I think there’s something to be said of indulging in the problems of others in order to avoid our own. It’s why we don’t follow our own advice, but are so quick to give it to others. It’s why we’re all Keeping Up with the Kardashians and tuning into The Bachelor every Monday night—we love the drama, as long as it’s far away from our own circles.
Indulging in the drama and relationships of worlds very different from our own is also one of the appeals of television. And with the growing popularity of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and HBO GO, we have more liberty, and choice, on which television worlds, and TV drama, we want to enter and when. (Sidenote: Can you believe we’re living in a time where young children don’t know what cable is?)
In 2019, streaming television shows have even made their way into our self-care toolboxes; it’s one of my own personal favorite forms of self-care. Out of all of the streaming services out there today, Netflix is my kryptonite. The streaming service carries all of my favorite shows at the moment, from Queer Eye to One Day at a Time (which FYI Netflix has decided to cancel, but we won’t get into that). Binge watching a new season of a show is my favorite Friday Night In activity, and TV has even made its way into my morning ritual (just one more episode of Friends from College before I head out the door!).
There’s something oddly calming about riling yourself up over TV conflict in order to avoid your own personal anxieties, or investing yourself in a fictional relationship to avoid thinking about how seemingly uneventful your own dating life is in comparison. It’s easy to find comfort in fictional worlds, especially when you can’t relate to the characters.
One of my favorite TV shows for self-care is about a group of friends living together in a California loft, trying to navigate love and dating in their late 20s and 30s—I’m talking about New Girl. I may not have a lot of experience in the love department, but don’t be fooled: I love, love. I am a hopeless romantic at heart, and my favorite movie genre is, you guessed it, rom-coms. So unsurprisingly, I would find comfort in a romantic TV show that’s also incredibly funny (it’s a 90-minute film multiplied!).
Whenever I’m feeling stressed or anxious, I just open up the Netflix app on my Roku and put on an episode of New Girl. The opening theme song would start to play and suddenly my jaw would unclench and my breathing would become less sporadic. For 30 minutes at a time, I could focus my attention on who Jess and Nick are dating in that particular episode before they finally figured it out (spoilers!), Schmidt being Schmidt (my TV persona spirit animal), and not on whatever has my anxiety skyrocketing through the roof. After one of many panic attacks that end with me in tears, feeling defeated physically and mentally, and sometimes calling out of work for a Mental Health Day, turning on an episode feels like getting a warm hug.
As I know I’m not the only one who finds comfort in television, I asked my Instagram followers about the TV shows that they turn to, to brighten their mood when they’re feeling down and I got loads of amazing responses (thank you Internet!). My friend Maia, for example, likes to decompress with Sex and The City every night as it reminds her of home. “Growing up my mom always watched Sex and The City, and most of the time it was when the marathons were on during the day. The only time I’d be able to watch it was when I was home from school, sick. She’d watch it with me and keep me company until I felt better. I’ve gotten into the habit of watching it every night, as a way to decompress. It’s kind of silly, but [it] gives me a feeling of home.”
For Ashley, the popular Netflix Original, Queer Eye, brings a smile to her face and offers her useful advice which she can apply to her own life. “My favorite parts are with Karamo when he helps people get through things and he counsels them because [his advice] also helps me out.” The Office is Susan’s feel good show of choice, and she enjoys it because, “It makes me realize that it’s okay to poke fun at my life problems and laugh about it. We all gotta not take life too seriously at times.”
With daily stressors—multiplied with social media—and the pressure to always be “on”, it’s nice to kick back after a long day, login to your favorite streaming service, and for 27 to 49 minutes at a time, entrance yourself in the make believe worlds of television.