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The Ted Lasso Effect: 11 wholesome shows that feel like the hug you need right now.

It's been a dark... year? 18 months? Two years? Honestly, what is time anyway?

The point is that things are not great at the moment, and given we're all feeling a little vulnerable and spending a lot more time at home, we could do with some escapism.

Enter: wholesome television.

No doubt you've heard all the fuss about Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso, the unassuming comedy that turned into 2020's biggest surprise hit - and earned Jason Sudeikis a shock Emmy win.

There's a reason Ted Lasso has been so successful. Firstly, it's just a great show. But secondly, it couldn't have come at a better time. It's unsurprising that as we've faced so much uncertainty, the most popular shows on TV have been those that offer up optimism, hope and light-hearted laughs.

The 'Ted Lasso Effect' is two-fold: it's a blueprint for the wholesome, positive content we are craving right now, and also refers to the warm fuzzy feeling you get when watching.

So, with that in mind, here are other series that will give you the humour, heart and escapism you need right now:

Ted Lasso.

Image: Apple TV+.

Well, obviously we have to start here for anyone who is yet to experience the pure joy that is Ted Lasso.

The popular culture-clash sitcom follows Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), an American college-level football coach who is unexpectedly recruited to coach a fictional English Premier League team, AFC Richmond, despite having absolutely no experience in the sport.

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Watch: The trailer for Ted Lasso season two. Post continues below video.


Video via Apple TV+.

It's warm-hearted and charming and filled to the brim with feel-good laughter (even if you have no knowledge of football!), the perfect show if you want a little optimism at the moment.

With a half-hour format, season one of the series can be devoured in just one sitting, and season two is being released week-by-week.

Ted Lasso is streaming on Apple TV+.

Schitt's Creek.

Image: Netflix.

Another obvious inclusion is Schitt's Creek, the feel-good series that we farewelled in 2020.

You will have heard the ranting and raving of dedicated fans and seen the amount of awards it took home at 2020's Emmys. It's worthy of all that, and more.

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Following the formally wealthy Rose family, Schitt's Creek is about all the trials and tribulations as they try to find their feet while... poor. You'll become extremely invested in their lives, laughing and crying and just all round having a great time.

Schitt's Creek is like a bear hug. It'll comfort you, lift you up and change your outlook.

Schitt's Creek is streaming on Netflix.

Grace and Frankie.

Image: Netflix.

Grace and Frankie brings together 2/3 of the 1980 film 9 to 5 dream team, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton. 

Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) become unlikely friends after their respective husbands announce they are in love with each other. The pair, who are very different and never really liked each other, find themselves living together and navigating all the complications of life - family drama, medical scares, ageing and romance - under the same roof.

It's wholesome, but also laugh-out-loud funny, self-deprecating and boundary pushing. And the bond between its two legendary leads only makes it better.

Grace and Frankie is streaming on Netflix.

Miracle Workers.

Image: Stan.

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Miracle Workers is an anthology series, so each of its three seasons based on a different humour piece by writer Simon Rich.

The first season follows Craig (Daniel Radcliffe) and Eliza (Geraldine Viswanathan), low-level angels who find themselves joining together to save the world after their boss God (Steve Buscemi) has a bit of a work/life crisis and decides to shut down his business… effectively ending the world and all of humanity.

Yes, I realise that sounds ridiculous, and that's what makes it so great. It's like The Good Place meets The Office, where questions of morality and aftermath meet too-real depictions of workplace woes like middle management and awkward HR interviews.

Season two, Miracle Workers: Dark Ages, follows Radcliffe as a very out-of-touch prince attempting to woo peasant Alexandra Shitshoveler (Viswanathan) (and yes, that's really the character's name).

Season three is the newest edition, released in July 2021, following the dying, famine-stricken cast walking the Oregon trail in search of a better life. There is also a scene of Radcliffe performing in leather chaps. It's not a thing I never imagined seeing when religiously watching the Harry Potter scenes, but here were are. 

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Miracle Workers is streaming on Stan.

The Good Place.

Image: Netflix.

The Good Place is a wholesome, virtuous series with a side of existential dread, a weird recipe that makes it one of my favourite shows ever.

The series begins when Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) dies and ends up in 'The Good Place'. Which is fantastic, except that Eleanor was a nightmare of a human and is definitely not Good Place material. She concocts elaborate plans and recruits a number of friends/frenemies to ensure the architect of the heaven, Michael (Ted Danson) doesn't find out there's been a mix-up. 

The Good Place is hilarious, heartwarming and philosophical. It asks the very big, very deep question: 'What does it mean to be a good person?'

