Isolating with COVID. Please send gentle TV.
January 8, 2022 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Need some TV which involves humans or animals being kind to other humans or animals to help my brain rest.

Hi! I'm isolated to my room so as to keep the people I love safer. I'm not able to focus enough to read, but am too uncomfortable to sleep. My emotions are super squishy right now, so I can't handle shows that in any way involve violence, cruelty, bad things happening to kids or families, or emotional turmoil/trauma. I'm looking for All Creatures Great and Small type shows to keep me busy. No cartoons, though...they're a little to bright for me right now. Please television or movie me.

Thank you so much!
posted by batbat to Media & Arts (55 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
There's a new season of Queer Eye on Netflix!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 10:45 AM on January 8, 2022 [22 favorites]

I recently watched the most recent season of Landscape Artist of the Year, and I found it immensely soothing. The judging is very positive and the artists competing are extremely gracious and complimentary about everyone else. Both Landscape and Portrait Artist of the Year are mostly available on YouTube where I am, but it may also be available through official channels if you're in the UK, I'm not sure.
posted by wakannai at 10:53 AM on January 8, 2022 [10 favorites]

posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 10:54 AM on January 8, 2022 [14 favorites]

Any British bake-off show.
Seconding the landscape show.
posted by jennstra at 11:00 AM on January 8, 2022 [17 favorites]

Most Animal Planet videos on Youtube are pretty good. My Cat From Hell (Jackson Galaxy, the Cat Daddy) or his dog equivalent, Victoria are always fun to watch. And the young puppies and young kittens growing are so cute...

Jackson Galaxy has his own channel talking about care and feeding of cats. :)

Bondi Vet rarely has dark stories (I seem to recall only twice they had lost one of the patients)

Vet Ranch has a lot of rescue stories.

Out in left field, America's Test Kitchen and SORTed Foods
posted by kschang at 11:01 AM on January 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

There was a series on Animal Planet called Too Cute! which seems like it may work - it's all about litters of kittens and puppies, told as gentle coming-of-age narratives, starting out when they're just born and ending when they're old enough to be adopted out to new homes. They usually focus on one or two kittens or puppies from each litter and spin a sweet little overall "plot" for them, switching back and forth between them - like, you may have one episode being about how the runt from a litter of corgi puppies learns how to be brave and about how the only male in a litter of kittens learns how to get along with his sisters.

The narratives are all very gentle and sweet, but the appeal is overwhelmingly "squeee look at the tiny little puppies". You can find full episodes on Youtube along with shorter clips; here's one such clip to give you a taste and see if this might work. They usually focus on three litters of different animals during each episode; this is one such narrative on its own.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:04 AM on January 8, 2022 [7 favorites]

I watched both seasons of Tiny World (nature documentary series focused on small animals) recently and found them really beautiful and very gentle. (Sometimes things go wrong but it basically turns the camera away at most things that might be traumatic to a sensitive five year old, which is just how I like it, thank you very much.)
posted by pie_seven at 11:11 AM on January 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Came in to say Bondi Vet, although occasionally there is a sad situation. It's been getting me through the pandemic.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:29 AM on January 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

A +1 for Too Cute, which got me through a very rough period a few years ago. Bonus: the narrator is the older, straight-man cranberry farmer in those old Ocean Spray commercials.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:42 AM on January 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Ted Lasso!
posted by stillmoving at 11:51 AM on January 8, 2022 [15 favorites]

All of my suggestions are covered: Queer Eye, Ted Lasso, British Bake-Off.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 11:54 AM on January 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

The Repair Shop.
posted by tiamat at 11:55 AM on January 8, 2022 [14 favorites]

If you have a smartTV that will play youtube, that has been our major source of Gentle TV since even before all this. We just have a couple of playlists where we add stuff from our computers/devices to watch later when we're in front of the TV - makes it easier to navigate. We tend to like to watch people make stuff, from food to campervans to home/garden, or travel videos that don't trigger our COVID anxiety.

