When the world’s got you down, there are a few things you can do. You can fight back, for sure, but whether you’re trying to keep up your strength or simply survive, it’s also important that you take care of yourself. And of course, when we’re looking for a break from the world, we turn to stories.
Writer Helena Fitzgerald recently asked on Twitter, “What, in your opinion, is the most soothing movie? Like, pls tell me what is the thing-I-can-watch-on-my-television equivalent of cbd gummies.” The responses were all over the map—everyone’s comfort food is different. Period pieces got lots of recs: Gosford Park, Pride and Prejudice (in all its adaptations), Sense and Sensibility, A Room With a View. So did glowy rom-coms, like It’s Complicated and Under the Tuscan Sun, where real-world rules don’t seem to apply. But some people feel soothed by movies that aren’t so soothing, like mindless popcorn action movies like Predator or Alien.
Beyond the screen—there’s plenty of soothing TV to be found, but does anything top The Great British Bake-Off?—we’ve been really loving podcasts lately for a chance to zone out and feel better about the world. Comedy is great, but even better is a strong relationship between the hosts. We really love The Adventure Zone, a hilarious real-play Dungeons and Dragons podcast starring three brothers and their dad. (You can read more about the dad, Clint McElroy, and his voicing Ben Franklin here.)
If you’d rather think about storytelling than listen to a story, there’s Blank Check, where good friends David Simms and Griffin Newman (a film critic and an actor, respectively) dive into the filmographies of directors whose early success earn them the freedom to make whatever crazy passion projects they want.
This just scratches the surface, of course. Whether they’re escapism, inspiration, or the narrative equivalent of a warm bubble bath, everyone has their narrative comforts. Just make sure to keep yours on deck. (If you run out of Bake-Off episodes, we’ve been really enjoying the gardening show Big Dreams, Small Spaces.)
Take care of yourselves, and happy reading!