Seven of the most comforting feel-good TV shows to watch in lockdown

Schitt's Creek (2015). Picture: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)/IMDB

Schitt's Creek (2015). Picture: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)/IMDB - Credit: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)/IMDB

Comfort viewing: the best feel-good TV series to get you through coronavirus lockdown if you’re self-isolating, socially-distancing or just need a much-needed escape for a few hours.

Derry Girls - Dylan (James Maguire), Erin (Saoirse Monica-Jackson), Michelle (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell),

Derry Girls - Dylan (James Maguire), Erin (Saoirse Monica-Jackson), Michelle (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), Clare (Nicola Coughlan).Above: Orla McCool (Louisa Clare Harland). Picture: Peter Marley/Channel 4 - Credit: Peter Marley/Channel 4

Like a comfort blanket in tough times, television can be great ally during a period of enforced quarantine (and an enemy if you spend your life glued to news channels).

Whether you’re working or not, a bit of escapism is much-needed in challenging times and offers a window on another world, be it in Schitt’s Creek or Pawnee Indiana, Los Angeles, New York or Derry.

Tune in, turn on and kick back for our first selection of feelgood box sets available on a variety of platforms including Netflix, iPlayer and Amazon.

New Girl (2011). Picture: Elizabeth Meriwether Pictures/IMDB

New Girl (2011). Picture: Elizabeth Meriwether Pictures/IMDB - Credit: Elizabeth Meriwether Pictures/IMDB

Feelgood TV for lockdown

1) Schitt’s Creek: Don’t let the title put you off, this TV comedy is an absolute treat from start to finish (not that I’ve got to the finish yet – the final series lands in the UK on Netflix on May 14). Created by American Pie actor Eugene Levy and real-life son Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek is about Johnny (Levy), his wife Moira (Catherine O’Hara) and their children David (Levy) and Alexis Rose (Annie Murphy) whose lavish lifestyles come to an abrupt end when the family’s business manager steals all their money. Forced to move to a small town that Johnny bought David as a joke gift in 1991 – Schitt’s Creek – they have to start a new life without cash or kudos. I can’t praise this series enough: funny, charming, poignant, ridiculous, it’s AMAZING.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015). Picture: 3 Arts Entertainment/IMDB

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015). Picture: 3 Arts Entertainment/IMDB - Credit: 3 Arts Entertainment/IMDB

Best episode: Singles Week, Season Four, Episode 12: Singles Week gets underway in Schitt’s Creek just as Jocelyn’s baby arrives and Patrick takes his relationship with David to the next level.

Most Read

Sample quote: “I know all about being left in the lurch for a fundraiser. Eva Longoria and I were supposed to perform our ventriloquist act for the Everybody Nose benefit for juvenile rhinoplasty, when she suddenly drops out due to exhaustion. I had to be both puppet and puppeteer.” – Moira Rose, Schitt’s Creek, Season 4, “Asbestos Fest”

2) Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy was way ahead of the curve when it came to lockdown, having been kept underground in a cult for 15 years before being rescued. It’s laugh-out-loud joyful comedy, full of snappy dialogue and great writing and heavens, it’s what we need right now. In series one, Kimmy even shares her coping mechanisms for being trapped – although one involves jumping up and down and screaming “I’M NOT REALLY HERE! I’M NOT REALLY HERE!” Kimmy is upbeat, enthusiastic and impossible not to love – females are as strong as hell and Kimmy teaches us that trying to be the best person we can be in an unfamiliar world is a task we can all rise to. Her co-stars Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski are great, too. On which note, here are 10 of the best Titus Andromedon quotes

Best episode: The series finale.

Sample quote: “It’s so funny what people who have never been kidnapped think is scary...” Kimmy.

3) New Girl: Wish that the spring of 2020 was panning out somewhat differently? We hear you. The seventh and final series of New Girl actually takes place in spring 2020 and let me tell you, it’s somewhat different to what’s actually happening right now. Starring Zooey Deschanel as newly-single Jess who moves into a flatshare with unambitious Nick (Jake Johnson), smooth-talking pedantic Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and police officer Winston (Lamorne Morris). It’s genuinely funny, the acting is great and the world is lovely and fun – even in early 2020. The entire 146 episodes are now on Netflix and so that’s 3,066 minutes of lockdown sorted.

