Looking for shows that aren't about jerks
October 5, 2015 9:34 AM   Subscribe

I've reached my jerk quota in the real world, so I'm looking for some good TV shows (preferably on netflix or amazon prime streaming) that aren't about jerks.

All of the highly-acclaimed shows recently seem to be about assholes too: HTGAWM, Scandal, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Breaking Bad. Crime procedurals (a favorite genre) seem to be very fond of "[Main character] is a jerk, but he's brilliant so we put up with it." I just can't deal with fictional assholes lately. Can the hivemind give me some suggestions for friendlier TV fare?

Asshole-free shows I've been enjoying lately, to give a rough idea of my tastes:
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
The Great British Bake Off (a reality show with no backstabbing??)
A few of USA network's procedural drama/comedies.
posted by specialagentwebb to Media & Arts (94 answers total) 119 users marked this as a favorite
Transparent! There are some jerks in it, but mostly not jerks and the core of the show is very unjerky.
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:36 AM on October 5, 2015

How about Gilmore Girls? It's like the friendliest show of all time.
posted by something something at 9:36 AM on October 5, 2015 [15 favorites]

You might like Brooklyn 99 as there's a lot of teamwork & camaraderie among the main cast but they have to deal with asshole-ish outsiders weekly.
posted by bleep at 9:39 AM on October 5, 2015 [21 favorites]

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!
posted by shortyJBot at 9:40 AM on October 5, 2015 [42 favorites]

Bob's Burgers. The only jerks are the occasional nemesis and the husband and wife's relationship is refreshingly free of resentment and asinine "men and women are different, hyuk hyuk" type humor. (Seriously, it is so rare to see a TV show where a married couple doesn't seem to sort of hate one another!)
posted by purple_bird at 9:41 AM on October 5, 2015 [42 favorites]

Ugh, I also hate watching horrible people being horrible. Miss Fisher is my favourite!

-Call the Midwife: basically warm, fuzzy nostalgia.
- Foyle's War: mysteries set in England during WWII. No jerks.
- Bletchley Circle: code breaking women from Bletchley Park now solving mysteries. Can be a bit dark and scary but the lead women are all supportive of each other.
posted by carolr at 9:42 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

Assuming you mean White Collar and Burn Notice when you mention USA shows. If not add them to your list. If you can do the superhero thing, Flash should work for you. Don't know how far you got into Leverage, but Nathan can be a jerk, and gets jerkier as the show goes on.
posted by sardonyx at 9:43 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Since you like crime procedurals, how about Bones? The early seasons played up the brilliant jerk trope, but in later seasons everyone is friends and/or married to each other, people are mostly nice and supportive of each other, and they've embraced a lot of goofy camp in lieu of gore horror.
posted by phunniemee at 9:46 AM on October 5, 2015

Seconding gilmore girls and Kimmy Schmidt. Although VERY different from each other, theyre refreshingly optimistic shows and I always feel positive after watching them.
posted by pimmscup at 9:47 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Playing House! Unless that already counts as one of your USA network shows.
posted by mskyle at 9:48 AM on October 5, 2015

Parks and Recreation, all day every day for this.
posted by carrienation at 9:49 AM on October 5, 2015 [53 favorites]

Seconding Blechley Circle. Very good. But differing opinion on Transparent. God, that family might as well be the Jerk family from Jerk City on Jerk Avenue. Drove me insane.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:49 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

I just finished three seasons of Person of Interests. It's about saving people that need saving, but the system doesn't think they're worth it. Totally non-jerky.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:49 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Well, DON'T watch "Doc Martin"...
posted by HuronBob at 9:49 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Steven Universe! Steven Universe! Steven Universe!
posted by ocherdraco at 9:50 AM on October 5, 2015 [16 favorites]

Star Trek! The entire Star Trek philosophy is relentlessly optimistic, the casts tend to have good chemistry, and as a bonus, I always find the sets and costuming to be relaxing. Deep Space 9 gets a bit dark at times, but the characters are still good people.

