We’ve spent most of this year talking about how ~unprecedented~ these times are, but now that Election Day has come and gone, it feels like the last seven months were just a fun appetizer for a totally hellish main course. While we still await results in many important races, it can be tempting to spend 14 hours a day watching CNN, but that’s honestly not wise (or necessary). Remember, your mental health is as important as ever, and you can be a responsible, informed citizen without refreshing Twitter every 10 seconds.
For that reason, I wanted to put together a list of some TV shows that might be just what you need to take a little mental break from the unbridled chaos that’s happening in the world right now. The shows on this list are a mix of new and old, reality and scripted, but for various reasons, they’re all better than the nightmare purgatory situation we’re currently facing. Put your phone on airplane mode, crack a new bottle of wine, and enjoy your binging.
If You’re Obsessively Checking The Results: ‘The West Wing’ (Netflix)
Okay, it might seem dumb to recommend a show about politics to escape the torment of real world politics, but it’s a better strategy than you might think. The West Wing was born out of a time when (most) politicians weren’t literally evil, and it’s a political drama with interesting storylines and characters you can actually root for. The writing is top-notch, and a West Wing binge will give you a few weeks to fantasize about what it would be like to live in a functioning democracy.
If You Need To Fully Turn Your Brain Off: ‘Selena + Chef’ (HBO Max)
Bear with me. When I heard that Selena Gomez was getting a cooking show, I rolled my eyes, but Selena + Chef is surprisingly great. Filmed during quarantine earlier this year, Selena gets a Zoom cooking lesson from a different professional chef each episode. It’s a ton of fun—Selena’s grandparents meander in and out of the kitchen giving unsolicited commentary, and she almost hurts herself at least once an episode. The food also looks incredible, if you’re getting back into a cooking phase for round two of lockdown.
If You Need To Laugh Through The Tears: ‘PEN15’ (Hulu)
PEN15 is definitely one of Hulu’s buzzier shows, and a ton of people have started watching since season 2 came out earlier this fall. If you haven’t watched yet, now is the time. The show stars two 30-something women playing their middle school selves, and it’s both hilarious and uncomfortable in a way that feels strangely cathartic. I think I can safely say that middle school was traumatic for most of us, and PEN15 is exactly what I needed to finally process that trauma.
If You’re Trying To Pretend Everything Isn’t A Mess: ‘Get Organized with The Home Edit’ (Netflix)
You’re either going to love or hate this show, but even though I fell firmly in the “hate” column, I still couldn’t stop watching it. These two women, Clea and Joanna, have a home organization business that’s huge on Instagram (they’re behind Khloé Kardashian’s famous cookie jars), and in the show they help out a mix of celebrities and normal people with their projects. This style of organization definitely isn’t for everyone—everything is in clear bins and categorized in rainbow order—but there’s something incredibly satisfying about watching them work. It’s basically the opposite philosophy of Marie Kondo, but with the same overall effect.
If You Want Chaos To Distract From The Chaos: ‘Dance Moms’ (Hulu/Lifetime)
I started rewatching Dance Moms last month, and I had forgotten how truly wild of a ride it is. Life might feel stressful right now, but nothing compares to the stress of 9-year-olds being yelled at by Abby Lee because they dropped their hat during the group dance. Dance Moms is over 200 episodes of pure reality chaos, and there’s also a Dance Moms corner of TikTok that is beyond hilarious. If you need me later today, I’ll probably be crying watching a compilation of Maddie’s solos.
If You Need To Be Transported To A Simpler Time: ‘The O.C.’ (HBO Max)
Personally, I feel like The O.C. hasn’t gotten the throwback boost it deserves, and it’s time we fix that. Gilmore Girls and Gossip Girl are great, but Seth Cohen and Marissa Cooper need our attention too. Especially now that winter is basically here, it seems like the perfect time to watch drama unfold against the sunny SoCal backdrop. Thankfully, all four seasons are available on HBO Max, so I don’t want to hear any complaints about not having anything to watch.
If You Find Murder Cases Oddly Comforting: ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Season 2 (Netflix)
I do realize the whole point of the show is they discuss an unsolved mysterious death, but the murder part is heavily implied. I’m not sure what it is about true crime content that can be at once so morbidly frightening and comforting, but if that’s what gets you going, Netflix recently dropped season 2 of its dark remake of Unsolved Mysteries just in time. Honestly, you might have better luck solving these cold cases than you would trying to make sense of the Electoral College map, so go nuts.
Or, if all else fails, you can always watch Friends or Parks & Rec for the 100th time. Trust me, no one is judging. Whatever happens, it’s going to be okay, just make sure you take care of yourself.
Images: Erica Parise/Hulu; Giphy (6)