10 Comfort TV Shows and Movies to Watch as You Practice Social Distancing
There’s comfort food and comfort TV. And at times of emotional uncertainty and political upheaval, comfort TV is a welcomed distraction. It can be thrills, comedies or just fun mysteries. As Judy Garland sang: “Forget your troubles. Come on get happy. You better chase all your cares away.”
There are loads of shows to choose from — on free and paid streamers alike. Here are 10 to keep your spirits up:
1. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon Prime Video)
Not only is the art direction and acting superb, but the saga of Miriam Maisel, the captivating nice Jewish girl eager to become a star comic in the unforgiving ’50s is a profile in courage. Rachel Brosnahan may be the Emmy-winning title star, but as her equally lauded agent Susie (Alex Borstein) is a scream. These proto-feminists prove we all need a Susie in our lives. And as Miriam’s father, Tony Shalhoub demonstrates his endless versatility. Who else explains marriage by noting: “You want a husband who would take a bullet for you. Not one who points to the attic and says, ‘they’re up there!’”
2. The Office (Netflix)
The story of bored office workers at a Scranton paper company captures every weird, quirky and outrageous aspect of office life. But hands down, the episode widely considered the best is Season 4 Episode 13 “The Dinner Party.” If the goal is to make Jan and Michael’s guests as uncomfortable as possible, score!
3. Mom (Hulu)
Oscar-winner Allison Janney plays a narcissistic recovering alcoholic who regularly attends AA meetings. It may not sound funny, but it is. Credit creator Chuck Lorre, the man responsible for “The Big Bang Theory” and “Young Sheldon.” Her friends are all in recovery, as is her spunky daughter (Anna Faris). The show notes the darker side of addiction, yet retains a sense of friendship and hope. All eight seasons aired first on CBS, but you can catch up on Hulu.
4. Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple (Hulu)
Geraldine McEwan, the most pixyish of the actresses to play the insightful and beloved sleuth, is a wonder to behold. Miss Marple doesn’t doubt the wickedness in ordinary people and her steel-trap mind never mistakes illusion for reality. The beautifully produced series of cozy mysteries often features episodes with acclaimed British actors.
5. Champions (Netflix)
The Office’s Mindy Kaling was the executive producer of this one-season sitcom. Two brothers own a gym, but one, hoping to escape to Florida, suddenly discovers he has a 15-year-old gay son by his teenage prom date (also Kaling). Now, the super-sophisticated kid wants to live with the gym rat in Brooklyn and attend a performing-arts school. The scenes with the boy and bachelor-turned father are priceless. Also check out “Community” Season 1 to 6 — a funny show about misfits who become friends in a community college.
6. Addams Family Values (Amazon Prime Video)
The kooky family is the macabre creation of Charles Addams, a New Yorker cartoonist. His drawings were first popular as cartoons, then a 1960s TV show and finally, a series of films. The “Addams Family Values” movie, the sequel to “The Addams Family” in 1991, posits the darkly comic crew trying to rescue Uncle Fester from a gold-digging black widow named Debbie. Costume and set design are top-notch, and the sassy digs never get old.
7. Slings & Arrows (Acorn TV)
This multi-award winning Canadian comedy, about a dysfunctional actor/director and Shakespearean theater troupe, is three seasons of superb entertainment. Talk about drama queens! It’s a behind-the-scenes battle royal, aided by smart, sassy story lines and a first-rate ensemble.
8. Toy Story/Frozen (Disney+)
“Toy Story,” the first entirely computer-animated feature film, spawned three more welcomed spinoffs. It’s clever, touching and memorable. The debut begins in 1995, when Woody (Tom Hanks) a cowboy doll and young Andy’s favorite, is threatened by new action figure Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). A special shout-out to Don Rickles, who plays a wisecracking Mr. Potato Head with verve. It’s always about banding together and discovering there’s enough love to go around. “Toy Story” appeals to all ages. Of course, Disney+ has a treasure trove of animated wonders: “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad,” “The Sword in the Stone,” “Fantasia.”
The great thing about “Frozen” — it turns all the fairy-tale clichés of the handsome prince rescuing a pretty girl on its head. This is a life lesson in female empowerment — and the understanding we often discover love when it’s least expected. The animated movie was fashioned into a zippy Broadway musical, too.
9. Battlestar Galactica (Syfy)
For sci-fi fans, this multilayered drama works on so many levels — space battles, the issue of militarism and human rights during a crisis. But it comes with commercials, so go with the flow.
10. Kingdom (Hulu)
Stephen Fry plays Peter Kingdom, a country solicitor in Norfolk, a seaside country, where he takes over his brother’s law practice after he mysteriously disappears. The town is filled with characters and the gentle British comedy is not only about a rather eccentric family, but a treatise on what we owe each other as part of a community. It’s touching and comforting.
In addition, Tubi offers loads of sitcoms from the 1960s,’70s and ‘’80s — “The Patty Duke Show” to “Alf.” On the movie front, the romantic “Midnight in Paris” to “Desperately Seeking Susan,” Madonna’s film breakthrough, a wacky mystery that captures her independent spirit.