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The Ultimate TV Guide (If You’re Looking for Something Great)

My friend Sharon recently asked me what she should watch during the pandemic. “Can you just give me a list of good shows?” she asked. Since I’m unabashedly in love with TV, my answer was a resounding yes. And, in case anyone else needs ideas, here are 28 amazing series to watch…

If you’re in the mood to laugh…

PEN15 (Hulu, two seasons)
One-sentence description: In this adult comedy, thirty-something comedians Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play themselves as 13-year-old bffs in the year 2000.

Catastrophe (Amazon, four seasons)
One-sentence description: When American advertising exec Rob (Rob Delaney) travels to London for work, he has a whirlwind one-week stand with Irish schoolteacher Sharon (Sharon Horgan); she winds up pregnant, he moves to England to help figure things out, and the rest is history.
Side note: Sharon’s eclectic style is another star of the show.

Master of None (Netflix, two seasons)
One-sentence description: Dev (Aziz Ansari), a single guy in Brooklyn, tries to succeed in both acting and dating, along with his funny group of friends.
Side note: Dev’s parents are played by Aziz’s actual parents!

Search Party (HBO, three seasons)
One-sentence description: In this dark comedy, twenty-something Dory (Alia Shawkat) becomes obsessed with finding a missing college acquaintance — and drags her three self-involved friends along for the ride.

If you want a million episodes of a comedy…

The Mindy Project (Hulu, six seasons)
One-sentence description: Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling), an OB-GYN obsessed with romantic comedies, spars with her cantankerous but cute co-worker Danny Castellano.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO, 10 seasons)
One-sentence description: Seinfeld co-creator Larry David plays himself living and working in Los Angeles, consistently getting into trouble because of his crotchety, no-nonsense approach to life.

New Girl (Netflix, seven seasons)
One-sentence description: After a breakup, quirky teacher Jess (Zooey Deschanel) moves into an L.A. loft with three male roommates, and we follow their hilariously messy romantic and professional lives.

Veep (HBO, seven seasons)
One-sentence description: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (the best!) stars as the Vice President of the United States, who, along with her incompetent team, never fails to mess things up.

Schitt’s Creek (Netflix, six seasons)
One-sentence description: When they lose their fortune, the Rose family has to move to a run-down motel in a small town they once bought as a joke.

Broad City (Hulu, five seasons)
One-sentence description: Best friends Ilana and Abbi bring us on their funny adventures — weird roommates! bad dates! all the weed! — in New York City.

If you want to feel smart and sexy…

Normal People (Hulu, one season)
One-sentence description: Based on Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel, the series follows Marianne and Connell, teenagers from a small town in Ireland, as they come in and out of each other’s lives.
Side note: The actors’ sexual chemistry was off the charts, and I still want that black dress.

Fleabag (Amazon, two seasons)
One-sentence description: The brilliant, hilarious, sexual Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) grieves her best friend, argues with her older sister, and looks for lasting love in London.
Side note: Watch both seasons and be forever changed. (We also interviewed the costume designer, if you’d like to read.)

Insecure (HBO, four seasons)
One-sentence description: Best friends Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) navigate dating, work and the Black female experience in Los Angeles.
Side note: I love that the sex scenes are all about the female gaze.

If you’re watching with slightly older kids…

Never Have I Ever (Netflix, one season)
One-sentence description: In this coming-of-age comedy, Indian-American teenager Devi navigates the ups and downs and high school life, along with her two best friends.
Side note: The series is inspired by Mindy Kaling’s childhood.

Babysitters Club (Netflix, one season)
One-sentence description: Based on the beloved book series, the show centers on four middle-school friends who launch a babysitting club in their Connecticut suburb.
Side note: The characters are smart and kind, and Toby says, “I’d want them to be my friends.”

If you want to think deeply:

I May Destroy You (HBO, one season)
One-sentence description: After a night out with friends, London-based writer Arabella has frightening flashbacks, and she begins to piece together that she was raped.
Side note: The show is amazing but may be a hard watch. The show deftly explores issues of consent throughout its 12 episodes.

If you want to feel a little scared…

Barry (HBO, two seasons)
One-sentence description: In this black comedy, a hit man (Bill Hader) tries to start over and become an actor, but keeps getting pulled back into a life of crime.

Big Little Lies (HBO, two seasons)
One-sentence description: Based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book, this series, set in Monterey, California, reveals that three mothers’ lives aren’t as perfect as they seem.

Better Call Saul (Netflix, four seasons)
One-sentence description: Criminal lawyer Jimmy McGill wants to be above board, but can’t help falling into increasingly shady dealings.

If you want to feel very scared…

Fargo (Hulu, four seasons)
One-sentence description: Each season of this crime drama/black comedy series tells a different chilling tale. (The first season was based on the 1996 Coen brothers thriller.)

Breaking Bad (Netflix, five seasons)
One-sentence description: When gentle chemistry teacher Walter White finds out he has terminal cancer, he turns to making meth to support his family — then slowly gets drawn deeper into the illicit drug trade.
Side note: This brilliant series won 16 Emmys.

Homeland (Showtime, eight seasons)
One-sentence description: In this psychological thriller, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) — a top CIA officer battling bipolar disorder — tackles dangerous assignments with help from her mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin).

If you want all the feelings…

This Way Up (Hulu, one season)
Two-sentence description: In this sharp comedy, Aine, an Irish twenty-something, checks out of a rehab center, where she went after “a teeny little nervous breakdown,” and leans on her sister as she tries to get back on her feet.
Side note: This show meant a lot to me, personally.

Olive Kitteridge (HBO, one season)
One-sentence description: Olive, an irascible retired schoolteacher, touches more lives than she realizes in her small Maine town.
Side note: The miniseries was based on my favorite book of all time. I would name a daughter Olive!

If your heart needs warming…

Say I Do (Netflix, one season)
One-sentence description: From the creators of Queer Eye, Say I Do features couples who haven’t been able to get married for various reasons; the charming hosts — Jeremiah Brent, Thai Nguyen and Gabriele Bertaccini — surprise each twosome with the wedding of their dreams, pulled off within a week.

If you want something luxe…

The Crown (Netflix, three seasons; season four premiering on November 15, 2020)
One-sentence description: The Crown is reportedly one of the most expensive series ever made — season one cost $130 million — and you can tell; glorious sets glitter around the royal family, as we follow the life of Queen Elizabeth II.
Side note: Season four is all about Diana!

Succession (HBO, two seasons)
One-sentence description: In this award-winning series, the filthy rich Roy family battles for control when their father begins to step back from his media empire.
Side note: Give this show a few episodes. Alex and I hated it at first (who ARE these awful people?!) but grew to love the dark humor.

If you want to feel inspired…

The Last Dance (Netflix, one season)
One-sentence description: This 2020 sports documentary series chronicles the incredible career of Michael Jordan, especially his last season with the Chicago Bulls.
Side note: I don’t know (or care) much about basketball, but this documentary was done so well, I was completely sucked in.

What about you? What did I miss? What would you recommend?

P.S. Nine couples with the best on-screen chemistry.

  1. Annie says...

    I recommend “Queen Sugar” (created by Ava DuVernay for OWN TV; all four seasons now on Hulu)! It’s a really good drama for all sorts of reasons, but especially because it meaningfully explores aspects of systemic racism in America that are so relevant right now (and have plagued our country for centuries). It is very well acted, and all four seasons were directed by women.

  2. Jill S says...

    I feel like I have different tastes to the community here, but my favorites in the last few years have been: The Expanse (sci-fi with an amazing cast), The Boys (a too-real depiction of how superheroes would be treated and presented in our current world, also very R rated), The Umbrella Academy (wild tale about a family of seven very special kids, outstanding cast, would die for Klaus), The Mandalorian (BABY YODA), and I Am Not Okay with This (I am GUTTED that Netflix canceled this). Ooo also The Orville, second season is way better than the first so push through (although I enjoyed S1 as uneven as it was).

    • Kate says...

      Thank you!! I’ve also gotten much more into the sci-fi/fantasy genre. I also really like the 100 (a post-apocalyptic teen drama that can get a little extra but I thought was so addicting) and the Magicians. If you like the Umbrella Academy I think you’ll probably like the Magicians as well! Looking forward to checking out your recs :)

    • Meg says...

      The Expanse is such an incredible series. I can’t wait for the new season in December!

    • K says...

      What? There won’t be another season of I Am Not Okay with This? Oh I am definitely not okay with this!

  3. JenK says...

    one name…Ted Lasso
    This show is giving me all I need these days – that at the heart of it, we are all good people.

    • Meg says...

