10 Comedies, Soaps, Reality Shows & More to Keep Your Mind Occupied

Comfort TV Comedy Cooking Soaps
ABC/Todd Wawrychuk; Netflix (2)

What better way to kick back and relax and forget the world for a bit than with TV?

No matter what’s going on, there are plenty of shows that can keep your mind occupied and thoroughly distracted. Whether you’re a comedy fan (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), into cooking shows (The Great British Baking Show) or love soaps (General Hospital), we have you covered.

Brooklyn Nine Nine Andy Samberg Jake
John P. Fleenor/NBC

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

They’re the squad you can always count on for laughs. The 99th precinct’s hilarious (and mostly capable) detectives, including prankster Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg), constantly find themselves in hysterical situations as they go undercover, chase bad guys, and dispense interoffice justice. (nbc.com; Hulu)

—Emily Aslanian, Associate Editor

The Great British Baking Show Netflix
Courtesy of Netflix

The Great British Baking Show

A perfect stress antidote at any time, this kitchen competition wins stay-at-home hearts with its delicious recipe of dryly amusing judges and appealing amateur contestants who aim to whip up three scrumptious confections each episode. Now that’s comfort food. (Select seasons on Netflix)

—Ileane Rudolph, Senior Writer

Sarah Jessica Parker Sex and the City
© HBO / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Sex and the City

As times got tough, I couldn’t help but wonder…what are fashionista Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her pals up to? Their urban adventures provide a welcome escape. (Prime Video, HBO Now)

—Jim Halterman, West Coast Bureau Chief

The cast of General Hospital - Wes Ramsey, Eden McCoy, Ingo Rademacher, Jacklyn Zeman, Lisa Locicero
ABC/Todd Wawrychuk

General Hospital

A nasty custody battle, a brewing mob war, a couple kept apart by a bitter parole officer — the problems in Port Charles don’t seem so bad compared to the real world! Add in some signature soap romance and a few catfights and GH is my perfect escape after another day of unsettling news. (Weekdays, ABC )

—Amy Miller, Deputy Editor

Treehouse Masters Animal Planet
Animal Planet

Treehouse Masters

Take a deep breath. You can almost taste the crisp, fresh air that Pete Nelson and his crew inhale while building some awe-inspiring, fully furnished tree houses in backyards and beyond. Nelson’s imagination — a cedar hot tub on the deck! — and his childlike enthusiasm are equally refreshing on repeats of the unscripted hit. (animalplanet.com; select seasons on Hulu)

—Mandi Bierly, Senior Editor

Love It or List It HGTV


As sure as a husband on House Hunters will mention a man cave, HGTV’s series will always deliver uplifting resolutions. Love It or List It‘s couples get upgraded digs, Flip or Flop‘s design duo turn tidy profits, and the talented Property Brothers transform eyesores in just an hour. I’ll take that bunch over a tortured antihero any day.

—Eric Andersson, Senior Editor

Absolutely Fabulous
The Everett Collection

Absolutely Fabulous

This British comedy about boozy pals Edina and Patsy (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, right) has always made me laugh. But Season 5’s “Panickin’,” in which they get locked in Edina’s panic room, feels especially relevant since I’m stuck in my apartment! (Prime Video, BritBox)

—John Russell, Staff Writer

The Love Boat
The Everett Collection

The Love Boat

Love itself may be exciting and new, but The Love Boat is neither, and I wallow in every familiar, reassuring hour. This compendium of cruise-ship romances — also a showcase for fabulous guest stars, such as Carol Channing (above center) — always docks at a happy ending. (Sundays, 6/5c, MeTV)

—April P. Bernard, Executive Editor

Jane Levy Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
James Dittiger/NBC

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

An MRI mishap has Bay Area programmer Zoey (Jane Levy) suddenly hearing and seeing others express their inner thoughts in song and dance! It’s a bright and colorful ode to the joy of being human. (Sundays, 9/8c, NBC)

—Kate Hahn, Senior Writer

BoJack Horseman Netflix

BoJack Horseman

He’s a horse, of course. A talking horse (voiced by Will Arnett) who’s also a washed-up TV star in this animated sitcom where the animals chat, have jobs, and do human stuff. Over the show’s six seasons, it’s hard to count the wonderful visual and verbal jokes based on mixing the animal and human worlds, but even more comforting than the comedy is the group of friends that BoJack leans on. (Netflix)

—Michael Fell, Editor-in-Chief