Through ridiculous antics, mishaps and twists, the very flawed but very endearing group of characters set out to find the answer. 

The Good Place is streaming on Netflix.

Jane the Virgin.

Image: Netflix.

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For me, Jane the Virgin is like a comfort blanket. I go back to it time and time again, because it's warm and cozy and makes me feel good.

The plotline of this show is intentionally wild, modeled off the outrageously over-the-top telenovela genre.

It follows young woman Jane (... a virgin, obviously, played by Gina Rodriguez) who is accidentally artificially inseminated and becomes pregnant a routine gynecologist visit. It turns out the father is Rafael, Jane's crush from high school who is very handsome and very rich. And the aforementioned gynecologist is his sister.

This obviously complicates things for Jane, who is in a committed relationship with the lovely Michael and navigating relationships with her pious grandmother Alba, outgoing mother Xiomara and previously absent father Rogelio.

Jane the Virgin is escapist television at its best - ridiculous and unrealistic, but so sweet, touching and wholesome. You'll laugh, gasp and cry.

Jane the Virgin is streaming on Netflix.

Derry Girls.

Image: Netflix.

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When I want a belly laugh, I turn to Derry Girls.

The show follows the lives of four cheeky Northern Irish teenage girls who are growing up under English oppression in the 1990s; Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), her cousin Orla (Louisa Harland) and their friends Clare (Nicola Coughlan) Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell) are the titular 'Derry girls', with Michelle's English cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn) rounding out the teen cast. 

The teens are foul-mouthed and brutal. There are also plenty of jokes about religion and sex and death, but the series also touches on the anxieties surrounding sexuality, identity and growing up during The Troubles with care.

Oh - and the eye rolling and cutting sarcasm of the girls' school headmistress Sister Michael is a-ma-azing.

Derry Girls is streaming on Netflix.

Parks and Recreation.

Image: Stan.

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Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is effectively a female, slightly more neurotic Ted Lasso. Both leads are highly positive people, surrounded by fantastic supporting casts to round out very funny and very heartfelt shows.

Knope is a mid-level bureaucrat in the Parks Department of Pawnee, a fictional town in Indiana, on a quest to make her town a better place.

The first season of Parks and Rec was pretty universally panned, with many saying it was too similar to The Office, but then the second season came out (and honestly, you can just skip straight to season two), and it was considered one of the greatest TV comebacks of all time. And it only got better from there.

Parks and Recreation is streaming on StanNetflix Binge and Prime Video.

Superstore.

Image: Netflix.

Superstore first aired in the US in 2015, but found a new life after being released worldwide on Netflix in early 2021.

It's set in a 'superstore' - imagine if Kmart and Woolies had a giant baby - and follows an ensemble cast of the store's employees, including exhausted sales associate Amy Sosa (America Ferrera), college dropout new hire Jonah Simms (Ben Feldman), undocumented immigrant Mateo Liwanag (Nico Santos), teenage mother Cheyenne Thompson (Nichole Sakura), filterless assistant manager Dina Fox (Lauren Ash) and senseless yet loveable store manager Glenn Sturgis (Mark McKinney).

It's the kind of show that sneaks up on you, and admittedly season one is the weakest. But if you persevere, you'll soon become immersed in the various low-and-high stake lives of the Cloud 9 staff.

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Superstore is streaming on Netflix.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist.

Image: Stan.

No one can feel glum when watching a musical, right?

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist is a musical dramedy about Zoey (Jane Levy), a coder at a hipster-filled tech startup in San Francisco, who discovers she has the ability to hear the innermost thoughts of those around her... in the form of songs, which culminate in major dance numbers that only she can see.

I mean, terrifying right? Zoey is at first scared by her newfound ability - which first manifests itself via a rendition of The Beatles' 'Help!' where strangers dance around her in the street - but she slowly comes around to the fact that life is now her own private musical.

It's funny, romantic, at times sad, and always charming.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist is streaming on Stan.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Image: Netflix.

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The premise of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt doesn't sound... wholesome, but it really is feel-good and light, I promise.

Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is a young woman who escapes from a cult after 15 years and must now navigate a world she didn't even know existed. 

Armed with a very positive attitude and an unlikely group of friends, Kimmy always comes out on top - and you'll find yourself cheering for her at every step.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is streaming on Netflix.

Chelsea McLaughlin is Mamamia's Senior Entertainment Writer. For more pop culture takes, sarcasm and... cat content, you can follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Netflix/Stan/Apple TV+.

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