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How are things at your house? It’s been a while now, and sheltering in place can take a toll. We’re here for you, and we’ll do all we can to make this challenging time as smooth and easy as possible. That’s why we’ve been combing the offerings of streaming services to put together a queue of happy, joyful content (file under “delight”).
Whether you and your co-quarantiners gather for viewing or retreat to separate screens, we want to bring you some options you may not have thought of—movies and TV shows that have a way of lifting spirits and adding cheer (but that may not necessarily show up on your recommended viewing).
We rounded up our 10 favorite feel-good flicks and shows from Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access, Disney+ and more. All these titles are free to stream (with free trials), so they’re even cozier. Everything here appeals across age ranges—so don’t be surprised if the couch fills up. Enjoy!
Set in 1964, That Thing You Do! follows a fictional Beatles-eque rock band from its humble beginnings to superstardom, in the span of one summer. Tom Hanks not only wrote and directed the film (so there’s magic feel-good fairy dust all over the thing) but also costars as a Brian Epstein-style manager. The tunes are infectious—the title song actually hit the Billboard Hot 100 back when the film was in theaters. You’ll be singing it long after the credits roll.
Although it first aired on ABC in 1969, The Brady Bunch has grown in popularity over the last 50 years to became an all-time classic with many generations of fans. You know the drill—mom, dad, three kids each. Hilarity ensues. This cheerful crew never disappoints.
Audiences loved Sister Act so much when it came out in 1992 that its studio quickly rushed to produce a sequel, to come out the next year. The original brings our hero, Deloris, a Vegas lounge singer, into a dangerous situation involving some scary (but not that scary) gangsters. She goes into a witness re-location program as Sister Mary Clarence, and ultimately brings out the talents of her sisters, when she helps re-build the convent’s choir. O happy day.
Shop it: Sister Act, Free with seven-day Disney+ trial (starts at $7 per month), disneyplus.com
Nestled in the bosom of Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin, and John Mahoney, you feel safe and cared for. Frasier is listening. And the rest of the players are pleasantly clashing like they do in a perfectly written, beautifully cast long-running beloved show. Hard to believe there were 11 seasons of Frasier, but that’s a great comfort right about now. All 264 episodes are available to stream on Hulu.
Adorable couple Pete and Ellie Wagner are thinking about adopting, so they take in three foster children. Over time, things get complicated—partly because the kids want to live with their mom, who’s not actually able to care for them. Instant Family is a heartwarming movie about how families can come together in new ways, even if they’re not biologically related.
Shop it: Instant Family, Free with 30-day Amazon Prime trial (starting at $13 per month), amazon.com
We’re all used to it now, but The Office was the first U.S. sitcom to make a splash with that hand-held documentary-style format. We send our hearty thanks to the Brit version across the pond that spawned it. It still feels as fresh as it did in 2005, when it premiered. Starring Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer, The Office is reliably, brilliantly binge-worthy—and can make long days pass in a snap.
Shop it: The Office, Free with 30-day Netflix trial (starting at $9 per month), netflix.com
This Emmy-grabbing sitcom just ended its 11-season run, wrapping up the misadventures of the Pritchett-Dunphy clan and leaving a hole in our viewing week. But you can start from episode 1, when Luke was tiny and cute and enjoy Modern Family all over again on Hulu. The show is just complex enough to pull you out of your own head and give you the relief of someone else’s family wackiness for a half hour. Great company while folding laundry or getting back to that knitting project.
Part comedy, part philosophy, Groundhog Day is the now-famous tale of Phil Connors, a local Pittsburgh weatherman who has to re-live the same day over and over again until he becomes a better person. There’s nothing like this movie when it comes to the marriage of laughs and spirituality. Andie MacDowell and the rest of the supporting cast are superb. A classic that leaves you feeling warm, grateful, and full of hopw.
Shop it: Groundhog Day, Free with 30-day Netflix trial (starting at $9 per month), netflix.com
One of the best things about Disney+ is its section of National Geographic programming—which includes the excellent food-travel show Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted. The documentary series follows Chef Ramsay to far-off spots in Peru, New Zealand, Morocco and elsewhere where he learns cooking techniques from the locals. It’s surprisingly heartwarming, considering Ramsay’s better-known demeanor as a tough-to-please high-pressure TV chef. Plus, it will make you hungry—so it’s great before dinner.
Shop it: Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, Free with seven-day Disney+ trial (starting at $7 per month), disneyplus.com
In case you’re new to the planet, here’s the setup: Twelve-year-old Josh Baskin wakes up one day a grown version of himself, played by the very boyish Tom Hanks. His best friend and sidekick stays with him through the adventure that follows—which involves a job, an apartment, and a (gulp) woman. The thing it’s hard to remember till you re-watch this movie is that it’s full of pathos—and about all sorts of things besides growing up fast. Sweet, gentle, and Hanks-packed, it’s the epitome of the feel-good flick.
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.
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