At the end of a long week of anger and sorrow, you may need something soothing from your TV screen. If that’s the case, we can help.
After the horrific events of last Friday in Christchurch, writing about television seems frivolous. But, if we use the power of television for good, it can offer us comfort and escape from the realities of life, even if only for a few moments.
Here’s a round-up of TV shows filled with aroha, warmth and generosity that will soothe and cheer you when you need it. They won’t ask anything of you other than to know your merengue from your meringue, and even if you do get your dance steps muddled up with your egg whites, nobody minds. These shows are a comforting counterbalance to the real world raging around us, and sometimes that’s just what we need.
The Slow TV trend arrived in New Zealand – slowly and quietly, of course – with the extraordinary Go South. It seems like a random idea to chuck a camera on a moving vehicle and film the entire journey from Auckland to Milford Sound, but somehow, Go South works. There’s no commentary, no presenters, just a train calmly chugging its way through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery and heartland towns. It’s a peaceful and mesmerising watch, and the perfect way to soak up Aotearoa’s natural beauty without leaving the comfort of your couch.
Bow down before the glitterball and acquaint yourself with the sparkly beast that birthed Dancing with the Stars NZ. The UK’s Strictly sees celebrities who can’t dance paired up with professionals who can, and while you may not be familiar with all the celebrity newsreaders, actors and athletes (I only recognised comedian Susan Calman and Carly from Emmerdale), it doesn’t matter. Strictly Come Dancing is pure entertainment, from start to finish. The scores are in, it’s 10s all round.
If you’re looking for an emotional, uplifting show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, RPDR is it. If you’re looking for a show about creativity and transformation, this is it.
If you need a show that celebrates difference and individuality, that promotes self-love and acceptance, that shows you the power of contouring better than any YouTube tutorial every could, then this is it.
RPDR is one of the best shows on television today, and bless TVNZ OnDemand for getting their hands on the first seven seasons. Can I get an Amen?
Cover yourself in the warm glaze of GKBO, the loveliest reality show New Zealand ever waved its spongy ladyfingers at. This sweet, nostalgic series is stuffed with so much kindness you can practically smell it through your screen, as a bunch of amateur bakers come together to make lighthouses out of gingerbread and pastry swans out of, um, pastry.
This is a wholesome show where the contestants lift each other up, the judges are relentlessly positive, and what about the time Annabel was too sick to bake but they still put her through to the final? Everyone’s a winner with GKBO.
Whether she’s playing lawn bowls with John Campbell or revealing the contents of Urzila Carlson’s wheelie bins, Anika Moa Unleashed is a guaranteed laugh. For two glorious seasons, Anika Moa travelled the length of Aotearoa to ask famous New Zealanders a series of rude and awkward questions, and somehow got away with it.
Moa charms her guests, she sings with them and makes them giggle, and it’s hard not to fall in love with Unleashed. Moa’s been hailed as one of the nation’s finest interviewers, but she also got True Bliss back together after 20 years and for that we must be eternally grateful.
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Long before Marie Kondo came into our lives to sort our knicker drawers out, Queer Eye was the show to spark joy. Lightbox has the original series from 2003, when the Fab Five first united to work their magic on the lives of straight New York men. The “make-betters” are done with affection and love, and watching the experts transform lives will bring a happy tear to the eye. (The early ‘00s fashions will also make you cry, but that’s a story for another day).
They’re cute, they’re fluffy, they do cute fluffy cat stuff. Please watch them and feel better.
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.