Binge-able shows you can unwind to
Sometimes all you need is to switch off your brain and glue your eyes to a screen
My all-time favourite movie is Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. Don’t judge. It may not be a cinematic masterpiece, but I remember watching it every Sunday as a child. Some channel or another would have it on. If not Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, then DDLJ or K3G or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. These movies were too long, had some cheesy dialogues and storylines that barely made sense. I’m talking doppelgangers, funerals, divine symbolism – the works. Despite this – or perhaps, because of it – these movies are in a league of their own. There is hardly an adult in this nation who hasn’t grown up on an unhealthy dose of Bollywood.
Every Sunday, my family would leave their respective rooms and converge in the living room. For the first time all week, we would sit together, have a conversation, and watch whatever masala-maar-dhaar Bollywood movie was on. It was the only way any of us knew how to relax and unwind. I would forget about my upcoming tests. My parents would forget about their woes at work. We’d just sit there watching Simran’s family beat Raj to a pulp after a photograph of them magically flew into Baoji’s hands. This unspoken ritual was something we all looked forward to.
As I grew up and joined the workforce, I forgot how to unwind. I became the kind of person that would suck it up and work until my bones threatened to melt. I was so focused on the next task or the next mission that I didn’t feel the need to pause. I was wrong. Every time I pushed myself further and further without as much as taking a moment to sneeze, I felt perpetually weak. Fatigued. Exhausted. Like an elevator carrying way too many people at once, I was on the verge of a breakdown. At the same time, I felt guilty every time I would sit around and not do anything. (Do you feel perpetually guilty too? You aren’t alone).
The numerous seasons of the pandemic taught me the need to unwind. To let go and recharge. So, I turned to OTT platforms and discovered a whole world that went way beyond FRIENDS. I started switching my brain off every night after a hectic day and losing myself in someone else’s world. I would oscillate between fantasy, true crime, comedy-dramas, and a few shows I have watched over and over again.
Considering we’re on the last leg of the pandemic and everything is opening up, we’ve curated a list of shows you can unwind to depending on what you’re unwinding from. And if all else fails, remember there is no real harm in watching Modern Family for the millionth time.
Binge-able shows to unwind after every situation
After an unnerving meeting
Is it Cake?
Did you have a client presentation today or an appraisal meeting? Were you legs-shaking-throat-clamping nervous? It happens to the best of us. Especially now, considering that after two years of Zoom, face-to-face meetings just feel so alien. People complain about working from home but I would rather be in the safety of my bedroom while presenting a pitch to a whiny client than in their office. But hey, the other way to look at this is that it will eventually be over and you will never have to worry about that particular meeting again. And what better way to put it out of your mind than to watch a reality show about baking that has a superhigh satisfaction rate?
Is it Cake? is not your ordinary cooking show. There is no Gordon Ramsey to reduce chefs to tears, no pretensions towards exotic ingredients like sunchoke or eel caviar. The show is based on a video that went viral in 2020 that showed someone cutting into a giant croc shoe, only to reveal that it’s actually a cake. Netflix took this meme and stretched it like a Sour Punk stick into an eight-episode series. Contestants are given eight hours to prepare a cake that looks like an everyday object. If the celebrity judge of that episode can guess which is which, the contestant loses. From bowling balls to handbags, this show’s leave-your-brain-aside factor will shock and awe you.
Is it idiotic to watch people cutting into objects to find out if it’s a cake or not? Sure. But does it also take your mind off how you mispronounced the client’s name? Most definitely. You will be sitting at the edge of your seat to find out whether that rubber duckie the show’s host Mikey Day is cutting into is a cake or not. That meeting and the anxiety you felt? Melted away like fondant that was left outside for too long.
After a fight with your partner
Eternally Confused and Eager For Love
What do you do after a fight with your partner? Do you sulk in a corner? Nap because it’s too much to deal with? Download a dating app to make them jealous? Or treat them with radio silence? Arguments are inevitable in any relationship. We suggest taking a step back and unwinding with a light and fluffy show about finding love. Maybe once you’ve relaxed you’ll see things clearly.
Don’t get me wrong, Eternally Confused and Eager For Love is not a sappy rom-com drama. It’s not about “a boy standing in front of a girl, asking her to love him”. The show follows Ray, a 25-year-old Mumbaikar whose luck with girls is about as good as our city’s waste disposal system. He is constantly going on blind dates and getting himself into weird situations. Even his parents try and set him up. Which if you’re 25 or older, you will relate to. Ray, at the end of the day, is eternally confused and very eager for love. He doesn’t know whether he wants sex, love or a relationship. And he can’t speak to girls even if his life depended on it. The highlight of the show though is Ray’s imaginary friend, Wiz, voiced by a hilarious Jim Sarbh.
This show is easy-breezy binge-able content at its best. If nothing else, at least it’ll make you thank your lucky stars that your partner is (hopefully) not as clueless as the ill-fated Ray.
After a Shaadi weekend
Crime Stories: India’s Detectives
Do you know what is worse than being dragged to Sonu chacha’s son’s big fat Indian wedding? The fatigue that follows. Sure, the food is finger-licking good, the open bar has cocktails potent enough to get your dad to hit the dance floor, and there is something very satisfying about sitting in a corner with your favourite cousin judging everyone else. But the intense body-breaking exhaustion that hits after you’ve spent three days running around in lehengas and four-inch heels hiding from that one maasi that always asks you when it’s your turn on the mandap makes you wonder if it’s all worth it. You need at least a day to unwind and recharge your inner batteries (Do your social batteries need to be recharged?) A buffer day before you have to join the real world again. In situations like these, we turn to one of our most-watched genres: true crime.
