When it comes to Netflix, there’s a near-infinite number of shows and movies to stream. After a long, stressful day, there’s nothing more comforting than knowing your laptop and bed are waiting for you at home. But, let’s be real, binge-watching is a serious sport and it can be easy to get completely wrapped up in the drama of your favorite shows (sometimes to the point where it stresses you out IRL). You might even find yourself having trouble separating your life from the lives of the characters on >House of Cards, Scandal, or Orange is the New Black.
So, if you’re looking for some more mindless entertainment that requires a little less commitment, we’ve got the shows for you. Don’t get us wrong, these are great shows, but they can still be enjoyed when you’re half-asleep or drinking some wine with your friends.
1. Bob’s Burgers
When it comes to mindless television, Bob’s Burgers is an excellent choice. While it may be a cartoon, don’t be fooled — this show is also seriously witty, a little bizarre and fully offbeat. Every 20-minute episode guarantees at least one laugh-out-loud moment, so it’s perfect after a long stressful day at work or school. Be careful, though, it’s easier than you think to fly through an entire season in the span of a day.
2. Parks and Recreation
This show is an absolute classic. While the major story lines will keep you hooked, you can watch episodes of this show at random and still thoroughly enjoy them. I like to think of Parks and Recreation as a more fast-paced and upbeat version of The Office. Don’t get me wrong, the Steve Carrell hit is another great show, but Leslie Knope’s unwavering positivity leaves you with a certain warm fuzzy feeling that The Office just doesn’t. Packed full of comedians you’re already obsessed with like Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari and Rashida Jones — what’s not to love?
3. Law and Order: SVU
*DUN DUN* Pretty much any version of Law and Order is like comfort food for your brain — besides the fact that it’s pretty damn disturbing. This show is super predictable and reliable, meaning you can trust the show writer’s to take you on a journey you’ll leave satisfied from. There’s a formula to pretty much every episode, which makes it super easy to get sucked into the plot for an hour without being completely overwhelmed. Spoiler alert: yes, the first guy they interviewed was hiding something and no, Benson and Stabler never kiss.
4. The Great British Bake Off
I cannot stress enough just how relaxing this show is. Seriously, play episode one and all of a sudden you’ll end up in a deep, meditative state watching episode 20. While almost all cooking shows are super relaxing, this one features polite, amateur, British bakers from all walks of life who are super friendly and nice to each other. Contestants bake in a tent surrounded by lush English countryside, sharing food puns, and helping each other out when it’s crunch time. It’s like a slower-paced, amicable version of Chopped — meaning if you’re stressed out, then this is the remedy.
5. New Girl
This is one of those shows that takes a while to find itself, but it really comes together after the first season. All of the characters develop into their own super strange and hilarious personalities, making it hard to pick your favorite (but it will almost definitely be Nick). While every episode is filled with the various problems caused by each character’s immature antics, something about them is still extremely lovable.
6. Arrested Development
OK, maybe you can’t totally turn your brain off while watching this show, but I’m still gonna put it on this list. If you somehow haven’t heard of Arrested Development, I’m not even sure how to begin describing the plot. There’s about one million new conflicts and plot points in every episode, but the whole thing is completely absurd and almost cartoon-like which makes it highly entertaining and hilarious. It took me about three re-watches to fully understand what was going on, but it was fun every time.
7. Criminal Minds
This is a lot like SVU in that it’s not for the faint of heart. But if you feel comforted by hearing about heinous crimes (and their resolutions), then Criminal Minds is a show that you’ll like. You also don’t have to watch episodes in order to enjoy it, which just might be something you’re interested in. It follows the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, where they build profiles of serial killers based off of their behavior. Each episode will completely suck you in and fly by. It’s the perfect combination of creepy, witty and full of action (and occasional humor). If you’re like me, you may realize by mid-August that you’ve wasted a truly shocking amount of your summer watching *cough* 10 seasons *cough* of this show.
