The lure of the comfort show – you’ve moved into your accommodation, grabbed the best shelf in the fridge (the top one), unpacked your stuff in Tetris-style piles around your room and now you’re at a loose end. Maybe other people are still unpacking, the drinking hasn’t started yet, or maybe you just caught Fresher’s Flu really early.
Either way, at some point during the week it’s going to be a good idea to give yourself – and your liver – a break and curl up in your bed with some hot chocolate and some good TV.
- How I Met Your Mother
Despite its divisive ending, HIMYM entertained audiences for 9 years with the lives of teenage sweetheart couple Marshall and Lily, playboy Barney, Ted’s ex-girlfriend Robin and the Father himself, Ted. The show’s innovative use of flashback to tell the main narrative, and also to showcase hilarious episodes from the friends’ pasts, mark some of the funniest moments, as well as Barney’s genius social theories (see: the Hot/Crazy Scale) immortalised in ‘The Bro Code’.
- Doctor Who
In the mood for a bit of action and adventure to go with your comedy? The focus on the Doctor and his companion’s enthusiasm for new places and experiences drives the show, is paired perfectly with the whodunnit/whatisit/wherethehellarewe plotline of each episode which keeps the show entertaining and fun whilst also allowing room for character development. Warning: if you’re in need of a pick-me-up, be careful which episode you choose e.g. that one at the end of Series 2 with Rose and the parallel universe? Just don’t.
It’s all in the title. For those who are having traumatic visions of flamboyant musical numbers and cheesy, show choir-related drama… yeah, there’s a fair bit of that, but sit on your cynicism for 40 minutes and give series 1 and 2 a try (at no point continue to the later series). Features often ingeniously reworked pop songs alongside golden oldies and the courage to tackle pertinent social issues accompanied by a vibrant, funny cast of characters.
- Parks and Recreation
Set in the fictional American town of Pawnee, Indiana, the show takes the mockumentary filming format of The Office and relocates it to local government Parks and Recreation department. It’s tough to pick a favourite out of the hilarious supporting cast, but Ron Swanson the anti-capitalist libertarian head of the department comes closest, followed by the blindly optimistic Andy, played by Chris Pratt (most recently seen guarding the galaxy). I challenge you to watch 20 minutes of Amy Poehler as the hyperactive, indomitable Leslie Knope without vowing to achieve that level of happiness and pro-activity in your own life. Warning: side-effects can include a craving for breakfast foods and waffles.
- Childhood Shows
If it’s all getting a bit much, go the tried and tested nostalgia route and Youtube some of your favourite shows from when you were about 10. Seriously, just go and watch some That’s So Raven. And after that there’s a whole 5 series of the original Tracy Beaker, not to mention classics like Drake & Josh, and Lizzie McGuire (remember Hilary Duff?). Plus, if you’re more in the mood for cartoons, there’s no problem a couple of episodes of Scooby Doo won’t fix.
And finally, the comfort show to top all comfort shows…
The theme tune alone will bring a smile to the most miserable person’s face. Many people grew up with the ups and downs of the friends’ lives, and what better way to forget about your own problems and responsibilities than to watch 6 familiar, well-loved characters struggle with, and overcome their problems and responsibilities? Friends reminds us not only that competence in life is a process – you start off as Series 1 Rachel and eventually find yourself getting off a plane as Series 10 Rachel – but also that it’s a lot easier to get there when you’re surrounded by a group of people you love. Altogether now: “I’ll be there for you…”