      Yes!! 100%

  4. Allie says...

    I LOVED “The Last Dance,” and that’s coming from someone who knows/cares so little about sports that I didn’t even know Michael Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls beforehand. Ha!

  5. Hannah says...

    My recs for those who like true crime like me are:
    1. Unsolved Mysteries: true cases that haven’t been solved and the viewer is invited to call in with any tips
    2. You: a boy meets girl gone wrong as boy stalks girl so their meet cute love story following a chance mtg at a bookstore is not coincidental
    3. Unbelievable: true story of a teenager whose rape by a stranger breaking into her apt was not believed until 2 badass female detectives piece together a case.

    • Hannah says...

      These are just my recent watches, but my husband and my’s all time favs are Stranger things and Once Upon a Time (Netflix and OUAT just left Netflix, which my husband was quite sad about, he could happily rewatch it)

    • bonnie says...

      Spot on, Hannah! I got so intrigued by the first case in the Unsolved Mysteries, that I checked out An Unexplained Death by Mikita Brottman, a resident at the Belvedere who researched deeper into that case. And Unbelievable – powerful! We rarely binge a show, but that one my husband and I started one evening and then watched until after 5 a.m. I’m a Toni Collette fan anyway, but became one of Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever – such strong performances all around.
      Any more true crime recs?

  6. Hayley says...

    Great roundup! LOVED I May Destroy You, and I’m also huge Fleabag, This Way Up, Catastrophe, Schitt’s Creek, Fargo, Barry, Broad City, Succession, and The Crown fan!

    Definitely add these to the list:
    -Glow (so bummed it didn’t get renewed for a final season), but damn this show is a female powerhouse, energizing, masterpiece. I so highly recommend.

    -The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

    -Modern Love (As a diehard fan of the column and podcast, I was admittedly skeptical about this series, but it exceeded my expectations and was such an enjoyable watch).

    -The Great British Baking Show (literally can’t think of any other show that makes me as sublimely happy and heart-warmed as this one). It is so refreshing!

    -Ozark! (SO suspenseful, thrilling, and fun, with amazing acting – if you love Breaking Bad, it’s a must watch).

    -The Night Of

  7. This list is great!! And the comments too.

    I also have to second Better Things by Pamela Adlon (Joanna, you’d love it!), Call the Midwife, and Travel Man (a british travel series – super fast pace, super british, but really delightful). Also Kim’s Convenience! It’s so great seeing all of the love for that show in the comments. It’s truly a treasure.

  8. My very best friend just had a baby and is constantly asking me for recs since I watch most things! She thinks Stranger Things is too scary even though I LOVE it!

    My Picks to Add!

    Four Weddings and a Funeral (Hulu) (limited series) Mindy Kaling wrote it!
    Ted Lasso (AppleTV) this show was SOO much better than I thought it was going to be
    Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu) (limited series) when the series is as good as the book!
    Central Park (AppleTV) Josh Gad created I believe, has lots of fun musical numbers!
    Dickinson (AppleTV) I believe they have already shot season 2 and it was renewed for season 3 already!
    MythicQuest (AppleTV)
    and my all-time fave show ALIAS (i think amazon has all 6 seasons)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      definitely can’t wait to check out ted lasso. there are so many rave reviews in this comment section!

    • Abbey says...

      Loved Four Weddings and a Funeral as well! Perfect watch as we get more into the holiday season too.

  9. Kate says...

    I just binged Love in Netflix with Gillian Jacobs. Nondescript title but I really loved it- it’s a slow burning, realistic look at a couple coming together in all their flaws. Still rooting for Mickey and Gus in my heart weeks later.

    • Rachael says...

      Love was so good! I think it’s by Judd apatow so if people like his movies they’ll like this show.

  10. Annie says...

    HIGHLY recommend Sex Education. It’s a perfect show and the music (Ezra Furman does the soundtrack) is amazing.

    Also recommend Big Mouth!

    LOVED Fleabag and Pen15.

    • Meg says...

      Yes! Sex Education is such an amazing show.

  11. Lisa says...

    I started watching the last dance, to show my husband that I was the best wife ever and was willing to watch sport documentaries, and I think ended up enjoying it more than he did.

    Some excellent shows:
    – little fires everywhere (Amazon). Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington in the dramatisation of the novel. So good, and the casting of Reese’s children is fantastic
    – call my agent (original name – dix percent – Netflix). French comedy drama about a talent agency in Paris, with various french stars appearing in every episode. It took us a couple of episodes to get in, but it’s very funny, very well written and acted. Apparently they’re going to do a third season (I really hope so!)
    – Shtisel (Netflix). An Israeli show about an ultra orthodox family in Jerusalem. It was considered ground breaking in Israel, as it was one of the more nuanced / sympathetic portrayals of an insular community. It helps that one of the main actors (Michael Aloni) is just beautiful. Also starting Shira Haas before she did unorthodox (I think this is better than unorthodox TBH)
    – srugim (in the U.K. it’s on amazon). It’s like the israeli version of friends, also set in Jerusalem but in a more modern orthodox community
    – Chatufim (prisoners of war). This is the show that homeland was (loosely) based on. Fun fact – the pilot episode of homeland cost as much to film as both seasons of chatufim. It’s more focused on the prisoners and their families, and the impact of the detention and return on them, vs homeland which is very much about Carrie.

  12. Nicole says...

    The world needs more Ted Lasso right now. (Apple TV+)

  13. Ingrid says...

    This is late, as I just recently joined the Netflix, etc, party, but I am loving Frankie and Grace. I also enjoyed The Mandalorian and seein West Wing again.

  14. Nicole says...

    Better Things produced and starring Pamela Adlon
    Breeders with Martin Freeman

  15. S says...

    Not into political drama but I really enjoyed Borgen. Bonus Family (swedish) step family is also entertaining. On netflix.

  16. Jill says...

    Canadian here, who was very late on the bandwagon with Schitt’s Creek (started watching a few weeks ago). I love it so much. It is one of the few shows that consistently makes me laugh out loud every episode and even cry sometimes (especially Season 5). The characters are hilarious and it is a joy watching them develop. This scene kills me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry (when David serenades Patrick with lip syncing Tina’s “Simply the Best” ): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdEvo_2Mvpk

    • Claire says...

      Jill, I love that show so much! it is so sweet and hopeful and hilarious and endearing….and no kidding is somehow keeping me connected to what is good in the world…love, kindness, humility, humanity ….new beginnings. It’s done me so much good that I feel I owe it money
      speaking of Canada, isn’t it Thanksgiving there? Happy Thanksgiving and much love to Canada!
      What’s for dinner?

    • Jill says...

      Thanks Claire! Keeping Thanksgiving low-key this year, just my immediate family and my parents (in our bubble). We are in Vancouver, BC, where cases are still stable, so lucky to still be able to do most activities and my son is in school (we are all so grateful for schools to be open and so far, very safe).

      We eat turkey and all the trimmings!

  17. Sara says...

    Fantastic list- some of my favorite shows of all time are on it (Fleabag! Master or None, Broad City), and as always, great recs in the comments. The only show I didn’t see mentioned anywhere, and which I think is brilliant, is Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph won an emmy for voicing Connie, and she is iconic!

    • Sara says...

      Also, just finished reading Normal People yesterday (would have read before watching, but it was on hold at my library FOREVER), and holy moly, how did they do such a good job at capturing that intense and super intimate feeling (like hold your breath the whole time) of the book? Scrolling to that GIF made me gasp out loud

    • Leilah says...

      The show was WAY better than the book (and I NEVER say that haha!) so you made the right call :)

    • Lily says...

      Omg I had the same reaction to that normal people gif!I Read the book, watched the show, then read the book again. Still think about it all time!

  18. Ashleigh says...

    I came here specifically to see if Ted Lasso made the list. It’s both wonderfully funny and unbearably heartwarming. A quarantine gift.

    • Leigh Piper says...

      I LOVE this show!!! You described it perfectly.

  19. Anne says...

    Echoing all the comments for Ted Lasso! This show is a must for always, but is essential for 2020. Everyone could be a bit more Ted!

  20. Chrissy says...

    Crazy Ex Girlfriend!!! I love this show so much and wish it got the attention it deserved. Critics love it too.

    It’s a delightful and smart comedy/musical and discusses mental health issues in a thoughtful way. Start with their YouTube videos if you need convincing! It’s on Netflix.

    • alexis says...

      So good! The whole cast is great and the songs are brilliant.

  21. Marnie says...

    Ted Lasso! Apple+.

    About an American football coach who is moves to the UK to coach Premier League Football.

    It is laugh-out-loud funny but also so human and heart-felt, it will restore your faith in humanity. (Even if, like me, you have zero interest in sports).

    • Ryane says...

