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8 Comfort TV Shows That Help Soothe My Depression

Self-Care

February 01, 2024

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Photography by Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

Photography by Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

by Maya Capasso

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Medically Reviewed by:

Francis Kuehnle, MSN, RN-BC

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•••••

by Maya Capasso

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Francis Kuehnle, MSN, RN-BC

•••••

•••••

Whether it’s to distract myself, boost my mood, or just relax, TV is one of my go-to coping tools. Here’s a variety of shows that help my mental health in different ways.

Watching TV is one of my favorite ways to relax, unwind, and consume stories. Sometimes, I even use it as a tool to help fight my depression. TV can be a great distraction when you’re overwhelmed by negative emotions or stuck in a damaging thought spiral.

When I feel like everything going on inside my head is too much, I put on my favorite comfort shows to help me find calm so I can reassess the situation later from a better place.

I also watch TV as a form of self-care. I’m drawn to TV because it helps me relax and engages my mind in enticing stories that inform my beliefs about myself and the world. TV can also provide important validation for my depression when it’s done right.

Other shows offer hope that life can improve and that other people share my beliefs about the importance of love and community over power and greed.

Here are eight of my go-to comfort TV series to help me feel soothed, validated, and hopeful about the future.

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1. ‘Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts’ (2020)

If you’re searching for a show that embraces positivity and compassion coupled with a dose of dystopian sci-fi, “Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts” is the animated series for you.

It’s about a human girl named Kipo (Karen Fukuhara) who lives in an underground burrow because mutant animals have taken over the planet’s surface.

But one day, Kipo’s life turns upside down when she winds up stuck on the surface with no idea how to return home.

There, she meets some hardened surface-dwelling humans and a couple of helpful “mutes,” and makes it her mission to find her people and end the war between humans and mutes.

Kipo’s character is incredibly endearing. She’s outrageously positive, incredibly empathetic, and confident that her kindness can save the world.

She’s a perfect example of the best kind of leader: She cares deeply about her community and finding peace for everyone rather than seeking power to fuel selfish motives.

I’ve watched “Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts” at least ten times by now, and it always hits the spot when I’m stuck in a negative thought spiral about the future of humanity.

Kipo gives me hope because she reminds me that I’m not the only person in the world who craves peace, love, and community over hierarchy, money-making, and power.

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2. ‘The Good Place’ (2016–2020)

“The Good Place” is a unique and hilarious sitcom that follows a woman named Eleanor (Kristen Bell) who wakes up in a calming waiting room and soon learns that she died and went to the Good Place, a peaceful world where good people go after passing.

As she tours her new home, she makes an earth-shattering realization: She isn’t a humanitarian like the Good Place architect, Michael (Ted Danson), believes.

Instead, she was a mediocre person who got by in life by insulting others and excusing her poor behavior with her parents’ divorce. She doesn’t belong in the Good Place, but if she tells Michael, he’ll send her straight to the Bad Place.

“The Good Place” is compelling to me not only because of its unique interpretation of the afterlife and its spot-on humor, but also because of its endearing yet flawed characters and the moral journeys they take throughout the series.

“The Good Place” is highly philosophical, but it presents the subject in an easily digestible way that allows me to grapple with my place in the world as I watch.

The characters’ problems are quite literally out of this world, which helps put some distance between my problems and theirs. At the same time, anyone can relate to their challenges as they reflect on the choices they made on Earth.

3. ‘The Dragon Prince’ (2018–)

As an epic story of good versus evil and love versus power, “The Dragon Prince” whisks me away into a world of awesome dragons, magical realms, and a few brave kids trying to make the world a better place.

The story begins when elves descend upon the human kingdom of Katolis, seeking vengeance against the king. But their plot gets derailed when the two human princes and one elf assassin stumble across the egg of the dragon king.

Everyone thought the egg had been destroyed. Its existence could end the war and bring peace to the magical land of Xadia — if it returns home safely.

Journeying across magical kingdoms and embarking on adventures with elves, dragons, and sorcery provides a much-needed respite from the darkness of the real world. But at the same time, Xadia has its own struggles with greed and power, reflecting that of the world we live in.

Watching “The Dragon Prince” helps me process a central theme of my depression — the overwhelming evil in the world and how to overcome it, while also taking me away from reality.

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4. ‘The Great Pottery Throwdown’ (2015–)

While many competition reality shows only bring more stress and strife to their viewers’ lives, I find British reality television much more kindhearted and slow-paced than the American variety.

