Sometimes life can get a little too much, whether that's because your work meeting dragged on over your lunch break or because you read yet another headline that turned your stomach. That's OK. Luckily, television exists, making this list of classic TV shows to watch when you need a break from reality the entertainment equivalent of an emergency contact number. Just hit bookmark and save it for when your day to day existence gets too overwhelming.
Obviously, there's more than one way to swerve reality, and often your antidote will depend on what's ailing you. Feeling depressed with the pressures of adulting (figuring out your taxes, looking after ailing relatives, making a vaguely passable white sauce)? Then step right this way for some cartoon classics.
Feeling like life has lost its color and sparkle? Then you're due an extra helping of fantasy, and you're probably going to want to watch something focused on witches or the supernatural. Overdosed on climate change documentaries and accidentally just spent your rent on a donation to Greenpeace? Breathe in, breathe out, and take a detour via Orange County or Stars Hollow before strategizing how you're going to recover from having a heart that's bigger than your bank balance.
1'I Love Lucy'
This classic sitcom was "television's most watched show" for four out of its six seasons, which just goes to prove how well-loved it was. It's fun, it's frothy, and its last show was in 1960, making it feel like a glorious escape from the politics of 2017.
You loved it when you were a kid, so why stop watching it now? Whether you're rooting for Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Elmer J. Fudd, Tweety, or Wile E. Coyote, there's a character for everyone.
When witch Samantha defies her family by marrying a mortal, Darrin, she agrees to his wish that she become a normal suburban housewife. But her magical family disapprove of her marriage and often meddle by casting spells. Pure escapism.
Give the present a hearty "bye felicia" by taking a trip to the Stone Age town of Bedrock. The fun of The Flintstones is mostly rooted in its fantasy: that the townspeople have access to all the modern conveniences of the 20th century, like telephones and record players, but these are all stone-age versions of the same gadgets. And that cavemen coexist with dinosaurs and woolly mammoths.
Because this isn't quite reality, is it? Exhibit A: The impeccable blow-drys sported by all of the female cast, who are meant to be playing characters in their teens. Exhibit B: the very idea of dating a boy with the same level of wit as Seth Cohen while still in high school. Nope, this is a fairytale.
Finn the human and Jake the dog live in the Land of Ooo and hang out with the likes of a princess, a sentient video console, an evil ice king and a vampire queen. The sheer level of fantasy and whimsy involved in this show means it doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to the real world, thank goodness.
Yes, it's set in an American town, and, sure, its focus on issues of family and growing up sound fairly realistic. But this isn't any less fantastical than Adventure Time; it imagines a life where your mom is your best friend, you know every single one of the adorably eccentric citizens of the town in which you reside, and each of your high school/college boyfriends teaches you a valuable lesson about life, rather than just bumming you out.
7'Rick and Morty'
Rick Sanchez is an amoral but genius scientist and he has the best possible sidekick: his grandson Morty. Together, they go on adventures across the universe and Rick gets in the way of Morty ever attending a single math class. Many, many thumbs up.
8'The Twilight Zone'
So this horror/sci-fi/fantasy mash up series isn't exactly for the faint of heart. But while its content may be dark, its emphasis on supernatural and unlikely events still make it feel like a break from reality.
9'The Powerpuff Girls'
The show centers on three adorable little girls; they're sugar and spice and everything nice, but they also have superpowers. Which is lucky, because their strength and smarts are the only thing standing between the city of Townsville and being destroyed by monsters and super villains.
10'Pretty Little Liars'
Centering on five best friends being tortured by an anonymous bully who contacts them by text, the show keeps you hooked enough that you'll queue up one episode after another, totally forgetting about the rest of reality. Warning: Dangerously addictive.
You might think this is a show about a sentient sponge who fries burgers for a living and who has a starfish as a friend, and that's definitely one aspect. But there's also a sense that SpongeBob and Patrick are children, too, and so a large part of the show's joy is the wonder with which SpongeBob and Patrick greet their surroundings. This makes it the perfect antidote for feeling cynical about the state of the world.
There's a legend that the classic '80s crime drama came to be because NBC head Brandon Tartikoff once wrote the phrase "MTV Cops" on a napkin and went off to find someone to develop the idea. It's easy to see why this theory has been so popular. With the show's emphasis on aesthetics (executive producer Michael Mann told the costume and set designers "no earth tones," which led to the show's characteristic pastel look) and the cop show's emphasis on the seedy nightlife of Miami, it's an escapist dream.
13'RuPaul's Drag Race'
To quote the legend themselves, "Drastic times call for dragtastic measures." Television's tribute to the art of drag is the perfect break from those days that feel too grey to bear, because it reminds us that real life doesn't always have to be so dreary.
Life can be tricky, so stop shaming yourself for taking time out, press pause on reality, and watch the shows above when things get too much.