      This is my new favorite show and I tell everyone about it. So, so fun.

  22. Danielle says...

    GREAT list! I would add Younger – love Sutton Foster and I was surprised how much I like Hilary Duff in it! And, good looking men :)

    • Laura says...

      I am constantly recommending Younger to people. The episodes are short (great if you don’t want an hourlong commitment), funny, sexy, and if you have ever worked in publishing or a related field, it’s really funny to see the trends/issues they highlight and poke fun at. It’s also a Darren Star show so of course the fashion’s great too (if ridiculously out of reach for people who actually work in publishing).

  23. Nicole says...

    Lots of great ones here (Veep, Homeland, Mindy project), BUT…. you are missing two of the best: Arrested Development (funniest show ever!!!) and Dexter (semi-scary/suspenseful and SO good). I am so envious of people who get to watch them for the first time.

    And to rewatch/play in the background while doing other things due to pandemic-induced short attention span: The Office and Sex and the City

  24. KFA says...

    Better Things – found it in the comments and LOVE it.

  25. Tania says...

    You named so many of my favorite shows. One more: Babylon Berlin, a moody German crime show set in the Weimar era on Netflix. I fell in love with the two leads, the war haunted Gereon and plucky cabaret girl turned Detective Charlotte. It’s improbable but so atmospheric and truly beautiful to watch

    • Maire says...

      This sounds SO GOOD. I am going to put it on my watch list!

    • Ryan says...

      Ooh, I second the Babylon Berlin recommendation. Someone recently recommended it to me, and I am HOOKED!

    • Sarah says...

      YES! I LOVE Babylon Berlin. The costumes, the music, the characters. *Chef’s kiss*

    • Katie says...

      Yes! I tell everyone I can to watch Babylon Berlin! Pro tip: Watch it in German with English subtitles (the English dubbing is comically terrible, imho).

  26. Carlie says...

    oh my, absolutely.

  27. Heidi says...

    We watched all of Ozark when there were no sports on during the lockdown… Jason Bateman is such a talent and Julia Garner’s performance took my breath away!

    To add: the Mindy Kaling Four Weddings and a Funeral series was so underrated! Friends from College was also very good.

  28. Kristin says...

    So many amazing suggestions. Currently I’m bouncing around between The Good Place, I Will Destroy You, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Killing Eve, and Schitt’s Creek. A little bit of everything in that line up!

    The Outlander series (on Starz and now Netflix) is so beautiful and entertaining and exciting. I’m anxiously awaiting the next season.

    • Carol adams says...

      Killing Eve, want more. And the clothes, so fabulous.

  29. Katie says...

    Shrill: HULU The best show!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Omg I forgot shrill! And the marvelous Mrs maisel!

    • Leigh says...

      Shrill is so, so good.

    • Ellie says...

      Loved Shrill! Loved season one way more than season two…anyone else?

    • Nicola says...

      Mrs. Maisel is getting me through quarantine. Husband loves it too!

  30. KPoss says...

    For October: the Haunting of Hill House, on Netflix!

    And I agree with everyone else who said Modern Love. It’s one of my favorite sections of the New York Times to read and I binged the series in one day.

  31. Erin says...

    What We Do in the Shadows. HYSTERICAL. It got us through the darkest part of quarantine.

    • Stella says...

      Omg same!! Hilarious and clever, I wish I could watch it again with fresh eyes!

    • Caitlin says...

      YES! I was hoping I’d find this in the comments. I’m on my third rewatch of the series right now – we even watched it in the hospital while I was in labor (but turned it off when we realized how weird it was for the nurses to hear out of context.) Matt Berry’s inflection, especially when he’s swearing or saying New York City, KILLS me. (For other WWDITS fans – I’ve heard Ghosts on HBO Max is the same kind of funny!)

  32. Jessica Bayer says...

    Better Things

    Black AF

    Atypical

    Last Tango in Halifax

    Happy Valley

    • Stella says...

      Yess atypical! The best, all the characters are so great ❤️

  33. sarah says...

    For pure mindlessness that somehow brings me joy (and my 6 year old as well), Floor is Lava. Kind of like double dare for adults. Ridiculous, but light, fluffy and entertaining. We have set up quite a few floor is lava courses in our backyard since watching.

  34. Jacqueline says...

    For moms: Working moms, The Letdown
    Good Scary: Dead to me
    Soothing rewatch: Mad Men, Gilmore Girls

    Sending this list to everyone I know!

    • Natalie says...

      Ooh yes to the Letdown! Loved working moms too just not quite as much as The letdown –
      Had my husband and I laughing til we cried with the real-ness

  35. Pamela says...

    Valeria on Netflix. Spanish friends who live in Madrid
    Babylon Berlin, also on Netflix. It is a fictional story about life in Berlin during the Weimar Republic. Crime, love, drama…it’s got it all!

  36. Mathilda says...

    This is us! Looooved all seasons of it. And I also could not stop watching The Fosters even thoug they often annoyed the s*** out of me.

  37. Pernille says...

    A Discovery of witches! Now there is some of that sexual magical chemistry. And Teresa Palmers outfits are so cool and laidback. Love it love it love it.
    If you miss easy action-fun-ya-drama The Sparrow Academy is awesome!

    • Meg says...

      I loved this book! Where can you watch this one if you don’t have cable (or can you)?

    • Katie says...

      I second this! I just watched after having read the books years ago, and immediately want to re-read the series so I can keep living in their witchy world! @meg – I was able to watch on a trial subscription to Sundance Now (which I had available via Amazon Prime)

  38. Sara Hummer says...

    So many wonderful suggestions! If you love HGTV but want something more legit, I am obsessed with This Old House! Tommy Silva is a national treasure. Also, anything Monty Don particularly his Small Spaces, Big Dreams series, and global gardens series is such a gorgeous way to travel from home. Someone Feed Phil is delightful and our best find of isolation has been the Long Way Around/Down/Up series. Ewan McGregor and his best friend on motorcycle adventures around the world? THE BEST. My boyfriend and I love it so much.

    • Danielle says...

      It made my day to see Tommy Silva in the comments!! Here for all of these! Are you our TV twins? These are all big favorites of my husband and I. During lockdown we started subscribing to the British garden channel on Amazon so we could have all the soothing Monty Don content.

  39. Liz says...

    Downton Abbey!!! It has been a savior in quarantine.

  40. Megan says...

    Love many of these. My only favorite show missing: Better Things!!

  41. Sara says...

    I am also obsessed with it! Such a great show :)

  42. Euphoria!

  43. Jen says...

    Love on the Spectrum on Netflix! So good, and it restored my faith in humanity!

  44. Jeanne says...

    My Octopus Teacher is a documentary on Netflix. One word, incredible!

    • Lindsay says...

      YES! This is one of the best things I’ve watched recently and I’ve watched a lot! Add it to your lists now, people!!

  45. Aoife says...

    I am obsessed with Mindy Kaling’s 10-ep Hulu adaptation of Four Weddings & A Funeral — like so obsessed that I’ve already rewatched twice in the last six months!

    It has everything:
    – representation
    – positive discourse
    – class analysis
    – wit and charm
    – aaaaaand heaps of allusions to Richard Curtis — including pop-ups from Andie Macdowell AND an homage to that walking through Notting Hill heartbreak scene to Ain’t No Sunshine
    – pop culture allusions that sum up so much of the zeitgeist
    – and just so much heart – it feels like a love letter to friendship

    I also want to make a special note that characters in this are properly flawed and it’s so refreshing. Plus, the Pakistani Muslim arranged marriage courtship storyline is incredible and is not heavy-handed at all.

    Please give this a go and make sure to watch the first two eps before you make up your mind. Also shoutout on the costuming because it’s great esp. Ainslee.

    I just love this series so much! All hail the genius of Mindy Kaling!

    • Meghan says...

      You just sold this to me, thanks so much for the rec! :)

  46. S says...

    Atypical (Netflix), Yellowstone (the scenery, cowboys, terrible people), This Is Us, Great British Bake Off.

  47. I will also always, always, ALWAYS recommend This is Us. The most accurate portrayal of real, flawed human beings in any TV show out there! All 4 seasons are on Hulu right now. I re-watched the entire thing at the beginning of quarantine and felt all the feels. Can’t wait for the next season!

  48. Laurel says...

    1000000%. I love Pam and all of her amazing velvet blazers.

  49. Traci says...

    Don’t overlook Sex Education. It’s quirky, well written, and the casting is amazing.

  50. Rachel Simmons says...

    For lols: Brooklyn 99 & superstore!

