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Finding Comfort: Ten TV shows to ease your soul as the coronovirus pandemic rages on

The clocks are turned back, it’s getting cold and the coronavirus pandemic remains. With nothing left to do but stay home and ride out the latest spikes, we’re doing our part to help distract you with TV. Here are 10 shows to help you escape the monotony that has overtaken our daily lives.

“Derry Girls” is currently streaming on Netflix. (Courtesy of Netflix)

1 ‘Derry Girls’ Oh, to have the sweet innocence of a teenage Irish girl in the ’90s. “Derry Girls” is set against the backdrop of the Northern Ireland conflict, but for the most part, the easily bingeable show is a time capsule back to the simple troubles of first kisses and crotchety nuns. The addictive accents don’t hurt, but mostly it’s a beautiful story about female friendship and youthful indiscretion.

Josiah Jed Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen in “The West Wing.” (Courtesy of HBO)

2 ‘The West Wing’ There’s a reason HBO Max brought back “The West Wing” for a voting special: Twenty years later, everyone still wants more of Aaron Sorkin’s prestige political drama, especially now. The seven-season show about a principled president and his remarkably competent staff is a breath of fresh air. In the world of “The West Wing,” politicians not only care about you, but want to help.

Skylar Astin as Max, Jane Levy as Zoey in “Zoeys Extraordinary Playlist.” (Courtesy of NBC)

3 ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ Musicals aren’t for everyone, but “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” has a special dash of magic as a San Francisco coder, played by Jane Levy, figures out a new world in which she hears everyone’s thoughts in the form of song. More “Eli Stone” than “Glee,” it’s a little cheesy but the song selection is great – just wait until a group of tech nerds sing “Jesus Christ Superstar” to their overlord, or Skyler Astin gets down to the Jonas Brothers – and the relationships are genuinely wonderful.

Darren Barnet as Paxton Hall-Yoshida and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi Vishwakumar in Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever.” (Lara Solanki/Netflix)

4 ‘Never Have I Ever’ Tennis icon John McEnroe liked “Never Have I Ever” enough to narrate the show, so who are you to say no? The Mindy Kaling-created series stars newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as a California teen trying to balance her Indian background and her American dreams, made even more difficult when her dad (played in flashbacks by “Heroes” alum Sendhil Ramamurthy) dies suddenly. As Hollywood struggles to find diverse programming, “Never Have I Ever” has it built in and the show is better for it.

Asa Butterfield in the Netflix series “Sex Education.” (Jon Hall/Netflix)

5 ‘Sex Education’ At times, “Sex Education” is more cringe than comfort, but it’s familiar cringe about, well, sex education, if your mom was a sex therapist and played by Gillian Anderson. Asa Butterfield plays a horny teenager better than almost anyone before him in the crowded landscape, with innocence and optimism and maybe a little bravado. But beyond the sex, the Netflix series is a refreshing version of teenage angst that deals with addiction and sexuality with heart.

Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham in “Gilmore Girls.” (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

6 ‘Gilmore Girls’ There may not be anyone left in the world who hasn’t watched “Gilmore Girls,” but there’s also never a bad time for a rewatch. Remember when you could go to a diner and hang out with friends? Remember bad movie theaters? Remember school hallways and Bangles concerts and town hall meetings? As goofy as “Gilmore Girls” got at times, it was grounded in its normalcy, just a mother and daughter and their friends in a small town. We could all use a little normalcy.

Michael Sheen and Tom Payne star in Fox’s “Prodigal Son.” (Courtesy of Fox)

7 ‘Prodigal Son’ “Hannibal” got its time in the sun when Netflix added the brilliant drama to its library this summer, but “Prodigal Son” offers an entirely different take on serial killers, mainly because no one plays manic quite like Michael Sheen. He stars as Martin Whitley, a surgeon-turned-serial killer known as, well, The Surgeon, from the luxurious confines of an asylum that gives him seemingly free access to the phone and almost anything else he wants. Then his son Malcolm (Tom Payne), an NYPD profiler, comes calling for advice on the sickest murderers and Whitley finally gets the attention he was looking for. Plus, you get Lou Diamond Phillips as a grizzled lieutenant and Bellamy Young as Whitley’s pill-addicted ex-wife in a swirling vortex of killers and chaos.

A scene from “Outer Banks,” which is streaming on Netflix. (Courtesy of Netflix)

8 ‘Outer Banks’ Netflix’s soapy summer drama hearkened back to the days of “One Tree Hill” and “The O.C.” when a group of unreasonably attractive teenagers get into just a truly absurd amount of trouble. Here, we find John B (Chase Stokes), Kie (Madison Bailey), Pope (Jonathan Daviss) and JJ (Rudy Pankow) hunting for treasure and John B’s missing father in the wealthy tourist haunts of North Carolina, while the rich side of town, including love interest Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline), do their best to hide the trail. The warring social classes on the rich and poor sides of their North Carolina town even have their own names: the Pogues and the Kooks. “Outer Banks” is mindless spectacle at its best.

A scene from “What We Do in the Shadows,” which airs on FX. (Russ Martin/FX)

9 ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ FX’s bizarre, crude comedy about a family of vampires living on Staten Island isn’t exactly comforting, but it’s so weird that you genuinely will forget everything else going on around you. Based on Taika Waititi’s 2014 movie of the same name and starring Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillen and Mark Proksch, this little mockumentary has everything you could ask for, from a cursed hat coveted by Simon the Devious (Nick Kroll) to a witches council that includes Danny Trejo, Wesley Snipes, Tilda Swinton and Evan Rachel Wood. And then there’s Jackie Daytona.

Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda star in “Grace and Frankie.” (Lara Solanki/Netflix)

10 ‘Grace and Frankie’ This is the comedy Aaron Sorkin always tried – and failed – to write, right down to some of his favorite stars in Martin Sheen, Sam Waterson, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. When Sol (Waterson) and Robert (Sheen) leave their respective wives for each other, Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, now inextricably linked. Now six seasons in, the show has retained its warmth and humor as the families adjust to their new realities.

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