5 TV Shows To Watch When Life Is Just The Pits (Plus An Announcement!)

Psssttt...I'm announcing something fun at the end of this post, but if you just can't keep your pants on in sheer anticipation, you can click here now!

Rough day? Watch some TV! In this post, I'm giving you 5 of my favorite shows to watch when times get tough. Click through to learn more!

Around these parts (these parts being my blog, my life, and my brain), self-care is a big deal. As far as I'm concerned, if you aren't taking care of yourself, it's going to be pretty damn hard to take care of anyone else, ya dig?

And judge me all you want, but one of my favorite ways to take care of myself when life gets bananas is by watching television. There is just something so satisfying about being able to turn off my brain for a minute and let moving colors and shapes dance in front of my tired eyeballs.

In this day and age, TV as a relaxation method is super accessible. With Netflix and other streaming programs, we have a whole world of critically-acclaimed television right at our fingertips whenever we want it. That said, since there are so many shows to sort through, it can be challenging to determine which will help you relax and which ones are, while phenomenal, going to stress you to the bones (ehem, Breaking Bad).

That's where I come in. I watch a whole frickin lot of TV. I watch so much TV that I started a podcast with my husband to justify our TV viewing habits. And since I'm such an avid television consumer, I have quite a few go-to shows I look to whenever I need to recuperate from this weary world.

Looking for a new self-care show to get obsessed with? Here are a few of my favorites (all of which, by the way, are available on Netflix):

The Great British Bake Off (Or The Great British Baking Show in the U.S.)

Via  BBC

Via BBC

Watch this show when you...need to get out of your own head (it's particularly helpful during times of anxiety or when you've pretty much lost all faith in humanity).

You know how a good deal of reality television is dominated by impossibly difficult people screaming things like, "I didn't come here to make friends!" or "PROSTITUTION WHORE-ER!"? While these shows can certainly be a guilty pleasure (or, depending on the program, a sociological adventure), I've found that much of reality TV can end up leaving me feeling overstimulated and slightly on-edge. 

But imagine, if you will, a reality show in which the cast is made up of thirteen truly charming and genuinely wonderful human beings -- the kind of people who literally might say, "Perhaps I did come here to make friends!" Then imagine that these thirteen delightful creatures are super British, and on top of that, they are also amateur bakers -- novice, talented individuals who are just trying their best -- in a competition to win...basically nothing. A cake stand. And esteem. That's really it.

THEN imagine that this seemingly mythical reality show is hosted by two brilliant, iconic British comedians, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, who make everyone they encounter feel both delighted and safely amused. Wouldn't you want to watch such a show on a rainy day?

Well, friend, I have good news: this show exists. It's called The Great British Bake Off (or, inexplicably, The Great British Baking Show in the U.S.), and it's everything you need when times get tough.

The reason why I think GBBO is a fantastic show when it comes to self-care is because it's just one of those depictions of humanity that reminds you that people can be good and life doesn't always have to be a competitive, angry, complicated mess. Sometimes, instead, life can just be full of sweet, simple joys like banoffee pie, custard, and human beings just doing their goddamn best.

The show has been running for six seasons in the UK, but we Americans just caught wind of it last fall. Unfortunately, for us in the States, there is only one season available on Netflix (season 5 and it's wonderful), but if you know your way around the sketchy parts of the Internet, there are certainly ways to access the other five seasons. Just saying...

Bob's Burgers

Via  Fox

Via Fox

Watch this show when you...need to detach from reality (and laugh a lot).

Remember waking up to watch Saturday morning cartoons as a kid? Don't you miss that feeling? Side note: I used to wake up every Saturday at 6 AM just to catch Recess and Pepper Ann. Like, I did this voluntarily. INSANE.

But anyway, now you're an adult with a job, possibly kids, and a whole heap of responsibilities. Who has time for cartoons?

You do. Or at least you have time for one.

Bob's Burgers is an animated show about the Belchers and their family-owned burger restaurant. It features the comedic talents of H. Jon Benjamin, Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, and so many others (seriously, it's just a huge pile of cameos from all of your favorite comedians).

Obviously, I recommend this show because, hello, it's hilarious, and who couldn't use a good laugh during hard times, right? But more than that, I love Bob's Burgers because it doesn't take its audience down any dark, uber-thought-provoking paths that many other adult animated shows seem to be fond of. While those series definitely have their place and merits (The Simpsons, for example, is one of my favorite TV shows of all time), there is something so nice and fresh about a show with a family that just enjoys each other and has mild adventures from the comfort of their family-owned restaurant.

Plus, Tina Belcher is, in my humble opinion, one of TV's all-time greatest characters and possibly my feminist role model. 

30 Rock

Via  NBC

Via NBC

Watch this show when you...need to marvel at comedic genius (and feel slightly better about yourself).

Speaking of feminist icons, this list would not be complete without an appearance from this Tina Fey masterpiece. 30 Rock, the NBC comedy that chronicles the life of Liz Lemon, a TV writer just trying to have it all, is my all-time favorite TV show. 