  51. K says...

    DARK (Netflix)

    Well, I just finished watching Dark and it might take me while to think about any other show ;)

  52. S says...

    If you are downunder id recommend The Let down, about first time mums. And the Canadian Working moms was pretty good too. Can you tell I have a young child?

  53. Agnès says...

    I love Call the midwife! Based on a midwife ‘ mémoire.

    • Krista says...

      Call the Midwife is amazing! I feel so much for the characters and wish I had all of those women in my life!

  54. Laura says...

    Offspring-a rom com that keeps on giving!
    Happy Valley-not so happy but so good!

  55. Emma says...

    To have a change of pace and take us out of the world we live in today as at times I think we all need that, I highly recommend The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwall. Ancient history at it’s best……..and brutal and real as I am sure it was during those times. There are 4 seasons and a 5th is coming on Netflix and another show is Outlanders, gripping and honest story about a Scottish family coming to America way back when the British ruled our country.

  56. Mallory says...

    I would add Lovelife on HBOmax. My husband and I could not watch it fast enough. It’s so heartwarming.

  57. Sara says...

    I loved *bored to death*. A dark comedy featuring Jason Schwartzman as an author and private investigator. The cast is just wonderful.

    • Kate says...

      I still rewatch specific episodes of Bored to a death mostly for Ted Danson. George!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg yes! bored to death!!! how did I forget that?

    • Danielle says...

      So good. We’ve been watching Search Party mentioned above (which btw has moved to HBO with 2 more seasons) and it has moments that remind me of Bored to Death. Watching it back to back with the new Fargo (starring Jason Schwartzman) had me itching to rewatch all Bored to Death episodes.

  58. Nina says...

    Love Insecure, Fleabag, Master of None, Normal People and more on this list. During quarantine I kept hearing about New Girl and finally gave it a go. While there were definitely really funny parts, I was really distracted by all of the casual racism, mostly always directed to CeCe’s character. She was constantly sexualized and fetishized for simply being “brown.” One of the worst offenses was when she was about to get married and due to a henna accident, Jess’ character asks her something to the effect of, “Is your religion the one that wears a burka?” My jaw dropped. This show is set up to show us how woke Jess is with her brown BEST friend since childhood, and how do you not know about her religious background? Don’t get me started on Schmit and his CONSTANT fetishizing CeCe and finds a way to casually talk about colonization of CeCe. They were relentless. I can only imagine who the writers and producers were on this show… I found it to be a show full of microaggressions that BIPOC folks face all the time, but here it’s dressed in witty banter and comedy. It still doesn’t negate what it is.

    However, if you want a show that is truly funny, covers things like HIV amongst Black women, relationships, microagressions at work, singleness, infidelity, substance abuse and so much more, watch all 8 seasons of Girlfriends on Netflix. It is funny, sharp, deep and was created by a Black woman, stars 4 extraordinary Black woman, and had a very diverse writing and producing team full of Black creatives. It’s a show that didn’t get its due in its day, but I hope it finds a new audience and finally gets the respect and closure that is long overdue.

    • Kate says...

      Yes, thank you! I loved New Girl as a teenager but gave it a watch again recently and just couldn’t, it was so bad… I’m excited to try out your rec for Girlfriends!

    • Kate says...

      Same commenter but the more I think about it the more wild New Girl is! Schmit literally refers to CeCe as his exotic fish! There’s literally a whole episode based on that premise. It’s not just that there are lots of microaggressions its like those microaggressions ARE the plot.

  59. S Thomas says...

    Ted lasso! We all need more ted in our lives:)

  60. Dana says...

    —Community (Six seasons, now on Netflix!) one of my favorite comedies of all time. Wacky and unafraid to commit to a concept, but also full of heart and appreciation for its characters.

    —The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Three seasons now? Amazon), wonderful, witty writing that reminded me of the cleverness of early Gilmore Girls but also adds such incredible 1950s style and a poignant story about divorce and rebuilding your life

    —Call the Midwife (currently up to something like eight seasons? Netflix) some of the best writing of women, ever. The younger midwives live and work with an order of Anglican nuns who also perform midwifery and district nursing in the poor east end of London in the 1950s and 1960s.

    —Halt and Catch Fire (4 seasons Netflix), a show I felt went under a lot of people’s radars, but was a beautifully written, tight four season story about the tech world in the 1980s with wonderful character development.

    —Mozart in the Jungle (4 seasons, Amazon). Initially I rolled my eyes at the pilot for overplaying the “sex, drugs, and classical music.” But watching it a second time, I saw a lot of familiar people and situations (I’m a violinist with a degree from a conservatory), and I appreciated the incredible music interwoven with the character development of the sensational young conductor, the ambitious but inexperienced oboist, the cellist trying to self-medicate a performance injury that could end her career, etc.

    • Anna says...

      Mozart in the Jungle is so underrated! It is so quirky and weird and wonderful. And Call the Midwife is my fave show ever <3

    • KFA says...

      Just finished Halt and Catch Fire and I really like it.

    • Amy B Levin says...

      Halt and Catch Fire!! Excellent addition, it is such a great story.

  61. Diana says...

    Normal people is TOP!
    Also Why women kill. Just one season….but its fantastic!

  62. Tricia Dunlap says...

    Thanks for the list! During quarantine we watched and enjoyed Weeds and Parenthood- both have several seasons!
    On Apple TV+, Ted Lasso and Trying are both uplifting and funny – Just what I’ve been needing these days!

  63. Lorena says...

    I am also a TV person and love so many of the shows you listed!
    I would also add Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime, Mad Men and Gilmore Girls.

  64. Laura says...

    Yaaaaasssss! This whole list (also, now I’m a little scared by how much television I’ve apparently consumed)

  65. Kathryn says...

    Ted Lasso on Apple TV is exactly what we need in life right now. People acting and responding like adults. So refreshing and amazing.

  66. Ashley says...

    Ted Lasso!! Utterly charming, hilarious and uplifting.

  67. Anon says...

    Good Girls Revolt on Amazon prime is so good! It has a Mad Men feel to it.

    • Stella says...

      It was soooo good! (Don’t love the name of the show tho) I was so sad it got canceled, the decision to end it was made by a board room of all white men. :(

  68. Christine says...

    Euphoria!!! Wow.

  69. KC says...

    Better Things….loved the soundtrack, dry humor, and pitch perfect look at motherhood. Pamela Adlon is a better show runner after Louis C.K.’s departure. #womenrule

  70. Diana says...

    Call the Midwife!! Come on Joanna!! It’s only the best show in the history of shows!! Babies! Birth! Capable young women! The goodness of humanity! Community! The NHS! I could go on!!!

  71. Laura says...

    Can someone please tell me what I’m missing with Olive Kitteridge? I’ve gotten half way through it twice (once reading, once on audiobook) and I just cannot get into it! I’ve heard countless rave reviews and I feel like I’m reading a different book than everyone else. Is the second half dramatically better than the first?

  72. Reina says...

    Killing Eve and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel!!!

    • Rachel says...

      Yes, Mrs Maisel is the reason I too the massive trip to NYC last year from Australia for my 40th…

    • Claudia says...

      Yes! Specially Mrs Maisel :))

  73. Megan says...

    Lovecraft Country on HBO is super strange but amazing. It’s one part Green book, one part flesh-melting-off/spells scifi and a touch of Stranger Things with strong Black leads. It’s one of the shows I look most forward to every week.

    • Rachel says...

      The good fight! Unbelievably good. It’s a modern day west wing but with better diversity, and a nice touch of wry cynicism. Also, I love The Romanoffs.

  74. Anon says...

    Thanks for the suggestions! I have just started watching “Borgen” on Netflix. I never watch dramas (I mean never!), but I am enjoying this one so much. It’s Danish, about the personal and political struggles of a female prime minister.

  75. coco says...

    Anything with the brilliant and hilarious English-Irish actress Roisin Conaty, specifically her show Game Face. Binged it while going through a very dark time, and it brought me some of the only laughs I’d had for WEEKS, the kind of laughs that make your gut hurt. I first discovered her in the also great but somewhat dark After Life, which stars Ricky Gervais as a man grieving his deceased wife. I’m really loving humor from that side of the pond these days, and echo the Fleabag, Catastrophe, and This Way Up recs.

    • Mary says...

      Have you tried Taskmaster on YouTube? (Roisin Conaty is on series 1) It’s absolutely bonkers and a complete delight.

  76. Sarah says...

    Better Things on FX/Hulu. Pamela Adlon is a revelation. Truest portrayal of womanhood and motherhood.

    • Elise says...

      Yessssss the absolutely best; I smashed every season on a couple of nights.

    • Dayna says...

      YES!!!! Something that makes you feel right at home watching this show! LOVE IT.

    • Kate says...

