If 2020 had an official sport, it would have been binge-watching. We watched every Marvel movie in storyline order (not release order) and, whew, that was a project. But there’s something about the simple predictability of a show we’ve seen dozens of times that’s so comforting.
One of the ways many of us coped with the scary uncertainty of last year was to return to our favorite TV shows. It was the perfect distraction from the news at a time when we didn’t need any more surprises.
For some laughs, tears and nostalgia, these 10 TV shows will always have a home in our streaming queues, pandemic or no pandemic (and we would prefer the latter, please):
The story of six pals giving #adulting their best shot in the New York City of the late ‘90s, early ‘00s is one I can pick up from any episode in any season. And who hasn’t yelled “Pivot!” at a partner while trying to move something heavy? Have all of the jokes aged well? No. But the “will they or won’t they” Ross and Rachel drama never gets old.
- Parks and Recreation
The trend of mockumentary comedies could have gone wrong so easily, but Parks and Rec, a sitcom about the staff of the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana, got it so right. A lot of 2020 felt like we were living in the Sullivan Street Pit, but doing my best to channel Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) helped me get through it.
- Gilmore Girls
Name a more iconic mother-daughter duo. I’ll wait. Lorelai (Lauren Graham), Rory (Alexis Bledel) and the entire wacky town of Stars Hollow (including a pre-superstardom Melissa McCarthy) will forever hold a special place in my heart. These women’s rapid back and forth, misadventures and copious pop culture references always make me laugh…and miss my mom. And after all this time, I have to say I’m still #TeamLogan. Lola is #TeamDean. Sorry, not sorry.
- 30 Rock
Is there anything Tina Fey can’t do? This hilarious satire about life behind the scenes of a sketch comedy show has such a phenomenal cast of characters (and cameos) all at the top of their game. And if you’ve also been hitting the “night cheese” hard this past year, you have a friend in Liz Lemon (Fey).
- Friday Night Lights
As a southerner, the “football is life” premise of this family drama set in Dillon, Texas really speaks to me. But it’s about so much more than that. The show tackles issues like racism, teen pregnancy and economic inequality. And who didn’t want to be part of the Taylor family? PS: Our kids haven’t been exposed to this one yet.
There’s no shortage of medical procedurals out there and with the current state of affairs, they can be a heavy watch. Thankfully, we have nine seasons of this Zach Braff-led dramedy to give us a bit of sugar with our medicine. Sacred Heart Hospital sure sees its share of ups and downs, but we can always count on each episode’s closing voiceover (complete with sappy song) to put things right.
- Schitt’s Creek
Gone too soon. America discovered this beloved Canadian comedy gem towards the end of its run but man did they give us some feel-good content. A small town that embraces its resident’s different cultures, races, sexualities and eccentricities without question makes this show perfect to watch as a family. We all want to live in Schitt’s Creek.
- The Office
Steve Carell’s Michael Scott is the boss to end all bosses. So many cringeworthy, hilarious moments from the phony fire drill to the Jim (John Krasinski)/Dwight (Rainn Wilson) prank wars come to mind. Again, it’s one I can start at any point, although I am more likely to be caught scrolling during the later seasons sans Carell.
- New Girl
Something about watching people try to get through their late 20s/early 30s just makes me sleep better at night. Jess (Zooey Deschanel) moves into a loft with three male roommates after a breakup (ugh, dating was the worst) and they form a cooky, loveable family. The show found a way to tackle larger conversations without going totally cheesy, no matter how ridiculous Jess’ outfits got (“You rock a lot of polka dots…”). PS: Our kids haven’t seen this one either.
- Mr. Show
One of Penn’s favorites, this HBO’s after-hours sketch comedy series with Bob Odenkirk and David Cross remains a cult classic. (Aren’t we all obsessed with the ‘90s right now anyway?) Each episode is filled with ridiculous and surreal bits about everything from politics to pop culture and religion. You’ll also see plenty of now-household names like Jack Black and Sarah Silverman. PS: Our kids have yet to see this one either.
Which TV show(s) could you rewatch again and again? Let us know which ones made you ignore Netflix’s unwelcome “Are you still watching?” prompt in the comments.