All. Time. Favorite. No takebacksies.

30 Rock moves at a pace that is both fast and truly mesmerizing. I have seen each episode no less than twenty times, and I still find myself surprised and delighted by jokes I hadn't quite noticed before. 

As a self-care measure, 30 Rock is fantastic in that it helps you escape into a world in which people are these hyperbolized, almost cartoonish versions of the bizarre humans you know in real life. There is Tracy Jordan (played by Tracy Morgan) who lives far beyond the confines of reality and is always trying to fill his home aquarium with sharks. There's Kenneth The Page (Jack McBrayer) who is mysteriously ageless, forever optimistic, and incidentally sporting a Hitler youth haircut. Then there's Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) whose insecurities are so deep that she gets jealous of the soft skin of babies.

And then, of course, there is our star, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), a woman who eats cheese at home in a Snuggie, wears a one-piece bathing suit as underwear on laundry day, and not only has her fly open, but there is a pencil sticking out of it. Liz will make you feel both understood for the sometimes-mess that you are while also making you feel slightly better that your life is in somewhat of a lesser degree of shambles.

Fixer Upper

Via  HGTV

Via HGTV

Watch this show when you...feel broken, in need of fixing.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have STRONG opinions about HGTV shows. They all seem to follow a similar theme: need house >> find house >> house is not that great >> fix house >> everyone cries. But some of these shows are so staged and weirdly confrontational (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, LOVE IT OR LIST IT AND HOUSE HUNTERS) that they can be far from relaxing television.

Fixer Upper, however, is the HGTV series that gets it right. The show features Chip and Joanna Gaines, a contractor and a designer respectively, who fix up homes in Waco, TX (btdubs, I used to live there!). Chip and Joanna do this remarkable thing for a married couple on television, something virtually unheard of on a HGTV show: they get along. Like, they seem to actually like each other. And y'all, it is a treat to watch. Truly, these are just good people making dreams come true. Plus, Joanna's design sense is so spot on that every single home reveal is just absolute eye candy. 

Oh, and did I mention, one of my dear friends, Kaley, was on the show once? Becaaaaause she super was. 

Gilmore Girls (Seasons 1-5)

Via  Nerdist

Watch this show when you...need to be reminded that the problems of life are actually pretty low-stakes (and when you want to escape to a small Connecticut town)

Gilmore Girls, as you likely know, follows mother-and-daughter, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore (played by Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel). Lorelai is a young mom who became pregnant at sixteen-years-old and has since developed a strained relationship with her high-society parents. The two women live in Stars Hollow, a fictional small town in Connecticut, that features colorful and highly-caffeinated characters. 

Now, I love this show, but over the years, I've come to realize that Gilmore Girls can be pretty polarizing. Either you love it for all of its fast-talking wittiness or you hate it for its fast-talking incessancy. Either way, you're not wrong.

But here's why I love this show when it comes to self-care: as a viewer, Gilmore Girls transports you to a small-town world where everyone knows your name and no one is forgotten. Everyone gathers every morning at Luke's Diner and spends every major holiday celebrating in the town square. It's just a nice thought.

More than anything, though, I love Gilmore Girls because it's a show that features low-stakes drama. Lorelai is never diffusing a bomb or fighting a White Walker or anything like that. She is simply misunderstood by her parents and feels conflicted in her various romantic entanglements. Rory doesn't have to escape from a moving vehicle or lead an army into battle. She just has to make good grades and figure out how to say, "I love you" to her boyfriend. No big whoop.

It's a good reminder that many of the problems of life are really, for the most part, fairly low-stakes in nature. We like to think that they are big, terrifying, earth-shattering dilemmas, but really, they aren't. Thanks for the life lessons, Gilmore Girls!

OH, but PS. Seasons 6 & 7 are in no way relaxing to watch. In fact, they are super depressing and, at times, lame. You have been warned.

What is your favorite TV show to watch when you need some self-care?

By the way, while we're on the subject of self-care, I wanted to let you in on something pretty crazy exciting that I have in the works that I think you're going to want to take part in...

Friends, I've created a FREE AS ALL HELL email series called De-Funked!

You'll definitely want to sign up for this if --

1. You've lately been feeling like you're in a bit of a funk. Perhaps you've been in a crappy mood or you've been lacking in motivation or you've been feeling a lot like busting some heads and you don't really even know why.

2. You're doing pretty okay, but you'd like to prepare yourself for any future funks that may be coming your way.

3. You enjoy receiving fun emails from someone who has a bizarre sense of humor and who cares about you.

All next week, I'll be popping into folks' inboxes with some encouragement, joy, and a few simple but powerful challenges to help you go from defunct to de-funked (GET IT?! IT'S A PUN! I FINALLY MADE A PUN, MA!)

Sound like your kind of thing? The first email goes out this Monday, June 8th, so be sure to sign up below! 