      YES! i am watching it for like the third time. it is close to a spiritual experience for me. i’m so glad the show managed to not only survive the louis c.k. grossness, but also thrive. i think the seasons since they cut creative involvement with him have been the best.

  77. Agatha says...

    Two Scandinavian suggestions… Bonus Family and Rita!

  78. Elise says...

    Untamed. Anyone? I never knew men could be so beautiful and their friendship so poetic.

    It’s on Netflix and always on my mind.

  79. GREAT list!
    I’d add – The Americans, Ozark, House of Cards, West Wing, Big Bang Theory, Parks and Rec, The Office, Parenthood.

    • P. says...

      The Americans!! We watched it again this year during shelter-in-place.

  80. Naseem says...

    Feel good adventure: Long Way Up on Apple TV

    Ewan McGregor and best friend Charlie Boorman ride electric motorcycles from the bottom most tip of South America to LA.

    And if you haven’t seen their previous adventures, they’re also a must watch — Long Way Round, and Long Way Down. You’ll fall in love with their friendship, no doubt.

    • Genevieve Martin says...

      We watched those first 2 as a family when I was a teenager and loved them so much. I still sometimes think about the random encounters they had !

    • Sara says...

      YES! All the series are so good!! The scenery! The adventure! And Charlie and Ewan have the best friendship. A must watch.

  81. Caitlin says...

    For others who love shows with all the feelings: I still think about the miniseries The Honourable Woman all the time, and I watched it years ago. It’s stunning and Maggie Gyllenhaal is mesmerizing! The whole cast is amazing. I think it’s on HBO max now.

    • Lindsey says...

      I second that. She is amazing.

    • Susan says...

      That was really good!

  82. Arielle Ballance says...

    Love so many of these shows! Currently making our way through Curb Your Enthusiasm and cannot get enough.

    I will add This is Us… does this make me basic? Oh well, because I love it! I am so invested in the characters. I cry basically every episode.
    Also would recommend I Think You Should Leave – an EXTREMELY quirky sketch comedy show by that has me crying from laughter every time. :D

    • Peabelle says...

      Yes, seconding This is Us!

  83. Christine says...

    Community, especially the first 4 seasons

  84. KarenJ says...

    Yes to Derry Girls! So good but subtitles are VERY helpful ha. Also, Handmaids Tale and The Umbrella Academy

  85. Kristin says...

    I’m on board with so many of these! Although I must admit that I’m shocked no one has mentioned Killing Eve!? Beautiful to look at and so clever and well-written. It’s one of my favorite pandemic watches so far (that, and Succession and Pen15).

  86. Sarah says...

    Kim’s convenience!
    Mozart in the jungle!
    The Good place!

    • Val says...

      Yes to Kim’s convenience!

    • Ruby says...

      Yes to Mozart in the Jungle! Rodrigo is the perfect charismatic, overly dramatic, baby of a musical genius, all while still genuinely carely for the people in his orchestra.

    • Mozart in the Jungle is a forever favorite, as well as The Durrel’s in Corfu

  87. Julie Rousculp says...

    For the Sci-Fi/Fantasy lovers:

    Supernatural (Netflix) – A classic, with 15 seasons. Scary but also very funny.
    Umbrella Academy (Netflix) – Wonderful adaptation of the comic.
    Good Omens (Amazon) – Neil Gaiman’s hilarious novel about the impending apocalypse brought to life by David Tennant and Michael Sheen. With fantastic costumes.
    Once Upon a Time (Disney+) – Feel good fantasy and rather charming. There’s even a musical episode. And a pirate.
    The Mandalorian (Disney+) – It has Baby Yoda and a kickass Mandalorian taking on the galaxy in true Star Wars spaghetti western style.

    • Laura says...

      Thank you! My boyfriend watches only stuff with aliens, spaceships or superheroes… and I like political dramas or at least some interesting people and hate scary stuff. I would add
      – the expanse – spaceships, politics and great characters
      – his dark materials – great adaption of the books, family friendly
      I love Star Wars but didn‘t really get into the mandalorian. After watching the expanse where the lack of air in space actually is a problem, it feels a bit…

    • SR says...

      You might like Lovecraft country! Just came out on HBO, based on a book, co-created by Jordan Peele. It’s thriller/sci-fi/pulp fiction with monsters, magic and racial horror. Set in the 1950s. It’s FANTASTIC!

  88. D Harley says...

    What We Do in the Shadows – beyond hilarious. It’s a mockumentary about a house of vampires in Staten Island. On FX (I know)!
    There is a movie as well.

    • BD says...

      Oh god. THAT IS A MUST SEE! I rewatch it anytime I need a good laugh!
      « That’s my dead but delicious look » – From a vampire.
      Can’t. Stop. Laughing.

  89. I love Cup of Jo and always find the posts inspiring. This is my first time commenting. All of the shows here are great but would really love to see more diversity! There are so many good Chinese or Korean dramas, and French series (highly recommend Call My Agent on Netflix) just to cite a few examples. Like Bong Joon Ho said, a whole world will open up when people overcome the one inch tall barrier of subtitles :) (and I do acknowledge you’ve featured a few foreign movies in previous posts but not really TV series or perhaps I don’t recall, which is entirely possible).

    • Julie says...

      Would love to hear more recs! I will have to check out Call my Agent but what about Chinese or Korean dramas? Thanks!

  90. D says...

    Search Party actually has 3 seasons. Yay!! And Fargo is incredible.

  91. Tina says...

    Derry Girls need to be mentioned.

  92. Mar says...

    Downton abbey!!!!!! Come on!

  93. Ramsey says...

    A resounding “Yes!” to all of the above! I’m also unabashedly in love with TV, so I have a long list. Here are a few favorites: Miranda (hilarious), Doc Martin (he’s quite quirky but hang in there, you will come to love him, plus it is set in a charming English village, reminiscent of Joanna’s grandmother’s village), Broadchurch (well, really, anything with David Tennant in it), Keeping Faith, Killing Eve, Bodyguard, Mrs. Wilson, The Swell, Motherland, Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax, Dead to Me, Ali Wong’s two HBO specials, The Durells in Corfu, Better Things, The Chi, and, for those of us with a tendency toward low-brow, trashy humor, you can’t beat It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It took me a bit to get into it, but once I did, I binged the whole series.

    • Genevieve Martin says...

      Ooh Bodyguard was excellent

    • Susan says...

      I love Doc Martin! I’m not English, but the show is comforting to me! PS The dad of one of my students is a writer for the show :)

  94. Dana says...

    The Bureau, The Bureau, The Bureau, The Bureau
    BEST SERIES I have EVER watched.
    The Bureau is chess while Homeland is checkers.
    Unbelievable show. Season one is free for Amazon Prime then you can do the free trial for the Sundance channel to watch more.
    It is hard to stop watching once you get started.

    • AJ says...

      Loved “The Bureau”!! We’ve just finished the most recent series and are feeling a bit lost without our nightly check-in with Malotru, Marie-Jeanne and Raymond. Fingers crossed that there will be more.

    • Bee Hogan says...

      Dana, I will second this!!! My husband and I have watched it twice. It’s on Sundance here in the UK. I would say that the last season is just a little tiny bit meh in comparison to the amazing ness of the previous seasons….

  95. Diana says...

    Borgen (Netflix). Birgitte Nyborg, a centrist politician, becomes prime minister of Denmark against all odds. The show is about her personal and political struggles, and the media role in politics. It reminded me the West Wing, one of my all time favorite shows.

  96. Mariana says...

    MY BRILLIANT FRIEND – on HBO
    That is all.

    • Nina says...

      Agree, it was beautiful storytelling, as was the second season.

    • Traci says...

      Yes, and so well cast.

    • Katie says...

      Loved it SO much and can’t wait for more

  97. REBECCA DELANEY says...

    Ted Lasso! Apple TV

  98. rosa says...

    To make you laugh: Derry Girls and Kim’s Convenience, both on Netflix. For elementary to middle school age kids: Hilda and She-ra on Netflix.

    • rosa says...

      Oh, and Killing Eve! So good.

  99. Jane says...

    The early seasons of ER hold up!

    • Rachel Simmons says...

      YES!!

  100. silly lily says...

    Call the Midwife. Charming and educational. Unending cheerfulness and dedication to women (and their dignity) in post war London. I was just a kid during the time when the fictional story took place. The Beatles were just becoming a “thing”. But what a different world it was! Whenever I need a reminder of how much tougher life can be, I re-watch an episode.

    • Susan says...

      And the music! It winds through every episode and almost becomes a character. It’s a beautiful series.

