The antidote to your trying home and work responsibilities? Mellow, mood-boosting reality television!

By Lexi Walters Wright
March 30, 2020

If watching shows that contain suspense and drama hits too close to home right now, it might be time to stream something more soothing. Full of homebody charm, these reality shows are like a weighted blanket for your brain. Find something delicious to sip, then start streaming. Bonus points: They're all available on Netflix.

Credit: Mark Bourdillion/Getty Images

1. Astonishing Desserts for Anglophiles: The Great British Baking Show

If you've yet to incorporate the phrases "soggy bottoms" and "That's quite a nice biscuit!" into your lexicon, it's time to tune into the calmest, sweetest cooking competition on the BBC (and, now, Netflix). Even "competition" feels overwrought, given how supportively chummy contestants are in all seven seasons. Each episode will make you question why American supermarket pastries pale in complexity—and you might even be inspired to try your hand at pâte à choux. Bonus: The Great British Baking Show Masterclass can help get you there.

2. Teeny Dream-Home Inspiration: Tiny House Nation

"Downsize your space to upgrade your life" is one of the taglines of this dreamy design show dedicated to tiny homes. Each episode introduces potential tiny-house buyers to bitsy designer abodes in locales across the country, some bizarrely remote. But the real excitement is scoring pro organization tips you can integrate into your own space, size notwithstanding. (OK, and fantasizing how feasible it would be to actually live comfortably in 200 square feet.)

3. Sartorial Smarts: Next In Fashion

The nicest reality clothing competition out there, this 10-episode, single-season show gently pits some of the world's as-yet-unknown names in the fashion industry against one another. Contestants are cheered on by the cheeky host-duo Tan France (from Queer Eye, another feel-good go-to) and model Alexa Chung. Come for the outfits that range from outlandish to outstanding, stay for the sincere teammate encouragement.

4. Cake Calamities for the Entire Family: Nailed It

This kid-appropriate competition centers around home bakers who have more will than skill when it comes to making decorated dessert masterpieces. The gist: Three kitchen novices attempt a Pinterest-perfect baked confection—say, a volcano cake that actually erupts; a smiley emoji cookie; an edible Statue of David. Comedian host Nicole Byer and recurring judge/chocolatier Jacques Torres trade playful remarks as they taste and rate each creation, often accompanied by a celebrity guest (comedian Lauren Lapkus, Oprah's former chef Art Smith, and more). The results are always hilariously disastrous, and you just can't. stop. watching.

5. Restored and Elevated Heirlooms: The Repair Shop

This is a heartily wholesome, sort-of sleepy peek into how cherished family treasures (some literally precious, others simply sentimental) get fixed. Each episode, craftspeople from around England help restore a range of items, including typewriters, accordions, pinball machines, and music boxes. Imagine a crossover series between Antiques Roadshow and How It’s Made, then add thick British accents and charming barns.

6. Art on Unexpected Canvases: Skin Wars

Skin Wars is a competitive body-painting series featuring stupendously talented artists at the top of their field. Each episode, RuPaul Charles challenges contestants to use paint and prosthetics to transform humans into beasts, extra-terrestrial beings, heavenly bodies, and even camouflaged backgrounds. You won’t believe the level of artistic talent the winners possess.


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