Pilot Party Podcast is LAUNCHED (Episode 01 | Grey's Anatomy)

Do you like TV? If not, what's wrong with you? Or wait, I'm sorry, were you raised on a boat or something? I imagine children raised on boats probably don't watch a lot of television because there's all of that work to do -- the swabbing the deck and the anchoring the sails or whatever. Plus, I imagine salt water damage is something parents worry about when considering whether or not to have a TV aboard.

But anyway, unless you were raised on a boat (or in the Amish country or a cave dwelling of some kind), you essentially have no excuse not to love TV. To know TV is to love TV. 

And since you love TV, you'll likely agree with me that something that is especially compelling about it is its capacity for development. Many other storytelling platforms -- books, films, theater -- are all kind of digested in one big gulp. Yes, there are story arcs that advance characters along, but there is something truly unparalleled about the episodic nature of television. Not only does the story change, but so do the storytellers. New writers come in. New wardrobe, new producers, new light techs. Hell, Darrin on Bewitched and Aunt Viv on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air literally end up being played by different actors AND SOMEHOW WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO NOTICE THIS! 

My husband, Daniel, and I were talking about this recently over pizza -- about how a show's beginning is sometimes a terrible indicator of what it will eventually become. Specifically, we were talking about TV pilots: that first episode of a series used to pitch a show to a network. Even some of my favorite shows -- 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Gilmore Girls -- have pilot episodes that feel like totally watered down versions of the show. 

But even so, a good pilot, even if it's awkward and the lighting is weirdly low and the lead character's hair looks like it was styled at SuperCuts -- even then, it often provides glimmers of what the series could become. It's a bit like life that way (for example, even though I had a massively oily forehead throughout most of my adolescence, I like to think that you could still tell I was going to become a functional adult). In our pizza-fueled conversation, that's what Daniel and I became fixated on: what a pilot, however bad it may be, has to tell us about the future of a TV series.

And that's when Daniel uttered the dangerous words: "THIS SHOULD BE A PODCAST!"

Friends...Daniel and I have started a podcast! 

It's called Pilot Party and it's about -- you guessed it -- TV pilots! Every episode, we'll select a new pilot to review (preferably one that you can access via streaming on Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo, etc.) Sometimes we will have in-depth knowledge about the entire series. Sometimes we will be going in blind. Also, sometimes we will *think* we have in-depth knowledge, but in actuality, we'll just end up talking out of our butts. Hope that's cool with you. 

In this first episode (OUR PILOT EPISODE), we are talking about the pilot of Grey's Anatomy, the massively popular medical TV drama created by the incomparable Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, Private Practice, How To Get Away With Murder). This pilot follows Meredith Grey (played by Ellen Pompeo) on her first day on the job as a resident surgeon at Seattle Grace Hospital. Naturally, in our discussion of this episode, Daniel and I are sharing our "first day of work" stories and endlessly debating the likability of the litany of characters to whom we are introduced.

Just a heads up, this is a series Daniel has watched a considerable amount of and that I've seen only on-occasion. Not only do we share plot points from future seasons (soooo SPOILER ALERT), but we also get some stuff wrong. We want to be upfront about that because we don't want people to throw rotted garbage at us as we pass them on the street.

Here are a few things we got wrong in this first episode:

1. I accuse George O'Malley, played by T.R. Knight, of being a giant baby (because he spends much of the pilot episode drinking out of a juice box and toddling around the hospital). I've since learned that he is basically everyone's favorite character on the show, so in order to avoid alienating our entire audience before we even begin, I retract my statements (sort of).

2. We got the name of hospital where the entire series takes place wrong. Whoops. 

3. We mention that a character later dies, but actually, they just get injured (by an icicle). Oopsy doopsy.

If you want to follow along with this pilot episode of Grey's Anatomy, you can find it on Netflix, or you can use this episode summary as a little refresher. 

So without further adieu, here's our first episode of Pilot Party:

We actually recorded this way back in January and have since recorded two subsequent episodes (you can look forward to our discussions on Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl soon! Not sure why we started out with such intense lady dramas, but trust me, we'll be diversifying eventually). If you have a TV series you are dying to see us cover, feel free to leave it in the comments or shoot us an email at pilotpartypodcast@gmail.com. 

Thanks a million for joining us on this goofy journey! I know it's a bit of a side step from my usual christyoshoney.com business, but whatever, we're just having fun and we hope we help you have some too. 

P.S. If you like TV and what we're doing here, you can subscribe to Pilot Party on iTunes (or your preferred podcatcher). A quick note about this particular episode: the one that is up on our iTunes feed is an older version that has a small glitch in it (basically we accidentally cut out our introduction to Katherine Heigl's character...uh oh...she'd hate that). We have since fixed it, but it won't update until tomorrow. Apologies for this, however, if you listen via this page or on our Soundcloud, the correct version is up. We're learning! We're scrappy! Forgive us!

P.P.S. You already know how to find me, but if you want to learn more about my cohost, Daniel, you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram

P.P.P.S. I love you.