  101. Meg says...

    -Kim’s Convenience
    -Kim’s Convenience
    -Kim’s Convenience

    So good. Great characters. Love it.
    Netflix has it

    • Mimi Jo says...

      AGREED! SO FUN!

    • Lily says...

      Yes
      Yes
      Yes

      Such a good show!

    • Lia says...

      YESSSSS!!!!! Such a good show!!! Ok see you.

  102. Courtney says...

    Woohoo! My friend just got HBO Max and gave me her login so I’ll finally be able to catch up on all those shows.

    And a big YES to New Girl. It’s funny and sweet and not stressful–I am on my second re-watch during the pandemic.

    Another comedy I’d recommend is Brooklyn 99. I’m not sure why I thought I wouldn’t like it (maybe Andy Samberg seemed like a douchebag?) but it’s hilarious and also Andy is kind of hot? Totally low stakes but I laugh out loud every time.

    • Nina says...

      Courtney – I am also on my second rewatch of New Girl during the pandemic — total comfort viewing.

    • Rachel Simmons says...

      This was ALSO my suggestion!! I actually LOL every episode!

    • Rachel Simmons says...

      I mean B99

  103. I love so many of the ones you’ve listed, but I have a few more: The Morning Show (Apple TV) is phenomenal! I also love Bojack (Netflix) which is very funny but also kind of dark, Undone is beautiful (Prime Video), and Dead To Me (Netflix) is fantastic as well.

    • Elliesee says...

      I love BoJack Horseman! That is my current watch. It is much better after watching Arrested Development (Will Arnett is BoJack’s voice), Sneaky Pete (Margo Martindale), Breaking Bad (Aaron Paul is Todd), Friends (Lisa Kudrow is Wanda). Also linked to Friends: Sneaky Pete (Giovanni Ribisi) and the excellent Episode. Schitt’s Creek is so good I watched it twice in a row.

    • Susan says...

      The first season of Dead to Me was fantastic!

  104. Amanda H says...

    Love this list! Lately I have been loving these Netflix gems: The Good Place, The Duchess, and the Charmed reboot. Take me away, Netflix!

    • S says...

      The Duchess!!! Sooo funny

  105. Shira says...

    Many I love are on here, but two wonderful ones I would add:
    1. Winning the Wilderness: 6 British couples compete to win (yes, as in, title is given to them) a house and bunch of land in interior Alaska. Worth watching for the landscape and gentle competition alone, but Duane and Rena Ose, the couple looking to move and pass the torch, are just wonderful. Loved the ending.

    2. Imposters – I don’t know why this one isn’t known as it’s wonderful, hilarious, and unexpected. A woman regularly and spectacularly tricks folks, when she meets someone who can play her game. Great cameo guest stars, too. Highly recommend.

    • Heather says...

      If you loved Winning the Wilderness you might like Alone – there is a season on Netflix (no commercials!) and then even more on Hulu, but we liked the Netflix season best. We were on a streak of outdoor shows this summer as we were living vicariously and also watched World’s Toughest Race which was great.

    • Kristen says...

      Alone!…we watched the 6th season on Netflix and it actually changed the way I look at the world. (I don’t typically give in to apocalyptic thinking, but while we were stuck inside for a week because of wildfire smoke, I did wonder if our kids would be better off learning how to skin a rabbit than how to write in cursive.)
      It’s pretty refreshing to watch people who are so unbelievably skilled at the absolute basics: building shelter, finding food, and staying sane in isolation. And it’s worth it just to get to know Woniya, who is a gentle, thoughtful, total badass!

    • Heather says...

      Ha yes to Woniya! We went on such a streak with it that every morning my daughter would wake up and ask “What happened on Alone?” – it’s so fascinating! And then of course we started to believe we actually had insights and were critiquing people – Season 6 really was the best, but Season 4 was with pairs of people and we enjoyed that one too. Check it out!

  106. AJ says...

    I got hooked on The Morning Show (Apple TV.) Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are pitch-perfect in this messy, dramatic, intense deep dive behind the scenes of a fictional cutthroat TV morning show. The politics! The sexual misconduct! Drama between the stars and the network! The acting is superb.

  107. Catherine says...

    We’ve binged and loved Mad Men, Peaky Blinders, Schitt’s Creek, and Parks and Rec.

  108. Katrina says...

    For comedy and music and feminism — Crazy Ex-Girlfriend!!! The best!

    Oooh and the good place, miracle workers, insecure… so much great tv.

  109. jj says...

    The Americans. One sentence description: An FBI agent and his family move next door to an all American couple and their 2 kids at the height of the cold war Reagan years; the couple just happen to be Russian KGB spies. Brilliant storytelling and writing. Will break your heart in a thousand possible unexpected ways.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes!!!

    • Amanda says...

      This was my summer show. I stilllll miss it.

    • Kathryn says...

      This series is one of my all time favorite. It has the nest ending of any series. ever.

  110. Andrea says...

    I don’t have Hulu so I miss those shows mentioned. But my go to show is always Gilmore Girls and Grace & Frankie, I never tire of those two! Definitely recommend Big Little Lies and Veep! Another older great show (I was shocked how much I enjoyed it) was Pretty Little Liars. Campy but fun. The clothes they wore was worth it!

  111. Cecily says...

    Korean dramas!

    International tv shows aren’t for everyone, but this self-contained (most k-dramas have a run of 12-21 hour long episodes and don’t get second seasons) and binge-able entertainment format is very much my thing.

    Here are my top 5 Korean dramas for newbies on Netflix:

    1. Extracurricular: it’s a dark psychological thriller/portrait like Breaking Bad, but instead of a middle aged chemistry teacher with a meth business, they’re two unlikely high school students trying to sympathetically run a sex work business.

    2. Inheritors (also called Heirs): for a wildly different take on high school in Korea, Gossip Girl fans will appreciate this soapy teen romance about a scholarship student who finds herself in a love triangle with two gorgeous, fabulously wealthy friends.

    3. Signal: through a pair of mysteriously connected walkie-talkies, a young and overlooked criminal profiler in 2015 and a lovable middle aged detective in 1989 work together to solve homicides (inspired by actual true crimes in Korea).

    4. Because This Is My First Life: a slice-of-life show about a trio of friends in their early 30s who are figuring our their professional and personal lives; a struggling young writer agrees to a marriage-of-convenience with her roommate.

    5. Crash Landing on You: in this fish-out-of-water rom com, a successful CEO/unloved heiress from South Korea lands on the wrong side of the DMZ after a freak paragliding accident and must get help from a starchy North Korean military officer to return home safely.

    • Shira says...

      I JUST started and promptly binged Crash Landing on You, and it was great! Thank you for this brilliant list – now I know what to do next….

    • JO says...

      The number 5 was my dad’s favorite and he binge-watched in the evening during his visit to my place in Canada. So well, it’s safe to say that the show stole my dad from me :) :(

    • Rachel says...

      Kdrama wasn’t my thing but when lockdown began earlier this year, I started watching some on Netflix and was hooked. It’s not just about the plots or the actors, but about the culture that is new and fun to me.

    • Chiara says...

      Thank you so much, Cecily! I just finished CLOY and ADORED it. Part of what I liked about it was how hilariously funny it was! Of the other shows you suggested, are any of those similarly funny/silly?

      Thank you!!

    • Cecily says...

      You’re welcome, everyone! Obviously, I love k-dramas so I’m excited for other people to discover them as well.

      Chiara — from the list of five I mentioned, I’d recommend Because This Is My First Life for silly/funny vibes. Like Crash Landing On You, it’s a rom com with a similar mix of heartfelt heaviness and lighthearted humor. It also has a starchy hero and plucky heroine who find themselves adorably stuck in forced proximity.

      And unless they’re melodramas (That Winter, the Wind Blows on Netflix; Just Between Lovers on Hulu), most k-drama romances will incorporate some level of humor.

      If you’re looking for more ensemble rom coms with a cast that adds comic relief and narrative depth on Netflix, I’d also recommend Hello, My Twenties and My First First Love. Hope that helps! :)

  112. Helen says...

    BROOKLYN 99!!!!!!!!!!!! We discovered it during lockdown and it has given me life. Its funny and heartwarming without it being cheesy.

  113. Pb says...

    Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Brooklyn 99 and Bob’s Burgers are also funny with lots of episodes :)

    I’d add the 1995 Pride and Prejudice series (Hulu) to the Luxe category.

    And Cheers has the best pilot episode of all time.

  114. Sarah says...

    Oh my gosh, Outlander has been my go-to during the pandemic. It completely transports you, and the sexual chemistry between the main characters (Claire and Jamie) is insane. 18th century historical sci-fi drama. Books are great too. Netflix: 3 seasons, STARZ app: 5 seasons

  115. ana says...

