We’re all having to find new ways to relieve stress and stay sane with most of the country shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19. So, what should any geek on the brink be bingeing to try and find some normalcy and stay sane? That’s where geek TV comfort food comes in.
There’s something comforting about stories we know will (usually) have a happy ending, stories that feel comfortable and safe. You know, the kinds of shows about wacky inventions gone awry, heroes saving the galaxy on some family-friendly adventures, or just something so slapstick wacky it’ll make you forget reality is kind of a scary place right now. Put simply, there’s a reason shows like The Office and Friends remain as popular as ever on streaming all these years later.
There’s always space for the TV equivalent of mashed potatoes and fried chicken, especially in times like this.
So we put together some shows that are perfect to turn on in the background for some comfortable white noise, or to tune in and binge out when you need something a bit safer than the murderous medieval politics of Game of Thrones, or the high-stakes worldbuilding of something like The Expanse (though there’s certainly good reason to watch some smart shows to stay sharp during all this, too).
But if you want something safe and warm, we’ve got you covered.
There’s a reason this has remained one of the most popular streaming shows ever since streaming became a thing. Futurama is basically the sci-fi, future-set version of The Simpsons, with clever gags, smart writing, and characters you’ve known and loved (or loathed?) for decades at this point.
It’s the kind of show you already know so well you can put it on in the background while folding laundry and still laugh along with the same jokes for the billionth time. The Planet Express crew will always be there for us, reminding us that no matter how bad the present might seem, things will still be alright when the year 3000 rolls around.
Stream It On: Hulu
Born from the more evergreen era of sci-fi TV, this SYFY series ran from 2009 to 2014 and followed a lovable team of misfits tasked with tracking down and protecting magical artifacts out in the world. Think The X-Files meets Indiana Jones, just a lot wackier than either of those ever dreamed of being.
Stars Joanne Kelly and Eddie McClintock had great chemistry, which they used as an anchor to spin out a found family that would go on weekly steampunk and bizarro adventures. Put simply, the show is crazy fun — and the type of feel-good adventure we could all use these days.
Stream It On: Amazon Prime (Free with IMDBtv)
The OG family sci-fi adventure might be old, but it never goes out of style. It doesn’t get the same kind of clout as the Treks or Wars, but the ‘Gate ran for a decade and spawned two spinoff shows and its fair share of films along the way.
So why did SG-1 resonate and last for so long, running for 10 seasons of alien-fighting and world-saving craziness? Because you just knew things would always work out in the end, and even when the universe was at stake, it was never so serious that Richard Dean Anderson couldn’t crack wise to break up the tension. Best of all, the show is fairly episodic, and great to jump in and out if you just need a fun sci-fi adventure fix.
Stream It On: Hulu, Amazon Prime
Before the Arrowverse took over The CW’s schedule, Smallville was the super-show of choice for a whole generation of fans.
This Superman origin story was the bright, episodic super-series before The Flash so excellently filled that void in the present — and even built up its own wild version of a proto-Justice League during its later seasons. Plus, it’s a Superman story — the big blue boy scout is always good for some triumphant energy, and Smallville provides a mind-boggling 217 episodes worth.
Stream It On: Hulu
One of SYFY’s biggest hits (for good reason) back in the mid-to-late 2000s, Eureka followed the small-town sheriff and scientists in a high-tech town where the latest inventions almost certainly went wrong — but usually just in that wacky “Episode of the Week” kind of way.
But along with all the wacky sci-fi stuff, there’s the story of a dad just trying to do right by his daughter, raising her in this high-tech, crazy world.
Stream It On: Amazon Prime
Better Off Ted
This one is a whole lot of fun, and there’s a decent chance you might’ve missed it the first go 'round.
The short-lived ABC workplace comedy ran for two seasons and was set in a massive conglomerate wherein they tested everything from cryo-chambers to super light bulbs.
It was very weird, but very funny. Think Community meets The Office, but with way more sci-fi goofiness. If you've never seen it, it’s almost guaranteed to at least have you giggling — and being reminded of the good old days when we could actually go to work in offices.
Stream It On: Hulu
This short-lived ABC Family (now Freeform) original series ran for one season, but garnered a wildly fervent fanbase before the network pulled the plug. Basically, it followed a young woman who joins up with a freelance superhero of sorts to right some wrongs in the world. The show was far ahead of its time, loaded with deep cut nods to comic books and superhero movies sprinkled in to keep things popping. It was wildly clever and critics adored it.
So once you also fall in love with it, don’t be mad once it ends after 12 all-too-brief episodes. That said, it’ll be 12 episodes of delicious distraction.
Stream It On: Amazon Prime (For Purchase)
DC Universe’s breakout animated series is the perfect distraction for these trying times. Just, y’know, make sure the kids are in bed before firing up this F-bomb loaded supervillain series.
The show follows Harley and her gang in its own spin on Gotham, and the explosive, animated world is a hilarious one that is perfect to lose yourself in for a while when things get tough. It’s good timing, too, because the second season just kicked off with new episodes coming out weekly.
Stream It On: DC Universe
Okay, this one’s a bit of a deep cut. This all-too-brief, eight-episode series was created by Paul Feig for Yahoo!’s short-lived push into original content. As hard as it was to find, though, the show was hilarious.
It’s essentially a workplace comedy set aboard a space ship, tapping into some of that Red Dwarf vibe mixed with Feig’s knack for comedic timing he’s showcased so well in films like Bridesmaids and the Ghostbusters reboot. But if you’re jonesing for something funny and weird that you’ve probably never seen (since new content is a bit harder to come by during the lockdown), this could certainly fit the bill.
Stream It On: Yahoo! (for free)
Is there anything more geek-tastically comfortable as climbing back aboard the Serenity for another romp in the outskirts of the galaxy?
The cult hit Joss Whedon sci-fi western is one of the most acclaimed genre shows ever created, and for good reason. It’s funny, heartfelt, action-packed — and most importantly, you’ve probably seen it 100 times and still love every second of it.
There are few things more comforting than hanging out with Mal, Wash, and the gang when times get tough. We’ll just be in our bunk.
Stream It On: Hulu