Anyone else spend hours flipping from channel to channel, streaming platform to streaming platform–only to realize it’s way past your bedtime and you never got around to actually watching anything?
Much has already been written about how short and scattered our attention spans are right now. Unwillingly, we’ve traded focus and decision-making ability for nearly constant dread and sometimes anxiety, not to mention the extra emotional and mental burdens of impossible financial strain, caregiving without reprieve, working from home while also guiding children through schoolwork, deep loneliness for some and whatever it’s called when you never get a moment alone for others.
Living through a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic is the reason we now have quarantine brain drain (and dozens of articles assuring us that, yes, it is a real thing). One result is that even when we do have time to relax and enjoy some mindless or at least distracting entertainment, we still find ourselves stressed out as we struggle to decide what to watch (or read).
Personally, I’ve felt frustrated and sad that I can’t dredge up deep thoughts or encouraging words for you. But for now, I can’t. What I can do, however, is give you a helpful list of TV shows to check out! Today’s list is for the person who loves romantic comedies but wants something she (or he) can ingest in smaller chunks over time. Here are two dozen TV shows to watch if you love rom coms!
New Romantic Comedy TV Shows
The Baker and the Beauty: A guy who works with his Cuban-American family in their bakery meets an international supermodel, and sparks fly. They have to decide if their connection is serious enough to navigate their two very different lifestyles and families. This is an adaptation of an Israeli romantic comedy, and so far I’m really liking it. Smart, funny, sweet, and I enjoy the supporting characters as much as the main couple. Maybe even more! Watch on ABC or Hulu.
Sweet Magnolias: Lifelong friends in a small Southern town juggle business and relationships. And the trailer focuses on one of those friends finding a new man who happens to be her son’s baseball coach. It looks super cute, and I can’t wait to watch. Premieres tonight on Netflix.
Magical Realism & Time Traveling Romantic Comedy TV Shows
Timeless: A historian, a soldier, and a scientist walk into a time machine… No, seriously, this IS a science fiction drama. But it’s also full of humor and romance! This has been one of my favorite shows in recent years. Watch on Hulu.
Jane the Virgin: A young woman is accidentally inseminated and becomes pregnant. That sounds bonkers enough, but believe me, it gets much crazier! A telenovela with a smidge of magical realism, it also has a hilarious narrator, outlandish plotlines, and more heart and growth and love than any TV family you’ve ever seen. Yes, there’s a love triangle for one of the relationships, but I’m pretty sure (unless you’re a fan of soaps and telenovelas) that you’ve never seen a triangle like this one. I ADORED this show and I think you will, too! Watch on Netflix.
Pushing Daisies: A man has the ability to bring people (and dogs) back to life with a single touch, but a second touch will make them permanently dead. He accidentally revives his childhood sweetheart, but now he can never touch her again. They join forces with a private detective and solve murders, bake pies, and come up with creative ways to make a relationship work without physical contact. It’s magical and it’s delightful. Watch on Amazon Prime.
Musical Romantic Comedy TV Shows
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: This is my new favorite show! I love it so much! A young woman has a CAT scan, and somehow that gives her the ability to hear people’s innermost thoughts as if they were singing and dancing right in front of her. There are a couple guys at work she likes, some work drama because making apps is hard, and a gut-wrenching storyline about her dying father. It’s also beautiful and devastating, but also funny and, oh! The music (and dancing) is incredible. I cannot recommend this show enough! Watch on Hulu.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: A woman runs into her childhood crush and decides, on a whim, to follow him across the country. It turns out she is as mentally unstable as that makes her sound, and she has a long journey of figuring herself out–and she and her friends do it, often, in song and dance. I haven’t watched a ton of this show, but the musical numbers I saw were fantastic. Watch on Netflix.
Soundtrack: A young widow is trying to raise his son while also pursuing his musical dreams, and we see his life both in present day and in the past. Every episode has a couple of lip-synched dance numbers, and they don’t always fit into the story well. But the relationships in his past and his present are interesting, and definitely meet a romantic drama craving. I haven’t finished this Netflix original series’ only season yet, but I will. It’s imperfect but I still like it a lot. (I might just fast-forward through the rest of the musical scenes, if you can believe that.) Watch on Netflix.
Sitcom Romantic Comedy TV Shows
New Girl: Roommates, friends, occasionally co-workers — this group of twenty-somethings growing up is so very funny! And I dare you not to “ship” any of these couples. Watch on Netflix.
How I Met Your Mother: Ted tells the long, convoluted story of how he met his children’s mother. The story mainly involves his group of friends hanging out at a bar and dating a lot of people. This may be the show I quote more often than any other, even though I really didn’t love how the series (and the story of the main relationships) ended. Watch on Hulu.