Some of our favorite channels that are not too loud, bright, or jarring:
- Epic Gardening and the Epic Urban Homestead
- Beryl Shereshewsky simple recipes from around the world, extremely upbeat
- Professor of Rock leans heavily 80s and 70s, mostly interviews or talking and not a ton of music
- Girl With The Dogs (my newest 4-minute dopamine delivery system - she's a dog and cat groomer, with a very soothing voice but also really funny, and these also scratch the "watch a satisfying thing" itch as she shampoos/rinses, blow-dries, and de-sheds)
- Babish Culinary Universe Andrew Rea has an incredibly soothing voice
- Laura Kampf and Simone Giertz, who make very cool things
- Foxes Afloat, husbands who live fulltime on a narrowboat, cruising continuously on the UK canal system, extremely high-quality footage of incredibly pastoral scenes, plus history and also a very dog (they are currently waiting on a new boat to be built, but cruising on rentals right now)

Travel videos with no talking, though some have minimal captions in English
- Mari Life, Korean car camping
- Kuga's Travel, Solo Solo Travel, and Solo Travel Japan,
generally trains, ferries, and buses in Japan
- i will always travel for food, Japan
posted by Lyn Never at 12:23 PM on January 8, 2022 [9 favorites]

My "feeling sick, can't function" show is Escape to the Country.

It's very calm people browsing for cottages in the British countryside, and doing little local activities together like making cheese. Generally only polite things are said about the homes, and the scenery is lovely.

You can usually find episodes on YouTube.
posted by champers at 12:29 PM on January 8, 2022 [13 favorites]

There’s a fun show from the UK 🇬🇧 called “Time Team” that has episodes on YouTube. Each episode shows a team of archaeologists going on a three-day dig, and it’s hosted by Tony Robinson, who you might know as Baldrick from the Blackadder series.
posted by holborne at 12:35 PM on January 8, 2022 [9 favorites]

(Just wanted to add that when I need to “rest” but can’t sleep, audiobooks and podcasts also scratch that itch for me)
posted by raccoon409 at 12:42 PM on January 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

The Great Pottery Throw Down (also, seconding GBBO & Repair Shop.) Escape to the Country is in the same vein as these, but have lovely views! Feel better soon!
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 12:51 PM on January 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

In the same vein as bake off, there is the great pottery throw down (I see someone else got there too, on preview) and the great British sewing bee, both non-competitive competitions. The American equivalents I've found in different skill areas are always more snipey. I liked the pottery one more and I have no particular interest in pottery.

Taskmaster (UK edition) has biting humour but is funny and compelling. Most of it's on YouTube for free (certainly the first 8 seasons of 6 eps apiece, an hour an ep) and if you have the time try and watch the episodes in order rather than the 5 minute clip reels.

Michael Portillo's Great British Train Journeys may put you to sleep, but that might be a good thing.

Seconding the Repair Shop. Nice people making people happy and using their hands.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 12:54 PM on January 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

On the fiction side, The Good Witch? Definitely All Creatures level entertainment, but without the long gloves. (And you know about the original All Creatures series from the 80s, right?) Call the Midwife also fits into that category but I haven't watched it to tell you if it has distressing moments.

Maybe also Last of the Summer Wine, which ran for probably 30 years and has some (locally) well known and very good UK comedy actors in.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 1:03 PM on January 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Since you mentioned All Creatures Great and Small, the PBS Video app (also available at PBS Video) has some gentle stuff on it if you haven't checked it out - more if you're a Passport member, but there is a lot of free content too.
posted by wondermouse at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Not actual tv unless you have youtube on your tv—not youtube tv: youtube the site you access on your phone or desktop—for zoning out completely I really like the Norwegian train videos like this: Train Journey to the Norwegian Arctic Circle, WINTER

This one is ten hours long, so you can really turn off the outside world.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 1:44 PM on January 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Nthing Queer Eye. And Portrait Artist of the Year -- some seasons are available on Amazon Prime in the US.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:52 PM on January 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

I am a huge fan of Call the Midwife but it absolutely has distressing moments unfortunately. My comfort viewing when Going Through It was Bake Off but also Antiques Roadshow if there's a way for you to watch - it's just people finding out the value of various tchotchkes at very soothing speed.
posted by MarianHalcombe at 2:21 PM on January 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

My usual recs are covered, so I'll add: if you have HBO Max, they did a few long episodes of a show titled "Calm," in partnership with the Calm meditation app. I watched one or two and they were very engaging, but pleasant and soothing. They have a meditative feel with beautiful imagery associated. The one I remember was something about glass blowing. When I finished watching, I felt refreshed, as if I'd meditated or taken a nap.
posted by bluloo at 2:21 PM on January 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

Hallmark movies
posted by Jacqueline at 2:49 PM on January 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

Absolutely loved The Repair Shop, which is available through various services. Best person is the clock guy, but the best episodes are the ones that involve vintage stuffed animal repair which is always done with the utmost empathy and lightest touch.

