Opening your browser and clicking onto an online streaming service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, you’d be forgiven for initially thinking that the age of the light-hearted, ‘feel-good’ show was over. Apparently abounding are the dystopias, the sci-fi fantasies, and gritty dramas – but all is not as it appears.
In fact, during the lockdown period, and continuing into the largely confusing and isolating present, I have witnessed a resurgence in popularity of a kind of ‘comfort watching.’ The shows I’m referring to generally follow a familiar template – often traditionally occurring in everyday settings, such as a work or living space (‘The Office’, ‘New Girl’ etc.) and following groups of friends or colleagues who regularly bunch together for zany bonding adventures. The vast majority of such shows depict a kind of ‘found family’ dynamic between the characters – their appeal during their airtime centred around instilling a hopefulness in watchers. This was partly due to the relatability of the characters – you might identify with moody millennial April from ‘Parks and Recreation,’ or maybe the slightly Type-A Amy from ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’, but regardless, it is comforting to watch characters who are depicted with flaws and a range of personalities be accepted into warm familial relationships.
What’s great about the ‘feel-good’ show format is that it is by no means exhaustible. NBC’s recent philosophical comedy ‘The Good Place’ managed to replicate this familiar warmth in a setting of the afterlife – it also introduced a new angle, the examination of the close relationships it depicted; the question central to the show was ‘what do we owe to each other?’
So, though you may have to dig a little deeper than your Netflix explore page, these feel-good shows are still there, and they do still matter – and, as indicated by ‘Schitt’s Creek’s’ sweeping Emmy win the other day, they are not going anywhere soon.