I couldn't watch past the first episode of Transparent because the characters were so awful and self-absorbed, but maybe it gets better fast.
posted by mama casserole at 9:52 AM on October 5, 2015 [10 favorites]

King of the Hill - (the cartoon) a fairly deft handling of all sorts of personal and social issues including xenophobia and prop comedians.

I also love The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Parks and Recreation, Star Trek, especially TNG...

One of my camp mates at Burning Man (a programmer) confessed that to feel grounded, he watches episodes of Bonanza and Leave it to Beaver.
posted by bobdow at 9:53 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding Brooklyn Nine Nine here.
Additionally suggesting Castle, particularly the newer seasons when the main character starts to grow up a bit. Adventure Time (animated, fun, surreal) is almost entirely jerk-free.
posted by Poppa Bear at 9:54 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Grace and Frankie has moments of jerkiness by more or less everyone, but at their cores, each of the characters is a basically decent human being in a bad situation.
posted by Etrigan at 9:55 AM on October 5, 2015 [10 favorites]

Steven Universe, Sailor Moon, and X-Files are all pretty good in this vein. X-Files can have some jerks, but it was a simpler time in television.
posted by easter queen at 9:55 AM on October 5, 2015

I like shows where I root for everyone, and have been very happy watching Jane the Virgin.

Also ditto'ing Parks and Rec (later seasons especially) and Gilmore Girls and King of the Hill and Playing House.
posted by George Malloy at 9:58 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

We also always keep at least one "nice show" on the decks at all times, because I can't take meanness at the end of hard days. Our past favorites are:

The Indian Doctor (tackles hard topics and has some crusty characters but we both found it uplifting)
The Bletchley Circle (as above - it's a tough time in history but the main characters are great)
Brooklyn 99, as someone else said above
Catastrophe (I've watched this series 3 times just to try to figure out how they did "nice" so well)

If Psych wasn't one of your USA shows, I highly recommend it.

The thing about Transparent is that a number of the characters ARE jerks, and then character development happens that deepens the context, but I would not call it a jerk-free show even still. It is worth watching, but not in your jerk-free slot.

We watch a lot of food and wine documentaries on Netflix. A Year In Burgundy, A Year In Champagne, Chef's Table (a 6-part series, gorgeously shot too), Mind of a Chef (most of those are on Amazon right now, but I don't know if any of them are Prime at the moment). Sadly I don't think there's a legal way to watch Masterchef Australia in the US, which is a pity because it's the nicest competition show ever (it makes Mary and Paul look like the villains everyone tee-hees they are) and every season runs about 60-70 hours long, that's not a typo.

Kimmy Schmidt raised every one of my "mean show" hackles even though it's hard to point at why. It was like watching people make fun of someone not smart enough to be in on the joke.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:03 AM on October 5, 2015 [7 favorites]

I know folks have said this already, but Brooklyn Nine Nine is a highlight of my week. All of the main characters are flawed and silly but they're all trying incredibly hard to have each others' backs and to be their best selves — they usually fall short, of course, but by god they're trying. Plus, it's incredibly feminist and diverse. It's made by the same team as Parks & Rec, which I've head similar things about.

Oh, and the West Wing.
posted by you're a kitty! at 10:06 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Catastrophe (I've watched this series 3 times just to try to figure out how they did "nice" so well)

I was thinking of suggesting Catastrophe, but be warned that the niceness is earned, and most of the characters start out pretty jerky.
posted by Etrigan at 10:06 AM on October 5, 2015

millionth-ing unbreakable kimmy schmidt. if your heart doesn't grow three sizes too big after watching kimmy schmidt's unfailing optimism then i don't even know how you're an actual person.

i found myself really enjoying call the midwife. it was weirdly calming - vanessa redgrave's voice will do that, i guess. i can't think of a lot of jerky moments.

masterchef junior is ADORABLE and every time a kid helps another kid, you will want to cry happy tears.
posted by kerning at 10:08 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Try Northern Exposure and Kingdom with Stephen Fry.
posted by Boxenmacher at 10:10 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Murdoch Mysteries!
posted by rtha at 10:10 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

