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10 Comfort TV Shows Bound to Cheer You Up on a Bad Day

Pop Culture

June 29, 2023

When scouring the internet for the perfect mental healthcare practices or mood lifters, the top search results are always the same: speaking with trusted ones, journaling, meditating, discovering new hobbies. Although these are all wonderful suggestions, sometimes, all people really need is a good escape from reality that would allow them to take the time they need to find their bearings before facing music.

And let's be honest, is there any better way to do this than with a good binge-able television show? Plus points if they get a good laugh out of it.

So if you're not feeling your best at the moment, don't worry! It's totally normal, and it happens to everyone. Just grab your favorite snacks, snuggle into your warmest blanket, and hit play on these 10 amazing series. You'll be sure to find yourself along the way.

1. Modern Family

“I’m gonna share that one with my next husband when we’re spending your money.” — Gloria Pritchett

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Synopsis: In Modern Family, the intertwining and ever-chaotic lives of three families— the blended one of patriarch Jay Pritchett, the nuclear one of his daughter Claire, and the same-sex one of his son Mitchell— serve as the foundation for tears, lessons, and a lot of laughs.

Commentary: For once, I bring the best to first, because Modern Family is certifiably the single show that means the most to me. I grew up alongside the lovably messy Delgado-Pritchetts, Dunphies, and Tucker-Pritchetts, having their laughter and voices accompany late nights spent perfecting dioramas, boiling summers laying uselessly on the floor, and one seemingly endless plane ride after another.

If my ability to perfectly recite each episode of Seasons 4 to 6 serves as any indication, this show is a must-see, whether or not sitcoms are your typical cup of tea. Viewers easily fall in love with the characters and their dynamics, and it’s sure to make anyone laugh, cringe, and cry.

Lesson: Most families, no matter their shape or size, are worth standing by.

Three Characters to Stick Around For:

  1. Phil Dunphy
  2. Gloria Pritchett
  3. Andy Bailey

2. The O.C.

“Oh, I get it. I’m just here for the comic relief.” — Seth Cohen

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Synopsis: As the easygoing, West Coast version of Gossip Girl (having been brought to life by the same producer, Josh Schwartz), The O.C. follows the lives of wealthy Newport Beach residents Marissa Cooper, Summer Roberts, and Seth Cohen, alongside troubled teen Ryan Atwood, whom the Cohens take in.

Commentary: Because of its similar characters and dynamics (I mean, Blair and Summer? Serena and Marissa?), The O.C. has had its fair share of comparisons with its East Coast counterpart.

In my opinion, however, the former has something the latter does not: heart. Viewers still get a good taste of wealth and privilege, yet in the process find personalities they love and are willing to stand by. Romantic plotlines are hilarious, healthy, and relatively simple, and even without the scenery, The O.C. simply seems to radiate the warmth and vibrancy of California.

Lesson: Celebrate being alive. Party, dance, make mistakes, fall in love. You’re only here for a little while.

Three Characters to Stick Around For:

  1. Seth Cohen
  2. Sandy Cohen
  3. Summer Roberts

3. Derry Girls

“Look, I wanted to be an individual but my ma wouldn’t let me.” — Erin Quinn

Synopsis: In the midst of the Irish Troubles, Catholic schoolgirls Erin, Michelle, Claire, and Orla, alongside Englishman (and usual victim of their ridicule) James, experience friendship, loss, and the ins and outs of young adulthood.

Commentary: Derry Girls is an ultimate comfort. You can’t help but admire the tenacity of such a raucous and eccentric group, who simply wish to make the absolute most of their girlhood (well, then there’s James) despite all the chaos and misfortune that surrounds them. For anyone searching for a friend group that is hilarious and feels like family, you can’t go wrong with Derry Girls.

Lesson: It’s just life. Don’t take it too seriously. Be crazy and foolish, young and alive.

Three Characters to Stick Around For:

  1. James Maguire
  2. Michelle Mallon
  3. Sister Michael

4. Veep

"I, as President of the United States, have actually achieved something. Which is virtually unheard of." — Selina Meyer

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Synopsis: Behind the crisp suits and practiced eloquence of the American political sphere is a harsh reality: mess, schemes, and taunts. Veep tackles it all as Selina Meyer, the first female Vice President, and her tumultuous core team navigate Washington, D.C. and the numerous personalities it presents.

