Pop CultureAugust 27, 2021

These soothing shows will calm your lockdown nerves


Need a break from the doom and gloom? Looking for a show that feels like crawling inside a big fluffy cloud? Emily Writes rounds up the very best in comfort television. 

This post was first published on Emily Writes Weekly.

Everything is kind of awful and I’m trying very hard to only look at the bright side. Lots of people are getting vaccinated, yay! Lots of people are getting tested, yay! Lots of people are wearing masks! Then I see people bitching about vaccines, complaining about how testing is a conspiracy to get more positive tests, and yelling that masks are a violation of their HuMAn rIGhTs!1! and I remember that what I really want is to be swaddled like baby and put down for a long sleep.

Alas, I cannot do that because I’m a 36 year-old mother-of-two with so-called “responsibilities” and “work”. By the end of every day, I’m an anxious mess, so I’ve compiled a list of things to watch to help calm your farm. I’ve written about Soft TV before, but I felt we needed an update. These are the softest of soft TV. The most gentle ones. The TV version of that art installation that is a fluffy cloud you climb into.

Without further ado here it is – your guide to TV that will rest your brain during lockdown.

Bake Squad on Netflix

I talked about this last week on my Friday Night Chats newsletter, but I have to say again: Bake Squad is lovely television. It’s just what we need at a time like this. The premise is that a very good cake person helps four other very good dessert people to make desserts, then the best dessert is chosen for some kind of event. But everyone wins. Nobody says anything mean about the cakes. Everyone helps each other. The stakes are incredibly low because you have to make a good cake but none of these people have ever made a bad cake.

This photo gives extreme entertainers for children energy but they’re not too bad.

Nature’s Strangest Mysteries Solved on Three

Usually mystery shows are high anxiety. They’re all “who killed this woman?” and then after 45 minutes they say: “I dunno, it’s a mystery and maybe they’re under your bed right now?” Nature’s Strangest Mysteries Solved gives you what you need. Spoiler alert: it solves nature’s strangest mysteries.

And the mysteries? WOW THEY ARE GOOD. Why did this duck have 76 ducklings? You find out why – but along the way you also get some great duck facts, including that some ducks put their eggs in the basket of the best mum duck on the pond. I am pleased to know I would be ducklingless and left alone if I was a duck.

And if that wasn’t enough – remember that raccoon we were all obsessed with three years ago? The one who climbed a 25-storey office tower in Minnesota? Have you ever wondered why it did that? It turns out urban raccoons have been evolving and now they just don’t give a fuck. It climbed it just because it wanted to!

HidaMari Cooking on Youtube

HidaMari Cooking was a recommendation from my friend Vee. And it’s a good one. It’s basically ASMR cooking. Everything is impossibly beautiful. There’s no commentary. Just the sound of baking. Bliss.

Moving Art on Netflix

Moving Art is very relaxing. It’s just beautiful places with soaring music. That’s it. Film maker Louie Schwartzberg captures the most incredible footage of the most amazing places and you get to sit back and enjoy it. There is no commentary. Just hills and valleys and snow and animals. Even my kids love it. Despite the fact that there’s no narrator, they are silent when they watch it. You develop your favourite episodes – Patterns in Nature, Iceland and Galapagos are favourites in our house.

Life of Kai on Māori TV and Three

Life of Kai is an fascinating and gentle show based on interviews with Māori chefs of “culinary artists”. They give the inspiration for their mahi, their restaurants, their kai and trace their journeys to get to where they are. It’s a very generous show, lots of shared knowledge and it makes you very hungry. There are very good close-ups of food being made which makes facing your nightly mince a bit harder, but it’s still a joy to watch. The Rewi Spraggon episode is particularly great.

The World’s Most Amazing Rental Vacations on Netflix

It’s just visually very impressive. A four-storey birds nest in Bali! An igloo in Finland! A lighthouse in Alaska! I mean, you can’t travel. You can’t go to any of these places. And you probably couldn’t afford them anyway. But they’re so nice to look at! It’s all so pretty. Watch it on mute so that the narrators don’t annoy you with their inane bullshit e.g. “Wow this looks like a village!” That’s because it IS a village Luis D. Ortiz, fucking hell.

Holiday Home Makeover with Mr Christmas on Netflix

I absolutely love Christmas and I love this show. The entire premise is that people write to Mr Christmas and he comes to their house and decorates it for Christmas. That’s it. Perfection. It’s so so wholesome and gently navigates family politics at Christmas and somehow makes you believe everything will be okay. Every time I hear Mr Christmas say “HEY FAMILY!” it’s like an instant hit of happiness. You just know he can fix it, because he’s Mr Christmas.

Keep going!