1. Life-- main character is a detective who everyone THINKS is going to be scary and mean, but instead quotes zen koans at them and offers them fruit!
2. I am owning this guilty pleasure: Drop Dead Diva has the stupidest premise and its grasp of law is laughable, but the show is full of people loving each other and trying to be more kind.
3. Due South.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:11 AM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

Antiques Roadshow.
posted by Melismata at 10:12 AM on October 5, 2015 [7 favorites]

Numb3rs! It's a slightly older show, and not well known, but the characters are all sweethearts and trying to do the best they can. Also, it starts off pretty white but gets more diverse as the seasons go on.
posted by Tamanna at 10:17 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seinfeld. People sometimes say that the main characters aren't good people but I see them as just kids in adult bodies. They come up with weird ideas, have hijinks, etc. It's a show about kids running amok except that it's adults instead of kids. It was pitched to the network as "a show about where comedians get their material" or something to that effect.
posted by I-baLL at 10:17 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Broad City.
posted by lisa g at 10:17 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

nthing Kimmy Schmidt.

Also I know I'm biased... Slings & Arrrows, if you can find it. There's a genuine love underpinning almost every relationship on the show.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:22 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Steven Universe and Brooklyn 99, so much.
Also: Lewis, Reading Rainbow, Mr. Rogers, maybe Grantchester, but he makes bad choices sometimes and you're all SIDNEY NO.
Maybe Vicar of Dibley? There's one jerk, but even he's kinda fluffy.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 10:24 AM on October 5, 2015

Gavin and Stacey -- so funny and... nice. This was the show that cleansed my palate after too much Ricky Gervais. It was such a relief for my soul to laugh without laughing at anyone's expense.

The show was created and written by James Corden and Ruth Jones.
posted by girlpublisher at 10:24 AM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

You might try Blue Bloods. Also, Lark Rise to Candleford.
posted by gudrun at 10:27 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing Steven Universe (give it several episodes; it has a slow burn). Also, I dunno if you other Brooklyn Nine Nine fans are watching the same show I am, but, like...the main character is totally an asshole. He sort of means well, in a manbaby way, but he's still an asshole and I'd probably wind up punching him if I had to work with him.
posted by wintersweet at 10:29 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I add my endorsement to Catastrophe. Here is that rare romantic comedy where the two people who are supposed to be in love actually seem to like each other.
posted by seasparrow at 10:33 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Enlightened is about an ex-jerk who's trying to live a new, nice existence. Great show.
posted by homesickness at 10:39 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Derek. He has a heart of gold. Sometimes individual episodes have sad moments, but so many genuine good feels.
posted by bizzyb at 10:41 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

King of the Hill, as mentioned above, went from being one of those shows that just happened to be on to a show that I genuinely enjoyed. I love Bobby Hill so very much. He's basically Kimmy Schmidt in a small, pudgy Texan body.

In Jeeves and Wooster, Bertie is kiiind of a jerk, but he's so silly and good natured that it ends up being fine. Nobody gets hurt except maybe that weenie Spode, who deserves it. Plus all of Bertie's scrapes end up as opportunities for Jeeves to put things right, which is just the most satisfying thing in the world. Plus Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry!

Speaking of Stephen Fry, the Stephen Fry in America series is gently humorous and enjoyable. I find it interesting to see what intrigues people who are viewing things from an outsider's perspective. Pretty sure it's on Netflix or Hulu or something.
posted by St. Hubbins at 10:45 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh, Elementary is good too.
posted by I-baLL at 10:46 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed Death in Paradise a lot. The main characters (detectives, police) are good people & the only jerks are the murderers they capture at the end of each episode. Murdoch Mysteries is also quite enjoyable.

I kind of disagree with the recommendation for Parks and Recreation, though. All of the characters were pretty mean & dismissive of another main character (Jerry) & it really bothered me every time they made fun of him. :(
posted by belladonna at 10:49 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Looking at the new Fall tv crop, I think Limitless and Rosewood meet your criteria. I'm enjoying both those shows.

