I’m not typically a binge-watch-Netflix kinda girl. I’m a busy body. But in the winter, I, like MANY others suffer from seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder. The winter of 2017/2018 was one of the worst…
I was separating from my husband, moving back home to gain perspective, coping with very low self-esteem, and dealing with a significantly stressful job all while sick with a reoccurring case of mono, acute sinusitis, and a chronic migraine that held on for about five months.
To say I was in a living hell would be acutely accurate. I’m not being over-dramatic either. There were days the pain was so great, I considered knocking myself out just to get a break. I couldn’t figure out a healthy way to do that though… Nor do I recommend it!
I did, however, find an escape that didn’t involve bodily harm – binge-watching Netflix!
Here are some faves that cheered me up, transported me to a warmer climate, and (for the most part) had a humorous and light-hearted plot line:
(Note: Divide up episodes with short tasks like folding laundry, doing dishes, dusting, or other little chores. Too much binge-watching can lead to deeper depression!)
#1: Hart of Dixie
Recent medical graduate and fashionable New York native, Zoe Hart, finds herself in the small town of Bluebell, Alabama, after she is invited by a kind stranger, Dr. Harley Wilkes, who co-owns the local general practice, and when she is unable to land her dream job as a surgeon in New York. Upon moving to Bluebell, Zoe discovered Harley, who was actually her biological father, had passed away and left her his half the practice, which is co-owned by Dr. Brick Breeland, who, along with his southern-Belle daughter, Lemon, is none to fond of Zoe.
The show follows Zoe as she is abruptly slammed into rural living and finds friendship with the locals – George Tucker, the charming lawyer; Annabeth Nass, Lemon’s right-hand girl who secretly befriends Zoe; Lavon Hayes, the ex-college football player turned mayor, and (my personal favorite) Wade Kinsella, the hunky local bartender/town screw-up. All this takes place in the ever-cheerful town of Bluebell. (Dukes of Hazzard and Gilmore Girls fans will probably recognize the set.)
Anyone who grew up in a small town will laugh at (and relate to) the story lines that pick fun at “major issues” of close-knit communities. I think I have watched this series four times over because it’s just that “feel-good.”
#2: Royal Pains
After New York Dr. Hank Lawson loses his job when he lets a multi-million dollar hospital trustee die on the table, he falls into a deep depression, which then causes him to lose his fiance. Life officially sucks for Hank. His brother, Evan, decides to intervene and takes Hank to The Hamptons for a night of party-crashing. They manage to sneak in to a private party at a lavish estate and soon find themselves in the middle of a medical emergency. When a woman collapses at the party, Dr. Hank is forced to snap to action. Little does he know, the party’s host and owner of the estate, Boris Kuester von Jurgen-Ratenicz (……Yeah) is watching and eventually secures Hank as his own personal doctor. That job offer comes with a whole new life in The Hamptons and living on-site at Boris’s ritzy mansion. What also develops is a new business called HankMed, run by his brother Evan, the company’s self-proclaimed CEO. Additionally, Hank discovers Boris is not your ordinary millionaire and is quickly swept up in Boris’s personal missions.
The setting of this show is enough to bring anyone out of a winter funk. You spend most episodes hanging out with Hank, Evan, and Divya (their strong-willed, independent, and very intelligent medical assistant) in Hank and Evan’s quarters at the mansion. If you’re not there, you’re riding around from emergency to emergency with Hank in his old, trusty convertible. Life is good. (For those with a weak stomach, the show usually doesn’t exhibit anything too gross; however you do become very well-versed in what the term “intubate” means. They say and do it, at least, once every episode…)
#3: Good Witch
If you’re a Hallmark fan, this is a good one for you. Welcome to the little town of Middleton, where Cassie Nightengale’s family has lived for generations. As a local shop owner (and enchantress), Cassie is a beacon of help and encouragement to her friends and neighbors. As the owner of Grey House, a local B&B, Cassie ever-so-casually guides her visitors through their troubles when they find themselves pulled towards her home.
Cassie’s daughter, Grace, also finds herself with similar “intuitions” that match her mother, and they both strike up a friendship with their new neighbors, Dr. Sam Radford (played by James Denton!) and his son, Nick, who is Grace’s age. They are soon joined by Cassie’s cousin, Isabelle, as well as a cast of other sometimes cheesy but delightful townspeople including Mayor Martha Tinsdale, who is kinda like nails on a chalkboard to me, but I love her just the same.
It’s a feel good series with a comforting vibe, and it’s all you need on a gloomy day – that and a big, cushy blanket.
#4: Hawaii Five-O
The number one, feel-good thing about this series is Alex O’Loughlin (Aka: Commander Steve McGarrett.) Oh….. My……..Yummy…… Anyway! On to the actual show description….
This is a remake of the 1970’s drama but with a slightly different backstory. Commander McYummy, I mean, McGarrett, returns to Hawaii to investigate his father’s murder. While searching his father’s house, the crime scene, McGarrett meets Detective Danny Williams (Scott Caan), who ultimately becomes his partner in the newly-formed Five-O Task Force created by the governor.
On-screen, O’Laughlin and Caan are…..muah! (Insert Italian kiss gesture here.) Their chemistry is on point, and they play off each other flawlessly. Williams spends most of the series dumbfounded as he hangs on tight for the McGarrett roller coaster. Williams, with his Jersey accent, combined with Caan’s mannerisms make for the perfect complimentary character to O’Laughlin’s shoot-first-ask-questions-later, seemingly invincible and unstoppable McGarrett. Throw in Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly (also yummy) and Grace Park as Kono Kalakaua (girl can kick some ass-phault) and you’ve got a well-rounded cast. Mix in a fast-moving Camero and the paradise of Hawaii and here’s a show that will keep you engaged, distracted, and transported to one of the most beautiful (and warm!) places on earth.
#5: The Carrie Diaries
If you’re a Sex in the City fan, this one is perfect, but even if you’re not, following the young Carrie Bradshaw to New York for a summer internship at a fashion magazine will bring alive the adventurer and dreamer in anyone. And there’s nothing better to do in the winter than re-evaluate your life goals and get a game plan together for warmer weather.
When her single father reluctantly lets Carrie travel to New York BY HERSELF to learn the ropes of writing at her favorite fashion magazine, she finds a whole new world just waiting. Oddly enough, this version, the younger version, of Carrie, seems more mature than the Sarah Jessica Parker-version some of us are used to. I was astounded that this adolescent Carrie had a better head on her shoulders than the screeching, oblivious, and sometimes annoying adult Carrie played by Parker. Anyway, you get to see young “Bradshaw” discover New York, new friends, and new experiences all while dealing with the typical high-schoolish drama that, surprisingly, seems to transition to adult life. The only difference is you get a young, level-headed teenager versus an immature, squawky, 30-something adult.
Add a Weighted Blank & Uplifting Essential Oils to your Netflix Sessions!
So, there you have it! Five shows to fight, beat, cope with, and otherwise ease the winter blues. If you’re one of my warm-weather sistas or brothas (credit: Hawaii Five-O), I suggest finding the softest, most cuddly surface in your house, decorate it with all the plush, cozy pillows you can find with the biggest, warmest blanket you have. Then, fix a rockin’ cup of coffee or hot chocolate and turn on the tube. (A floor heater faced in your direction doesn’t hurt either.) Happy bingeing!!