    Derry Girls is HILARIOUS and just so great :) On netflix, highly recommend

    • Brooke says...

      YES!!!!!!!!! Love this show! The characters are brilliant and hilarious.

    • Tara says...

      Derry Girls is outrageously funny, Sister Michael just cracks us up and Oral is hysterical. We die laughing!!

  116. Michaela says...

    Joanna you must try HBO’s My Brilliant Friend since you liked the books — the scenery is so wonderfully done. It’s slow and lovely.

    I also would add the Great British Bake Off (Joanna please tell me you watch!) If not, try an older season first like “Collection” 4 or 7 on Netflix.

    Also really enjoying The Weakest Link for a fresh game show revival of the show I loved. Jane Lynch is hosting.

    Oh! And Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!

    I can’t wait for The Crown!

    • My Brilliant Friend is soooooooo amazing!

  117. Samantha says...

    This is a great list!
    A new one I’d add: Ted Lasso on Apple TV
    Comedy about Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), an American football coach that is hired to run an English Premier League soccer team. Full of optimism, well-developed characters, and lots of heart
    Side note: Binge watched this is one night :)

    • Zoe says...

      Yes!! Ted Lasso is brilliant. So heartwarming and funny. I would watch it again!

    • Erin says...

      Yes!! Enjoyed Ted Lasso so much! I was looking for something to watch, but haven’t been able to handle stressful shows lately… this one was just what I needed. Funny, kind and such a great break from my day-to-day.

    • Mary says...

      I will join the chorus for Ted Lasso on Apple TV — Brene Brown spoke so highly of it, I was curious and it’s truly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen! Heartwarming, hilarious, pulls you in!

    • ks says...

      Ted Lasso was the joy of 2020 for me. Just the right amount of cheeky humor – and a reminder we can be good humans and be celebrated. xx

  118. Caity says...

    Ru Paul’s Drag Race. It is as if they took the best of every competition reality show and morphed it into one. The contestants do it all – sing/lip synch, dance, do improv, stand-up comedy, and create the most amazing makeup and fashion looks. There is enough shade and drama to get you hooked on the story line, but the most important part is that it is filled with honest and empowering conversations around self-acceptance. Ru ends every episode with “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love someone else”. I feel like we all need that right now.

    • Louise says...

      Yes! This show is soooo good. I only started watching it during quarantine, and it’s such a warm, bright “place” to go.

  119. Zoe says...

    I add to this great list: The Good Place (NBC) & Watchmen (HBO).

    • LC says...

      For all the Feelings – Call the Midwife

  120. Amanda says...

    I love all of these. I might add Billions, but it’s somewhat similar to Succession. Here’s one more that I just watched.

    Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
    One-sentence description: Ted Lasso, a small-time college football coach from Kansas (Jason Sudeikis) is hired as the manager of a premiere league football (soccer) team in England despite having zero experience with the sport.
    Side note: Ted is funny and vulnerable, earnest yet clever and there’s a goofy host of characters to flesh out the show into something pretty charming.

    • Laura Millward says...

      Great list! I would also add Better Things and I’ve just binged the Anna Kendrick series Love Life and enjoyed that a lot too. Can’t wait to catch the new Pen15 season!

  121. KGP says...

    The Duchess on Netflix, one season, so funny!

  122. Kate says...

    Thank you for this excellent list! I will be coming back to it often-so helpful to have some fun breaks from reality right now!

    My favorite show, Derry Girls, isn’t featured here—I highly recommend it and my husband loved it, too.

  123. The Good Place! Smartest show ever written.

  124. Susan says...

    Thanks for the recommendations! I loved a lot of the shows on your list. Some of my other recent favorites: Dark, Atypical, Broadchurch, High Fidelity, Shrill, Modern Love

  125. Maria says...

    The Bureau! It’s a French show about the DGSE (their CIA) and their undercover agents. Five seasons of very smart, very timely, very suspenseful, very well written and acted drama. IT IS SO GOOD!!

  126. Alex Austin says...

    This is a GOOD list. I would add Gilmore Girls, Community, Downton Abbey, Stranger Things, Middleditch & Schwartz, Magic for Humans Atlanta, and OF COURSE The Office. Okay… clearly I have a problem.

  127. Catie says...

    These are all great suggestions!

    One more, that I can’t make enthusiastically enough: Offspring!

    Nina, an awkward, thirty-something, obstetrician living in Melbourne, navigates a highly overactive imagination, romantic entanglements, and her lovably dysfunctional family.

    If you want to feel ALL OF EVERY FEELING, this show is for you. So good I’m re-watching the entire thing.

  128. Lindsey Joy Fox says...

    Ted Lasso!!!!!* Ohmygosh. Please add this to your list. Brené recommended it on her podcast, and I just listened to her interview with the co-stars and writers yesterday. Like them, the show is hilarious and warm, and a needed reminder that goodness and vulnerability and love will always win in the end.

    It was exactly what my weary heart needed in 2020. You won’t regret it. Even if you don’t like soccer. :)

    *the show deserves each one of these exclamation points

    • JM says...

      Another vote for Ted Lasso! My husband & I liken it to the movie Chef – you keep thinking something awful is going to happen but it just doesn’t. It’s an all around really fun, feel good show. At first I thought Ted might be too much to take but he is a genuine ray of sunshine!

      Another feel good show: The Great British Baking Show (for us Americans). It is the best reality competition show. The people are wonderful & supportive of one another.

      Also say Derry Girls, What We Do In The Shadows, & Arrested Development,

  129. Hannah says...

    Of everything and anything in the wide world of TV, you chose to recommend Aziz Ansari’s show? With no mention of, oh you know, the sexual assault allegations that caused it to be cancelled? And in the same list is show where rape is a major plot line, which you note is hard to watch…You know what I find hard to watch? Those accused of sexual assault getting a free pass.

    • AS says...

      THANK YOU for this comment. I was having the exact same thoughts.

      other ideas for shows besides ones featuring him or other perpetrators (that we know of):

      The Bold Type (freeform/Hulu) should really get some play here and this site is so the right audience for it! It’s like if Sex and the City were about women in their 20s bumbling through publishing, tech, and sex.

      Mrs. America (also Hulu, sorry!) was super well done if you’re into historical tv + second wave feminist heroines.

      To come full circle, I binge watched The Fall at the beginning of the pandemic when I read that Fiona Apple named her new album after some dialogue in the show. It’s an amazingly suspenseful thriller with Gillian Anderson being PERFECT as a cop trying to catch a repeat-rapist and murderer. Content warnings for this show should be heeded, but it is powerful and so well done and you can’t stop watching. I don’t normally watch cop shows but I could not resist Anderson.

    • Clare says...

      Aziz was accused of misconduct not assault. While I understand your point there is a difference.

    • Yael says...

      So disappointed to see that listed.

    • TC says...

      Whoa. Wait a second. I think this is a very grey area we’re going into where someone who has been accused is then damned forever. I have no idea what transpired between Aziz Ansari and his accuser, but I do not think it ok to damn someone on allegations alone — what happened to innocent until proven guilty? If I remember correctly, this allegation was around an article about sexual misconduct where ultimately the author was criticized for her handling of the story and for not following accepted journalistic standards. I have no idea whether or not Ansari sexually assaulted anyone, and will join you in damning him if if he did, but there’s more grey in this specific instance than a cut and dry decision to erase him from any list.

    • joann says...

      also disappointed to see this listed, us ladies gotta stick together.

    • SR says...

      There was a post on COJ about the Aziz Ansari misconduct. I remember it being good! You might want to look for it. :)

    • Wendyloch says...

      I’m with TC on this. While sexual assault charges are extremely serious, as I recall, this particular allegation was very grey indeed. Many folks at the time, women and men, criticized the woman who wrote that public accusation for essentially criminalizing a “bad date.” This may or may not be true, but it definitely muddied the waters, and convicted Ansari forever in the court of public opinion is as problematic as being dismissive of sexual assault. Yes we need to listen to women (I myself can nod my head to “me too” experiences), but innocent until proven guilty is the foundation of justice. Best not to forget that.

    • joann says...

      I guess I don’t understand if Joanna says in the previous post linked above: “I have to admit, I had complicated feelings after reading Grace’s story. Why was he so aggressive? Why didn’t he stop? Why did she keep kissing him? Why didn’t she leave?” why you would then now actively choose to highlight his show? Sure maybe you don’t want to condemn him, but why would you choose to highlight him when you could use your voice to uplift so many others?

    • Hannah says...