For a show that's been around for a while, how about Major Crimes (the more recent version, not the one with Brenda; she was a jerk, IMHO)?
posted by merejane at 10:52 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't Trust the Bitch in Apt 23 always make me laugh.

Nthing Kimmy Schmidt.

(Don't let the selfish jerks bring you down!)
posted by discopolo at 10:55 AM on October 5, 2015

If you like the British Baking Competition, try
-Worst Cooks in America - surprisingly warm hearts and not insulting to the contestants
- Master Chef - yes, it stars Gordon Ramsey as one of the judges but he comes across as having high expectations but wanting people to succeed much more than the cruel aggression we saw in this other shows.
- Current season of Project Runway. In past seasons (especially early on) there were some contestants who were bitchy jerks but not the current season where people actually help each other out and, most not too much in any of the reason seasons. Plus, unlike cooking shows, you can judge the results yourself and not rely on judges to describe the taste for you.
posted by metahawk at 10:56 AM on October 5, 2015

Nthing Bletchley Circle, Foyle's War, and Call the Midwife. Call the Midwife in particular has characters who are brusk or occasionally clueless without being irredeemable jerks, which I really like, plus some characters who are so heartwarmingly good and likable they never fail to cheer me up.

I'd add Death Comes to Pemberley. I love that the central couple are able to have serious disagreements and conflicts while always respecting and caring about each other.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:58 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love W1A. No, yes, exactly, on the first pass it looks like precisely what you don't want, but give it a moment and you'll see that it's in fact brilliant. The people aren't jerks in it, they're all just false, but so would anyone be in their situation; there's in fact no other way to survive their situation. On occasion one of them transcends terror and is brave enough to be kind to another one of them and you see their innate decency breaking through and it can make you tear up.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:01 AM on October 5, 2015

Better Off Ted! The titular character is an all-around nice guy, though most of the comedy comes from the characters around him. It's silly, absurd and only two seasons, so it is a quick watch.

Bob's Burgers is also a great and positive show.
posted by dean_deen at 11:05 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

Golden Girls.
posted by Blitz at 11:19 AM on October 5, 2015 [8 favorites]

I stand behind the recs I had in a similar recent question. I'd add Steven Universe which I've started watching since then. I will anti-recommend Transparent; I watched the whole first season and it's powerful TV, but I find every character profoundly dislikeable.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:19 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Not on TV yet, but next time you go to the movies; "The Martian"
posted by anonymisc at 11:24 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Broadchurch is a really enjoyable British crime drama, and I wouldn't characterize any of the main characters as jerks. David Tennant's character comes off as a little prickly at first, but you see pretty quickly that he's a good guy, and I wouldn't categorize him as an asshole. The characters are very nuanced and multi-dimensional, but I think everyone's pretty sympathetic. It's not exactly a procedural, since there is really only one crime that they're solving in the first season (and then one other in the second season), but if you like procedural crime dramas, you'll enjoy it since there's definitely a whodunnit component. What I think really makes it stand out, though, is it's a fascinating character study of these people in the (fictional) town of Broadchurch. Season 1 is on Netflix. Season 2, which aired earlier this year, may not be up yet.

I'll second Person of Interest. All four seasons were recently added to Netflix.

Scrubs is a good light hearted comedy filled with like-able somewhat neurotic characters. Again, all seasons are available on Netflix.

I was going to suggest Monk, but it may be one of the USA network procedurals that you referenced.

