News

10 Binge-Worthy Happy TV Shows To Get You Through the Worst of Times

Tune out the news for an hour – or 20 – with these colorful, upbeat, smile-inducing TV series.

by | December 23, 2018 | Comments

Anti-heroes are everywhere on TV these days – ever since Tony Soprano kicked off the trend, Don Draper continued it, and Walter White put it into hyperdrive, it seems a prestige drama can’t get a green light without a hard-to-love character at its center. While that is an exciting prospect for actors looking to play nuance with surprising-but-realistic turns, it can wear on a viewer. Crime, drugs, adultery, violence – it can become a bit much. Especially this week. With the real world doing everything it can to exhaust us, we put together a list of television shows that serve to buoy you up. These are optimistic, bright, and fun shows – binge-able series that will leave you with a guilt-free sugar high.

Superstore 92%

NBC, 4 seasons

Superstore is a great example of how a show can sneak in social commentary, channeling it through vibrant-yet-realistic characters who are – most importantly! – consistently funny. Storylines about the lack of paid maternity leave are balanced with defiling food-court cups on Instagram feeds. Mark McKinney (The Kids in the Hall) leads the team at chain store Cloud 9, which includes familiar faces such as America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) and Ben Feldman (Silicon Valley, Mad Men). But the show has also put actors on our radar who could well be the future of comedy, such as Lauren Ash, Kaliko Kauahi, and Nico Santos, who killed it this summer in Crazy Rich Asians as the fashion-designer cousin-to-the-groom, Oliver T’sien.


Bob's Burgers 91%

Fox, 9 seasons

H. Jon Benjamin is the voice of Bob Belcher, who just wants to bring burgers to his customers without a side of antics from his hilarious and easily-distracted family. Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, and Kristen Schaal play his kids (Tina, Gene, and Louise), and John Roberts plays his wife, Linda. Aside from some amazing burger-name puns (Three Beets to the Wind, Edward James Olive-most), you can count on this show’s storylines to always bring out the best in the characters, eventually. Who knew health code violations could be so fun?


Schitt's Creek 92%

POP, Netflix, 4 seasons

Prior to losing their fortune to the Internal Revenue Service, the Rose family wouldn’t have won any congeniality contests – unless they paid for the trophy. Their humanity was lost in a sea of wigs, priceless jewels, and enormous family portraits. In their disgrace, though, they are forced to move to the town they purchased as a joke, namely Schitt’s Creek. Together, living in the local run-down motel, they rediscover their humanity…but keep the wigs. The show – full of snappy one-liners, scenery-chewing performances, and big dollops of heart – is something of a family production in real life: It was co-created by and stars Eugene Levy and his son Dan, and co-stars Eugene’s daughter Sara and his longtime collaborator, Catherine O’Hara.


The Good Place 97%

NBC, 3 seasons (season 3 airing now)

Weighty themes – Death! Morality! The afterlife! — are given a bubbly, bright-colored treatment in The Good Place, a comedy that will have you thinking almost as hard as you’re laughing. When the show kicks off, Kristen Bell’s Eleanor has died, but her work is far from over. Without revealing too much, since the plot’s weekly twists and turns are a major source of the show’s pleasures, we’ll say that the supporting cast — ranging from veterans like Ted Danson to new-to-us faces like Manny Jacinto and Jameela Jamil – is what makes the show a must-see event (and great for a binge). Not only will you be wrapped up in the journey of the characters as they navigate their new lives (deaths?), but you’ll get refresher courses on some of the great thinkers’ theories on morality. Fun and Freud? Pizza and Plato? Enjoy.


Queer Eye 93%

Netflix, 2 seasons

Wherever there are people, there are makeovers to be done. This Netflix reboot of the popular 2000s series focuses on the vulnerability of the makeover experience as our Fab Five 2.0 barges into unsuspecting folks’ homes to whip them into shape. Bobby Berk is on interiors, Karamo Brown does culture, Tan France assists with fashion (and the French tuck!), Antoni Porowski focuses on food (mostly avocado), and Jonathan Van Ness imparts his grooming knowledge. The series sneaks up on you: You’ll be spending most of your time soaking up the tips, but by the time each episode wraps, it’s likely you’ll be shedding a tear or two. A makeover for the soul.


