9 Perfect Shows You Can Put On While You’re Working

9 Perfect Shows You Can Put On While You’re Working
Working from home? Need to turn off your brain at the end of a difficult day? Turn on these nine sensationally soothing shows, now streaming.

Some of these shows are streaming on more than one service, sometimes with limited episodes available, depending on the date.

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

Where to stream it: Netflix

Number of seasons: 1

Hosted by David Chang, Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner follows the famed restaurateur as he visits cities like Vancouver, Marrakesh, and Los Angeles to eat three meals (and have some non-food-related fun) with a celebrity in a specific city, bonding over the cuisine and the culture. While not quite as wide-ranging or in-depth as Chang’s other Netflix show Ugly Delicious (a terrifically engrossing show, which you should also check out!), Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner is a light, friendly, and fun four-episode distraction which will make you laugh and only make your stomach growl *a little*.

One thing to look out for: though he is a very interesting and gifted person himself (obviously), Chang makes an effort to put his guests front and center on Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, allowing them to guide the narrative when it comes to the guest’s relationship with the food in front of them, their background, and their creative pursuits.

Parks and Recreation

Where to stream it: Peacock

Number of seasons: 7

Though it has not (yet!) gained the sensational second life that The Office did once it landed on Netflix, Parks and Recreation is an excellent go-to streaming option for any mood. Boasting a wildly talented and hilarious ensemble cast plus a massive Simpsons-like roster of specifically crazy townsfolk, Parks and Rec blends the workplace comedy mockumentary DNA of The Office with a relentless positivity and endless belief in the power of community which is absent from many of even the best comedies. 

And while it is occasionally serial with regards to certain plotlines like “Leslie Knope’s campaign for city council” and the characters’ various romantic relationships, it also thrives as the sort of episodic show which doesn’t demand an ongoing knowledge of storylines in order to be fully appreciated.

One thing to look out for: we’re all now very accustomed to seeing Chris Pratt as the hunky leading man action star but his first few years as Andy on Parks & Rec are a delightful throwback, featuring him at his most goofy, pudgy, and lovable.

Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting

Where to stream it: Hulu

Number of seasons: 6

Featuring an authentically lovely and gifted artist whose voice and energy can help you relax and/or focus in a way usually achievable only through transcendental meditation, The Joy of Painting is the mesmerizing feel-good television series of all of our dreams. Replete with beautiful and effective techniques to help anyone realize their painterly ambitions, Bob Ross’ teaching series stands the test of time because it’s pure, soothing, and accessible to everyone.

One thing to look out for: Bob’s occasional interludes showcasing the friendly wildlife he has encountered and helped rehabilitate. It has nothing to do with art but watching a kind, soft-spoken man bond with a rescued baby deer for a minute (for example) is about as pacifying as television can get.

New Girl

Where to stream it: Netflix

Number of seasons: 7

If you never got into the sitcom screensaver that was Friends (for whatever reason), allow me to recommend New Girl. This relentlessly funny, quirky, and affectionate always-enjoyable portrait of a modern twentysomething social circle (most of whom are roommates) doesn’t shy away from sentimentality but its antics regularly go down so easy, it’s the perfect light and breezy modern sitcom to throw on in the background, whatever you’re doing. Even my dog loves the theme song! And Jake Johnson’s portrayal of Nick Miller remains iconic, almost a decade after his first appearance.

One thing to look out for: the evolution of Winston Bishop as one of the most distinct and fun sitcom characters of the last 20 years.

The Great British Baking Show

Where to stream it: Netflix

Number of seasons: 8

Known in the United Kingdom as the The Great British Bake-Off, this cooking show is not only the antithesis of all the competition shows which have given American reality television a bad name (no judgment if they’re your thing) but it’s just a reliably sweet, informative, compelling, and entertaining portrait of real people tackling something we all can understand and regularly crave: baked goods. One of the best parts about it is its heart and humor — the hosts and judges can regularly make you laugh with comments that are both kind and critical but never cruel.