I'll also second West Wing. It gave me a sort of unrealistic view of politicians when I grew up watching it, since all the characters are very earnest and like-able. It's the kind of drama that usually leaves you feeling better about humanity after you watch it. (Well, unless you try to compare the show to real life politics, but that's a separate issue.) I think you can stream that on Netflix as well.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:34 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'll pile on to the Catastrophe recommendation. Yes, there are jerks in the show (there has to be conflict) but the main characters come across as refreshingly real people who are trying to do their best to be decent people in a difficult situation. I was constantly expecting the the cliche of the leading man to end up being horrible, but was constantly surprised when that didn't happen, and in ways that came across as genuine.
posted by The Deej at 11:37 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

So far only the pilot has aired but Grandfathered seems like its characters are relatively decent, or at least trying to be.
posted by sardonyx at 11:50 AM on October 5, 2015

Face Off is anther non-jerky reality show. The very first season was set up more traditionally with a Jerk person. But every season since then has been totally backstabbing free!
posted by grapesaresour at 11:50 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Warehouse 13. There are villains and there is evil, but even they're not jerks, exactly, and the main team is amazing to one another. It's one of the best ensemble shows I've ever watched, and I cannot recommend enough.

FWIW, I loved Burn Notice, but... somewhere around season 6, I thought that Michael lost at the ratio of "I know this is crappy but I've got to do it" and jerkiness. The show uses the people around him to point that out, and I just kind of burned out on it. But the first four seasons or so are pretty great.

Definitely the West Wing. Again, there are jerks and conflict, but not among the protagonists, who are 95% of the time (it is politics, after all) really really good to one another.
posted by joycehealy at 11:51 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Parks and Recreation has a lot of jerks. Jeremy Jamm the orthodontist/council member is probably the worst, but there are many others, e.g. Dr. Saperstein (Henry Winkler) is a jerk, and so are his selfish kids.

It's a kid's cartoon, but the nicest person on television is "the Man in the Yellow Hat" in Curious George. His patience and calm tone of voice are an inspiration to me.
posted by w0mbat at 11:59 AM on October 5, 2015

If you liked The Great British Bake Off, I highly recommend another British reality show about cooking: "Last Restaurant Standing." (That's its American name; it aired in the UK as "The Restaurant.")

It's about a bunch of people competing to open a restaurant with Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc. Blanc is extremely warm and polite to all the contestants, and his attitude seems to spill over into the entire show.
posted by yankeefog at 12:03 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Pushing Daisies
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:13 PM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Maybe not the sort of thing you're looking for, but there are some good nature programs on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I like to search for "nature" and then select a program about whichever beast seems most appealing to me at a given time. Most recently I watched an episode of Nature called "Penguin Post Office." It was about penguins that live near a post office. The penguins are sometimes jerks, but they probably can't help it. And there were people there too that seemed like fine people.
posted by bananana at 12:22 PM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

NYPD Blue, all 12 glorious seasons.
posted by Dolley at 12:26 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised it hasn't come up yet, as it's been listed in pretty much every Ask MeFi TV threat, but Freaks and Geeks.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:36 PM on October 5, 2015 [9 favorites]

I think that it's going to be difficult to find a worthwhile show with no jerks in it. Conflict is a very basic driver of narrative, and when you remove it you get something like Teletubbies. Plus, in television, being a bit of a jerkwad is a desirable trait. House wouldn't have lasted a single season if he acted like Mr. Rogers.

So I'm assuming you're looking for shows where the main character(s) aren't jerks. Honestly, I can't think of a lot that is still on the air (but you can probably find some of these via NetFlix or etc):


Legit - I know it sounds unlikely, given that it stars Jim Jefferies, but this show has a surprisingly gentle heart. Additionally difficult to believe: this show won a lot of accolades for its portrayal of people with physical and mental disabilities.


Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell - I just ran across this this weekend. There are at least two major jerk characters, but the main character Gary is just an ordinary schlub who's trying to get by in a "hostile work environment".

Trophy Wife - A guy, his wife, and his two ex-wives, and their kids - all of them are nice people who care about each other. Not the kind of television show I usually watch, but I ended up being quite sad that it got canceled.
posted by doctor tough love at 12:40 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Once Upon a Time! On Netflix.
posted by corb at 12:50 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're willing to try animated shows, definitely try Gravity Falls, which has two deeply earnest and loving siblings at the heart of the show. There's one character who's sometimes gruff and/or jerkish, but I think if you're okay with Nate Ford, he should be fine for you.

