Essays, lectures, exams, making friends, missing home – university can be a challenge. Sometimes all you need is a call to someone you love; sometimes you need a Hobnob and a cup of tea. Sometimes the issue can be more serious, and indicative of a mental health issue, in which case you should seek professional help.
But sometimes, television can be (at least part of) the answer. It can provide you a break from an essay, a surrogate family when you miss your own (Gavin and Stacey anyone?), or with the feeling of being joined in a place you used to feel alone. With that in mind, these are my Top Three Things to watch when you feel down.
Great British Bake Off
In real life, I worry about deadlines, exams, and climate change. I’m a mature adult who pays bills without consulting my mum and books my own doctor’s appointments. Yet, when I watch GBBO, all of that disappears. I’m reduced to a gingham clad imitation of my independent self, shedding actual human tears when Norman put too much lavender in a biscuit.
This storm in a teacup (or teacake) is the appeal of GBBO; it can be calming to jettison your proper worries and embrace instead the insignificant anxieties and minor mishaps of the tent. GBBO also acts as an important reminder to congratulate yourself for the small things; when a baker celebrates after making a well-set jam, make sure to pat yourself on the back doing your lecture readings.
Available: All 4
Freaks and Geeks
Freaks and Geeks was created as an antidote to the overly perfect cinematic depictions of high school that had been broadcast in America throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. Although the show centres around the issues that 14 to 17-year-olds grapple with, Freaks and Geeks deals with universal questions about growing up and life. From struggling with social cliques, navigating romances, to peer pressure and drugs, Freaks and Geeks treats relatively mundane dramas as serious. The show offers solace, and feelings of solidarity with specific characters or storylines can help you address your own feelings.
The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross
Bob Ross is to my soul what moisturiser is to my skin. If I could choose a voice to narrate my life, it would be his dulcet tones.
The format of the show is Ross speaking directly to you, in a style not dissimilar to a vlog, as he teaches you how to paint. Ross’s intimate style provides warmth and comfort when you’re lonely.
In one episode, when painting a mountain range, Bob quips: “See how you can move things around? You have unlimited power on this canvas – can literally, literally move mountains.”
At other times, he reminds you: “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” His determination in you can be the motivation that you need.
Available: Netflix and YouTube
Image: Brian Cantoni @ Flickr