Was every free moment of your childhood dedicated to ACP Pradhyuman and his squad? Crime Stories: Detective in India is the adult and true crime version of those shows. This Netflix documentary follows the inner workings of the Bengaluru police as they investigate some major crimes. Three of the four episodes give us insight into some grisly murders, while the fourth episode covers the kidnapping of a little girl. We follow a group of policemen as they collect evidence, speak to witnesses, comb through CCTV footage and finally zero in on a suspect. The beauty of the show is the seemingly limitless access given to its creators.
After a long weekend of awkwardly smiling at people, you haven’t met since you were in diapers asking you whether you remember them, unwind by sitting at the edge of your seat and making bets with yourself on who the culprit is.
After a long day of commute
Have you ever wondered why when it’s Bigg Boss season, every Indian household has their eyeballs glued to a bunch of celebrities performing ridiculous tasks and hurling insults at each other? Reality TV has a long-standing tradition of being the perfect unwinding tool. It’s almost therapeutic. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it is relaxing to forget what bogs you down when other people are arguing about who gets to pick up the trashcan and do jhaadu. And we have a good, juicy one that will make you forget the smell of the local train and the hour you spent breathing it in. We are talking about Selling Sunsets.
The show explores the lives of glamorous real estate agents working at The Oppenheim Group in LA. They fight over clients, properties, their personal lives, and are ‘frenemies’ in the literal sense of the word. They aren’t just selling houses to affluent buyers, they are selling an entire lifestyle. However dingy and dusty your commute was, you’ll get to see some gorgeous houses with infinity pools and perfectly manicured lawns for your never-going-to-happen-but-there-is-no-harm-in-dreaming bucket list. Also, when you’re spending a third of your day on a train unwinding with something truly potent is not an option, it’s a necessity.
A fair warning: as you learn more about the lives these women lead, you might start to question your life’s choices. But don’t worry, it’s not a you problem, it’s an everyone problem.
After a conflict with a colleague
There is nothing more frustrating than a squabble with a colleague. Whether it’s over credit, clashing ideas or your favourite pen that they now claim is theirs. Office politics is nasty enough to make smoke come out of your ears. Unwinding from a situation like this one is tricky and doubly essential because if you don’t, you’re stuck smiling at someone you want to scream at. Which doesn’t exactly make for the “this company is like a family” ideology you were promised by HR. So, the best thing to do is shut all your Excel pages, postpone your client calls, and watch something that will take your mind off your crappy work environment. And I don’t see a better way to do it than to escape into the ebbs and flows of another (way more toxic than your) company: Theranos.
We are talking about The Dropout, a miniseries that tells us the fascinating (true) story of Elizabeth Holmes, a tech entrepreneur who went from being a billionaire to a criminal faster than PT Usha would cross the finish line. Based on a podcast by the same name, The Dropout tracks the rise and fall of Holmes.
There is something brutally engaging about people falling from grace. Holmes started out with a dream. A product idea that would revolutionise the health sector. She got some of the richest people to invest in her company, claiming that she had found a way to test for a plethora of diseases just by taking a pinprick of blood. By 2015, Holmes was named the youngest self-made female billionaire in the US. Based on evaluations, her company was worth more than $92 million. However, it all started to unravel before her eyes when an exposé revealed that her technology did not work. After a long trial, Holmes was found (spoiler alert) guilty of defrauding her investors.
No matter what your colleague did, at least he or she isn’t Elizabeth Holmes. Take solace in this fact and unwind with this captivating show.
After an all-nighter
The Umbrella Academy
I don’t know about you, but after a long night of blurry shenanigans, all I want to do is shapeshift into a human burrito, drink ThumsUp (the jugadu’s hangover cure) and watch a show that requires me to use -200% of my brain. In a situation like this one, it’s very crucial to pick just the right show. It can’t be something that is overstimulating because well, all your senses are temporarily mummified but at the same time, it has to be something with a storyline captivating enough to make you forget about the universe’s punishment you are suffering through.
The show we recommend in a situation like this one is The Umbrella Academy. It checks all the boxes and watching it with your brain turned off is practically a prerequisite. The show revolves around a group of people who were all born on the same day in a mysterious manner and then were adopted by an eccentric businessman and his monkey butler, Pogo (no, not making this up). Each of these people has a unique ability, a superpower, that they wield to avert various crises and eventually try and save the world.
You might be a die-hard Marvel fan, but this superhero story will be a balm for your poor numbed brain.
After a friendship break-up
All of Us Are Dead
When someone you’ve sung ‘Yaaro Ne Mere Vaste‘ to and confided in says they don’t want to be friends anymore, it leaves you feeling like Chicken Little. Convinced the sky is going to fall. (Are you going through a friend breakup?) The first few hours after the showdown is the worst. All you want to do is scream into your pillow and then subsequently melt into your bed. Why hasn’t Adele written a song about friend breakups, you might wonder? But whether you feel hurt, abandoned, or are filled with a white-hot rage, here’s what you should do. Be the pity party pooper, get off the bed, collect all the cookie boxes you’ve kept hidden from the grabby hands of your siblings, and watch All of Us Are Dead. Because no matter how bad you feel right now, watching a zombie apocalypse unfold is a good reminder that things can always be worse.
All of us are dead is what you get when you add the thrill of zombie movies to the already addictive nature of K-dramas. Consider this a fair warning, you’ll be hooked on faster than a fish trying to eat the worm at the end of a line. The show revolves around a bunch of high school students who are trying to save themselves from “the infected” AKA mindless, savage zombies that have taken over the district and turned the school into ground zero.
There is no point crying over spilt friendships. Why not unwind by watching people turn into blood-thirsty zombies instead?