We all need a little comfort in this stressful world, and for a lot of us, rewatching our favorite shows (like The Office) provides just that. You likely already have a list of comfort shows that you play on repeat during times of stress and uncertainty, but there’s no harm in adding some other options to your list.
My list of comfort shows includes everything from nostalgic cartoons to heartwarming shows in calming settings. After reading this list, I’m confident you’ll find at least one new favorite that you can turn to when you need it most.
What is it that keeps us coming back to the same shows over and over? If we ask science, we’ll see there are several reasons. Rewatching shows provides comfort in part because it gives us a sense of control, as we know exactly what to expect when we put on an old favorite.
We don’t have to worry about being disappointed by the outcome of a show because we know exactly what we’re getting. At the same time, we also don’t have to use mental bandwidth to pick something new, which we all know can be taxing and lead to that dreaded analysis paralysis.
Familiar shows also provide a wonderful mix of stimulation and relaxation. We’re watching something that’s entertaining to us, but it’s also relaxing because we don’t need to focus on a new storyline or characters. Speaking of characters, the casts of our favorite shows often feel like old friends, which can provide a sense of belonging and familiarity.
It’s clear that our go-to shows meet many of our emotional needs and provide a dose of comfort and nostalgia right when we need it most. I know my favorite shows do all these things for me while also bringing me closer to the friends and loved ones I watch them with.
Ever wanted to watch a show that focuses on the adventures of a human boy and a talking dog with magical powers? If so, you’ll want to check out Adventure Time on Hulu or HBO Max. I give my brother full credit for introducing me to this trippy cartoon that originally aired on Cartoon Network. The series is complete at 10 seasons and around 280 episodes.
At first glance, you might think Adventure Time is just another brightly colored cartoon. However, this animated show goes a lot deeper than its initial appearance would have you think. In short, Finn the Human and Jake the Dog live in the surreal Land of Ooo about a thousand years after the Great Mushroom War. They spend their days having adventures and interacting with wild characters like Lumpy Space Princess and Lady Rainicorn.
Adventure Time blends offbeat humor with serious moments, and you can pick episodes to fit any mood. There are lighthearted goofy ones, while other episodes focus on heavier topics like loss, healing, and personal growth. It’s inspiring to watch the characters come to terms with their pasts and become better versions of themselves with help from the support of their friends.
If you haven’t watched Bob’s Burgers yet, I encourage you to head over to Hulu and check it out the next time you have 22 minutes of free time. My husband introduced me to this cartoon when we first started dating, and it has been my favorite ever since. The show’s ever-growing catalog currently has about 250 episodes, and each one incorporates a unique blend of low-key humor and heart.
The show centers around Bob Belcher as he and his wife Linda navigate the challenges of being parents and running a struggling burger restaurant. At the same time, the couple’s lovably quirky kids, Tina, Gene, and Louise, face the struggles and setbacks of growing up. The Belcher family highlights that families can be a little dysfunctional but still love each other and work through challenges together.
Something else the Belchers and their neighbors show us is diversity. There’s LGBTIQA+ representation and many neurodivergent fans see themselves in characters like Tina Belcher. The diversity doesn’t end with the characters. Bob’s Burgers also gives us a variety of episodes and many focus on different holidays, with the Thanksgiving episodes being especially iconic.
I’ll be honest, I don’t enjoy cooking. However, I love baking, so it makes sense that I’ve been a longtime fan of The Great British Baking Show. Whenever I need a dose of calm and a look at some inspirational baked goods, I hop over to Netflix to watch amateur bakers whip up delights for the judges, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith (or Mary Berry in earlier seasons).
The show takes place on an idyllic countryside estate inside a brightly colored tent that’s decked out with all the gadgets and ingredients a baker could ever want or need. This setting alone provides amazing eye candy, but the visual delights don’t stop there. The baked goods look as amazing as the judges say they taste.
Aside from the visual aspects of the show, I appreciate that the judging is never cruel and the competition is never cutthroat. The contestants even help and support each other throughout the show. I’m not the only one who appreciates this aspect of the series. Everyone from my husband and my brother to my friends finds this show incredibly comforting. We also enjoy watching all the variations of this program, as you can find versions in other countries as well as iterations of the show with celebrities and even kids.
When you’re feeling stressed, you sometimes just need someone to talk with you. When that someone has a voice and delivery that’s as relaxing as Joe Pera has, it’s easy to feel yourself calming right down. My husband discovered Joe Pera Talks With You on HBO Max last year and gets credit for introducing me to what has become something I love just as much as Bob’s Burgers.
The creator and title character is a middle school choir teacher who lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and is passionate about trying to talk his viewers to sleep with “mild jokes and low-key stories.” Each episode centers on a random topic, ranging from discovering The Who to the minerals of Northern Michigan, while also following Joe through his daily life. It’s just as charming as it is random.
One of the things I love most about this show is how kind and supportive Joe is. He’s never mean to anyone and always strives to be a good person that makes the world a little better, even if it’s just by talking people to sleep. The only thing I don’t like about this series is that there are only three seasons and about 30 episodes. At just about 10 minutes per episode, it’s easy to quickly blow through the series. On the bright side, you can always just start it again or check out Joe Pera’s new monthly podcast.
For most 90s kids, Rugrats was a childhood staple. I remember sitting with my brother on the big green couch in the living room at my parents’ house and tuning into Nickelodeon just to watch this show. Recently, I’ve found that streaming this childhood favorite on Paramount+ brings me just as much joy as well as a new dose of comfort.
For those who need a refresher or who didn’t grow up with these babies, Rugrats follows a group of kids who have big imaginations and adventures in their everyday lives. Watching Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, Angelica, and Susie try to make sense of the world from a baby’s perspective provides plenty of entertainment. Additionally, watching the show as an adult allows you to catch the jokes that went over your head as a kid.
The pure nostalgia angle of Rugrats makes the episodes easy to watch while also reminding you of what it felt like to be a child watching them years ago. Not only that but seeing the world through the eyes of children is refreshing and funny at the same time. In short, Rugrats offers me just about everything we love about comfort shows.