The Mindy Project: An OB-GYN also happens to be a hopeless romantic who wishes her life were more like a rom-com. The first couple seasons of this show is a whole lot of fun and exactly that: a romantic comedy. The last couple of seasons are rough, but also? Not that far from reality, maybe, in the relationship department. But if you’re looking for the escape of a rom-com, maybe just stick with those first seasons. Watch on Hulu.
Romantic Comedy TV Shows You Can’t Miss
Four Weddings and a Funeral: Inspired by the 90s movie, this series follows the friendships and romances of a group of friends from college. It’s smart and funny and warm and ends just the way I wanted it to. I personally could not ask for anything more. Watch on Hulu.
Gilmore Girls: By now we all know that the mother-daughter relationships in this beloved show are not actually something we should strive for. And the friendships maybe aren’t so healthy either… So don’t watch for that. Watch for the will they, won’t they of Luke and Lorelei. Watch to decide if you’re Team Dean, Jess, or Logan. Watch despite knowing that, okay, none of those relationships seem all that great either, but darn it, you can’t help but love them! Netflix has the original seven seasons, plus the four-episode movie revival.
Greek: You might not think a show about college students in the Greek system would be for you. At least, that’s what I assumed about myself, being a full-grown adult who was not part of her own college’s Greek system. However, I was wrong and you would be, too. If you like teen rom-coms, go for Greek. It’s angsty and funny and silly and sweet, and I thoroughly enjoyed this entire series. Watch on Hulu.
Virgin River: A nurse practitioner moves to a small town to work in the town’s only doctor’s office. That doctor doesn’t want her there, but the owner of the local bar and grill sure does. This is like Doc Hollywood or Hart of Dixie in all the best ways. Based on a romance novel, I gobbled up this Netflix original series that feels like a Hallmark movie, but better. Watch on Netflix (and stay tuned for season two).
Hart of Dixie: Speaking of… A new doctor from New York City is forced to take a residency in a small Alabama town. The main doctor doesn’t want her there, but the local hot guys sure do. It’s a little soapy and definitely silly, but — no pun intended — this show has so much heart. It’s really funny, too. One of my favorites! Watch on Netflix.
My Favorite Shows (that also are romantic comedy TV shows)
Playing House: I love this show so much! Childhood friends decide to live together and raise a baby together after one friend discovers her husband was cheating on her. The other friend quits her international job and moves back to their hometown, where her old boyfriend also happens to live. This show is hilarious; I’m talking literally laugh out loud funny! The actors playing the two best friends are actually best friends in real life, and the chemistry and pure love they have for one another shines through every single episode. You can only watch this one on the USA website or On Demand (or see if your library has the DVDs?!), but it’s so worth tracking it down. You can also watch on Amazon Prime.
Miranda: A British woman juggles a business (she owns a joke shop), a meddling mother (who desperately wants her daughter to get married), and a raging crush on her friend Gary. It’s a lot, and it’s hysterical! If you’ve ever felt awkward, Miranda will make you feel better. And if you need to laugh for any reason at all, Miranda will do the trick. And yes, in addition to all the comedy, there is a very sweet romance in this one as well. Watch on Amazon Prime.
More Romantic Comedy TV Shows
I haven’t watched any of these shows, though some of them are on my list and all of them come highly reviewed and/or recommended. (I also believe all of these are rated TV-MA, so head’s up!)
- Modern Love: Anthology series based on the New York Times column, starring a whole lot of famous people. Watch on Amazon Prime.
- Love: Netflix original series by Judd Apatow about a nice guy and a wild girl who might be good for each other, despite their differences. Watch on Netflix.
- Insecure: This comedy about two black women is about friendship, but also racial and social issues the women face. I’ve heard great things about this one. Watch on HBO with Amazon Prime.
- Younger: Single mom pretends to be 26, though she’s actually 40, to get a job. Hijinks and, as I understand it, romance ensue. Watch on Hulu.
- You’re the Worst: Two dysfunctional people are in a relationship. Kind of. Sometimes. I’m not sure, but this dark romantic comedy gets good reviews. Watch on Hulu.
- Catastrophe: Two people–one from the U.S. and one from Ireland–meet on a trip to London, have a fling, and end up pregnant. They try to make it as a couple, and apparently that’s not so easy. Watch on Amazon Prime.
Of course, so many shows have a romance angle that this list could go on and on for days. (It took a lot of restraint to keep myself from including Chuck, Castle, and Psych in this list!) So, tell me what you’d add to the list!
For more about romantic comedies, try these posts:
- 19 Romantic Comedies You Haven’t Seen Yet
- Missing Romantic Comedies–and Why They Matter So Much
- 9 Wedding Movies to Watch if You Were Disappointed by Love Wedding Repeat
- 15 Romantic Comedies to Read Right Now
- Diversity in Romantic Comedies (The Couch Podcast episode)