It’s official: Daylight savings has come to an end and British Summer Time (BST) is over. It happens every year and yet somehow always takes us by surprise, meaning that an extra level of comfort may be needed until we become adjusted to the long, dark nights once again; throw in a global pandemic and continuous restrictions imposed on our everyday lives and it is easy to feel more down in the dumps than usual and winter can suddenly seem even more never-ending. So, in this light, with all the added strangeness enveloping the world right now, it’s time to get yourself a hot chocolate, wrap yourself in a fluffy blanket, and enjoy some TV shows that will be sure to bring you some comfort.
Gilmore Girls (2000-2007, 2016)
Perhaps one of the most comforting shows around, Gilmore Girls is my all-time favourite go-to show for winter. Main characters Lorelei and Rory are a hilarious, fast-talking, coffee-addicted mother-daughter duo living in the quirky small-town of Stars Hollow, which is filled with eccentric residents. The supporting cast is just as incredible as our main girls: ranging from Lorelei’s controlling and very rich parents, Emily and Richard, to the town’s ‘jack of all trades’ – Kirk – who jumps from job to job, all the way to Luke, the grumpy, stand-offish, yet very lovable owner of Luke’s Diner. Throughout the shows seven original series, and the four extra episodes Netflix bestowed upon us in 2016, we follow Rory as she grows from a schoolgirl into a college graduate into a struggling journalist, and Lorelei as she tries to balance being a mother and Rory’s best friend – something that proves all the more difficult as Rory gets older – whilst simultaneously following her own dreams. Gilmore Girls has love, heartbreak, betrayal, friendship, and coffee – not to mention an incredible opening sequence song to sing along to – and what more could one possibly ask for to get us through this winter?
When Community was added to UK Netflix during the summer, I was looking for something to put on in the background while I did work and pottered about – something easy, that I wasn’t particularly interested or invested in but that seemed light and fun: the perfect background noise. Cut to a couple of episodes in and I realised that I was getting absolutely nothing done, bar staring at my TV for hours on end. Community is not like other comedy shows in that it uses meta-humour and often parodies film and television tropes and clichés: take one Halloween themed episode, for example, during which an unknown virus is released that results in its victims turning into zombies – it is the comedic version of 28 Days Later and all those other zombie-horror films we have consumed over the years. Community is a genuinely funny American sitcom, set in fictional Greendale College, providing numerous laugh-out-loud moments per episode; a diverse, interesting, quirky cast; and a catchy theme song to rival Gilmore Girls. There is no better antidote to this strange winter than to settle down for the night by joining Troy and Abed in the morning.
Brooklyn 99 (2013-present)
From the creator of TV shows Parks and Recreation and The Office (both also list worthy), I present to you Brooklyn 99. Set in the 99th police precinct in New York, Brooklyn 99 follows a number of detectives as they catch the bad guys, fall into traps, and deal with their personal lives. Known for its hilarious storylines and recurring story arcs and characters (see Doug Judy and the Halloween heists), Brooklyn 99 offers a diverse cast with actors and actresses from the white, black and Latino communities all playing a central role throughout the series; the sexuality of these characters are diverse also – straight, gay, and bisexual. Though a decidedly comedic series, sensitive issues are dealt with throughout, in an accepting and inclusive way: whether covering the idea of coming out to unaccepting parents, or institutional racism and racial profiling. Indeed, Brooklyn 99 has it all. And at 20 minutes per episode, what have you got to lose, really?
Gossip Girl (2007-2012)
With the pandemic raging and trips abroad all but off the table, are you ready for a trip into the lives of Manhattan’s elite? There’s love, money, scandal, gossip, betrayal, heartbreak, and fashion. You are privy to the lives of these privileged New York teenagers and everything they, and their families, get themselves into, all while an unknown blogger follows and reports on their every move. See New York, the Hamptons, even Paris, through the eyes of the rich – true escapism, if I ever saw it. Why Gossip Girl remains one of my go-to comfort series remains unknown: it is not as warm, and bright, and loving as the other shows on this list. But maybe it is simply the escapism it provides, especially with the current pandemic encompassing everything in life. True, there are some heart-warming moments, some genuinely funny moments, and times where you will cry and scream at the TV screen, and it is addictive: once you have begun your journey into the lives of the Upper West Side’s elite, you may find it all the more difficult to go back to your everyday life. And just one final note: give Blair Waldorf and her headbands a chance – she is a true fashion icon if I ever did see one.
Some TV shows feel like coming home after a long trip, and Friends is undoubtedly one of them. Chances are, like much of the population, you have already seen Friends a million times but that is precisely why it has made it onto this list. There is a reason we all go back to it: it is funny and heart-warming, it can be devastating and dramatic, maybe you are simply a fan of Ross and Rachel’s on-again-off-again relationship, or maybe you dream of a friendship-turned-relationship mirroring that of Monica and Chandler’s. Whatever your reason, this cannot be denied: Friends perfectly encapsulates what it is like to be in your twenties, trying desperately to succeed in life while balancing friendships, relationships and careers. Undoubtedly, your twenties can simultaneously have the best times and worst times of your life, all wrapped up neatly into a single decade, while you try to figure out who you are and what you want your life to be. Friends is comforting in that respect: it is funny and allows you to see the bright side of the many hum-drum situations that we will surely all find ourselves in at one time or another. Friends goes that extra mile in allowing you to feel less alone in the world during a time that can feel like one of the loneliest, all wrapped up into 20 minutes of comedy. Plus, has there ever been a more perfect theme song?