Commentary: Despite its stream of awards, Veep tends to be one of the most underrated shows I’ve ever stumbled upon. It shocks me how little people have gotten to bask in the absolute chaos that is Selina Meyer, from her scandals and absolutely deadly quips to her hilarious outbursts.

Whether you’re cringing at the Veep’s latest misstep, sighing over Gary’s subservience, or secretly (and yeah, maybe toxically) rooting for Jonah and Amy, Veep is sure to be a good time. Real-life politics are stressful and complicated; take a break and let the system entertain you.

Lesson: Let’s face it— no one’s “got it together” as well as it seems.

Three Characters to Stick Around For:

  1. Selina Meyer
  2. Gary Walsh
  3. Amy Brookheimer

5. Never Have I Ever

“I left a funeral to be by your side after Nick Jonas married an Indian woman that wasn’t you.” — Fabiola Torres

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Synopsis: Never Have I Ever follows the obstreperous Devi Vishwakumar, who emerges from a life-altering tragedy ready to dump her nerdy, unpopular persona in favor of a cooler, more experienced one. The first step to doing so? Getting with the most popular boy in school, Paxton Hall-Yoshida. Over the course of four seasons, Devi makes and breaks friendships, experiences all kinds of love, and finds her place in her Indian identity and her multigenerational household.

Commentary: Devi is surely a tenacious persona, but you know who else was tenacious throughout the show? Me, while watching it. Because my favorite girl from Sherman Oaks is an absolute menace and chaos demon, start to finish, through and through, and I still can’t help but love her. At the rate they— and I, honestly— are going, Devi Defenders have joined the ranks of Swifties and Directioners, ready to die on the hills of their idols.

Never Have I Ever had a moment of peace as I binged this show, but it’s one hilarious, heartwarming, relatable ride, and I could never recommend it enough.

Lesson: Life won’t go as planned, and you’re going to make mistakes. Go with the flow, find amazing people to stand by you, and enjoy the ride.

Three Characters to Stick Around For:

  1. Kamala Nandiwadal
  2. Nalini Vishwakumar
  3. Trent Harrison

And if we're giving out extra slots, Aneesa Qureshi is definitely in the upper tier!

6. Jane the Virgin

"I love you because you're my best friend, and I want to grow old with you. And right now, I am confused about every single thing in my life, except you." — Jane Villanueva

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Synopsis: Having grown up in a dichotomous household with a spirited, liberated mother and her conservative mother, Jane Villanueva takes pride in her chastity. When a mix-up at the gynecologist’s office, however, leads to her being accidentally artificially inseminated, Jane soon finds her life turned upside-down.

Commentary: If there’s one thing I can guarantee from this show, it’s that, once you’re done with it, the gentle strums of Jane’s Love Theme will never not remind you of family and warmth. It didn’t take me long to grow attached to pretty much every character on the show (I mean, Jane? Xo? Raf? Alba? Petra? The list goes on), and its telenovela-style narration brings about the perfect sense of childhood and home.

Lesson: Never stop fighting for your dreams, no matter the challenges— both expected and totally unforeseen— that come in your way. You may just realize that you have so many loved ones cheering you on.

Three Characters to Stick Around For:

  1. Petra Solano
  2. Rafael Solano
  3. Rogelio de la Vega

7. The Office

"Whenever I'm about to do something, I think, 'Would an idiot do that?' and if they would, I do not do that thing." — Dwight Schrute

Synopsis: What could make a dull 9-to-5 selling paper more interesting? A cohort of quirky, hilarious officemates, of course! The Office follows the day-to-day shenanigans at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Inc. as manager Michael Scott unwaveringly attempts to bring the workplace to life, Dwight Schrute zealously fights for a promotion, and Jim Halpert simply tries to get through the day.

Commentary: I know, I know, this one’s a common one. But the dry and silent humor The Office exemplifies is timeless and one-of-a-kind. You get the most amazing characters and dynamics— Michael and Toby, Jim and Pam, Dwight and Angela— from such a mundane backdrop, and in some way, it serves as a reminder that everyone’s just living their lives, and you should, too. Regardless of where you are now, find some magic.