Shows like “The Great British Baking Show” (2010-) became popular because of their creativity and wholesomeness, and “The Great Pottery Throwdown” is my particular favorite.

Instead of bakers, the series gathers amateur ceramics artists from around Britain to compete for the spot of Top Potter each week.

The contestants face tough artistic and functional challenges to create the best sculptures, mugs, dinner sets, and more with clay.

I love popping on this series when I feel down because the competitors’ joy and passion for clay and creativity shine through the screen.

Watching the clay move on the wheel is calming in itself, and coupled with the pleasant attitudes of the potters and the passion of the judges, this series makes for the perfect comfort show.

5. ‘Hilda’ (2018–2023)

If you can’t tell by now, I find animated children’s series extremely comforting. “Hilda” is another animated series full of magic and whimsy that puts my mind at ease.

It’s about an adventurous girl named Hilda (Bella Ramsey) who has lived in the forest with her mother for her whole life until a giant steps on her house and forces her family to the city of Trollberg.

Hilda’s daring spirit lands her in strange, enchanting situations with witches, trolls, and other unique magical creatures that flesh out Hilda’s incredible world. It’s easy to get lost on an adventure with Hilda and her friends.

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6. ‘Schitt’s Creek’ (2015–2020)

Lighthearted sitcoms make wonderful medicine, especially when they’re as hilarious and well-developed as “Schitt’s Creek.” This Canadian sitcom follows the wealthy celebrity Rose family after they lose all of their money in a massive scam.

Left only with the deed to a small town originally gifted to the son as a joke, the family moves to the rural Schitt’s Creek and into a motel as they attempt to rebuild their lives.

The melodramatic antics of the disgraced Roses mixed with the wholesome and slightly aggravating hijinks of the local townspeople always put silly situations at the forefront of each episode.

It’s easy to distract myself from my own problems when I’m watching the Roses bumble through their difficult new situation and come out on the other side as better people.

7. ‘She Ra and the Princesses of Power’ (2018–2020)

This animated series for teens (and adults!) got me through the quarantine era of the early pandemic. It’s about Adora (Aimee Carrero), an orphan trained by the Horde to fight against the princesses on the planet Etheria.

After wandering into the forbidden Whispering Woods, Adora discovers that she is a powerful princess and the Horde isn’t her savior but her enemy.

After joining forces with the Princess Rebellion, Adora’s childhood best friend, Catra (AJ Michalka), grows bitter and rises up the ranks of the Horde to take down Adora herself.

While “She Ra and the Princesses of Power” contains dark themes of childhood trauma and fascism, it also leans heavily into hope.

It encourages us to take our power back and fight greed and corruption against all odds. Its magical world and optimistic plot help me get out of my head during tough times.

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8. ‘BoJack Horseman’ (2014–2020)

Unlike other series on this list, “BoJack Horseman” doesn’t serve as a distraction from my depression. Instead, it asks me to confront my mental health struggles.

This adult animated series follows a forgotten B-list sitcom star from the 90s named BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett), who deals with drug misuse, depression, and low self-esteem.

In the first season, BoJack decides to write a memoir and hires a ghostwriter named Diane (Alison Brie), who becomes his best friend.

There is no other show like “BoJack Horseman.” Filled with both ridiculous satire and moments of intense, painful realism, the series understands depression and mental health issues like no other I’ve ever seen.

Both BoJack and Diane live with long-term depression, which is something I can relate to. One episode in season four understands the self-deprecating internal dialogue that comes to us in the throes of depression, and watching that episode reminds me that I’m not alone.

In the last season, Diane goes on a healing journey from her depression that hits home. Diane reminds me that I deserve to get better and to prioritize my happiness.

The takeaway

Watching TV helps ease my depression when I need a distraction, a form of self-care, or a moment of validation.

From “Bojack Horseman” to “The Good Place,” some shows remind me that I’m not alone, and others help me see the good in the world.

Overall, these series’ beautiful stories and relatable characters help me get through the most challenging moments when I’m depressed and feel like I can’t do anything but lie in bed and turn on the TV.

Medically reviewed on February 01, 2024


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About the author

Maya Capasso

Maya Capasso (she/they) is a writer, entertainment journalist, and mental health advocate who hopes to raise awareness and help others feel less alone with their writing. She believes being open about her life-long struggle with depression works to break stigmas around mental health conditions and validates others with similar experiences. When they’re not writing, Maya’s typically binging TV shows, creating pottery at their local studio, or playing with her pup, Turnip. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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