Too often the most praised programs in the exciting eras of Television’s Golden Age and Peak TV are gritty and cynical, while happy or hopeful shows can be dismissed as fluff. Not true. We’re here to tell you that excellence in television narratives doesn’t need to be a downer. Here are six critically acclaimed series that combine innovative storytelling with a rosy outlook.
The gold standard. An intentionally ridiculous premise serves as comic springboard for real-life issues of family, religion, immigration, identity, and integrity. Earnest and charming without being naïve, Jane regularly brings both tears and laughter (sometimes simultaneously) and inspires real hope for the world.
Mid-level bureaucracy may be an unlikely place to find idealism, but you won’t find anyone who embodies optimism better than Leslie Knope. She and her motley band of coworkers have genuine affection for each other and sincere belief in the work they do, no matter how absurd it may seem.
Narrated by the magical Jim Dale (voice of the Harry Potter audiobooks), this candy-colored procedural is as much comfort food for the soul as the mouth-watering pies on display would be for the belly. Unabashedly romantic in outlook and buoyant in spirit, star-crossed lovers and artful murders have never before brought such joy.
Deftly juggling broad comedy with sensitive topics, Black-ish shows that issues of race don’t need to be isolated as “very special episodes”. Parents and children alike are allowed to make mistakes, tough questions are faced head on, and family is ultimately celebrated, all without forgetting that it’s a show designed to entertain.
Life is hard, people we love make poor choices, and we can’t all live in Stars Hollow. All of these may be difficult to accept, but somehow time spent with Lorelai, Rory, and the quirky denizens of their hometown makes us believe that given enough coffee, pop culture fast-talking, and wacky festivals, happiness and home are within reach. Where they lead, we will follow.
Politics and optimism may seem quite a stretch these days, but if any show can restore even a little hope in Washington, it’s this one. Here we can escape into a world where the President and his advisors actually succeed in channeling passion into action, illustrating our longing for government to overcome the odds.
Looking for more suggestions to watch, hear, or read? Ask online or stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor. We’d love to connect you with something to fit your mood!