If live-action is your preference, then I'd second Foyle's War, Due South, and Bletchley Circle, as mentioned above, and I'd add Hustle, a BBC show that predates Leverage and has a lot of similarities.
posted by tautological at 1:05 PM on October 5, 2015

Grace and Frankie

My Name is Earl
posted by Grandysaur at 1:12 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing Playing House.
posted by SarahElizaP at 1:22 PM on October 5, 2015

If you like Leverage, Hustle - as tautological mentioned - is great and what Leverage is semi- kinda- sorta- based on. A little higher class and less jokey.

Better Off Ted could easily have been about jerks (dark-ish comedy about management at an evil corporation) but plays it warm-heartedly.
posted by porpoise at 1:26 PM on October 5, 2015

I've started binge-watching Time Team on YouTube. It went off the air last year after 14 years or something like that: a crew of archaeologists, historians, dendrochronologists and the like go digging up bits of the UK to see what's buried there. Tony Robinson (Baldrick from Blackadder) is mine host, but my favorite character (so to speak) is Phil Harding, the chief digger. His glorious accent and indefatigable cheerfulness are just delightful.
posted by orrnyereg at 1:45 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

A friend turned me on to The Fosters (available on Netflix). I've been watching an episode or two in the evenings after particularly jerk-heavy days at work and it brings me down from KILL KILL KILL to awwww there are good people in the world I can go to sleep now.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:07 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

seconding "Life," which may be the worst title for google searches, ever. Available on Netflix DVD and I think Amazon video streaming. The cases are murders, and it can be a bit dark-comically-gruesome, but the main characters are not jerks. Only 2 seasons made, unfortunately.
posted by randomkeystrike at 3:02 PM on October 5, 2015

I'll second Face Off if you're looking for a reality/skill competition show. It's sci-fi makeup artists competing in a Project Runway-format show, but there's no time spent on "I find XX irritating" or "I'm not here to make friends" talk, they actually help one another in the workroom when catastrophe strikes, and the judges are tough but not catty.
posted by queensissy at 3:18 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed Lark Rise to Candleford when it was streaming on Amazon. I think it disappeared, but I figured I'd drop in the recommendation in case it comes back there or elsewhere. It's a small-town British period drama (late 19th century) where conflict mostly comes from misunderstanding and external events, rather than anybody being jerky. It's pretty slow-moving, but I found it quite charming.
posted by duien at 3:58 PM on October 5, 2015

It's sadly not on Amazon Prime streaming, but Last Tango in Halifax is exactly what you're looking for.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 4:27 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I like some older shows for watching when I can't handle terrible protagonists anymore: Emergency!, Hawaii Five-O (the original), Rockford Files.
posted by epersonae at 5:20 PM on October 5, 2015

Family Tree is so, so lovely, and currently on Amazon Prime. There's only one season (HBO cancelled it because they are bastards), but I still recommend it. It is by Christopher Guest (Best in Show, A Mighty Wind), which means there's a lot of improvisation in the dialog and the characters are weird, but they're lovably weird.

Also Parks & Rec, Bob's Burgers.
posted by jeoc at 5:28 PM on October 5, 2015

Dead Like Me
Raising Hope
posted by bricoleur at 5:40 PM on October 5, 2015

It was widely panned, but I enjoyed Outsourced for exactly this reason. All of the characters were really likable and actually seemed to like one another, too.

Nthing Steven Universe. Generally, you might enjoy many of the shojo shows it was inspired by, too. Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura are my faves.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:26 PM on October 5, 2015

Oh, Jack and Bobby, too! One season family drama about a single mom and her two kids, one of whom eventually grows up to become president.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:27 PM on October 5, 2015

I've been greatly enjoying watching old Columbo episodes on Netflix - be warned, each episode is about a million hours long (they average 90 minutes), but Columbo's entire job is to take down arrogant jerks pretty much through sheer tenacity and endurance. He is obnoxious but not in a mean way at all.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 6:56 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you liked the Great British Bake Off, you should love the Great British Sewing Bee. I love watching talented people.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:18 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

One caveat about Wonderfalls and My Name is Earl: both shows concern main characters who were incredible jerks but, through karmic/supernatural means, are given opportunities to make amends.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 10:06 PM on October 5, 2015

Continuum! Canadian time travel police sci fi, notable for the fact that even the "baddies" are entirely relatable and reasonable people. Not a bastard among them - people are shown to have pretty good reasons for their motivations and actions even when on the face of it they're terrorists or fascist police chiefs or megalomaniac business leaders.

