMER HEIGHTS HIGH is your jam. All of the lead characters are played by the same person, it is GENIUS!!

I hope this helps:))
posted by jbenben at 10:14 PM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

However, on second thought, Miss Congeniality is about a cop trying to prevent a crime, so there might be a few tough spots.
posted by salvia at 10:15 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Love Actually (Netflix)
Hugo (Netflix)
Amelie (Amazon Prime)
posted by EKStickland at 10:36 PM on December 21, 2013

Parks and Rec has FIVE seasons available on Amazon Prime and it is totally kind-hearted. Also, I kind of loved Bunheads which is was a good blend of smart and gentle (tragically, only one season).
posted by charmedimsure at 10:55 PM on December 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks so far guys. Forgot to mention I love British humor, so the suggestions are great. Blackadder is one of my favorite shows.

(And I watched Miss Congeniality on the plane on my first trip overseas, so that brings back good memories. :)
posted by catatethebird at 11:08 PM on December 21, 2013

Animated Series:

Justice League Unlimited has an amazing show open and 2 year run story arc - and I say this as a fan of Marvel Comics, generally. So it's pretty excellent.

PowerPuff Girls is super fun and empowering.

Land of the Lost might be on NetFlix and is great.
posted by jbenben at 11:19 PM on December 21, 2013

Best answer: Family Ties is on instant and it's such a great show! I also find many british shows very comforting (like comfort food is a good analogy). Seconding Fawlty Towers, Vicar of Dibley, Blackadder, also Keeping Up Appearances. And though they deal with murders Agatha Christie's Poirot and Miss Marple are cozy and wonderful.

I also find old sitcoms really comforting. There's Cheers, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Munsters on instant.
posted by Blitz at 11:33 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also like all the Merchant Ivory works and A Room with a View is on instant.
posted by Blitz at 11:40 PM on December 21, 2013

This is basically the description of what I watch, ever.

Seconding Vicar of Dibley and Keeping Up Appearances.

I also like Golden Girls and Jam and Jerusalem, both of which might be slightly harder to find but are definitely worth seeking out.

Also, maybe weirdly, Bob's Burgers has become major comfort watching for me lately. It's full of quirky animated people, but it feels so kind, somehow, like everyone loves each other even when they don't necessarily like each other right then.
posted by MeghanC at 11:42 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Shaun the Sheep! (And other Aardman Entertainment stuff like Wallace & Gromit) But Shaun the Sheep is very cute, wordless fun - very nice to binge watch. :) Sorry this happened to you - hope you're feeling better soon.
posted by clerestory at 11:47 PM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Maybe a bit silly but I would recommend The Office if you haven't watched it already. None of the plot points are truly horrific and the humor is easy to enjoy. I think it would be a nice palette cleanser.

Also, any time I'm feeling truly depressed about the world (or shell-shocked from watching something scary), I watch TMZ or Real Housewives or something mindless that celebrates really banal things. Its kind of messed up but seeing such a focus on frivolity (as opposed to seeing basic human needs like shelter, safety, food taking center stage in the day-to-day consciousness of society) reminds me that overall things are pretty copacetic after all. Not for everyone, but in general.
posted by halseyaa at 12:03 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

My wife and I both binged on Raising Hope recently. Silly and fun, and not taxing in the slightest.
posted by arcticseal at 12:12 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're not averse to watching a cartoon, Adventure Time is my go-to viewing for uncomplicated delight. The first season is on Netflix. I also second Bob's Burgers, because it is indeed a very kind show full of affection for its characters, while also being completely hilarious and occasionally bizarre.
posted by yasaman at 12:42 AM on December 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

All these shows are available on Netflix Streaming:

A lot of the dramas on ABC Family are very well written and adult-friendly, but, because they're also meant to be wholesome entertainment for kids/teens, tend to be relatively gentle. I'd especially recommend "Greek," which is about a group of college kids in a sorority and its "brother" fraternity, and goes on for six (short) seasons. I'd also recommend "The Fosters," though it's only aired one season so far. It's about a group of adopted/biological/foster children trying to make it work as a family, and it pretty much keeps from being treacly while still being heartwarming. My favorite out of the ABC Family shows is "Make It or Break It," which is about a group of teen girls training in elite gymnastics, but I don't see that on Netflix right now. If you choose to search around for that one, though, don't worry, you don't see a whole lot of actual gymnastics (only about one routine per episode at the most).

You also may want to check out "Desperate Housewives" and "Parenthood," which are both slightly less warmhearted than the ABC Family shows but are still mostly about people supporting each other through thick and thin. They both also have orderly, lush aesthetics which I personally find calming. "Desperate Housewives" might hit that arch "Glee" sweet spot for you, as well.
posted by rue72 at 1:52 AM on December 22, 2013

Psych. Sure, there a murders and stuff, but it's a pretty sweet buddy comedy show.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:41 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

The mention of old sitcoms reminded me that old episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore show got me though the absolute worst period of my life. They are not on Netflix streaming or Amazon Prime but they ARE free on Hulu. That's the only reason I started watching them in the first place really--on top of all the other awful things that were happening to me at the time, I had NO money for Netflix or cable and wasn't yet technically a resident where I was living so couldn't check stuff out at the library, but I desperately needed to turn my brain off and escape. They reminded me of my childhood and were gentle and funny, and it was interesting to note how many sitcoms since have been influenced by it.

