What Makes a Comfort Show a Comfort Show?


Laila Del-Rio, Senior Staff Writer

Do you ever have that one show that just makes you feel like everything’s going to be alright? Well, Senior Staff Writer Laila Del-Rio does. Come read what she thinks makes a comfort show a comfort show.


I recently started rewatching “Friends.” It’s a classic. I’ve seen the show twice before and, yet, I still laugh at the jokes. My love for the characters is as strong as the first time I watched the show. I can follow the adventures that Chandler, Monica, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe, and Joey go on endlessly. There is something in it that keeps me coming back for more. This quality got me thinking about the concept of comfort shows and the shows I always return to. 

Comfort shows refer to a show one turns to in hard times for comfort or simply for joy. Having a piece of media that is comforting and reliable makes sense. I have comfort shows, books, and even music; no matter how many times I’ve listened, read, or watched these things, they can offer that feeling of ease. 

Comfort shows obviously differ based on the person, but I think there are a couple of things that a classic comfort show has to have, the first being its rewatchability factor. The show has to be easy to turn on, with an instant feeling of being soothed by the familiar setting. It can’t be too dense or dark to watch more than once. This factor is integral to the concept of using a show as a tool. “Outer Banks” is a show I’ve watched probably four or five times. Despite knowing what happens, I still find new things in a rewatch, and I still find the same joy that I did the first time. 

The second factor is humor. One of the benefits of comfort shows is that they are a distraction. This is integral to a comfort show because it offers a break from the stressful or demanding things of life. For me, comfort shows can cheer me up when I’ve had a hard day through their familiarity and the smile they bring to my face. I think that humor is an important part of this equation because laughter is one of the best medicines. The writing doesn’t have to be top-notch (although some of my favorite shows do have fabulous writing), but it needs to have something silly to it. This can be subjective, as some people might find comfort in a show like “Criminal Minds” which holds a darker theme and a darker humor. I have friends who consider this show a comfort show. I’ve seen it myself and I would argue that there are humorous moments despite the overall theme not necessarily being comedic. I think this still makes sense, but the humor is important. I don’t think I would consider “Criminal Minds” a comfort show despite the fact that I like the characters. For me, it just isn’t rewatchable. 

The third factor is the likability of characters, because no one wants to watch a show over and over again if the characters suck. Not every character has to be the coolest guy in the world, but archetypes that audiences can relate to or root for are important in comfort shows because it either provides a kinship or love from audiences. Connections to characters are also very subjective. In some of my favorite shows, I have characters who I love because they remind me of myself or simply because of who they are. They usually fall into the category of people I would like to befriend or personalities I’m attracted to. Like in “New Girl,” my two favorite characters are Jessica Day and Nick Miller. I relate to Jess and I just love Nick for who he is. 

The fourth is cast chemistry. This might not seem like the most important factor, but in my experience, cast chemistry is extremely important to creating a dynamic show. When the cast is close and connected, it becomes easier to go down a rabbit hole of interviews and interactions that add to the experience of watching a show. I think it’s fun to read about the antics that the “Friends” cast would get into or watch interviews between other casts that I love. I fall more in love with the show when I watch their silly BuzzFeed videos and take their quizzes.

I also believe that comfort shows fall into two different categories. There are comedies, and there are dramas. I think the biggest sector that would fall under the comedy category are sitcoms. A majority of my comfort shows are sitcoms. One, obviously, is “Friends,” but “New Girl” is also one of my all-time favorites. I love “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” All of these shows have the qualities that I’ve listed, and I find myself returning to them multiple times. While humor is an important factor, there are some shows that offer an escape from reality which can be its own form of comfort.  I think this is where dramatic shows can still be considered comfort shows. However, it is important to note that they still hold the same qualities and still have comedic moments. Some of mine that fall into this category are “Ted Lasso” and “Jane the Virgin.” While these shows are dramatic, they have funny moments and give audiences a way to escape. “Ted Lasso” has storylines like panic attacks or dealing with grief that are more serious, but can offer a way to work through similar issues one has as well. “Ted Lasso” is a newer comfort show for me, but I think that the writing is so good because of how funny and how real it is. “Jane the Virgin” is a more dramatized show of events that wouldn’t happen in real life, which can offer the perfect escape while still being entertaining. 

The idea that we can self-soothe using media is interesting to me. I think it is a fun human quirk that there are shows we hold in a special place. So, what’s your comfort show?


Image courtesy of Creative Press


So, what's your comfort show?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.