It’s Week 10 of the semester – we’ve made it to double digits – and 2016 has gone from abysmal to apocalyptic. We asked students around campus what they watch to take their mind of the state of the world.
No, I’m not talking about that Road to Ibiza shite; I’m talking about old school Coach Trip. It is the series that sees middle aged couples travel around Europe in hideous sweaters to bitch about how the others are forming ‘voting blocs’.
Led by the ever-present, ever-sassy, tour guide Brendan, watching the merry band of baffled Brits abroad participate in a variety of unusual local activities (Swedish rap was probably a personal favourite) is a delight for anyone seeking solace after a heavy night out, or just a worryingly over-productive day at the library. If that wasn’t enough, the voting system involving yellow and red cards creates the sort of petty infighting that even high school students would find over the top. Accusing someone of ‘tactical voting’ is basically the same as shitting in their bed, and you’ll soon develop favourites (no one ever likes someone called Janet). At only 20 minutes per episode, they are easy to rattle through. Once you’re on the trip, there’s no getting off.
Third Rock from the Sun
In 1990s sitcom Third Rock from the Sun, a troupe of aliens who land on Earth to pose as a normal family are under the command of a bumbling, often confused white male – much like the future of my home country. In bite-sized 20-minute episodes these extraterrestrials stumble into suddenly absurd human situations, such as confronting the baffling notion of race, or trying to figure out the mysteries of how another tissue appears at the top of a Kleenex box once you take one out. Lull yourself into a false sense of comfort as they learn to interact with humans: for instance, the moment when the Commander’s assistant exclaims, “I knew you had a thing for her!” only for him to respond. “Yes, but I understand I’m not supposed to show it to her without her permission.”
The West Wing
The West Wing is easily one of the most comforting TV shows out there. It has seven seasons and 156 episodes, each 40 minutes long. That’s a lot of comfort. The perfect remedy for your post election hangover/panic. This American TV series follows the day to day lives of the fictional administration of Josiah Bartlett. It considers many controversial topics in American politics, while providing an insight into the workings of the US government. These topics were massively relevant during the Bush administration, when they were aired, but are arguably even more significant now. An obvious criticism of the show is its lack of diversity, although this did improve in its later seasons. Aaron Sorkin’s creation of an administration that is genuinely motivated to act solely in the interests of the American people, although somewhat idealistic, is the perfect escape from the turmoil of American politics today.
My comfort TV has to be Miranda – any episode, any series. Miranda, played by Miranda Hart, is someone who can always pick you up when you’re feeling down. Miranda’s many social gaffs and awkward encounters are bound to make you feel better about yourself, as it’s unlikely your bad day will be quite as bad as hers are.
My favourite episode has to be when Miranda and her mother Penny, (Patricia Hodge) visit a psychiatrist. It is an unusual episode as it is all set in one location, the psychiatrist’s office, as opposed to the the usual combination of Miranda’s shop, her flat and Gary’s restaurant. It is highly entertaining as Miranda and Penny try to ‘act normal’ in front of the psychiatrist. Unsurprisingly, this does not end well, with both Miranda and Penny embarrassing themselves. The situation is made worse by the mother-daughter combination as their social awkwardness is exacerbated in each other’s presence. By the end of the episode, the psychiatrist hasn’t made much progress with the pair but this is something of a relief to the viewer – we wouldn’t want Miranda or her mum to change.
Pride and Prejudice
Whenever I’m ill, sad, or a racist sexist bigot becomes President of the USA, I find the BBC’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice the perfect thing to watch to comfort myself.
Set in a pre-Trump world of politeness, respect and honour, the mini-series contains just the right amount of drama and light comic relief. As soon as the classical music of the soundtrack begins, you are sucked into a realm of costumes, manor houses and witty retorts. Mrs Bennet is a main provider of this comedy and a personal favourite, with Allison Steadman playing the role hilariously well. And who can forget Colin Firth’s lake scene, so iconic that a 12ft sculpture of Mr Darcy emerging from the water was erected in 2013 in London’s Hyde Park. If this isn’t enough to sway you into watching, I don’t know what is. Despite the gripping narrative with its plot twists and turns, you can always count on Austen to provide a perfect happy ending, which we can only hope will be reflected at the end of 2016.
When life gets tough, nothing helps like joining Lorelai and Rory Gilmore for a nice cup of coffee.
The small town madness of Stars Hollow with its quirky townsfolk is the perfect atmosphere to forget all your problems. The soothing theme song, the cosy feeling of being back in the early 2000s: Gilmore Girls is like a fictional family to come home to when you need to whine about essay stress or your lovesickness. And even though Gilmore Girls has never been necessarily apolitical (who could forget Lorelai bursting out about hating President Bush in front of her parents?), an incredibly fast talking pace and a firework of pop culture references will easily get your mind off of brooding over recent election results.
So, it is heavenly news that Netflix is going to air the revival of the series later this week. A weekend of binge-watching four whole movies full of junk food, town festivities and witty mother-daughter talk? Exactly what we need right now.
After a long day of work the only thing I want to curl up and watch is Ugly Betty – a fantastic, witty show which was sadly not on our TVs for long enough.
Set in New York, he show follows wannabe writer Betty Suarez as she lands her first job at a fashion magazine, despite having no fashion sense herself. The first scenes, in fact, show her walking into a room of stilettos in a poncho and braces. However, there is something quite comforting and relatable watching Betty retaining her clumsy and wholesome personality but continuing to succeed in an environment quite foreign to her.
The entire cast is incredible, but special attention must be paid to Vanessa Williams as the editor-in-chief Wilhemina Slater. The character supposedly resembles the real life Vogue editor Anna Wintour, strutting around the office with a fierce pout and permanently raised eyebrow: “Even if I wanted to express sympathy, I physically can’t” is perhaps one of her best lines.
There are only four seasons to get through, so Ugly Betty may in face be the perfect programme for a little procrastination.
Image: Alanah Knibb