Settle in with the perfect bingeworthy classic TV show.

By Lisa Milbrand
April 15, 2020
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So you’ve already made your way through Tiger King, and watched The Office and Friends so many times you’re starting to have nightmares about Dwight and Janice quarantining with you. Before you try your luck with another hot new show, maybe it’s time for a little comfort food TV, in the form of an old favorite show that you may have forgotten about for a while. Dust off one of these old gems that are worthy of another viewing while you're stuck at home, perfectly suited to your mood at the moment.

If your quarantine-mate's behavior is getting on your nerves (or you're concerned you're the problem in your lockdown), spend a little time with some much-less-likeable characters to remind yourself just how good you've got it.

  • No matter how many virtual happy hours you have and how much screen time your kids log, you're already parent of the year compared to the hilariously awful Edina Monsoon on Absolutely Fabulous (Hulu and Amazon Prime). And hey, a few episodes with her and her wild-child pal Patsy Stone will make you feel like you're out carousing from the comfort of your couch.
  •  If you're feeling guilty about not completing your novel/baking your own sourdough bread/working out every day while you're on quarantine, Seinfeld (Hulu), the show that's famously about nothing, has you covered—with entire episodes dedicated to puffy shirts and waiting for a table at a restaurant.
  • Even if you feel like you might want to kill your family by the end of quarantine day 39, The Sopranos (HBO Now/GO) actually do murder their loved ones with surprising regularity. Binge it now while it's available for free, so you're prepped for the upcoming prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark.
  • Get caught up in the drama of swanky prep school kids in Gossip Girl (Netflix) when you're tired of the drama within your household.

Encourage your Frozen 2-loving kids to let it go by offering something that might just entertain you, too.

  • Monty Python's Flying Circus (Netflix) may have an inappropriate moment or two (which will likely go over your kiddo's head, to be honest), but the Minister of Silly Walks and Spam skits are destined to be beloved by the next generation, too.
  • Phineas and Ferb (Disney+) could provide the inspiration to get your kids to drop their phones and find something creative to do during lockdown. And if not, at least you'll be entertained along with them.
  • Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood (Amazon Prime) might be the perfect moment of zen if your kids are getting a little rowdy—and his kinder, gentler vibe might help soothe your frazzled nerves, too.
  • Introduce your kiddos to the wild weirdness of Pee-wee's Playhouse (Netflix), which has little bits of wicked adult humor for you.
  • Adventure Time (Hulu) could be just surreal enough to take you away from the news—and your kids will definitely love the crazy universe they've cooked up.
  • Make your inner angsty teen happy by revisiting Daria (Hulu), which is still super relatable to Gen Z's tweens and teens.

While the daily news features plenty of everyday heroes, you might want to revisit superheroes of the larger-than-life sort.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Hulu) and her Scooby gang saved the world a lot in the show's seven seasons. If you're feeling a little apocalyptic about what's going on in the world, take comfort in that it's not a demonic mayor looking to ascend to a new level and eat your town in the process.
  • You'll have to wait a few more weeks before the last 11 seasons of Doctor Who touch down when HBO Max launches in May, but the show's time-traveling, persona-shifting Gallifreyan hero/heroine has soft spots in his/her two hearts for humankind.
  • Buffy spinoff Angel (Hulu) was just hitting its stride when it was unceremoniously canceled. But Buffy's vampire-with-a-soul ex shares the same clever writing (and several favorite characters) with its partner-in-fighting-crime.
  • If you like superheroes of a more traditional sort, Smallville (Hulu) gives you 10 seasons worth of teenage Superman (and his future nemesis, Lex Luthor) to enjoy.

Who would have thought that you'd miss catching up with your colleagues around the cubicles? If Zoom meetings pale in comparison, spend some time with these binge-worthy workplace shows.

  • Ugly Betty (Hulu) offered a soapy take on life at a fashion magazine—with a deliciously out-of-place heroine.
  • Mad Men (Netflix) may be more like a cautionary tale of workplace-gone-wrong than a place you'd like to work—but you'll get wrapped up in the 1960s aesthetic.
  • If you missed catching the crazy staffers at clearly-based-on-SNL comedy show on 30 Rock (Hulu and Amazon Prime), now's the perfect time to catch up.

