by Hayley Doyle
For many, January is bringing the aftermath of a normal Christmas. While we are grateful for having kissed goodbye to some major effects of the pandemic, this time of year can certainly bring on the blues. Even if the sky tells you otherwise…
No matter what climate you’re experiencing, everybody needs a duvet day. The urge to devour the latest episodes of chilling true crime shows is strong, especially with big-shot names attached to certain productions, such as Jessica Biel and Ryan Murphy. But will that make you feel good? Probably not.
In the depths of lockdown, people were tuning into more light-hearted escapism. Instead of finding out how a person’s body was chopped into a thousand pieces, the need to invest in loveable, relatable characters and heart-warming plots became a trend for after-dinner binge-fests. A popular choice was Schitt’s Creek, a sitcom about the mega-rich Rose family who lose their fortune and are reduced to living together in a dingy motel. Due to the bleakness of real life, Johnny, Moira, David and Alexis became everybody’s new best friends, along with Twyla, Jocelyn, Roland and Stevie. Rooting for this unlikely bunch gave telly addicts some positive focus and once an episode ended, it was like you’d just been given a warm hug. The nature of the show catapulted its cast to stardom and made Schitt’s Creek go from well-received to globally adored.
So if you’re reluctant to get out and socialise, but want to feel fuzzy around adorable characters in the comfort of your own home, here are some gorgeous long-running picks, with endless episodes to get you through the dreariest month of the year. What’s more, they all have ensemble casts, so get ready to meet your new BFFs.
Jason Sudeikis leads a stunning cast of misfits as Ted, the American football coach hired to manage the fictional Premiership football team, AFC Richmond. What he lacks in knowledge, he certainly makes up for in optimism, determination and biscuits. You don’t have to like football to fall head over heels in love with this series. Even the unlikeable characters are totally likeable! By the end of every episode, you’re challenged to not say, “Ahhh,” with a smile on your face, and wanting to see the sparkle in everyday glumness. It’s also packed with killer one-liners, integrity and a clever clash of British and US humour.
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel
This one is worth watching purely for the talents of Rachel Brosnahan, who plays the title role. Set in 1950s New York, elegant housewife Midge decides to put her smart quips and witty observations to the test… onstage. Yes, in a time when only men were thought of as funny, Midge Maisel gets on the mic with dreams of being a standup comedian. This show is fast-paced with ups and downs, laughs, and its fair share of drama. But at its core is a show that delivers a strong message about adversity; no matter what life throws at you, you'll always be able to push through and do things you didn’t know you were capable of.
Call the Midwife
Originally based on the memoirs of nurse, Jennifer Worth, this BBC drama - now on its 12th season - is embedded in the winter Sunday night slot. About a group of midwives in the East End of London during the 50s and 60s, the stories are based on fact and feature the most colourful characters. It’s impossible to have a dry eye by the end of each episode. Nothing gives the tingles more than seeing babies being born to uplifting music! The script is carefully considered, with some philosophical words from central characters, and despite the poverty of Poplar back then, you’ll find yourself wishing you were part of that tight-knit community.
The Office (US)
Nobody does feel-good comedy like Steve Carell. Even when he’s playing the world’s most annoying office manager, you can’t help but love him! Inspired by Ricky Gervais’ genius British series, the US version has the original vibes for sure but soon breathes life into its own. For character development, this show is second to none. How they’ve managed to cate a soul-destroying, boring office that seems like the most awesome place to work is unbelievable. Invest your time in this and you’ll never regret it. Your life will be forever enriched with Dwight, Jim, Pam and of course, Michael Scott.
This BBC sitcom is a bit of a hidden gem. Starring Lesley Manville as “the mum” Cathy, the series is set pretty much entirely in her very average, normal English home, as she mourns her husband's death. As she tries to move on in the years that follow, each episode sees Cathy attempting to rebuild her life, surrounded by her problematic family and friends. This is observational comedy at its finest, complete with awkward situations, loveable idiots and heartfelt moments throughout.
This Is Us
It tends to cause a divide… those who are obsessed with it, and those who believe it’s too sentimental! But if you want to dive into fully-fleshed characters with amazing backstories, mixed with terrific acting and monologues to make you stop and think, you will love this. The whole series follows the Pearson family in the modern day, with flashes not only backwards, but also forwards, as the viewer witnesses a whole family's existence from start to finish. The struggles and journey of every character is revealed; even characters you won’t expect to have an impact, do! Word of warning though, this is definitely one that needs a lot of tissues.
American romantic comedy anthology series that can be binged over a couple of nights. The first series stars Anna Kendrick as Darby and follows her first romance until her last romance. The idea is to show how the people we're with along the way make us into who we are when we finally end up with someone forever. Darby has friends that you’ll want to adopt as your own and her relationships are relatable, possibly triggering your own experiences. There is a gorgeous arc to this series, and a second series is now out with a brand-new story and cast.
This is reality TV without the trash! Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go back to school with all your old school friends… but as an adult? What was the highlight of your school days? For many, it was getting involved in the school play! Well, this Disney+ series reunites the real cast members of old high school musicals to recreate their performance years after they originally performed. Viewers are given an insight into how people’s lives have turned out and you won’t be able to hold back the tears when they get to relive their performing experience, now that they have experience.
The Good Place
Eleanor, a deceased saleswoman who lived a morally corrupt life, finds herself in an airy-fairy heaven-like afterlife in a case of mistaken identity. But of course, in a morally corrupt way, she tries to hide her past in order to stay there. Starring the super versatile Kristen Bell as Eleanor, she is joined by TV hero Ted Danson and later in the series, everybody’s favourite funny woman, Maya Rudolph. In fact, the whole cast is sensational, taking fantasy comedy to a whole new level and leaving you questioning your morals and existence at every crazy turn along the way.
How could a list of feel-good telly be complete without this one? And the recommendation is to start from the very beginning and watch it all in order. Of course, each episode stands alone with its perfect comedic formula, but witnessing the rises and falls of our six most famous friends from start to finish allows you to really understand the stages they go through, for example, Ross’ rage! They are all on a journey and it's remarkable how it was all told via 240 hilarious episodes, with not a single one dropping in standard.