6 Uplifting & Comforting Things to Stream This (Weird) Thanksgiving Season
November 24, 2020
This is going to be a weird Thanksgiving. There’s no getting around it.
We’d originally planned to write about the importance of ritual and the significance of Thanksgiving to us. (Thanksgiving is Sara’s family’s biggest holiday – she wrote her first paper in her MA program on her family’s hybrid celebration.) But those topics frankly feel a little off-the-mark to us right now when the CDC has advised against holiday travel and we’re both skipping family gatherings to stay at home.
We figured that if you’re staying home, and perhaps feeling a little adrift or sad about it, some comfort watches might be in order. So we’re sharing a list of the things we’ve streamed this year that have cheered us up the most and made us laugh when we were feeling the most defeated.
This is a little out of our usual wheelhouse in that these shows aren’t necessarily folklore or fairy-tale related. (Though some of them are!) But we also know it’s important to find new holiday rituals, or even just cheerful distractions…that might eventually become parts of new rituals. You never know!
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts (Netflix) – Kipo is the story of a relentlessly perky girl from a post-apocalyptic future on a quest to find her family…and to broker peace between humanity and the mutant animals who have overtaken the world’s surface. If you’ve been around Carterhaugh for a while, you know that we’re HUGE fans of the recent She-Ra reboot. And honestly the best way I can describe Kipo is that it’s like She-Ra and Adventure Time (another personal favorite – long live Marcelene the Vampire Queen!) had a baby. Kipo combines the innovative music and the wild imagination of Adventure Time with the heart, diversity, and persistent optimism of She-Ra. (And it doesn’t hurt that the fabulous Karen Fukuhara – who voiced Glimmer – voices the titular Kipo!) But, of course, Kipo is its own unique and awesome thing. Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, Beauty and the Beast) does an unforgettable job voicing the aristocratic, zany, and menacing villain Scarlemagne. And also there are Timbercats. And K-pop narwhals. The show is bright, sweet, smart, surprisingly sophisticated, and a complete delight.
Schitt’s Creek (Netflix) – A rich, spoiled, and out-of-touch family loses all their money and is forced to retreat to a tiny town called Schitt’s Creek that they bought many years ago as a joke.I know, I know. At this point, everyone and their mother is raving about Schitt’s Creek, especially after it swept the Emmys this year. And I’m about to join the chorus. I do think it starts a bit slow, and on an overly cring-y note. But somehow, as the episodes unfold, it morphs into one of the most genuinely heartfelt and hilarious shows I’ve ever seen. I hesitate to call it wholesome, exactly. (I mean, I feel like the name alone precludes that!) But it features some of the sweetest family relationships, friendships, and romances on TV. It’s about imperfect people learning to do better. And, awesomely, it’s a world without homophobia, where an LGBT+ romance can just be, you know, a romance. Also, if this clip of the incomparable Catherine O’Hara trying to buy a car doesn’t convince you to give Schitt’s Creek a try, nothing will.
Yuri on Ice (Funimation) – Yuri on Ice starts when competitive ice skater Yuri Katsuki is about to give up. Plagued by anxiety, he suffered a crushing defeat in a major competition and is considering leaving the sport. But then a video of him skating a perfect copy of champion skater Victor Nikiforov’s routine goes viral… and Victor shows up at Yuri’s family home and says that he’s going to be Yuri’s coach. If you’re one of those people who obsessively watches ice skating during the Olympics, this will be an easy sell. If you’re not, here’s a little more about it. One of the best things about the show is the portrayal of Yuri’s anxiety. It’s part of who he is, but it’s also a part that he gets better and better at understanding and managing, largely because he learns to accept help and friendship from other people. It doesn’t stop him from competing or excelling. (As someone who has felt the icy jaws of anxiety more often than I care to admit, I found this very therapeutic.) Also, the show is delightfully energetic and international, with characters from Japan, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Belgium, Thailand, Canada, and many more. Finally, the evolution of Yuri and Victor’s relationship is really sweet, though occasionally annoyingly subtextual. I’ve probably watched this show (it’s only 12 episodes) 4 times in the last 3 months, and every time I do, it makes me smile ear to ear.
Leverage (IMDB TV) – I can’t even tell you how many times my boyfriend and I have watched Leverage all the way through… it’s at least 3 (and it’s 5 seasons long!) Plus there are certain episodes we’ve probably seen 10 times together. We hardcore bonded over this hilarious, thought-provoking, deeply moving, and FUN show about a bunch of thieves who decide they want to be good guys… and do that by using their crime skills to provide “leverage” to those taken advantage of by the rich and powerful. It’s like Robin Hood meets The A-Team meets Oceans 11, and I am endlessly delighted by their shenanigans. But even though it’s always amusing, it’s also – more often than not – incredibly heartwarming. One of the best things about it is the character growth, and the way that the five of them come together as an unconventional family. It’s our ultimate comfort show, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Oh! And a bonus – if you like it, you’re in luck because there’s a reboot coming soon featuring most of the main cast!
Adam Ruins Everything (HBO Max, Amazon Prime) – This is another one Josh and I love to watch together. Imagine this really annoying but somehow completely endearing know-it-all, give him magical “TV powers,” and send him on a mission to educate the world about things they THINK they know and you’ll basically have this show. Comedian Adam Conover dedicates each episode to “ruining” something, for example: “Adam Ruins Weddings,” “Adam Ruins Work,” or even the oddly profound episode “Adam Ruins Death.” It’s full of terrible puns and stupid jokes that make me giggle wildly, and I always actually learn something. The episodes that are 100% cartoon are pretty great too, though you should note that they’re a little different from the main show in that they tend to focus on historical events. The Thanksgiving episodes are “Adam Ruins Guns” and “The First Factsgiving” (a cartoon episode!) so maybe start with those?
The Dragon Prince (Netflix) – Sara begged me FOREVER to watch this show, and I am dumb because it took me another forever to actually do it… so basically I missed out on SO MUCH TIME where I could have been loving this show and recommending it to everyone I know. And I do love it, and I do recommend it now to everyone I know. The characters are so real, so flawed and yet completely understandable. They cannot be placed into any typical boxes and, because of this, the story never quite goes where you think it will. And it’s always better than what you had imagined. The twists are excellent, the tensions are deeply developed, and the depictions of disability have generally been incredibly on point (in fact, Sara actually wrote a whole blog post about it!) Plus the critters are phenomenal *heart eyes!* I think I maybe dragged my feet on this one because high fantasy can be very hit or miss for me… but this one is 100% a hit. Netflix just bought all seven seasons too, so more is coming!
So there you have it! Six feel-good shows to stream this Thanksgiving break, especially if you’re feeling down. We hope you enjoy them in fuzzy slippers, curled up in a blanket, with a warm cup of tea beside you. Stay safe this holiday!
And tell us about your favorite comfort watches in the comments or over on Facebook!
Not an animé fan, but interesting choices. My personal fave right now is “Beforeigners” – a quirky and funny program about the Norse (Vikings isn’t politically correct here) and 19th c. people including some Luddites suddenly being transported to present-day Sweden. Cute people, Vikings, full-frontal male nudity (tasteful for the most part, IMO), door proselytizers for Odin, that one-eyed guy – and a police procedural to boot. What’s not to like? Well, the English subtitles could be more readable, but overall I’m enjoying it.