Ah, Friends. This show finally coming to Netflix led to a week of zero social interaction or sunlight for millennials everywhere. This NBC classic is the television equivalent of that one super-old, hole-filled pair of sweatpants that you wear to bed every night. Even if you’ve seen every episode twice, it’s always great to come back to because a weird part of you feels like you’re just part of the gang, hanging out at Central Perk. This show can be shallow and silly (and in re-watching on Netflix you sometimes notice how dated the show really is when it comes to social issues), but it’s so great for watching with a pint of ice cream and a fuzzy blanket.
9. Malcolm in the Middle
Before Breaking Bad, you could find Bryan Cranston still in a pair of tighty-whities, but screaming at a young Frankie Munez as Hal — patriarch of the Wilkerson family. This show is great because no matter how chaotic or ridiculous your family may seem, they’ve probably got nothing on Malcolm, his three brothers and their parents. Part of the reason this show is so lovable and goofy is because of how un-glamorous it is.
Ok, I flew through this Netflix original in approximately two days. To be totally honest, it can be a little slow and by the end of it you’re kind of like, “what was the point of that?” but it’s still somehow satisfying. You can watch this show right before bed, only pay half-attention and still get the gist of it. Plus, it’s a bunch of young, attractive, British people which makes for super easy watching. Maybe it’s somehow flown past your radar up until now because its OG title was Scrotal Recall, which just might be the worst TV show title in history.
11. The Vampire Diaries
While this show kept high school-me on the edge of my seat when it first came out, it’s now a great show to play in the background of a girls’ night. It seems a little ridiculous now, but that’s what makes it so fun to re-watch. Also, if you’re think you’re above watching a bunch of ridiculously-attractive young vampires and werewolves run around causing trouble then it’s time for some serious self-reflection.
12. That 70’s Show
That 70’s Show is another undeniable classic, and thank God the entirety of it is on Netflix. Watch an episode here or there, or binge-watch the entire series. Either way, this show is entertaining whether you’re a bored burnout or a stressed-out grown-up and watching the beginning of Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher‘s love kind of just adds to the show itself.
13. Pretty Little Liars
OK, this show can get so frustrating by the later seasons that I honestly gave up after season 3. There are just too many plot twists! However, if you watch this show knowing that you’re going to kind of lose track of the point after a while, it’s super enthralling and over-the-top. For 45 minutes of your day, you can forget about your homework assignments and wonder how exactly “A” caught that footage of you smooching your English teacher!
14. How I Met Your Mother
Now, if you’re gonna watch this show you’ve gotta watch it from the beginning. HIMYM is the ultimate primetime sitcom: each episode is full of corny jokes, mushy romantic scenes and heartwarming moments of friendship. I think of HIMYM as kind of a grown-up Full House, which is awesome because it’s actually narrated by Danny Tanner himself.
15. Gossip Girl
Gossip Girl is one of those shows that is like a fine wine — it gets better with age. I thought this show was the height of entertainment when I was in eighth grade… and that has only gotten more true now that I’m in college. The glamorous high-schoolers you dreamed of becoming as a youth are even more fun to watch on Netflix at 4 AM, elbow-deep in a jar of peanut butter the night before you have a paper due.
16. Gilmore Girls
Some hardcore fans out there could definitely argue that this show isn’t for “easy watching” as the relationships are super important to watch morph over time but IMO, because the show is more dialogue-based than plot-based, you don’t really have to become super invested to enjoy watching a few episodes after a long, hard day at the office. The Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel rapport is super fun to watch and GG is filled with romance and drama, but never the kind that makes you want to tear your hair out. This is the perfect show to watch with a hot coffee (or three) on a lazy Saturday.
17. The Fosters
I tend to think of this show as a more legit version of 7th Heaven. Focused on two lesbian moms and their group of biological, foster and adopted children, it’s a show that deals with real issues in a super wholesome way. There’s something comforting about big problems that can be solved in neat little bows. Plus, in a world of TV shows featuring unstable relationships — Stef and Lena’s romance is a consistency you can count on, which takes a bit of the stress out of watching.