One of the things I really love about Netflix is all of the great opportunities the site offers for learning about the world and becoming more informed about social and political issues. It's awesome that you can pay 10 dollars a month and have access to so many different stories. But sometimes, you've been confronting the serious issues of the world all day and you need to take a breather and just zone out. Fortunately there are also tons of things to watch on Netflix when you need a mental break.
I took this list really seriously (ironically enough), which means that I thought hard about which shows and movies were really not going to challenge you or require too much mental investment. That meant even a lot of silly TV shows were out, either because they required a lot of investment in the plot or because they are pretty dated and include a lot of offensive jokes (looking at you, Friends.) And "edgy" comedy and "smart" dramas, while they absolutely have their place, simply need not apply here. Everything on this list is light and soothing, and the subjects range from the cute and adorable to the beautiful and delicious to the kooky and hilarious. We all deserve a mental break now and then.
1The Bob Ross Shows
Netflix has blessed us with two different Bob Ross instructional painting TV series: 1991's Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere and 1994's Chill With Bob Ross. These shows are as mesmerizing as you remember from childhood. The last time I put on Chill With Bob Ross, he was chilling with four baby squirrels, no joke.
Subdued, beautiful, inspiring, and delicious, the most intense this show ever gets is a few moments of rousing string music. It's thoughtful, slow-paced, and utterly hypnotizing.
Never not reliable, Planet Earth has been a staple of the "I just need to zone out and look at some nature" genre for years now.
Honestly, I used to think all romantic comedies were perfect for mental breaks, but now I find myself distracted by sexist plot lines and bad dialogue and unrealistic characters. Amelie doesn't cause any of those issues: it's just pure, bright, inspiring, sensitive whimsy.
5'Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown'
I love food and don't have the money to travel much, so I am obsessed with watching Anthony Bourdain go to parts unknown to learn about people and their cuisine. This show is fascinating and perfectly escapist.
John Carney is great at feel-good movie musicals, but while his other two films, Once and Sing Street, are arguably better (they are), Begin Again is the best for mental breaks because it's very focused and light and set in the summertime.
7'The Great British Baking Show'
This show has an enormous cult following and it is so not hard to understand why. There is none of the cutthroat brutality and "I'm not here to make friends" attitude of American cooking competitions. It's fun and weird and happy and it's in a tent in a field.
8'The Lion In Your Living Room'
Yes, you need to finish your essay/apply to that job/call some more senators, but first, you need to learn about the ancestry of your house cat.
It really is basically just babies being babies. Four babies from around the world. All cute and stuff. What's not to love?
10'Jedi Junior High'
When you need to not think about the world, what you can think about instead is this adorable group of middle schoolers who put on a theater production of Star Wars.
11'Michael Bolton's Big Sexy Valentine's Day Special'
I know, you're probably all like "what??" But this is the work of the Lonely Island fellows (Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer), and it's as funny and ridiculous and happy-making as everything else they have done.
Now, don't you feel refreshed after that mental break?