For fiction, the movie A Little Chaos is about a female landscape designer hired to make a garden in Versailles by King Louis the XIV starring Kate Winslet. There is some courtly drama and period typical misogyny but it’s mostly a frothy piece about beauty, luck, hard work, and pretty landscapes. There is some death and drama but the trappings of the film make it feel less serious than it ought and everyone you care about ends up okay.
posted by Mizu at 3:00 PM on January 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

My household is also getting through on Time Team and gently educational YouTubes. Perhaps the Pasta Grannies or EV Nautilus would please you.

Commiserations and best wishes!
posted by clew at 3:37 PM on January 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

I know a lot of people remember Last of the Summer Wine very fondly but I had to ask relatives to turn it off when I'm around because it promotes views about male/female relationships that I found very depressing and stressful. ymmv!

If you enjoy Repair Shop (which I did), you may also enjoy Baumgartner Restoration, a channel that's about restoring paintings. (Fewer hankies needed compared to Repair Shop.) Townsends is a channel about daily life in the 18th century. (I don't know if there's any animal distress/butchering or references to period-relevant human suffering in it--not that I've run across so far, but that doesn't mean it's not there. If you need to avoid that kind of thing entirely, you may want to skip the otherwise fun and chill Ancient Recipes with Sohla and the various shows by the crew involved with The Sweetmakers/Tudor Monastery Farm/etc. They're largely sweet and earnest but there are those elements, particularly in the latter.)

Even though it's a "competition" show (with no prizes or eliminations) I get a positive vibe from The Try Guys Without a Recipe series. They just seem to be having such a good time. There are a few gross-out moments; ymmv.

Among the Other Bake Offs I particularly liked The Great Kiwi Bake Off. A recent season may be findable online at the moment. For whatever reason, the NZ version allows contestants to help each other a lot more than the British one does, which is sweet.
posted by wintersweet at 3:50 PM on January 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'll second Escape to the Country and add anything and everything Monty Don for ultra-soothing, surprisingly engaging garden-centric programming. My favorites of his are Big Dreams, Small Spaces, Gardener's World, My Dream Farm, and Monty's Secret History of British Gardens, in that order.
posted by kayzie at 3:55 PM on January 8, 2022 [6 favorites]

I have been binging Michael McIntyre Big Show videos. He is British and so funny but in a wholesome way.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 4:27 PM on January 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yo Gabba Gabba
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 4:36 PM on January 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

My recommendation is Dr. K's Exotic Animal ER, which you can stream on Disney+. It takes place in a vet clinic for exotic animals (i.e. not dogs and cats) in south Florida. Sometimes there are dramatic situations or an animal will have a bad outcome, but I've found it an ENORMOUSLY soothing thing to watch during the pandemic. The vets and staff are so great -- very professional and skilled, but super sweet and kind to each other, to the animals, and to the pet owners. One minute, Dr. K. (the woman who owns the practice) will be doing an incredibly demanding orthopedic surgery on a bird's leg; the next, she's baby-talking a ferret or repeatedly kissing a bunny's head. It has footage of medical procedures and surgery, so if you're squeamish, not the best choice. (BUT IT'S SO GOOD.)
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 4:37 PM on January 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

came to say "the detectorists". i think three seasons. centers on the friendship between two absurdly lost middle aged british men. they connect through their metal detecting club.

it's subtle and sweet.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:56 PM on January 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

kismet. here's Dennis Hartley's film answer, just published.
posted by j_curiouser at 5:32 PM on January 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

My favorite nice TV when I'm not feeling great is Rick Steves's Europe. Some is on Amazon, some is on PBS. Just the nicest guy I can imagine, and no story to follow (so I can nap if I want to).
posted by General Malaise at 5:53 PM on January 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

I'll... add anything and everything Monty Don for ultra-soothing, surprisingly engaging garden-centric programming. My favorites of his are Big Dreams, Small Spaces, Gardener's World, My Dream Farm, and Monty's Secret History of British Gardens, in that order.