Lesson: You determine how you experience life. You can either sit around and wait for it to happen, or you can embrace it where you are. It may just make for the best memories.

Three Characters to Stick Around For:

  1. Michael Scott
  2. Dwight Schrute
  3. Jim Halpert

8. The Summer I Turned Pretty

“I liked you better with glasses.” — Conrad Fisher

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Synopsis: Each summer, Isabel “Belly” Conklin returns home to the beach house owned by her mother’s best friend, Susannah. Behind the sunshine and the sand, however, are her ages-old feelings for Susannah’s son, Conrad, and her emerging affection for Conrad’s brother, Jeremiah.

Commentary: It may just be the summer vibes— beaches and drive-ins and margaritas and bonfires— but The Summer I Turned Pretty feels like a refreshing hug. It’s the epitome of being young and in love, of finding family in friends and of slowly growing up. It may bring all the cute outfits and lovely scenery, but don’t be fooled; Jenny Han’s masterpiece will have you crying as much as kicking your feet.

Lesson: There are always a million possibilities laid out before you, dependent upon the choices you make. Don't be afraid; rather, see it as the opportunity to write your own story.

Three Characters to Stick Around For:

  1. Belly Conklin
  2. Conrad Fisher
  3. Taylor Jewel

Susannah Fisher and Shayla Wang, of course, deserve special shoutouts as well.

9. New Girl

"A white man?! No!" — Winston Schmidt

Synopsis: When lively elementary teacher Jessica “Jess” Day decides to move in with three men, she doesn’t expect much from the living situation. Uptight Nick, chaotic Schmidt, and chill Winston, however, prove that they’ve got a lot to bring to the table.

Commentary: I mean, Nick and Schmidt. Is there really anything else that must be said? I don’t think so, but for those of you who need more convincing, here it is: New Girl has a lot going for it. It has iconic lines and hilarious characters, messy scenarios and the lighthearted magic of sitcoms. Above all, however, it’s got what I firmly believe to be the absolute best first kiss in all of television.

So brace yourself, because nothing can prepare you for the residents of Apartment 4D.

Lesson: The world is large, and you’ve got so many more people to meet. If you haven’t spotted them yet, your next best friend— or maybe even the love of your life— may be just around the corner. Ever onwards!

Three Characters to Stick Around For:

  1. Nick Miller
  2. Winston Schmidt
  3. Cece Parekh

10. Glee

"I look forward to the day the paparazzi provokes me and I attack them." — Rachel Berry

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Synopsis: Glee follows the story of Spanish teacher Will Schuester, who brings together a disparate group of high schoolers, ranging from quarterbacks and cheerleaders to misfits and outcasts, and forms a glee club. Impeded by jeering peers and scheming cheerleading coaches, the group must band together to win a national title.

Commentary: There was honestly a point in Glee that I stopped trying to figure out what on earth was going on. It is the pinnacle of television chaos, offering a whiplash-inducing mix of drama and heartbreak, laughter and shock, stress and pure confusion, and I would give anything to watch it again for the first time.

Nobody expects much from a show about performers, which makes the absolutely savage line deliveries and out-of-pocket storylines so amusing.

Lesson: Friendship isn’t about similar personalities or interests. It’s about standing by one another, growing together, and having an absolute blast.

Three Characters to Stick Around For:

  1. Santana Lopez
  2. Blaine Anderson
  3. Sue Sylvester

There are surely a lot of top-tier television shows out there (Shameless. Sex Education. Criminal Minds. Skins.), but few possess that lightheartedness and charm that warrant them the prestigious title of "Comfort Show." Although some of the above recommendations may be wacky, or cringey, or downright confusing at times, they're sure to lift anyone's spirits and have them doing that little exhale through their nose all throughout.

And if you haven't gotten to watching any of them yet, chin up and eyes forward, because you've got quite the journey ahead of you!

Meg P.
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Meg is an undergraduate student who loves anything to do with the social and natural sciences. In the free time she doesn't spend rewatching or rereading comfort works instead of starting new ones, she enjoys daydreaming about the future and ordering takeout.