GLOW 92%

Netflix, 2 seasons

This fictional account of the origin of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.) hits you hard with fists of feeling, yet still manages to feel campy and fun – like the wrestling league itself. Episodes focus on family, friendship, gender politics, performance, and what happens when you feel like you’ve reached a dead end. It’s a tribute to the cast that it is mostly such a feel-good time. Alison Brie (Community) and Marc Maron (Maron) head up this talented ensemble whose underdog journey will have you cheering for the next bodyslam, piledriver, and warm hug.


Outlander 91%

Starz, 4 seasons (season 4 airing now)

Like your escapism with a heavy side of steam? This is definitely the hottest show on the list. Adapted from a popular book series of the same name, this Ronald D. Moore-led hit has it all: time travel, kilts, espionage, and passionate romance. Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) is a nurse in 1945 who suddenly ends up in a very different 1743, right in the middle of the Jacobite risings, and right alongside a handsome Highland warrior (Sam Heughan, who once performed an actual citizen’s arrest…true hero). Her skills as a nurse – and the advantage of 200 years of scientific advances – are endlessly helpful to the Scots, but her abrupt appearance and lack of family make her a target as well. If anyone can handle it, though, it’s Claire.


black-ish 91%

ABC, 5 seasons (season 5 airing now)

This fresh single-camera sitcom shows that there remains plenty of ground to cover on the tried-and-true TV-comedy topics of family, relationships, heritage, and generally just being a person on this planet. Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross head up the Johnson family, shepherding their kids through the world as they navigate everything from racism and political debates to teenage romances and bullying. One of the strongest elements of the show is that everyone is genuinely fallible, and the issues that often throw them off balance are ripped-from-the-headlines real. You’re bound to absorb a lesson or two while you laugh. Spinoff series Grown-ish is worth a binge, too, if you run out of eps.


Jane the Virgin 100%

CW, 4 seasons

Few prime-time soaps have the heart and charm of Jane the Virgin. If the original premise seems like something out of a telenovela – virgin Jane is accidentally artificially inseminated during a routine gynecological checkup – that’s because it was: Jane is loosely based on Venezuelan show Juana la Virgen. The transition from South America to Miami works brilliantly, largely thanks to creative writing and a committed cast. Gina Rodriguez is a standout as Jane, the young Venezuelan-American woman who’s chasing her dreams and learning how to roll with life’s (really weird) punches.


Broad City 99%

Comedy Central, 4 seasons

This web series-cum-Comedy Central hit has become the comedy of a generation for certain city-dwelling Millennials. As best friends in the big city, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are officially one of the finest comedic duos, serving New York realness with a hilarious brand of feminism, self-deprecation, and truth. And weirdness – serious weirdness.  Their constant descent into the absurd is a rare example of how our topsy-turvy world can still be satirized in strange, broad, and hilarious ways.


