Is the barrage of Covid news bringing you down? Stewart Sowman-Lund picks out some wholesome watches to help you recover.
Comfort TV feels extra comforting at the moment. Succession aside, I do not have the mental capacity to tune into the newest British crime drama or gritty HBO thriller. I just want to sit in my pyjamas, glass o’ wine in hand, and rewatch an episode of Taskmaster I’ve seen half a dozen times. Some days you just can’t deal with it all.
We’re roughly 10 weeks into lockdown in Tāmaki Makaurau and I’m sure, whether you’re here or elsewhere in the country, you can sympathise even a little with my mood. After a particularly unpleasant 1pm press conference all I want in my life is the televisual equivalent of curling into the foetal position.
And so I present 10 of the easiest, most comforting TV watches available. Because sometimes you just need that.
Bake Off (both Kiwi and British)
It’s possibly because I’m really bored and lonely, but I desperately want Kiwi Bake Off hosts Madeline and Hayley to become my best friends. Their optimism is exactly what I need each time I take a collapsed loaf of sourdough out of the oven.
It’s not just our local edition of Bake Off airing at the moment: the original UK version is back for its 12th season too (if you know where to find it). That means you can load them both up for a back to back binge that will make you hungry, happy and wishing you could be baking up a storm in a tent somewhere in rural England.
The Great Kiwi Bake Off is available on TVNZ OnDemand.
Taskmaster (both NZ and British)
Watching Taskmaster is the closest thing to hanging out with a bunch of friends. The same cast of comics stay with you for the whole season and, by the end, you feel pretty close to all of them. There are 11 seasons of the UK version and two of the New Zealand edition so by the time you’ve rewatched them all multiple times you’ll have a whole host of new pals – like Spinoff fave David Correos – to invite over for a backyard picnic.
Taskmaster NZ and UK are both available on TVNZ OnDemand.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Larry David’s misadventures are less warm and fuzzy than either Bake Off or Taskmaster, but this classic HBO comedy series has indefinite rewatch value and a constant stream of jokes. I’m a little nervous I’ll walk out the other side of lockdown having picked up some of Larry’s social skills, but he’s also the most appropriate figurehead for the pandemic: someone who hates being around other people and could happily spend all day in his house.
A new series started this week meaning if we don’t escape this hellscape for the next 10 weeks, I’ll be alright. Or at least… Prett-ay good (I’m sorry).
Curb Your Enthusiasm is available on Neon, with new episodes released weekly.
Sure, the second season got a bit depressing but the first run of Apple TV’s comedy is like a warm hug from a friend. Come for the one-liners, stay for Jason Sudeikis’ moustache.
Ted Lasso is available on Apple TV+.
The Great British Sewing Bee
If baking isn’t your thing then maybe sewing is? The Great British Sewing Bee is exactly the same as its baking counterpart, right down to the camp host and generationally mismatched judges. Seeing a bunch of amateur sewers attempt to make high fashion out of an old pair of togs is surprisingly thrilling. When you’ve exceeded the max quota of Bake Off content, look no further. And if you want a big night in, watch this straight after you’ve powered through Bake Off.
The Great British Sewing Bee is available on TVNZ OnDemand.
Just like Covid-19, Bob’s Burgers seems to never end. We’re up to season 12 now – some as long as 22 episodes – making it the perfect lockdown binge. It would take you nearly four whole days to watch every episode, so if you pace yourself you should be able to keep going until Christmas. I love this show: it’s so funny, relentlessly happy and by the time you get to the end you’ll have forgotten everything that’s happened and can start over from episode one.
Bob’s Burgers is available on Disney+ with new episodes released weekly.
“Where you lead, I will follow
Anywhere that you tell me to.
If you need, you need me to be with you
I will follow where you lead.”
Both the words to the Gilmore Girls theme song and my attitude toward all of the core cast of the show. Maybe skip the revival, though.
Gilmore Girls is available to stream on Netflix.
A reality show about an upmarket doggy daycare in Auckland, narrated by every mum’s favourite fictional doctor Martin Clunes. What more convincing do you need? The Spinoff’s resident pooch Stanley wrote a rave review of the show earlier this month. Two paws up!
Barkley Manor is available to stream on TVNZ OnDemand.
Good with Wood
Not into baking OR sewing? Perhaps you like amateur wood-working. What a thrill. Hosted by Mel Giedroyc of Bake Off and Taskmaster fame (yes there’s a theme), this six-part reality series follows the hunt for Britain’s best woodworker. Worth watching for the title alone.
Good with Wood is available on TVNZ OnDemand.
The Office (UK and US)
It’s clear to me, and it should be clear to everyone else, that the Office UK is indisputably the best Office. That being said: two seasons plus a special is a bite sized binge when it comes to lockdown. The US version, on the other hand, feels like it goes on for an eternity. But once you get past the rocky first few episodes, you’ll slowly fall in love with the goofy cast of office-workers – even if they’re nothing compared to their UK counterparts. The absolute definition of comfort TV.
The Office US is available on Netflix. The Office UK is on TVNZ OnDemand.