Enthusiastic second! I also came here to recommend anything and everything Monty Don. So very soothing. No matter how wrongheaded people are in planning their gardens in "Big Dreams, Small Spaces," Monty Don is unfailingly kind and gentle. He's like the anti-Gordon Ramsey.
posted by Preserver at 5:55 PM on January 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

If you have Netflix, Midnight Diner is a lovely show.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:17 PM on January 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

I love the BBC historic farm series - Tudor Farm was mentioned above - I especially like the victorian and Edwardian farm ones. They live on a historical farm for a year, growing crops, tending animals, and cooking period dishes. The biggest "risk" is "if this crop fails, it would be very bad if we really lived then"
posted by lorimt at 7:14 PM on January 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

One of my go to shows for illness is Lark Rise to Candleford.

Someone mentioned Hallmark movies. There are of course a ton of them, of greatly varying quality. I can recommend a couple to try (both Christmas ones but what the heck ... ). The Nine Lives of Christmas is sweet and includes cats. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is another good one, and has some really funny bits.

Hope you feel better soon.
posted by gudrun at 8:14 PM on January 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

Nthing Lark Rise to Candleford. (It’s my one weakness.)
posted by elphaba at 8:16 PM on January 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

It's not a Hallmark, but 12 Dates of Christmas is on Prime and it's very cute. It's a very predictable time loop, low stakes kind of thing, with the romance (Mark-Paul Gosselaar!) being secondary to the main character learning to look out for people like her lonely neighbor.

You could also try Dash & Lily on Netflix, which is about two teens who leave dares for each other in a notebook.
posted by champers at 6:18 AM on January 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Escape to the Chateau, perhaps? Two middle-aged Brits buy a rundown chateau in the Loire Valley and put in a ton of sweat equity and money to fix it up.
posted by humbug at 7:45 AM on January 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

"Durrells in Corfu" - 4 seasons.
My February sunshine & ocean binge.
posted by Mesaverdian at 10:09 AM on January 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

Many people have mentioned the Great British Bake-Off or spin-offs. I wanted to add something I discovered only recently: they have a Christmas episode and a holiday episode every season! These are even more kind and gentle than the usual kind episodes. The ones with famous people (as opposed to previous contestants) are especially good because the judging is absurdly generous.

[Paul tries a giant pile of blue slop]: "It's maybe a touch messy, but it's got a great flavour! I would eat that at any Christmas party! It's really nice!"
posted by MangoNews at 11:03 AM on January 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

I know it is recommended already above but when I read your question I screamed "Detectorists".
and I had the same reaction to previous requests for recommendations for comfort watching.
So today please indulge me:

Also "Worzel Gummidge ". Not seen it but I understand it is in the same vein (same person, Mackenzie Crook, behind).

Get well soon!
posted by bluedora at 11:18 AM on January 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all so very much. Each suggestion is awesome, and everyone's kindness in responding makes me feel all the feelings. I needed this. I'm so appreciative.
posted by batbat at 4:05 PM on January 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

Do yourself a favor and watch Joe Pera Talks With You from Adult Swim. Just gentle, mid-western comedy with nice people that is super soothing. Totally my go to for comfort watching.
posted by gemmy at 4:46 PM on January 9, 2022 [4 favorites]

When I was recovering from a head injury, I found Alaskan Bush People to be truly soothing. It's a reality TV show about a family living in rural Alaska, and when there is drama it never is too bad or unresolved. I watched the first few seasons; I don't know if it gets stressful later on (or is stressful if you don't have a head injury).
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:35 PM on January 9, 2022

Bob Ross is lovely for this.
posted by CarolynG at 12:53 AM on January 10, 2022 [3 favorites]

