TV Show Tasting: The Perfect Pairing of Tragic and Comedic TV Shows

The other day, I was laying around the apartment with my roommate and absentmindedly talking with a guy that I had matched with on Bumble. Like most dating app conversations, it eventually rolled onto the familiar topic of comparing TV show preferences.

We were talking about how some TV shows are incredible, but can be hard to binge because of how depressing they are if you watch episodes back-to-back. 

It’s like Handmaid’s Tale, he said. Such a great show, but I always have to chase it with an episode of Bob’s Burgers.

It was at this point I stopped texting him so absentmindedly and decided to text him with passion. I had thought that same thought so many times before, but never been able to put it into words correctly. This guy was about to inspire a blog post, that’s a wonderful quality.

You have to chase your sad TV shows.

One of the blog posts that has been sitting in my que for months now is called “Mad Men will depress you, so pick another TV show to watch”. I’m now reforming it into this blog post, which will pair you TV show offerings like a Sonoma Winery. A fantastic, well-crafted and tragic TV show, and then the perfect comedy to chase it with afterwards so you can go about this world without dissociating and teetering on the verge of depression.

I present to you: Shannons’s TV Show Tasting.

1. Maniac and 30 Rock

I think the Jonah Hill and Emma Stone featured show Maniac is amazing, but I made the mistake of binging it and started to dissociate hard. Life did not feel real, everything felt meaningless, I really was having trouble convincing myself that reality existed, and you know just the typical dissociation crisis that I experience on a weekly basis. Maniac is an amazing show, but god help you please do not binge it, or even watch two episodes back-to-back. 

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Instead, chase this show with 30 Rock. An adult cartoon like Archer or Bob’s Burgers won’t do well here because you need to fight off the dissociation with a live-action TV show that shows real people acting in real scenes, in real places. 

30 Rock is hilarious and off the wall – but everyone on that show goes to a real job, has real relationships, and watching this will bring you back down to reality. Also, Jonah Hill and Emma Stone’s characters are both so messed up, that seeing Jack Donagheuy take stride in his confident alpha-male energy will be a welcome breath of fresh air. 

2. Mad Men and Bob’s Burgers

Mad Men is such a good fucking show. The plot, the dialogue, and my personal favorite – the outfits. I love period pieces, and Mad Men does a great job of taking you back in time in a realistic and not over-the-top way. However, Mad Men is especially horrible to watch if you’re a woman. No woman is treated well on that show and please don’t try to reason with me that Peggy is because that’s only after seasons and seasons of bullshit and just trust me – it’s not good to be a woman on that show, okay? 

Chase the show with Bob’s Burgers – which is a goddamn hilarious show on its own, but after Mad Men you’ll be particularly attuned to how much the cartoon family loves each other, and how the women on the show (Linda, the enthusiastic mother, Tina, the very-going-through-puberty daughter, and Louise, the kinda-sociopathic little girl) warm your heart. 10/10 would recommend and then I recommend binging Bob’s Burgers after for about 4 hours and cancelling your plans to keep binging. 

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3. Bojack Horseman and New Girl

Bojack Horseman is such a favorite of mine that the theme song is currently my ringtone. Episodes of that show have made me laugh, cry, and I’ve literally quoted the show before to my therapist so if that isn’t enough of a fucked up recommendation, I don’t know what is!

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I once made the mistake of binging this show on a Friday night and it led to me cancelling plans for the rest of the weekend, eating mac and cheese for every meal and continuing to sadly and profoundly binge it until Sunday night. Honestly – strong chance that this blog post speaks more to my fragile mental state than anything else haha. Tangent aside – don’t binge this. Don’t ever watch more than 2 episodes back-to-back. Instead, throw a bit of New Girl in between to even things out. New Girl has the healthy roommate situation that Bojack doesn’t, the peppy and optimistic protagonist that Bojack isn’t, and a general upbeat attitude that Bojack Horseman makes profound and sad commentary about. Honestly Bojack Horseman does have a lot of hilarious bits in it – but especially in the later seasons I find the show getting more deep than comical. 

4. The Handmaid’s Tale and Broad City

This TV combo is pretty easily explainable. The Handmaid’s Tale is a great show but it focuses on…I mean there’s no way to put it nicely, there’s a lot of rape and horrible dehumanization of women in it. I binge most TV shows in my underwear, surrounded by Cheetos, but when I watch the Handmaid’s Tale I always wear at least 3 layers of clothing just so I can feel safe and secure from my couch. It’s pretty intense.

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Split your episodes with Broad City where you can watch ‘two dope kweens’ take on Manhattan, get high, and just generally be funny. It’s a great reminder that Broad City takes place in the now, and while Handmaid’s Tale warns us of a future where our vaginas are a commodity, currently we’re relatively threat-free. 

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God damn, I love to binge. Other shows that teeter right between tragic and funny - with no real pull to land firmly in either camp - are Arrested Development, Archer, and Veep.

Man, I love watching TV.

If you have any TV recommendations - either depressing or hilarious - let me know! And I hope you all are excited for Game of Thrones premiering on Sunday. I plan on watching it with Ace, eating a shepard’s pie and getting drunk off of red wine during it to fully fit the theme. I adore Game of Thrones.

Ciao for now,
S