BACKGROUND TV: These are the best shows to watch while doing something else entirely.

Television has never been better. There are not enough hours in the day to watch all the TV  goodness that’s out there. From Netflix to Stan to SBS On Demand… there are 99 shows I want to watch immediately and this is a problem. Because I’ve always been one of those people who likes to have the TV on in the background, particularly while I’m working.

And the quality of the shows means I just can’t do that anymore. The Handmaid’s Tale is not a show you half-watch while you do your BAS. Orange Is The New Black is not a show you glance up at every few minutes while you write this post. Big Little Lies is not a show you dip in and out of as you reply to an email from Leonie in marketing about the presentation she’s putting together about global synergies.

What you need while you’re doing those things is a Background Show. Not a must-watch-every-moment-because-it’s-so-good show. Not a show that you need to concentrate on ferociously if you want to understand what the hell is going on (see: House of Cards, Game of Thrones).

There’s an art to choosing a good background show. They can’t be too intense. Or move too fast. They have to have a certain samey-ness to them so that you can look up every so often and tune your concentration in and out while you do other things.

I heard a lot of talk in the office recently about Friends From College on Netflix and while the verdict among the Mamamia team was mixed, I’m here to report that is an EXCELLENT Background Show.

It’s kind of funny and easy to follow. It feels familiar. There’s a plot but not really. It’s not intense. You can look away for a good few minutes and look back and still know more or less what’s going on.

You can listen to Mia’s recommendations, right here. (Post continues after audio.)

When I mentioned this on Mamamia Outloud this week, my co-hosts, Monz and Jessie were delighted. They also like to have TV shows on while they work. And it prompted us to do a quick crowdsource of other good Background Shows:

  • Scandal
  • Law and Order
  • Any Real Housewives franchise
  • Hamish and Andy’s Gap Years (thank you, Stan)
  • Grand Designs (every time, they go millions of dollars over budget and it’s always the same storyline)
  • Keeping Up with the Kardashians
  • Pawn Stars
  • Kath and Kim (you don’t really need to follow the story arc; it’s just funny scenes over and over)
  • Gossip Girl
  • Sex and the City
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • ANY cooking show (recommend: Nigella and Jamie)
  • Great Continental Railway Journeys (don’t judge)
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Friends
  • Big Bang Theory

Do you have any others to add?

For the full episode of Mamamia OutLoud, you can listen to it now.