The summer is fun for outdoor festivals, amusement parks and vacations, but can also bring some unbearable heat. If you’re like me and can’t deal with high temperatures for long, I recommend the following TV shows to binge while cooling off. What makes these shows easy to watch during the summer is you don’t have to think seriously while watching them, yet often feel more intelligent or a better person after watching these shows (all these shows have clever dialogue/storylines).
“The Golden Girls” (1985–1992)
At first glance, “The Golden Girls” plot doesn’t seem interesting to people in a younger demographic. The 1980s show is about four senior citizen ladies (Bea Arthur, Betty White, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan) that live together in a house in Miami. However, this show is a lot more groundbreaking and funny beyond the first glance. For one, it isn’t common to see a show that highlights how older women can still have fun. The conventional Hollywood wisdom is that older women have peaked and only serve the purpose of a supporting character. However, “The Golden Girls” breaks this convention and gives these older women the four lead roles. Not only do they continue to date, but also continue to have careers of their own. They trade sarcastic and witty remarks back and forth, making the show a great comic relief. The show also deals with topics that were not often talked about openly in the 1980s, such as gay marriage and abortion. This show will make you think and laugh at the same time.
Stream on Hulu or catch reruns on the Hallmark channel
“The West Wing” (1999–2006)
I just started this show this summer after years of postponing and I was instantly hooked. The show takes a behind the scenes look at the President’s senior staff – the Chief of Staff and the Communication Team – and how they resolve foreign affairs and legislative issues. Watching this team deal with dilemmas is not only educational on how policy-making works (or should work, rather), but also provides an alternate, positive reality to block out the real life mess we’re experiencing with Washington today. Additionally, the characters are incredibly loveable and relatable. The witty banter and staff’s idealistic but determined nature makes you wish you could meet them in real life. I can find something in each character to enjoy. Watch this show if you’re looking for a good distraction from both the heat and also the stressful news.
Stream on Netflix
“Gilmore Girls“ (2000-2007)
What can I write about “Gilmore Girls,” that hasn’t already been written about extensively? The common words that critics/fans use to describe this show include “charming,” “heartwarming,” “quirky,” “brilliant.” I’ll add to this list with the word “escapist.” What I most like about “Gilmore Girls,” is that it creates a reality that is simultaneously a spot on look at human behavior (overcoming difficult childhood, navigating romance, communication issues, etc.) and serves as a shelter from the negative concepts we’re forced to deal with on day-to-day basis. All characters in this show have shades of grey, but not a single one is intentionally evil. Some characters, like Taylor, may be overbearing at times, but you sense this is out of a blindness to things around them and not a deliberate attempt to be cruel. In “Gilmore Girls,” rather than being forced to deal with the grind of working, you get to smile at all the odd behavior and antics of the townspeople. “Gilmore Girls,” is the perfect show to watch good people and get a good laugh along the way.
Stream on Netflix
“Doc Martin” (2004 – )
What better way to cool off then watching a show that takes place near an ocean? “Doc Martin” takes place in an English village by the shore, and the views are not only stunning, but also calming to imagine living in real life. While the characters and plot lines are as quirky as “Gilmore Girls,” this show differentiates itself with its central character, Martin Ellingham, a complete 180 degree turn from Lorelai in “Gilmore Girls. Martin is the village doctor that gets sick at the sight of blood and doesn’t have the best social skills. He is often blunt and rude towards his patients and other members in the village. Yet, he is always there for every catastrophe and genuinely cares for his patients, even if he doesn’t always show it. The show is special not just due to the stunning cinematography, but also for the way it makes you want to know more about Martin Ellingham despite his flaws. Watching his development has been a sweet experience.
Stream on Netflix
“Elementary” (2012 – )
Most people watch BBC’s “Sherlock” (starring Benedict Cumberbatch) for a taste of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. While “Elementary,” may not be as popular or as unusual as “Sherlock,” but in its storytelling this series is entertaining to watch in its own right. The key twist in “Elementary,” is that Watson is a female (played by Lucy Liu) and not a male as in the original books. This twist, while weird to grasp for any fan of the original books, doesn’t take away from the series. Liu’s depiction continues to provide grounding complement to Sherlock’s crazy nature (which you can sometimes see subtly played out in the books). What I enjoy the most about this series is that you get to see the mysteries unfold in a logical manner-you can see how the characters made the conclusions that lead to revealing the criminal. Mysteries are always a great way to pass time because they keep your brain engaged in the storyline.
Stream on Hulu and watch the new season on CBS
Did we miss any other binge-worthy shows? Let us know what you’re watching to beat the summer heat!
Proud to be a book nerd but also love talking and writing about TV. My favorite shows are those that have complex and multi-dimensional characters. Other hobbies include going to classical music concerts, trying new restaurants, and visiting art museums.