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Top 10 TV shows to add to your comfort-watch list

A wide variety of shows to watch when you need a break from reality

Elizabeth Parsons is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.
Elizabeth Parsons is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.

I find so much peace and solitude in turning on one of my favorite shows in the midst of a busy day. The ability to take my mind off the exams, assignments and projects that plague a typical semester is something very precious to me. The best part is that TV shows are something you can have on in the background while taking care of a different task. It is my hope that there is something for everyone on this list of comfort watches. In my opinion, comfort watches can be anything you enjoy that allows you to step back from the things on your mind — even if the content of the show itself is not necessarily comfortable. 

1. “Ted Lasso”

After years of hearing the buzz around Apple TV’s “Ted Lasso,” I finally binged all three seasons this summer with my family. Jason Sudeikis plays the titular character, Ted Lasso, who moves to England to coach a football team — despite only having experience with American football. A feel-good and funny show, “Ted Lasso” simultaneously tackles issues of masculinity, fatherhood and experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in sports and beyond. We could not fly through the episodes fast enough. Watching this heartwarming show quickly became our post-dinner routine this summer — something in which I continue to find comfort. 

2. “The Bear”

“The Bear” is a perfect show for a quick break. With short episodes around 30 minutes on Hulu, you do not need to devote lots of time and energy to enjoy an episode. Exploring the intricacies of grief and family ties after the death of a family member, “The Bear” uses a family’s Chicago sandwich shop as a vehicle to show the way people can change, surprise us and create lasting bonds in the context of a kitchen — especially if somebody chooses to believe in you. I find this positive message baked within the context of hardship especially comforting. 

3. “The Morning Show”

The cast of Apple TV’s “The Morning Show” warrants a round of applause in and of itself. Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell come together to tell the story of morning news shows in light of the #MeToo era. I find peace from already having existing relationships with these actors from seeing them in some of my other favorites, making the show feel more intimate. While the show is fictional, it is easy to see parallels between the plot and real life — like “The Morning Show” incorporating the COVID-19 pandemic into its storyline. Season three just dropped on Apple TV, making it the perfect time to give it a go. 

4. “Gossip Girl”

I think “Gossip Girl” — streamable on Max —  has truly withstood the test of time. There is something about the show that makes me feel so nostalgic, which is central when selecting a quality comfort watch. Many people have already seen “Gossip Girl” — if not multiple times — pointing to its nearly inexhaustible rewatchability. Without having to pay too much attention, you can easily follow the plot and may even notice something new you missed the last time you watched it. Bonus points for watching a Thanksgiving episode, which are undoubtedly some of the best episodes and make me crave the holidays despite the chaos. 

5. “Severance”

While a dystopian drama might not be at the top of someone’s comfort watch list, hear me out on this one. The basic premise of Apple TV’s “Severance” is that to work on the severance floor of Lumon, the fictitious company at the center of this show, employees must undergo a severance procedure that removes their access to outside memories while at work and prohibits them from accessing their work memories while outside of work. Starring Adam Scott, this show entranced me and family this summer — watching it and talking about our theories and predictions became a special bonding experience for us. While I call “Severance” a comfort-watch, the ever-twisting plot has me anxiously awaiting season two.

6. “Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour”

This is a more unconventional take on a comfort watch since Taylor Swift’s “Reputation Stadium Tour” on Netflix is not technically a “TV show.” Nevertheless, this has been one of my most recent comfort watches. I throw it on in the background while I am doing work and have my own mini-concert from the comfort of my bedroom. I think “Reputation” is one of Taylor Swift’s best albums, so I especially find comfort and joy from having this play in the background while I furiously scribble yet another essay this midterm season. Pro tip — divide this movie-esque feature into mini-episodes for the optimal viewing experience. 

7. “Southern Charm”

I obviously could not neglect the reality TV fiends — myself included — with my selections for this list. “Southern Charm” is on its ninth season on Bravo, and it follows the lives of a group of friends living in Charleston. There is no shortage of breakups, drama and fighting within the group, and it is beyond entertaining. I suggest going back and watching from the beginning to fully understand the history of certain relationships, which you can do on Peacock. The bingeable nature of the episodes makes you feel as if you are a member of the cast too. 

8. “Survivor”

I truly think there is no better feeling than feeling fully engrossed in a season of “Survivor” — my brain is always running calculations of who should be voted out, how that can happen and who needs to win the immunity idol. The catch is that no matter how much thought I put into a season of “Survivor,” there is always some kind of twist or surprise that changes the game, only furthering my excitement and interest. With 45 seasons to choose from, there is no shortage of “Survivor” episodes to serve as your comfort watch — some seasons are on Netflix, but episodes can also be streamed on Paramount+

9. “Below Deck Down Under”

When I said I was a reality TV fiend, I truly meant it. Bravo’s “Below Deck Down Under” follows the lives of crew members who work on a superyacht and literally live “below deck.” Beautiful views of Australia, juicy conflicts between the crew members and a fun glimpse into the glamorous lives of the people who charter the yacht, this show is an escape from my life in Charlottesville defined by classes and homework. I look forward to catching up with the week’s episodes after class Fridays by streaming the new releases on Peacock

10. "Rick Steves’ Europe"

I think this is the ultimate comfort-watch — it makes me feel like I am a little kid watching PBS again. Rick Steves’s voice is beyond soothing, his travel tips often have a humorous flare and I love gaining inspiration for future travels. If you need a comfort watch to help you calm down from a long day and get ready for bed, throw on an episode through Prime Video

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