      I appreciate everyone’s thoughtful and respectful responses. Of course there was grey area in this case, and of course we abide by innocent until proven guilty (in a courtroom). I also believe we should abide in biasing towards believing women and victims. I just watched a docuseries on the Larry Nasser case. That case was only successful when hundreds of women who had been abused stepped forwards…I hope that by biasing our public opinion towards believing women, we can prevent cases from stacking up like this before they are taken seriously. But just talking about this problematic mention I think Joann summed it up perfectly in her comment. Why wade into that grey area (without even a nod to it’s existence) when there are so many other voices you could uplift? Why take the change that you could be supporting an abuser? The consequences of leaving him off a list of favorites is hardly cancel culture or erasure. I simply expect better from CoJ.

  130. Cassie says...

    With the stress of all that is 2020, my husband and I decided to rewatch How I Met Your Mother (an old-but-goodie, for us) because predictability was what we needed. When we finished that we started The Good Place, and now we’re half way thought. If you want mostly lighthearted comedy, I highly recommend both!

  131. Laura R says...

    I’ve seen 21 of these shows and loved them all. Solid recommendations!! I flew through This Way Up after you posted about it and felt so grateful to have experienced another show that gave me all the feels the way Fleabag did.

  132. Kirstin says...

    Great list! I also loved Sex Education, which I recommend to anyone that hasn’t seen it!

    • Kristin R says...

      YES!!!!

  133. Heather says...

    This is such a great list! We got really into The Last Dance this summer so if you’re looking for something similar I’d recommend All Or Nothing – Manchester City which is on Amazon. It follows the team through a whole season and is full of drama ( the good ‘will they win’ kind) and so many players and coaches to fall in love with. I played soccer growing up, but my husband didn’t and neither of us follow the premier league – it’s still so entertaining.

    And then also have to throw Hanna, The Umbrella Academy, Billions and The Good Fight in here too – we plowed through those shows and they’re easy worlds to escape into.

  134. Vivian says...

    Thank you so much for the list! I often feel uninspired to start something new and fall back on old episodes of shows I already love. Will definitely be coming back to this post for inspiration :)

    On another note, I might have missed your This Way Up recommendation last year but I clicked on your personal note link and oh my, I can so relate! I often have a hard time talking about my experiences with depression and mental health struggles because to an onlooker, I’m not what you think of when you think of depression. Glad to hear this show offers visibility to a different type of experience and will definitely be watching immediately :)

  135. Danielle says...

    I just binged Emily in Paris on Netflix in a few days. Makes me sweetly reminisce about my time studying abroad. It’s definitely an easy, transporting watch after a long day. The characters, the outfits, and the scenery ??.

    • AMK says...

      100% binge watched it over the weekend. It was just what I needed ??

  136. Joyce says...

    THANK YOU!

    Thoughts:
    *Have you seen Parks & Rec? (Feels v a million hours of comedy)
    *Have you seen Gilmore Girls? (People love this or hate it, it seems, I love it.)

    Potentially annoying aside: Does Dev really live in BK? Seemed v Manhattan to me. Or maybe just all the restaurants he frequented were Manhattan? Might be wrong, watched ages ago, but I had to ask. Great show!

    Less annoying aside: Olive as a name! Swoon. Elizabeth Strout forever.

  137. Jenn says...

    Netflix: Julie and the Phantoms is super cute (probably the “older kids” category, but I’m 31 and loved it). Emily in Paris if you’re into a Sex and the City vibe. The Duchess and Sex Education for comedy. Get Even is only one season, but well done -kind of a mystery, kind of a thriller. If you want to cry and don’t mind reading subtitles (or you already speak Korean) Crash Landing on You is a romantic, emotional rollercoaster. And Selling Sunset and Styling Hollywood for reality tv junkies.

    On Hulu: Shrill and Ramy are both good.

    Can you tell I’ve had a lot of time to watch tv during quarantine, lol?

  138. Anna says...

    I completely agree about Succession, we watched the first two episodes and gave up, the characters were so obnoxious! Lockdown boredom meant we gave it another chance, and by episode three we were hooked. It is so good, and the music is incredible. I was devastated when we got to the end of season two, I think I’m going to watch it again!

    I haven’t enjoyed anything as much since Mad Men, which will always be my number one!

  139. Emily says...

    Adding on:
    – Westworld for a sci-fi romp
    – Game of Thrones for an engrossing story of which there’s approximately a million hours
    – Ramy for a heartfelt, funny and serious exploration of identity
    – Transparent (up until the last ‘season’)

    The funniest shows that got me through quarantine (so far):
    – What we do in the shadows
    – Stath Lets Flats

  140. Derry Girls! Set in the late 1990s in Northern Ireland, it nails the awkwardness of true teenagers, late 90s references (think Bill Clinton, The Cranberries, Take That), is completely hilarious and more than a little heart-warming (my parents loved it, too, though they had to watch it with subtitles on). In the same vein, we also loved Moone Boy—it stars Chris O’Dowd as a little kid’s imaginary friend and steady sidekick as his chaotic family lives through the 1990s in a little Irish town. (I guess I really love Irish TV?)

  141. Claire says...

    Sex Education is hilarious, cringey, and altogether lovely. Super well acted. 2 seasons on Netflix. :)

    The West Wing, on Netflix, has seven seasons and makes you feel nostaglic for when we had a reliable president. All around incredible cast.

    Offspring, 6-7 seasons?, is a sweet Australian show about an OBGYN and her kooky family. Hilarious, heartwarming, and also real. Covers grief and loss.

    • Emilie says...

      YES to the West Wing. I watched it years ago during law school and it made me realize lawyers could work beyond the four walls of a firm and do real good. It is also a lesson in civic responsibility.

      I’m re-watching from the beginning now with my boyfriend during quarantine, and trying to think of better times ahead for the people who will one day work inside, with a leader who would not expose his staff and loyal servants to a deadly disease. I thought it would be depressing to watch it with Trump in office (because the first time I watched we have Obama), but it has been oddly cathartic. HIGHLY recommend (for others in Canada, its no longer on our Netflix but is worth spending the $10/month for a good VPN).

      Love this list!! Thanks Jo and all the commenters <3

  142. Ari says...

    Search Party (my fave) has three seasons! Love the list above and also recommend: Pushing Daisies; Freaks and Geeks; The OA; Shrill; Bojack Horseman; Jane the Virgin; Nathan For You; and far too many anime. Don’t discount anime!

    • Agnès says...

      I can t explain why i can t watch fictions on tv since the pandemic. Has anyone else expérienced that? I did watch and really enjoyed Unbelievable (on Netflix) based on a true story of a girl accused of lying about her rape. 2 female inspectors investigate a series of rape and it ends “well”. The actresses are so so brillant and the characters are powerful. I spent hours afterwards reading interviews of these Real police women.

    • Sarah says...

      Agnes – I’ve struggled with TV in a major way during the pandemic too! Especially shows where I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s almost like I can’t handle watching sad/hard things if they hit too close to home. This is especially true of fictional shows. So strange! Just wanted to let you know you aren’t alone.

  143. Lissa says...

    Joanna, thank you for the great list! I would add The Fall, which is a thriller/crime drama featuring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan (of 50 Shades fame, but oddly much hotter as a serial killer). It’s an Irish series that aired there from 2013-2016, but has now had a resurgence in the US. I binged 3 seasons in as many weeks!

  144. Sonja says...

    I too am unabashedly in love with TV; this list does offer the push I need to dive into a couple of the shows that are all saved to one list or another. Of all the shows on this list I have seen (most!) I whole heartedly agree with the recommendations!

    I’d add Parks and Recreation, The Office, The Good Place, and Queer Eye (JVN!!!).

    Also, I’m feeling like every day I haven’t read Olive Kitteridge is a day lost. Must rectify.

  145. Nina says...

    For UK readers: Normal People, Fleabag, and I May Destroy You are on BBC iPlayer, and This Way Up and Catastrophe are on 4OD (/My4/whatever they call it now – Channel 4 catch-up) – all for free.

  146. K says...

    Brooklyn 99!!!

  147. Clare says...

    I May Destroy You is FANTASTIC. So creative, so well done, heavy but so full of magic and funny.

  148. Jules says...

    Ted Lasso!

    It’s only one season & on (the otherwise useless) Apple TV+ but it’s just an interesting, feel good show! My husband & I love it. It’s about an American football coach turned soccer coach but there’s not a lot of sports in it.

    As always Arrested Development.

  149. Zoe says...

    I will also always, always, ALWAYS recommend This is Us. The most accurate portrayal of real, flawed human beings in any TV show out there! All 4 seasons are on Hulu right now. I re-watched the entire thing at the beginning of quarantine and felt all the feels. Can’t wait for the next season!

  150. Caitlin says...

    Great list!!

    One edit – Search party has three seasons :)