For more useful suggestions (i.e. available in the ways you specified), how about some classic screwball comedies? My Man Godfrey and The Awful Truth are both on Amazon Prime and they are very funny and sweet.

I'm sorry that you are going though this.
posted by tiger tiger at 3:56 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

All on Netflix Instant. Non-violent, heartwarming:

Bread and Tulips

Queen to Play

The New Year

Derek (TV series)

Lars and the Real Girl
posted by Fairchild at 6:41 AM on December 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've been bingeing on New Girl. Nothing too heavy, but there's enough relationship conflict, in the spirit of character development, to keep things interesting. Cast is pretty adorbs, too.
posted by Bron at 7:54 AM on December 22, 2013

Drop Dead Diva is perfect for this, and it's on Netflix streaming. The premise is ridiculous, but the cast is charming. Every episode wraps up an immediate issue, but there's a good overarching storyline of a woman who tries to get her old life back, only to discover this new life is a blessing, too.
posted by mochapickle at 8:43 AM on December 22, 2013

That said, there's a moment in the setup of the first episode where the protagonist(s) dies (one vehicle accident, one errant bullet intended for someone else). My relative with PTSD watched it with no issues. It's a comedy-drama, so it's not played for tragedy, but thought it deserved a small disclaimer.
posted by mochapickle at 8:47 AM on December 22, 2013

Friday Night Lights!
posted by Chenko at 9:07 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Raising Hope! Their family is just so cute.
Not on Netflix, but there is a British show called Miranda that is funny and adorable.

I'm sorry that happened, and I'm sending some good vibes your way.
posted by fireandthud at 9:20 AM on December 22, 2013

I also love Blackadder.

For me, old sitcoms always make me happy. They just have this 'feel' to them that makes me all happy and nostalgic.

Nthing Family Ties. It still makes me laugh on reruns.

In that vein;

Happy Days
Golden Girls (Golden Girls is the BEST)
Laverne and Shirley
I Love Lucy
The Cosby Show
Mork and Mindy

Not sure how many of these are available on the above, but hopefully some of them.

As for films, one of my fave feel good films is Strictly Ballroom. It's very quirky Australian, but I love it. It's a romance, though, so not everyone's cup of tea.

Also The Castle, and The Dish, are both great Australian movies, and worth watching, if you can get them.

I'm really sorry that happened to you. I hope things get better for you really soon.
posted by Dimes at 10:43 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Slings & Arrows is a Canadian show about a Shakespeare festival. The drama in each season is about putting on a different Shakespeare production, so the tone is light and low-stakes. It's on Amazon instant video, but I don't know if that means it's on Prime as well.
posted by rollick at 10:56 AM on December 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

I want to second Call the Midwife, streaming on Netflix. It was recommended to me by my mother, and I was expecting it to be Hallmark schlock, but instead I found it fascinating historically and heartwarming. The story follows a young nurse (well, a midwife) in the post-WW2 era of a poor part of London, right when the national health started properly funding pregnancy and early-childhood care. Each episode is sort of a mini-movie, with the story of a family's struggle, but also how they work together with their social network and begin to trust the new healthcare system to get through their tough times. Then, a baby's born, so that's pretty happy. Plus, the midwives are all complex but lovable characters-- you see them grow and mature under the guidance of responsible mentors. Seriously, I thought it would be saccharine, but it's a great show.
posted by samthemander at 12:58 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

+million on Slings & Arrows as a great show (the second season around the production of Hamlet has a few gory stage-blood bits, FYI). Intellectually interesting, but you don't have to think that hard.

++Call the midwife--I think in almost every case they make it seem like a newborn might not make it, but then they do! It's really pleasant and others are right that you grow to really love all the characters.

Along the BBC line, Father Ted is a light comedy like Keeping Up Appearances. The Forsyte Saga is not exactly light, but it's engaging and has an interesting message about life and relationships (a bit like Downton Abbey but not quite as light). There's also a dozen different Austen remakes and miniseries, of course. Between Netflix and AP, you'll find them all.

Alpha House is an original series on Prime (IIRC) and is light and interesting. Only a half a dozen episodes, but a fun afternoon of binging.

I've also been watching Eddie Murphy's heyday movies on Netflix--Trading Places, Coming to America, 48 Hours (Another 48 Hours), and Beverly Hills Cops. Definitely mentally light stuff.

I'm sorry to hear why you need these suggestions, but I'm really enjoying this thread since we seem to have similar tastes (and I'm going to binge a heck of a lot in the next week or so!)

PS--Almost forgot "The Buccaneers" miniseries about American social climbers in England. Great show!!
posted by parkerjackson at 2:19 PM on December 22, 2013

I find sports movies really heartwarming and life-affirming. So, stuff like Bull Durham and 42 and Breaking Away and Chariots of Fire and The Rookie might be good, if you like that sort of thing?
posted by suelac at 4:28 PM on December 22, 2013

I'm not from the US and don't know what's available on Netflix or Amazon Prime, but Gilmore Girls is my go-to comfort show.
Alternatively, The Penguins from Madagascar.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 9:12 AM on December 23, 2013

A note about Slings & Arrows: the first two seasons are indeed delightful, and I highly recommend the show, but note that the third season gets kind of dark and is not quite as suitable for fun feel-good viewing.
posted by yasaman at 9:45 AM on December 23, 2013

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