Representative image credits: @ NBC, @ Netflix, @ ABC

Tag Cloud

Peacock Best and Worst YouTube Red FX elevated horror Awards SXSW kids animated Interview Mary poppins Lionsgate psychological thriller reboot spain Ghostbusters war Writers Guild of America true crime Pride Month boxoffice Hallmark TIFF First Look zombie Funimation Trailer revenge doctor who breaking bad RT21 Kids & Family spanish language vampires Netflix Christmas movies tv talk Animation ABC transformers ESPN reviews Tubi independent foreign Emmy Nominations BAFTA golden globes Disney streaming service dragons The Witch LGBT name the review Television Academy Winter TV GoT Apple TV Plus children's TV USA news Drama laika police drama emmy awards serial killer Dark Horse Comics Sundance Now Rom-Com dc Marvel unscripted Awards Tour SDCC anime comiccon Tarantino TV 2020 talk show TCA Winter 2020 Comic Book technology Action Film Grammys indie zombies discovery obituary CW Seed 45 Music Star Wars Cartoon Network Nickelodeon cartoon science fiction Paramount Set visit Sony Pictures Chilling Adventures of Sabrina crime thriller VH1 Christmas television films critics video natural history Song of Ice and Fire cults Epix screenings parents MTV RT History Rock WarnerMedia VICE nbcuniversal DC streaming service Star Trek best Britbox Turner Walt Disney Pictures Election The CW YouTube Nominations stand-up comedy Marathons cinemax hispanic New York Comic Con PBS X-Men Disney+ Disney Plus GIFs concert adaptation Premiere Dates a nightmare on elm street child's play Country robots ABC Family Food Network cancelled TV shows screen actors guild universal monsters Women's History Month AMC TCM A24 The Walking Dead award winner Cannes Shudder Pop dceu Reality Musicals Winners romance Creative Arts Emmys Rocketman Video Games psycho Elton John Super Bowl IFC Mudbound Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt cops Pet Sematary Reality Competition dogs Netflix mission: impossible streaming Red Carpet Acorn TV stoner BBC One Trivia cancelled TV series First Reviews canceled 24 frames Lifetime Christmas movies Tomatazos teaser MCU DirecTV Cosplay Captain marvel Amazon Studios Mindy Kaling sitcom docudrama Showtime movie disaster chucky Brie Larson 2018 biography franchise Tumblr SundanceTV 007 halloween BET Watching Series BBC America social media TLC rotten movies we love Esquire thriller book Extras 72 Emmy Awards Fantasy Avengers Character Guide cars ratings Superheroes jamie lee curtis 71st Emmy Awards Superheroe Bravo blockbuster Travel Channel Martial Arts Universal Sci-Fi The Arrangement joker Nat Geo 20th Century Fox directors Discovery Channel travel anthology DC Comics documentaries Teen American Society of Cinematographers series adventure Quiz spider-man Marvel Studios casting Shondaland HBO Max Amazon nature OWN President cancelled Comics on TV free movies PlayStation 21st Century Fox HBO Go composers TV Land Countdown CBS VOD rotten Holiday facebook History satire aliens Oscars Box Office Infographic comedies superhero harry potter BBC E! politics TCA 2017 Certified Fresh supernatural Ellie Kemper slashers Emmys Musical YouTube Premium El Rey movies cats 2017 Comedy TruTV Binge Guide Heroines romantic comedy Crunchyroll cooking renewed TV shows Biopics Disney A&E werewolf Adult Swim Comedy Central LGBTQ Hulu miniseries Logo Amazon Prime See It Skip It Apple TV+ OneApp mockumentary USA Network video on demand Pixar strong female leads FXX theme song Mystery NYCC Baby Yoda period drama singing competition spinoff Year in Review zero dark thirty Television Critics Association MSNBC historical drama space hist Sneak Peek TCA worst Fall TV christmas movies canceled TV shows crossover TV renewals witnail Black History Month DGA sequels Starz Arrowverse diversity Apple Film Festival TBS green book Amazon Prime Video Columbia Pictures E3 sports twilight scary movies dramedy Opinion PaleyFest 2015 medical drama spy thriller Vudu Crackle CNN FOX game show sag awards Disney Plus Classic Film indiana jones GLAAD justice league Mary Poppins Returns Toys 2016 Freeform Stephen King WGN what to watch batman 2019 Ovation Holidays FX on Hulu Chernobyl The Purge Warner Bros. blaxploitation Polls and Games Fox News based on movie IFC Films ITV Academy Awards Endgame mutant CMT dark Podcast Calendar Turner Classic Movies Pirates Photos political drama HBO Sundance TV 4/20 Hear Us Out Disney Channel Thanksgiving Lifetime Spectrum Originals San Diego Comic-Con Valentine's Day binge DC Universe cancelled television fast and furious criterion Masterpiece Hallmark Christmas movies Syfy game of thrones finale Spike hollywood Western Schedule richard e. Grant Black Mirror ghosts festivals National Geographic APB Rocky NBC latino Anna Paquin all-time comic YA die hard crime drama Spring TV south america quibi classics versus asian-american Family Lucasfilm Pop TV stop motion Trophy Talk TNT comics Horror toy story Marvel Television TCA Awards documentary Mary Tyler Moore sequel Paramount Network crime CBS All Access Summer BET Awards Sundance