How do you feel when you wake up in the morning?
Does that burst of sunlight motivate you or does it disappoint you that you’ve woken up to a new day, yet everything feels the same as all the days that have passed?
If the mundanity is getting to you, then that’s okay, because I feel the same way too.
Months have passed, more people are getting vaccinated but the Covid-19 cases are still rising and we’re beginning to feel stuck. It’s demotivating and frankly, depressing.
While I know that shows are not the end all be all of curing that heaviness in your chest, it definitely helps to preoccupy the mind with something we can laugh at or at least nod our heads in agreement with because the characters just get it.
So, without further ado, here are some Netflix shows that you might relate to and that might put a smile on your face, even when you feel like there’s nothing to smile about..
Bo Burnham: Inside
Another night on my own, yeah. Stuck in my home, yeah. Sitting alone… One hand on my d*ck and one hand on my phone…
Bo Burnham has always been one of my favourite comedians due to his sharp sarcastic humour and un-ironically catchy tunes, but after he took a long hiatus from comedy, I thought I would never watch a new special from him again.
But during the pandemic, Burnham surprised his fans with a 1 hour and 20 minute special, written and directed by him in a claustrophobic room.
Bo Burnham: Inside is exactly what the special is about. It’s him being stuck in a room having to come face-to-face with his inner demons and it’s honestly exactly what I needed during this lockdown.
Not only does he discuss mental health, which is a topic that has skyrocketed in saturation nowadays due to the relentless effects of being isolated, but he also discusses more big-picture topics like capitalism, the vicious duality of the internet, the existential crisis that comes with getting older and of course, the most important topic of all, sexting.
It’s a mixed bag of songs ranging from different genres but all of them are fantastically written and complemented by stunning visuals made entirely by Burnham himself using lights that he probably bought online.
I have since memorised most of the songs by heart and this special actually inspired me (and other viewers like me) to embark on a Shopee hunt for instruments and lights (Ed’s Note: barang berbaloi).
I may not be even an ounce as talented as Burnham but who cares? We’re all just trying to be funny while stuck in a room and an unfunny situation.
Another project by an incredibly talented comedian, After Life is a dramedy about a depressed man coming to terms with the death of his wife. The man is played by Ricky Gervais so you can expect a tonne of vulgarity and whipsmart comebacks.
Yes, the two programmes mentioned on this list so far surround morose topics but hey, isn’t that what life is about? Finding the humour in sadness so we don’t all succumb to the impending loom of depression. Haha!
I relate to Tony, the protagonist, a lot because he too is a writer at a newspaper, expected to churn out news that can sometimes be depressing despite the ongoing struggle he has with his own mental health.
It’s not a well-discussed topic really, the way writers must consume news that can only drain their already empty well of joy for the sake of their job.
Scientifically, humans can only digest up to 5 upsetting news a day until it becomes too much. There’s a term for it but honestly, I can’t be bothered to look it up.
Of course, there are plenty of other plot points in this series that you can relate to, like the feeling of loneliness and the constant battle to become a better person instead of giving up and becoming an obnoxious nihilist, so don’t worry.
There’s a little bit of sadness here for everyone but Gervais navigates through it in the best way: calling people c*nts.
Rick and Morty
Yes, this is a ridiculously famous show but I’m including it anyway because this is my list.
There’s not much to say about Rick and Morty, especially since I’ve previously listed 10 of my favourite side characters in an article before, but the new aspect that I’ve discovered these past few months is how this show has embedded its humour in me.
Rick is the drunken, burping grandpa with a tendency for nihilism and his bouts of depression that break through the otherwise absurdist comedy is more than relatable.
Plus, I’ve been playing the mobile game companion to the show, Pocket Mortys, on my phone for the past few weeks (I probably clocked in more than 100 hours on that) and the soundtrack, wacky characters and unfathomable inventions act as a great filler to a mundane and empty day.
If you’ve exhausted the show at this point, at least try picking up Pocket Mortys which is available for free on all devices.
Tuca and Bertie
I rejoiced when this show was given the green light for a second season after being cancelled after its release. The warm feeling in my chest when I first watched Tuca and Bertie will be prolonged for at least another season and honestly, I’ll take this small win.
Voiced by comedians Ali Wong and Tiffany Hadish, Tuca and Bertie is a show about friendship and resilience. Yes, it’s told through the lens of looney characters in a vibrant anthropomorphic world but that doesn’t take away from its very real messages.
The show is funny but it’s also profound with topics such as sexual harassment, depression, anxiety, dependency and unemployment (I just described the entire pandemic) and the season finale is one of the most touching episodes in all of animation.
