Thursday, June 13, 2013

Three Therapeutic TV Shows

My wife and I were recently talking about “therapeutic” TV shows. I think what we both meant by that was, shows that make us feel good when we watch them. Many shows are funny, gripping, or interesting. But some just seem more than that – they seem nourishing.

Here are three of my favorites:

Good Neighbors
Recently, we started re-visiting the series “Good Neighbors,” which originally aired in Britain as “The Good Life.” Tom Good hits his fortieth birthday, realizes that he is dissatisfied with his life – and particularly his job. He resigns his professional draftsman position, and together with his wife Barbara begins turning his upper-class suburban home into a self-sufficient farm. While the premise is interesting and the show is funny, what really draws me back into the reruns is the relationship between Tom and Barbara. They weather difficult seasons and discouragement together with grace, understanding, and teamwork. It’s hard to think of a better example of a married couple that gets along so well.

Avatar: The Last Airbender
This animated Nickelodeon show ran from 2005 – 2008. It follows a twelve-year-old boy named Aang, who sets off with two friends in an effort to bring peace to a war-torn world. The show is well-animated, and has a very impressive soundtrack; young kids will probably love the fact that several characters can manipulate natural elements, and some animals provide comic relief. But what surprises about the show is how deep it looks into characters’ hearts, and how hopeful it remains. We learn the motives and secret pains of the heroes, but also of the villains. We’re allowed to understand the enemies, and struggle with Aang as he wonders how to defeat evil without becoming evil himself. Not all of the bad guys stay bad, either. Avatar is redemptive. Great for kids. Maybe even better for parents, once they get past the fact that it’s an animated Nickelodeon show.

This sitcom, set in the Korean war, spanned eleven seasons. The first seasons were geared towards comedy and featured caricature-like characters, but the show evolved in the later seasons. While wisecracking Hawkeye Pierce remains the central character throughout the show, in later seasons he is surrounded by complex but genuinely good people. I find myself relating to Dr. Sidney Friedman, a travelling psychiatrist who usually pops into the unit to help, but sometimes comes to relax, and, at one point, reveals that he is struggling. I also like Father Mulcahy, the unit’s chaplain, who overcomes his own insecurities to offer comfort to those around him. Other people might connect with Margaret Houlihan, a Major who becomes more and more complex and well-balanced as the show progresses, or BJ Hunnicut, a gentle family man. There is depth and honesty to each of the main characters, and encouragement that you can survive difficult situations.

Have you seen any of these? What are some of your favorite / therapeutic shows?

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  1. Charmed. I love Charmed. It's a show about 3 beautiful, powerful women who have a gorgeous guy on hand to heal them. Very appealing to someone with a chronic pain disorder.

    Castle, because who doesn't like Nathan FIllion? Similarly, Firefly is another therapeutic show.

    And, somewhat strangely, Extreme Makeover Home Edition has always been one of my favorites. It's one of those feel good, happy happy shows.

    1. Thanks so much for these ideas. If I confessed that I haven't seen Charmed or Castle, could we still get along :) But I think I will check them out.

      I've seen one episode of Firefly, and really liked it, and want to introduce my wife to it, too. She's a big sci-fi fan.

      And - I love shows like Extreme Makeover (and Mythbusters, Iron Chef) - happy, feel-good, documentary-reality-nonfictcom hybrids :)


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