You know how Spirited Away has no actual baddies? Continuum is like that but for adults.
posted by tinkletown at 11:20 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Heartland (AskMeFi turned me on to it and my husband and I just find it so, well, wholesome and heartwarming.) Seasons 1-5 are on Netflix.
posted by ladybird at 2:01 AM on October 6, 2015

Definitely Chuck! I find it adorable and fun, and it's pretty jerk-free.
posted by Carravanquelo at 3:09 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

My two go-to comfort shows, both completely asshole-free: Over the Garden Wall and Luke Nguyen's France.
posted by jbickers at 3:28 AM on October 6, 2015

Give Eureka a try. The protagonist and main cast genuinely care for each other, in kooky eccentric ways. There are a few jerky recurring characters, but as they are fleshed out they become more than stock antagonists.
posted by cmyk at 3:30 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

How about Duck Dynasty? It's a reality show with family and work/play values (despite controversy in the media I think the show itself is very 90's sitcom-esque in terms of its family values lessons). The characters can be jerky to one another but it is more sibling rivalry and friendly teasing.
posted by atinna at 7:11 AM on October 6, 2015

The Voice is a refreshing reality show, as everyone is nice to the contestants, and the only not-super-positive bits are when the judges give each other hell for something or other, while still being really friendly in all cases. Even when a contestant is awful, they congratulate their courage and give them something tangible to work on next before trying to come back another season. It's a huge win.
posted by talldean at 1:34 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are you me? You sound like you're me. I don't watch the "must watch" shows because the main characters are all so unpleasant and it just makes me sad to spend time with them. For me, what I want is TV where the protagonists are people I can root for and feel emotionally connected to without suspecting that I'm a bad person.

Your stated examples I also love, so this is leading me to think that you might also enjoy these shows that I love:

Star Trek (any of them really but I have a deep childhood love of the original in all its Shatnerian glory)
Due South
The Pretender (at least the first few seasons)
Person of Interest
Agents of SHIELD
Agent Carter (she has to work with jerks but also has great supportive friends and is amazing)
Any of about a million "cozy" British mystery series that got played on PBS or A&E such as Midsomer Murders, Rosemary & Thyme, Poirot, Miss Marple etc. I find binge-watching Midsomer Murders a soothing pastime while recovering from being ill.
Similarly, I'm a fan of original-flavor Law and Order (the ones with Lenny Briscoe) and the earlier seasons of CSI and occasional NCIS for my "I just want to watch a puzzley crime show and not delve into the darkness of the human condition right now" needs.
And for non-fiction relaxation I love Mythbusters and How It's Made.
posted by oblique red at 1:58 PM on October 6, 2015

I loved The Closer. Some of the main characters started out a bit jerky in the first few episodes and then developed into solid team members who we all root for later on. Occasionally the criminal of the episode is a jerk, but they're generally not too jerky and they all get their come-uppance.
posted by Amy NM at 10:56 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding Warehouse 13 and Eureka, although these both seem to be more SF than your usual fare.

If you're willing to roll with that and are looking for a show still on the air, I'd heartily recommend Grimm. It's a "fantasy" crime/police procedural, and the lead character is entirely not "brilliant jerk who everyone tolerates because brilliant" - he's a kind man who discovers that he has great power and thus great responsibility. The core team of characters surrounding the lead are supportive of each other, mostly, and often when they're not it's because they're stuck between a rock and a hard place and are doing the best they can with limited information or options. Even the baddies tend to be portrayed more as "flawed people making bad decisions" rather than flat out evil or jerks.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:17 PM on October 7, 2015

Enthusiastically seconding mudpuppie's recommendation of The Fosters.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:14 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

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