We are proud to see Austrians look out for each other, abiding by government regulations and (more or less) sticking to self-quarantine. However, after a week in isolation, your home may be spotless but your mood may take a hit. Staying in and socializing only via screens is enough to dampen anyone’s spirits – but remember, we are in this together, even if it is remotely.
While we continue to keep you up-to-date with the most recent coronavirus news in Austria, we’ll also provide you with some lighter content to take your mind off things: here’s a list of cheerful TV shows to keep you afloat in these trying times. While we still encourage you to keep a routine and stay busy during the day, there’s nothing like some good old-fashioned escapism letting you forget all about the world outside.
1. Gilmore Girls
Many charming small towns have graced TV screens over the years, but none as quirky or enchanting as Stars Hollow, the fictional Connecticut hamlet that provides the setting for this early aughts classic. Mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore (Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel) are at the center of a delightful ensemble cast, which includes the inimitable Kelly Bishop and the late Edward Herrmann as Lorelai’s rich, aloof parents. Famous for her witty dialogues laden with pop culture references, creator Amy Sherman-Palladino concocted an irresistible mix of humor and heartfelt moments we love to revisit again and again. Originally running from 2000-2007, the show has developed a cult following in the years since, especially since arriving on Netflix; a subsequent (und criminally underrated) four-part revival premiered in 2016. If self-quarantine has got you down, dive into a colorful world of dance marathons, candy-fueled movie nights, lightning fast repartees, family spats, will-they-won’t-theys and coffee, coffee, coffee.
2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Another instant classic by Sherman-Palladino, this comedy has all the charm of Gilmore Girls, but with a much larger budget, catapulting it to prestige TV status. Instead of picturesque small town magic, you get the hustle and bustle of New York’s comedy scene in the late 1950s, with Rachel Brosnahan starring as Miriam “Midge” Maisel: the perfect Jewish housewife who, after her husband leaves her for his secretary, starts a new career as a standup comic with the help of her snarky manager Susie (a pitch-perfect by Alex Borstein). The stellar cast, magnificent costumes, breathtaking sets and inventive storytelling make for an irresistible confection – the first three seasons are available exclusively on Amazon Prime with a fourth outing already in the pipeline. In the words of legendary comic Lenny Bruce (a recurring character in the show), “There are never enough ‘I love you’s.” – which is exactly how we feel about Mrs. Maisel and her perfectly marvelous world.
3. Great News
This underrated, short-lived but revered gem was co-executive produced by Tina Fey, creator of a little comedy called 30 Rock (you might’ve heard of it). Briga Heelan stars as Katherine “Katie” Wendelson, an underappreciated young woman working at a local New Jersey news station. When her mother (the iconic Andrea Martin) starts as a senior intern, she initially dreads going to work even more – until she realizes that having her brash, filterless, well-intentioned mother at her workplace could be more advantageous than she’d thought. Equipped with Fey’s signature heightened sense of reality and satirical tone, the show is a funny and binge-worthy escape; both seasons are available on Netflix and repeat viewings are definitely recommended due to the myriad of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it jokes and sight gags Fey is famous for.
4. Schitt’s Creek
Little did we know what wonders would unfold in this charming, funny and heartfelt Canadian series that attained cult status after becoming available on Netflix (in some countries). Created by Dan Levy and his father, legendary comedian Eugene Levy and also starring Catherine O’Hara, Chris Elliot and breakout star Annie Murphy this riches-to-rags tale is deceptively simple: After losing their entire fortune, the Roses are forced to move to a small town called Schitt’s Creek, and despite initially struggling to settle into their new lives, they persist and manage to make the best of the unfortunate situation, creating a (temporary?) home. The genius of the show doesn’t lie within its familiar but nevertheless funny storyline, but in the odd speech patterns and mannerisms which the actors have infused their characters with; O’Hara’s performance in particular is a masterclass in acting, revealing unexpected layers upon repeat viewings. What initially seems like a surly series of unfortunate events morphs into a sweet, wholesome comedy whose heart is at least as big as the mansion the Roses had to give up. While you currently can’t watch it in Austria, you can (and should) find it on demand on amazon.com or iTunes if you have a US or UK account.
5. The Good Place
Little can be revealed about this highly original show without giving too much away, but it stars Kirsten Bell (of Veronica Mars and Frozen fame) as a woman who dies and goes to heaven or, as they call it in the show, the “Good Place.” After being welcomed by her assigned neighborhood’s architect (Ted Danson in a truly stunning performance) she eventually reveals that she is, in fact, not supposed to be there. It seems like hilarity will ensue (and it does), but The Good Place is so much more than your run-of-the-mill comedy: Its carefully constructed four-season arc is a meditation on ethics, exploring what it means to be human and to live a good life. Creator Michael Shur (Parks and Recreation) crafted an unpredictable tale that zigs when you think it will zag, that will make you laugh, cry and ponder your own place in the universe. Find it on demand and stream to your heart’s content – a show like this comes around but once in a lifetime.