Lights, Camera, Comfort: Lighthearted Shows to Add to Your Watchlist

Take a break and relax by watching one of these five funny, playful shows
Community, a show that follows a Spanish study group on their journey through community college, is a great series for people who love homages to famous movies, crazy adventures, and lots of laughs!
Community, a show that follows a Spanish study group on their journey through community college, is a great series for people who love homages to famous movies, crazy adventures, and lots of laughs!
@communitytv on Instagram

The season of APs and cumulatives is upon us, and if you’re feeling stressed, you’re not alone. But just because you might have a history paper, chemistry exam, and English essay due on the same day doesn’t mean you can’t take some time to relax; so, here are five comfort shows to watch — or maybe rewatch — and do just that. 

Parks and Recreation (Peacock)

A show about the employees of the parks and recreation department of a small town may sound like something a substitute teacher would show a US government class, but Parks and Recreation proves to be the perfect comfort show by bringing laughter and heart into every aspect of seemingly tedious government jobs. 

Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the ever-positive deputy director of Pawnee, Indiana’s parks and recreation department, stars in this mockumentary-style sitcom along with her best friend Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), her Libertarian boss Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), her outgoing assistant Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), the deadpan and apathetic intern April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), and goofball Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), among others. 

Together, the coworkers navigate government bureaucracy to accomplish such lofty goals as filling in a pit in an empty lot — into which Andy fell in the first season — and organizing a harvest festival, as well as more short-term projects, like removing a possum from a golf course. But no matter what the situation is, we can always count on Leslie to do her best, Ron to try and stop her, Tom to be playing Scrabble on his computer, and April to be indifferent… unless it has to do with three-legged dogs. 

Parks and Rec (as it is often abbreviated) creates many zany situations for its characters to work through, but there are just as many heartfelt moments that make us love Leslie and her team, despite their (many) flaws. So grab your waffles from JJ’s Diner and settle in for seven seasons of laughs.

Modern Family (Hulu, Peacock)

Any good show sees characters grow between the first and last season — and Modern Family took that literally. Characters that started as toddlers grew into teenagers, and teenagers grew into adults between the show’s first season in 2009 and last season in 2020. 

Modern Family follows three families, all connected by the patriarch and businessman Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill). His daughter, the uptight Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen), her oblivious husband Phil (Ty Burrell), and their three kids — popular Haley (Sarah Hyland), studious Alex (Ariel Winter), and unserious Luke (Nolan Gould)  — make up the Dunphy family; Jay’s son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), his dramatic husband Cameron (Eric Stonestreet), and their deadpan daughter Lily (Jaden and Ella Hiller in seasons 1 and 2, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons in later seasons) are the Tucker-Pritchetts; and Jay, his second wife Gloria (Sofía Vergara), and her theater-loving, coffee-drinking son Manny (Rico Rodriguez) are the Delgado-Pritchetts.

Whether the family is working together or competing, the Pritchetts are always there for each other at the end of the day. They will always make it to Lily’s soccer games (even if they need to get shot in the foot and learn a valuable lesson first), they will always support Phil and Luke through all of their crazy ideas (self-flipping popcorn pancakes, anyone?), and most of all, they will always be family.

The Good Place (Apple TV, Netflix)

“Everything is fine.” At least, that’s what Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) believes when she first arrives in the Good Place, a heaven-like afterlife run by architect Michael (Ted Danson). But all is not what it seems in the too-perfect utopia, as Eleanor soon finds out she has been confused for another person and sent to the Good Place by mistake.

Rather than admitting she is the wrong Eleanor and being sent to the hellish Bad Place, Eleanor decides to enlist the help of her indecisive moral philosophy professor soulmate Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper) to make her a better person deserving of being in the Good Place. She soon forms unlikely friendships with the famous, condescending, and name-dropping Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) and clueless Jacksonville Jaguars superfan Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto), as well as getting to know Michael and Janet (D’Arcy Carden), an informational assistant found in every Good Place and Bad Place.

Armed with a few too many clown paintings, some books by Kant, and a couple molotov cocktails, the group will begin to unravel the mystery of how Eleanor was placed in the wrong afterlife, how she can stay, and if she even deserves to. 

The Good Place will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will make you question the nature of existence… but I can promise it will mostly make you laugh.

Schitt’s Creek (Amazon Prime Video, Hulu)

When you have so much money that you can buy a small town for your son as a joke, having to move from a mansion to a motel in that same small town can seem like the end of the world. And for the Rose family, that is exactly what happens.

Moving to Schitt’s Creek takes some adjusting for all four Roses: Johnny (Eugene Levy), the former owner of a popular video store, his wife Moira (Catherine O’Hara), an actress known for her time on the soap opera Sunrise Bay, their son David (Daniel Levy), whose expensive taste in fashion and art does not take well to the move, and their daughter Alexis (Annie Murphy), the social butterfly with a turbulent dating life and past of world travel. 

Stuck in a town with no income, no connections, and no ability to get back to the life they lost, the family has to come to terms with their new situation… something that none of them are too happy to do. Together, they navigate cooking (even if they don’t know what “folding in the cheese” means, much to David’s frustration), buying a car (which somehow involves pretending to be a twin separated at birth by Russian mobsters), and auditioning for the town’s production of Cabaret (leading Alexis to perform her original song “A Little Bit Alexis”) — eventually causing them to form an attachment with the town and learn that money isn’t everything.

Community (Hulu, Peacock)

Community has everything. A Star Wars-themed paintball war. A rap about disco spiders. A zombie apocalypse. A rap about peanuts. Multiple different timelines and alternate versions of the characters. A rap about anthropology. There are musical episodes, puppet and claymation episodes, conspiracy theories about night school, adventures in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, crime families that control the school’s chicken finger supply, pillow forts… any suggestion that sounds like it was thrown out at an amateur improv show, Community has an episode on.

That’s just part of the show’s charm. It can go from being a Law and Order-style show about a crushed yam to a completely earnest story about love, fitting in, or forgiveness. The utter chaos of the episodes don’t detract from messages in the slightest, and the flexibility between genres and tones makes every 20 minutes a whole new experience.

But though the show is constantly evolving, there are a few constants: the show’s main characters, who are all part of the same Spanish study group at Greendale Community College. Disbarred lawyer Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), political activist Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), film student Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), childish Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), academic overachiever Annie Edison (Alison Brie), divorced mom Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), and owner of Hawthorne Wipes Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase) must work together to avoid failing Señor Chang (Ben Jeong)’s Spanish class.

Meanwhile, we are still waiting for the next era of Community. We have six seasons, but as Abed loves to remind us, the true mark of any great show is nothing less than “six seasons and a movie!”

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