One thing to look out for: Paul Hollywood’s handshake, the ultimate seal of approval. Watch a few episodes and you’ll understand.

Frasier

Where to stream it: Hulu, Peacock, CBS All Access

Number of seasons: 11

Even disregarding the fact that it won more Emmys than any television show in history (until Game of Thrones broke the record in 2016), Frasier is probably the best sitcom ever made, if you’re interested in plots which revolve around simple, comical misunderstandings and the warm embrace of standard (yet eminently smart) setup + punchline jokes. The show’s stories and character dynamics will be familiar to anyone who’s enjoyed modern television but they are executed so exceptionally well over and over and over throughout all 11 seasons, you never grow tired of them. Meaning this show is absolutely perfect as the comfort food for your brain, at any time.

One thing to look out for: just about every person to call into Frasier’s talk show is played by a celebrity you’d recognize but they’re never identified until the end credits of each season’s finale. Try to figure out who is who and then stick around to see if you’re right! (Or I guess you can just Google it but where’s the fun in that?)

Bob’s Burgers

Where to stream it: Hulu

Number of seasons: 11

Maybe it’s just me but getting to watch a hysterically funny family all of whom genuinely like and care for each other is the most comforting thing in the world. Translation: Bob’s Burgers is one of my favorite things and I can’t recommend it enough. 

It’s clever, compassionate, colorful, and features some of the best and most natural ensemble voice acting ever. Bonus: by utilizing The Simpsons’ strategy of never allowing the children/parents to age, the show thankfully gets to repeatedly showcase the most hilarious years of the wonderfully entertaining Belcher children, each season. 

One thing to look out for: just about every episode features at least one incredibly fun original song, which usually connects to the episode’s plot. And unlike the gimmicky single-use songs you usually find in sitcoms, many entries from the Bob’s Burgers soundtrack will get stuck in your head for days afterwards.

Our Planet

Where to stream it: Netflix

Number of seasons: 1

Well-produced nature documentaries may be the most effective antidote for stressful days, weeks, or (in the case of 2020) years. And no series has exemplified these strengths like Our Planet. Even if the episodes weren’t full of fascinating information (and they are), the combination of gorgeous high-definition video of the world’s most beautiful wildlife, gentle music, and David Attenborough narration is a universal tonic that will help anyone get through anything. 

(Note: Planet Earth, Blue Planet, and Frozen Planet are not currently streaming anywhere for free but they are three more fantastic series from the same producers as Our Planet, replete with buttery Attenborough narration.)

One thing to look out for: reflecting the very climate change-aware age in which they were created, each episode of Our Planet ends with a segment highlighting how humans can (and already have, in some cases) reverse course to protect the environment which we have previously endangered. So it’s a little sobering but also provides some much-needed reality-based optimism!

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

Where to stream it: HBO Max

Number of seasons: 12

In the same way that Bob Ross represented a conduit to the wide world of art and creativity for kids and adults everywhere, the late, great Anthony Bourdain introduced millions of people (myself included) to dozens of new types of foods and cultures, all over the world. And Parts Unknown, though not his first show, helped set Bourdain apart as a host who never let his impressive culinary expertise get in the way of an open mind and endless curiosity, when it comes to uncovering little-known destinations, diverse cultures, and interesting people on almost every continent. Plus, if Bourdain’s narration doesn’t help you calm down (while also teaching you a thing or two), I don’t know what will. 

One thing to look out for: the fact that you will be very hungry, thirsty, and desperate to travel after every episode. 

Do you have a favorite chill show to keep you company while working? Keep the list going in the comments!

Looking for more streaming recs? Check these out:

Justin Brown

Justin Brown is an artist and writer living in Virginia. He channels most of his enthusiasm into making things for his online art shop, Artness! by Justin Brown. You can keep up to date with him, his worldly adventures, and his dogs by following him on Instagram and on Facebook