5 Netflix Shows To Revive Your Depressed Brain Cells

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Watching TV lately has become the best and most convenient way to kickstart a good-old-fashioned panic attack. I just want to watch "New Girl" as it airs, I think.


How does a geek stay positive, entertained and prepared in today's world?

It's not just the scary news that gets me down either. The content that depresses me has been slowly overgrowing the things I love for years. Like some kind of evil ivy. Or maybe it's poison? Oh, wait...

I can't tell my brain it's wrong and elitist to hate reality tv. I can't stop it from comparing the way news was reported in my childhood to the horror shows and pancake makeup of today. It just feels how it wants to feel. If that makes me a snob, I guess I need to deal with that and move on so I can cope in today's media environment. (But I don't think I'm a snob and I'm not the only one lamenting the changes.)

For the record, the world changes. It always has and it always will, hopefully for the better, sometimes for the worse. Not everything is for me. That's totally okay. Honestly. But it still bums me out when I check Entertainment Tonight every few months and it's still "news" about celebrity scandals instead of film set reports and director interviews.

No matter how I try to perk myself up and talk myself down, it still feels like we're moving closer and closer to Idiocracy. Even when I feel like I shouldn't feel that way.

So how do I break this cycle of negative feelings, stay informed on the news AND check out every now and then with some good old-fashioned entertainment? 

I'm gonna touch on how to handle the recent changes in news in another blog. For now, let's tackle the entertainment angle. Because yes, what we consume matters. Not just to us personally, but to the way media outlets spend money and churn out content. But again...that's another blog for another day.

If your brain needs a tall, cool drink of water, if you need content that adds to your life instead of taking something away, (like...oh, say...brain cells or precious hours you can never get back), consider these 5 shows currently on Netflix that will allow you to check out without feeling like you're adding to the problem.

1. Star Trek the Next Generation

Star Trek, in all its incarnations, has always been a show about imagining a greater future. One where we have dispensed of the unnecessary plagues upon humanity, like poverty, war and disease. It's hopeful, aspirational viewing at its finest.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was always landmark television. But as I've been rewatching the series lately, the episodes seem to have even more depth than I remember. Which is kind of crazy considering the fact that I hold the show in such high regard already. In the face of a television landscape that has truly dumbed itself down to the lowest common denominator, Next Gen is aging incredibly well.

It features a leader who values diplomacy, reason, fact and patience. It shows a diverse crew working together to problem-solve quickly. It rattles off lessons in communication and history without feeling preachy. It's just...it's good, guys. I could honestly talk about Next Gen forever, so I'm going to force myself to stop now.

2. StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Would you watch Reading Rainbow if it was a talk show for adults? Well, here you go. (I do promise not every show on this list has the word "star" in the title.) If you don't know Neil deGrasse Tyson, you should. He's the congenial scientist who kickstarted Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" again. He has a podcast called StarTalk that features celebrity guests (mostly scientists) and showcases...actual science. Huzzah!

3. Planet Earth: The Complete Collection

This planet we live on is amazing. It's too easy to forget that. Forgetting means we stop being good caretakers and stewards...which is pretty much exactly what has happened. Watch, marvel, remember, repeat.

4. Poirot

If there's going to be so much crime and violence on tv, why not watch a show about a detective who always gets his man. Poirot is consistently underestimated. He proves that a person of diminutive stature, practiced mental discipline and a dedication to justice can be a formidable foe. In fact, he uses the fact that he is regularly overlooked to his advantage.

This is a show about right and wrong, black and white and in the age of anti-heroes, that's unendingly refreshing. (It's the same reason why I tend to drift to Marvel movies vs. DC.)

But maybe we don't all live up on this high horse where I reside. Let me attempt to entice you another way. Did you love Downton Abbey but wish there was more murder? Do you enjoy the sweet, sweet mercy of fiction in a world where the news seems to be growing increasingly bizarre? (btw, it's not. Corruption and confusion has been the world of the world since the beginning. It just tends to run in cycles.)

So far, this list has been science heavy and documentary-minded. But when you need to escape, why not escape to a show set in the past? Why not escape to a guilty pleasure of yesteryear* that could provide a gateway back to reading or pique an interest in history? Why not engage the little grey cells, no?

5. The IT Crowd

Okay, Audrey. We get it. You like "fancy" things. But, wait! What's this? A sitcom? A very goofy sitcom? YES! It's broad, it's British, it's farce and it's still smarter than the average bear. It's less, "Dad accidentally got hit in the crotch with a baseball bat" and more, "We're so uncomfortable with making other people uncomfortable that we get ourselves into wacky misunderstandings."

It's the kind of show that doesn't mind giving you a lengthy set-up if it means a bigger pay-off towars the end of the show, making it that extremely rare half-hour comedy that sometimes requires a bit of patience.

I don't know...maybe I'm working too hard to justify this one. Maybe I really am just kind of a snob and if you put science and a (real or fake) or an accent in it, I'm there. I mean, it has computers. So...there's that.

What am I missing? What do you watch when you need to unwind without abandoning your brain? What about new shows that are currently on air?

*Sorry I said "yesteryear". I'll punch myself in the mouth for that later. And oh yeah...go ahead and stock up on paper goods and bottled water. Couldn't hurt.