12 Feel-Good TV Shows You Can Stream Right Now

Nov 13 2018 -- 8:30 AM

The world is a scary, stressful place that can be hard to make sense of on a day-to-day basis. As politics swirl to a deafening crescendo, and as California suffers from devastating wildfires, things are feeling pretty bleak. But that's when art and entertainment can soothe the soul and calm our fears. Television is an especially potent emollient, as it allows us to steep ourselves in another world for hours, with characters who might galvanize or relieve us. There's no shortage of heartwarming, caring, feel-good shows out there, but here are some of our favorites; the things we turn to again and again to take our mind off the bigger things, even just for a half hour.

The Good Place

It's weird to think that a show about death could be relieving in times like this, but leave it to Mike Schur to deliver a series that takes the macabre reality out of its premise and mines that subject matter for heartwarming human truths. Kristen Bell is fantastic as Eleanor, a not-so-great person who somehow ended up in a utopian afterlife. Things get very complicated from the pilot's initial plot, but The Good Place never strays from its message of hope and humanity.

Where To Stream: Netflix, Hulu (New Episodes)

The Great British Baking Show

This beloved baking series has been a huge hit overseas for a while but made its way stateside a few years ago to the delight of anyone who is soothed by frosting piping and British accents. The reality-based competition series is less brutal than American baking shows; it feels less like a neck-and-neck showdown and more like a group of pleasant people gathered ‘round a tent in the English countryside, doing what they love together. That doesn't mean the show is never without drama — who could forget Iain's meltdown in season 5? — but it rarely feels out-of-control, and always, without fail, makes us crave a good pastry.

Where To Stream: Netflix

Pushing Daisies



Amazon Prime recently gifted fans with something they've been clamoring for for years now: full streaming access to Pushing Daisies, Bryan Fuller's beloved series that was canceled far too early. The show follows a pie maker named Ned (Lee Pace) who also harbors the ability to animate the dead with a touch. His special powers are used by a secret detective agency, but things get complicated when he resurrects his childhood crush Chuck (Anna Friel) and can't bring himself to kill her again. It's a classic "the main couple can't touch" scenario, but it's done sweetly, with giant emotions and beautiful technicolor.

Where To Stream: Amazon Prime

Parks and Recreation

If we really wanted to, we could fill an entire list with Mike Schur shows. We'll cap it at two, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention Parks and Recreation, possibly the most feel-good show of all time. The show follows a tiny parks department in Pawnee, Indiana that is essentially run by Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), a plucky blonde lady with enough ambition and kindness to rule the world. She's surrounded by a cast full of brilliant characters and incredible actors who bring their own flavor to this series, a re-watchable, rewarding story about small-town love and the people who bring meaning to our lives.

Where To Stream: Netflix

Fresh Off the Boat

Constance Wu and Randall Park could make any project sing, but  Fresh Off the Boat matches their talent with witty, heartfelt writing. The series follows an Asian family who move from Chinatown, D.C. to Orlando to open a cowboy-themed restaurant in the 1990s. Told from the perspective of the family's son, Eddie, the show is a delightful comedy that deals with culture clashes, the meaning of family, and a rumination on the American dream.

Where To Stream: Hulu

Hart of Dixie

This show never got a huge amount of love during its run, even though it's basically a warm blanket in the form of a TV series. Rachel Bilson plays Zoe Hart, a big-city doctor who comes to the small town of Bluebell, Alabama after she inherits her father's practice. The show has major Gilmore Girl vibes with a vibrant town and its unique personalities. There's something special and relieving about stepping into the slow-paced world of Bluebell and leaving reality behind for a bit.

Where To Stream: Netflix

Hey Arnold!

Hulu has made a home for many of our beloved Nickelodeon cartoons of yesteryear. Among the best is Hey Arnold!, a series about adolescence that feels every bit as real and important as live-action shows like Freaks and Geeks. The eponymous football-head-shaped character is a launching pad for stories about big city life with a human touch. Arnold's worldview -- from his diverse array of friends to his whacky life in a boarding house run by his zany grandparents -- is uniquely hilarious and feels pertinent all these years later. The sign of a show that stood the test of time.

Where To Stream: Hulu

Younger

We totally love this series about a 40-year-old woman (Sutton Foster) who poses as a Millennial 20-something to land a job at a trendy publishing house. The series follows her as she attempts to hide her secret from her coworkers and love interests. It's a concept that shouldn't work at all, but somehow, Foster and the rest of the cast -- including Hilary Duff and Debi Mazar -- elevate Younger into something both silly and special, and, like everything else on this list, something that's easy to breeze through and feel something other than existential dread.

Where To Stream: Hulu

Schitt's Creek


An unmitigated delight from start to finish. (Hopefully it's not finished yet!) Comedy legend Eugene Levy and his son Dan Levy created this Canadian series about a wealthy but vapid family who lose everything but a single asset: the tiny little burg of Schitt's Creek which they bought as a joke birthday gift in 1991. Catherine O'Hara is simply perfect as the family's former-soap-star matriarch, and Chris Elliott is in top form as the town's mayor, Roland Schitt. It's one of the funniest shows on TV and there are many, many episodes available.

Where To Stream: Netflix

Pen15

That a series about the experiences of seventh grade could ever be categorized on a list of “feel good” television shows may sound like an impossibility. And truth be told, there is a lot of material in Pen15 that just might drudge up the dread and anxiety tethered to so many of your middle school memories. But the friendship between 13-year-old Maya and Anna—played in a manner that is inscrutably not too gimmicky by series co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle (among a cast of actual teenagers)—is touching, hilarious, and downright rejuvenating. The series also features some of the best physical comedy TV has seen in ages.

Where To Stream: Hulu

Santa Clarita Diet


You probably think you're zombied out at this point. You've seen the living dead in every possible permutation. Well, you're wrong. This twisted yet upbeat series follow a pair of real estate agents (Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant) whose lives go from zero to violent when Barrymore becomes a zombie. Not a grotty, rotting zombie; she just craves human flesh is all. The series deals with neighbors, jobs, and relationships all while posing a very strange, cosmic mystery. Why are these people zombies? Also there are weird wads of meat with spider legs. It's very strange.

Where To Stream: Netflix

The Other Two

The Other Two is the rare kind of show whose premise alone is enough to make you laugh. The pilot introduces Chase Dreams, a talented 14-year-old who skyrockets to instant superstardom after posting a single music video on social media. But the series isn’t about Chase; it’s about his two older siblings, who are anything but successes in their own right. Its satire of showbiz culture packs a bite, but The Other Two is surprisingly tender when it deals with the relationships among adult messes Brooke and Carey, their innocent teenage brother, and their coming-loose-at-the-seams mom, played to grandeur by Molly Shannon.

Where To Stream: ComedyCentral.com

Those are our picks for feel-good entertainment, but what's your go-to? Let us know in the comments!
Additional writing: Mica Arbeiter, Kyle Anderson

Image: NBC/Warner Bros.