Trade in the coronavirus daily news briefing for a more fictional take on what the government's up to.

  • West Wing (Netflix) gives you an insider's look at what happens in the White House with an inspiring (but all too human) President Bartlet—though you might want to skip the fifth season's "No Exit," which depicts the staff on a coronavirus-like lockdown after a potential contaminant is detected.
  • Veep (HBO Now/GO) captured a wickedly funny spin on life in the White House during a few incredibly unproductive administrations.
  • Before the internet became home to elaborate government conspiracy theories, The X-Files (Hulu) weaved some pretty amazing ones about alien abductions and illnesses.

If you're ready to trade in smartphones and Slack for a simpler life, try a show that takes you way back.

  • Get a glimpse at life as a noble (or someone serving a noble) in PBS' beloved Downton Abbey (Amazon Prime).
  • It's not technically a show, but the Colin Firth-led miniseries of Pride & Prejudice (Hulu) takes you back to a time when the biggest drama is finding a good match for your daughters—and having your silliest daughter elope with a soldier.
  • Take a nostalgic trip through childhood and the teen years in the 1960s (even if you were born well after that) via The Wonder Years (Hulu).
  • You may envy Carol Brady's full-time housekeeper and groovy, lockdown-perfect house (with its own office!), but managing the six kids in the Brady Bunch (Hulu) would definitely be a lot of work.

The shows you used to cue up your VCR to capture have found new on-demand homes to fuel a feel-good nostalgia trip.

  • You might want to skip the controversial last few episodes of the legen-(wait for it)-dary series How I Met Your Mother (Hulu), but the rest of the show is pretty darned great. (Warning: You may end up as the slap bet commissioner in your own house.)
  • When you don't have your own virtual happy hour lined up, grab a drink and head over to the bar where everybody knows your name, Cheers (Netflix and Hulu).
  • Gilmore Girls (Netflix) recently released a short-run revival, but the folks at Stars Hollow are definitely worth revisiting from the very beginning.

When you’re on day feels-like-a-million of just sitting on your couch, you’ll take any opportunity to check out a new frontier.

  • The plane crash survivors on Lost (Hulu) were in their own form of shelter-in-place on a tropical island with smoke monsters and other dangers—and were probably in dire need of toilet paper, too.
  • Firefly (Hulu) was one of the most short-lived shows with a rabid fan base—it mixed the genres of sci-fi and westerns in a tale of a group of pioneers on the far reaches of space.
  • Star Trek (Netflix) was the sci-fi show that launched a ton of spinoffs (and copy cats)—but the kitschy cool of the one that started it all is worth repeating now.

You may not be able to solve the coronavirus problem (or why the dirty dishes seem to accumulate five times faster when you're home all day), but these shows might be able to take your mind off of those problems for a while.

  • It's been 30 years since we first tried to figure out who killed Laura Palmer, but Twin Peaks (Netflix & Hulu) is definitely worth a revisit—even if cherry pie's a little hard to come by.
  • As a crime solver with OCD, Monk (Amazon Prime) can probably teach you a thing or two about washing hands when he's not busy solving mysteries.
  • Veronica Mars (Hulu) got her start as a smart, tough-talking teen detective in 2004. After a few seasons (and a 12-year hiatus), a new season dropped just last year—making this the perfect time to rewatch the old stuff before diving into the new season.

Medical dramas may feel a little too real right now, but choosing a show on the lighter side might do the trick.

  • M*A*S*H (Hulu) still regularly makes critics' lists of top TV shows of all time nearly 50 years after it first appeared. While billed as a comedy, the show's depiction of a group of Army medical personnel during the Korean War regularly veered into more serious territory.
  • Scrubs (Hulu) played like the diary of J.D., a goofy medical intern, on his path to becoming a full-fledged doctor at Sacred Heart Hospital.