Created by the brilliant mind behind the design of Bojack Horseman, Tuca and Bertie helped me through a difficult time and it might help you as well. Speaking of Bojack Horseman…
Since this is another relatively well-known TV show, I won’t harp on and on about it.
Bojack Horseman is a d*ckhead but he is real and sadly, I’ve come to a point where I see a lot of myself in him.
This is a show that has been touted many times for being one of the rare occurrences where TV has gotten mental health depiction right and I couldn’t agree more.
From characters like Diane Nguyen, Princess Carolyn and Hollyhock, I’ve learned so much about how depression and anxiety is nuanced. Depression is often pigeonholed as a person who just can’t stop crying but that isn’t what it is at all.
Sometimes, depression looks like empty bottles on a desk, a singular mattress on the floor, a plate of food untouched and the darkness of a room illuminated only by the light emitting from a phone screen.
Everything is difficult and that’s the point. We trip, fall, relapse and the cycle continues, but at least by watching Bojack Horseman, I know that progress isn’t linear and I can take my time to get back on my feet.
Enough with all this depression talk. I’m starting to bum myself out and if you’re still reading this, I’m probably bumming you out too. So, let’s move on to some pick-me-uppers!
Asobi Asobase is absolutely batsh*t crazy and that’s why I love it so much. It revolves around three middle-school girls and their wildly ridiculous shenanigans.
How do I begin to sell this show to you? Think of it as an acid-trip since every episode is filled to the brim with absurd character art, implausible character motivations and really no solid plot.
It’s a whirlwind adventure surrounding middle-school jokes that can make you laugh out loud and forget your woes for at least 20 minutes and at this point, isn’t that better than nothing at all?
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
Prepare some coffee jelly and ramen because after watching this show, that’s going to be all you ever think about.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is about a pink-haired apathetic teenager who has telekinetic superpowers that are probably more powerful than all the Avengers combined. Sorry, Marvel take this L.
Being a God amongst humans obviously isn’t easy for Saiki but he manages to trudge along with the help of his hilarious friends, Nendo – a himbo obsessed with ramen who’s so dumb that even Saiki’s telekinesis is no match for the emptiness in his brain – and Toritsuka – another himbo whose delusion leads him to believe that he is the chosen one when he’s really just a typical teenager.
Similar to Asobi Asobase, the humour is absurd and offbeat but there’s an overarching plot that will keep you hooked throughout its 3 seasons.
The one delightful thing about Saiki K. is that despite his adamance on remaining impartial and nonchalant towards everything, deep down, he cares for his friends and that endearing element of friendship shines through at the most surprising yet welcoming of times.
I blame this show for making me laugh out loud and sob uncontrollably throughout the day.
In times like these, family is everything and Modern Family is all about our relationship with our family members.
This show already has a cult following because of how absurd yet real its depictions of family drama is which is great because it’s important to remind ourselves that in times of incredible hardship, our loved ones’ hands are always outstretched to pull us out of our sadness.
All we have to do is take it, in our own time.
For my final entry, this isn’t a comedy and it technically isn’t a show, it’s more so an interactive programme to help you meditate and clear your mind.
I can only speak for myself when I say that lately, my mind has been buzzing with everything and nothing at the same time. It gets exhausting and I feel a debilitating heaviness in my body every time I wake up.
From the first episode of this programme, the narrator teaches you how to clear your mind and relax. I’ll share it with you now.
Sit down and regulate your breathing. Just focus on exhaling and inhaling and try not to think of anything else. Once you’re done, let your thoughts wander. Let yourself feel everything, from the itchiness of your armpits to that heaviness in your chest.
When you feel centred, you might have some questions floating in your head. Address all of them and answer as honestly as you can.
While this may lead to some solutions to your problems, sometimes, it might not either. The important thing is that you take at least an hour off from your frantic mind to really organise your emotions. It does wonders for me and it’s what I do to help myself sleep.
If you have the same problem, you can try it out.
That is all for my list of shows to help you get through the day. I know these may be some shows you’ve already seen and it’s the same for me too because most of these entries are rewatchs for me.
I find it comforting to revisit shows that I know have brought me joy before and like I said, progress isn’t linear so you don’t always have to push yourself forward all the time.
But if discovering new things helps you in your journey to mental wellness, then I hope I helped by recommending some underrated gems.
This pandemic is hard on everyone so whatever it is that you’re feeling, you’re not going through it alone. #KitaJagaKita is not just a hashtag anymore, it’s a new way of living.
Let’s help take care of each other.