The British show “Ghosts” on HBO Max is currently my comfort viewing. There’s an American version currently airing on network tv that is based on the BBC version, and it is OK but not nearly as charming.
posted by xsquared-1 at 5:48 AM on January 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

nthing Joe Pera and Detectorists!
posted by taltalim at 2:25 PM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

My gentle tv/movie list:
Ken Burns' documentaries
Finding Your Roots
Gosford Park. Howards End. A Room with a View. The Wings of the Dove. The Age of Innocence
Frederick Wiseman's National Gallery, and In Jackson Heights
Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World, and Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
Lark Rise to Candleford
Upstairs Downstairs (the original!)
Home Fires
Documentaries about artists, writers, historical figures, archaeology, great civilizations, chill subjects/people

IMDb has a great feature, "More like this." Look up what you like and it gives some good suggestions for... shows like it. :) Feel better soon!!
posted by soakimbo at 6:36 PM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Once a week I dedicate a day to shows I call 'easy living' and I put aside dramas and intense stuff to watch things that make me feel chill and happy. These are the things I like to watch:

Nthing Escape to the Country! It's a really pleasant show. It's incredibly chill to the point where I have to watch it alone most of the time because my household thinks its a bit boring. I love it though. I personally am not into 'reality' style competition shows like Bake Off, but this isn't that-- it's literally just people viewing houses, and it shows a lot of the UK and goes into a bit of history of the county every time which I find pretty interesting. There's an 'Escape to the Continent' version out there too, where they go into Europe, but it's harder to find and there's less of them. EttC has like 30 seasons so, probably easier to find. There's also some spin offs like 'A Place in the Sun.'

The other thing I love watching is NHK World -- which is the world site of the Japanese broadcaster NHK. It is a little like a big advertisement for Japan but despite that it is awesome and has tons of free on demand shows. It's a veritable treasure trove of easy living style shows. Almost all the shows are pleasant and interesting, especially if you have an interest in Japan. My fave shows are Bento Expo and Dining with the Chef though 'Lunch On!' is a great show too. I also love Japanology Plus -- is one of my absolute faves! Occasionally they cover things you would never think is that interesting, like they literally did an episode all about moss, and one about hawaiian shirts! Somehow they make it incredibly intriguing. I highly recommend it, and the Japanophile series of Japanology is also interesting-- it's about foreigners living/working in Japan. Other than that, 'Seasoning the Seasons' is pleasant. There are some interesting docos on there too. Unfortunately one of my fave shows-- Kawaii International was cancelled. If you're into cute stuff, they still have the archives up for the time being. I really hope they bring it back someday. It was such an adorable and fun show.

The other things I watch on my easy living night are anything by George Clarke-- my favorite being 'Amazing Spaces' -- it's a show where people put together a cool project like doing up a van or a small space. There's no competition involved and George Clarke is always very gracious and friendly to the people on the show and their 'bonkers' ideas. Not sure how you'd watch it in the states but its available on Channel 4 in the UK. He has another show which I'm finding interesting called National Trust Unlocked where he goes around the UK and visits historic properties and parks during lockdown when they are empty. His third show I caught recently is 'Old House New Home' and if you like renovation shows this is an especially fun one. Very low drama, and the renovation designs are actually usually very good.

Other honorable mentions for the easy living category: The 'Back in Time for...' series was very interesting, as is 'Victorian Farm' which I watched for the first time recently. They had Victorian Farm rerun on prime, which is where I caught it, but I'm not sure if this is valid for the states.

Lastly, the 'Wild' docos on Disney+ are great, they are by National Geographic I believe. They have a LOT. Wild Russia, Hawaii, Japan, Lapland... etc etc. They are not too intense or graphic (though I haven't seen them all yet so I can't vouch for them all). I think they are all G rated so it should be fine.

So these are some of my feel good shows and I really hope they help in this trying time. Hope you feel better soon.
posted by Dimes at 9:37 PM on January 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

There's a ?show? or ?genre? in Japan of Small Children's First Independent Errand, but with a lot of secret filming, and they are riveting. You know the errand is pretty darn safe even before it's salted with camerapeople, and now there are camerapeople. But to the kids it's High Adventure or sometimes Look a Bug. Can't remember what it's called.
posted by clew at 11:22 AM on January 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

The show clew is thinking of is called My First Errand!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:35 AM on January 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

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