Pop culture comfort food to give you a break from Trump.

Cheerful, Politics-Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Turn to for a Break From President Trump  

Cheerful, Politics-Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Turn to for a Break From President Trump  

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Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 11 2016 8:03 AM

Pop Culture Comfort Food You Can Turn to When You Need a Break From President Trump  

It just doesn’t get more escapist than Singin’ in the Rain.


Americans who are feeling anxiety about life under Donald Trump can channel their feelings into action, but even those who are most involved in making a difference eventually need a break. Below, Slate writers and other staffers offer their suggestions for the cheerful, politics-free movies, books, and TV shows that they turn to when they need a pop culture pick-me-up.



Singin’ in the Rain
Streaming on Amazon

On the night that Hurricane Sandy battered New York, when the scariest reports started to come in, my girlfriend and I turned off social media and turned on Singin’ in the Rain. I can’t think of a more colorful, joyous, and escapist film. I mean, the movie’s Big Bad is the talkie. So when I came into work after Election Day and saw that my co-worker Aisha Harris had Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds dancing in their raincoats on her second monitor, I didn’t need to ask why. —Forrest Wickman

Merchant Ivory films
Streaming on Amazon

In these loud, turbulent, tasteless days, consider watching something quiet, peaceful, and made with impeccable taste: a Merchant Ivory film. The producer/director pair became perennial Oscar favorites in the 1980s and 1990s with their understated tales of English drawing rooms. I recommend watching one of their great films for a booster shot of class, light comedy, and old-timey romantic drama. A Room With a View makes the absurd suggestion that a young lady might prefer Julian Sands to Daniel Day-Lewis. The underseen Mr. and Mrs. Bridge lets Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward be romantic together. And their masterpiece, The Remains of the Day, is a four-hankie cathartic drama of an older white man whose own stupid hang-ups keep him from recognizing the woman he was meant for. Too soon? —Dan Kois


Much Ado About Nothing
Streaming on Amazon

The most reliable cinematic pick-me-up in my DVD arsenal is the 1993 version of Much Ado About Nothing, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. Shot in a Tuscan villa, it’s one of those movies that, you can tell, the cast and crew look back on as a souvenir of a blissful, golden era. Kenneth and Emma were still in love, everyone is tan and wearing white muslin; even the older actors look beautiful and happy. There’s a bad guy, sure. But he’s only Keanu. —Laura Miller

The Thing (1982)
Streaming on Amazon

This won’t be for everyone, but in unimaginable moments like these, I find solace in horror. The genre’s cathartic power is never stronger than when our nightmares seem to be coming true. Go classic with John Carpenter’s The Thing, at its heart a paranoid thriller about people facing an unknown menace that slowly tears them apart, literally and otherwise. —Jeffrey Bloomer


TV Shows

I Love Lucy, anything from Seasons 1 and 2, especially
Streaming on Amazon and Hulu

I think I’ve watched more episodes of this show more times than anything else, ever. Nick at Nite reruns were a heavy part of my diet growing up, and I now own the entire series (including the hourlong specials) on DVD, and I have even visited the Lucille Ball museum in her hometown in upstate New York. Watching Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred bicker and scheme and find themselves in the most ridiculous of situations reminds me fondly of both my childhood and a highly idealized version of a past I was never around to actually experience. My go-to episodes to start with would definitely be “The Freezer” and “Lucy Writes a Play.”—Aisha Harris

The Office
Streaming on Netflix


On Tuesday night we decided to start a full American Office rewatch (well, a rewatch for my husband; I’ve never seen the first half). So far, so good. I think it’s working for me right now because it’s a show about gentle conflict—about people who disagree with each other or whose personalities might not quite mesh but who are somehow managing to bumble along. Also, the antagonists (Michael Scott, Dwight Schrute) have no real power to hurt anyone and are pretty much benign figures of fun—which is nice. —Rebecca Onion

The Simpsons
Streaming on Hulu

In times of misery—whether a death in the family, a bad cold, work stress, or political catastrophe—I turn to The Simpsons. It always gives me some hope: Even in dysfunction, there is love and wit and laughter. Plus: They tried to warn us. —Torie Bosch

In Treatment
Streaming on Amazon and HBO


When I need to escape, I like to hear people talk—about their problems, their families, their jobs, their fears, their joys, their lives. And so I go to therapy. Not literal therapy, of course, but into the cozy 30-minute sessions of HBO’s In Treatment. I watched the show when it first aired as a teenager, and then watched it again with my mother, and then again with my grandmother, and then again with my current significant other. Following the uneasy progress of a range of human beings, as they confide their struggles and try to change the course of their lives, provides that sense of humanity I really need. Nothing can restore your faith in the human race better than listening to people talk about their problems for hours on end. —David Canfield

Gilmore Girls
Streaming on Netflix

There’s no denying that Gilmore Girls is a show about two basic white girls dealing with their white girl problems. But in the small, fictitious town of Stars Hollow, there is no Trump—only two women, displaying the powers of female friendship, in a place where everyone knows and cares for one another. Plus, there’s enough coffee and rapid-fire banter to go around. And that doesn’t sound so bad right now. —Laura Sim

Foyle’s War
Streaming on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix

This very British series is a police procedural set in Hastings, England, during World War II. But it’s also about Christopher Foyle (played by the great Michael Kitchen), a good cop and a great man, who always manages to do the right thing, even when bending the rules might seem like the expedient thing to do. A prolonged ode to integrity seems like it might be useful viewing these days. —June Thomas

Keeping Up With the Kardashians
Streaming on Hulu

I’ve been mainlining Keeping Up with the Kardashians this week. Sure, it’s outlandish and insane, but it’s also deeply relatable and comforting on a level that doesn’t require mental exertion and pairs well with a marathon game of Civilization VI and a pile of fleece blankets. —Chelsea Hassler

The Great British Bake Off
Streaming on Amazon

Even though The Great British Bake Off is a competition show, it never feels high-stakes. At most, you might roll an eye at a bad pun or innuendo or get really annoyed by how pointless and complicated a Baked Alaska is. But at its heart, GBBO to me is a show about baking nerds getting together to do what they love. In times of stress and sadness, seeing someone do something they love always makes me feel better. —Emily Mulholland


The Jeeves and Wooster books of P. G. Wodehouse

Totally effortless and endlessly comforting in their liveliness and happiness and funniness and sheer formal perfection. The Code of the Woosters is as good a place to start as any. —Gabriel Roth

The short stories of Alice Munro

I find comfort in Alice Munro’s short stories. She is Canadian, which reminds me of Canada, a charming place we can all escape to if the bottom falls out. And she is so sensible and witty, but melancholy too, and also perceptive enough to draw beauty from the ordinary. This is the perfect combination of tones to reassure you, give depth and credence to your sadness, and inspire you to notice the good things that remain in the world. —Katy Waldman