Best episode: Five stars for Beezus – lots of farce and lots of laughs. And the fans get an ending they approve of.

Sample quote: “I’m a mess. I can’t sleep. I urinate constantly. I cried the other day listening to a techno song. My tweets have been extremely literal.” Schmidt.

4) Parks and Recreation: Never before have we needed Leslie Knope’s utter faith in local governments’ ability to help everyone…P&R follows the deputy director of the Parks Department of Pawnee, Indiana, Leslie and her team. In the first series she sets out to fill a pit, which causes local man Andy Dwyer to fall and break both of his legs, and turn it into a park. Her staff, along with Andy’s girlfriend Ann Perkins, begin their mission to secure funding. Think The Office (another series worth rewatching, either British or American versions, or both) in the open air, but better. Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) has more one-liners than Edinburgh Festival and his Pyramid of Greatness offers us all a way to live our lives today (“teamwork: work together as if your life depended on it. IT DOES”).

Best episode: Flu season. I couldn’t resist, if for no other reason than to see Rob Lowe’s super-stud Chris Traeger staring into a mirror, sweaty and delirious, pleading with himself to “Stop. Pooping.”

Sample quote: “What I hear when I’m being yelled at is people caring really loudly at me.” – Leslie Knope

5) Queer Eye: Netflix’s reboot of the makeover show blends gay rights with moisturiser, police brutality with scatter cushions and racism with guacamole - it shouldn’t work, but it absolutely does. Queer Eye is an antidote to almost every horrible thing. The show features five ludicrously handsome and suave gay men who act like practical superheroes: while they can’t shoot webs or fly, they can take a hideous bedsit and make it beautiful and take an unkempt man and make him gorgeous. That’s the kind of superpower I’m interested in. The show is a rollercoaster ride which takes you from unadulterated joy to laughter to nodding in agreement to wracking sobs that leave you emotionally exhausted: in short, this is the show to binge-watch if you’re feeling under the weather and glum. It’s like an emotional express train to happiness. I love it.

Best episode: The first ever episode with Tom takes some beating, but each one has its own merit.t

Sample quote: “You can’t selectively numb feelings. So, if you try to numb the vulnerability, you also numb joy, happiness, connection.” — Jonathan Van Ness.

6) Derry Girls: Perfect if you grew up in the 1990s but great regardless, Lisa McGee’s brilliant comedy about teenagers growing up in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, against a backdrop of the Troubles is a gem. Teenagers are always ripe for humour and this group in particular – Erin, Clare, Orla, Michelle and James – are a whirlwind of hormones and hilarity. From setting fire to a fish and chip shop to almost killing a nun, practically destroying a bathroom at a funeral service to mistaking dog wee for a saint’s tears, all human life is here. Brilliant.

Best episode: The finale of series one which blends comedy with pathos to the soundtrack of The Cranberries (and when it aired, lead singer of the band Dolores O’Riordan had died just a month previously, to add another poignant string to the bow).

Sample quote: “We got the gist. They ran out of spuds, everyone was raging.” - Michelle’s take on Irish history

7) Father Ted: One brilliant Irish sitcom leads to another – putting three priests and their tea lady in a remote house on a remote Irish island doesn’t sound like the perfect recipe for comedy genius, but by God it was. Quotes from Father Ted are likely to be part of your daily life - “a great bunch of lads” “that money was just resting in my account...” “small...far away...” “down with this sort of thing” - and that’s because the Craggy Island sitcom was a classic and thankfully the humour has endured over the decades. Some of the very best sitcoms see the central character trapped , just as Ted is trapped in a house in the middle of nowhere, and dealing with tension. But the real glory with this series was the humour - who can forget My Lovely Horse, Ted and Dougal’s Eurovision entry, Riverdance, kicking the bishop, Father Jack’s profanity, The Lovely Girls deserve to rewatch this series right now. Up with this sort of thing.

Best episode: The Passion of Saint Tibulus: Father Ted and Dougal protest at a screening of a blasphemous new film on the orders of Bishop Len Brennan.

Sample quote: Dougal: “God Ted, I’ve heard about those cults. Everyone dressing in black and saying our Lord’s going to come back and judge us all.” Ted: “ Dougal, that’s us. That’s Catholicism you’re talking about there.”