Seven Mood-Boosting Shows You May Not Know

Seven Mood-Boosting Shows You May Not KnowWhen I get hooked on a show, I get really hooked. (Currently, I’m binge-watching “The Good Wife”; I need my life back, Julianna Margulies!) Most of the time, though, when I sit down to watch something, the last thing I want is to get hooked on a multi-season super-drama. I’d simply like to relax for a half-hour after work, or I want something on in the background as I fold laundry. A show that won’t leave me hooked but will make me smile. As someone on a perennial hunt for TV shows and movies that meet these criteria, I’ve watched a lot, from the delightful to the painfully boring. Here are a few of my favorite mood-boosting shows that may not be on your radar or in your queue yet.

“An Idiot Abroad”

Seven Mood-Boosting Shows You May Not Know“The Office” co-creator Ricky Gervais sends his pal Karl Pilkington to explore the wonders of the world. Unfortunately, Pinkerton has approximately zero interest in leaving his comfort zone and exploring other cultures. Gervais and his fellow producer, Stephen Merchant, stay comfortably at home in the UK while the moribund Pilkington treks over the Great Wall of China and into the remotest parts of China. The funniest parts of the show are the painful ones in which Gervais and Merchant listen to Pilkington recount his adventures, but there are unexpectedly sweet moments, too. Netflix

“BoJack Horseman” (NSFW*)

Seven Mood-Boosting Shows You May Not KnowFans ofBob’s Burgers” will love this half-hour animated show about the life of former sitcom star (and horse), BoJack Horseman. After rising to fame on the 1987 sitcom “Horsin’ Around,” BoJack tries to reinvigorate his career with an autobiography. BoJack is voiced by Will Arnett; Amy Sedaris gives life to BoJack’s agent and occasional love interest, Princess Carolyn (a cat). Early reviews of the show were mixed, which might explain why it doesn’t have the same kind of name recognition as “Archer” or “Bob’s Burgers,” but “Horseman” really hits its stride in the middle of the first season. Netflix

“Garfunkel and Oates” (NSFW)

Seven Mood-Boosting Shows You May Not KnowGarfunkel and Oates, a musical comedy band from Los Angeles, took their name from “two famous rock-and-roll second bananas,” Art Garfunkel and John Oates, to create this 2013 show. The actress-songwriter duo of Riki Lindhome (Garfunkel) and Kate Micucci (Oates) rose to semi-fame with songs like “Gay Boyfriend” and “This Party Just Took a Turn for the Douche.” The half-hour show, which uses musical interludes as punctuation between scenes, follows the satirical songwriters as they try to make it big in Hollywood. In one episode, the girls go on dates and try to determine how long it will take the guys to realize they haven’t spoken a single word (Spoiler alert: It takes much, much longer than it should have). The show is charming and hilarious, if not family-friendly. The songs are so catchy that you can forget what they actually mean. To wit: “Handjob, Blandjob, I Don’t Understand Job.” Netflix

“The IT Crowd”

Seven Mood-Boosting Shows You May Not KnowA cross between “The Big Bang Theory” and the UK version of “The Office,” “The IT Crowd” opens with Ross and Moss, two stereotypical computer geeks in the IT department of the fictional Reynholm Industries in London. The company’s actual function is never really stated, which turns out not to matter much because the two are considered losers by the rest of the company and rarely interact with other employees. The insular world of the IT department is interrupted when Jen, a woman with little tech knowledge lands a position in the department by lying on her resume. Geeks, non-geeks and anyone who has tried to help someone with minimal technological skills will appreciate another British take on the absurdities of cubicle culture. Netflix

“The Jim Gaffigan Show”

Seven Mood-Boosting Shows You May Not KnowAnyone familiar with Jim Gaffigan’s stand-up comedy will wonder why it took network executives so long to give him his own show. It’s based on his own life raising five kids in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. (You read that correctly: Five kids. Two bedrooms). Gaffigan and his wife Jeannie write the show with the help of contributing writers, but much is clearly inspired by real-life shenanigans with their darling children. Though I’m only a few episodes into the season, critical reception (including the opinion of yours truly) has been overwhelmingly positive. Hulu

“Key & Peele”

Seven Mood-Boosting Shows You May Not KnowIf you appreciate Amy Schumer’s ability to offer sharp social commentary in the most absurdly funny (and on point) way, you’ll love “Key and Peele.” Best-known for Jordan Peele’s portrayal of Luther, President Obama’s “anger translator,” the sketch comedy duo deftly portrays a huge range of characters and covers a broad range of topics. Offering commentary on race, gender, politics and myriad other issues, Key and Peele are hilarious, original and stellar actors in the bargain. It’s a shame that the current (fifth) season will be their last. Had a rough day? Check out one of their shorter videos online for a quick laugh before settling in to watch full episodes. Comedy Central

“The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl” (NSFW)

Seven Mood-Boosting Shows You May Not KnowThis brilliant YouTube show — written, produced and starring Issa Rae — will leave you howling with laughter and cringing at the same time. A hilarious look at issues of race as well as the perils of functioning in the world while being extremely awkward (something many of us can relate to), this show proves there is solid programming on the platform best-known for cat videos. YouTube

Bonus: “Nature: Animal Odd Couples”

Seven Mood-Boosting Shows You May Not KnowInitially an episode of the fabulous PBS television program, “Nature: Animal Odd Couples stole the hearts of TV viewers everywhere. Now available as a 53-minute film, words can’t possibly explain the amount of warm and fuzzies one will experience when watching this delightful movie. Basically, cute animals are made even cuter by becoming buddies with other adorable animals, forming extra-cute, but unexpected, animal friendships. Fun for the whole family (or just me, alone on my couch, watching it over and over again). Netflix


*Not suitable for work (contains profanity, crude humor, sexual content and/or violence)

Photo credits: Bojack Horseman; Garfunkel and Oates; Idiot Abroad; The IT Crowd; Key & Peele; The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl; Nature’s Odd Animal Couples; The Jim Gaffigan Show

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