So, unnamed people who have had crappy weeks, this one's for you! And feel free to name some of your favorite comfort tv shows in the comments.
1. Firefly: Joss Whedon's sci-fi show is ostensibly an adventure space western. But what it's really about is family. And when I'm feeling down, sick, or just not able to be with my family, I can sit down with 13 episodes of one of the best television shows ever made. It's got everything: action, romance, comedy, escapes, swordfights, pirates (that's a Princess Bride reference, but it really does have escapes, swordfights, and pirates). But the show is really about how families are created and how you don't have to be related by blood to care about a group of people.
2. The West Wing: sometimes you just want to be inspired, and Aaron Sorkin's political drama is the best way to restore my faith in humanity, and in the system, when I'm running on faith fumes. Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world. Because it's the only thing that ever has.
3. America's Next Top Model: there are times when I just don't want to think. When what I want is pure mindless entertainment. For my money, ANTM is the best bet. Seek out a marathon on VH-1 and you will understand.
4. My So Called Life: you think your life is angsty? Try Angela Chase's. Remember, things could always be worse. You could still be in high school.
5. Veronica Mars: Veronica is someone who doesn't take crap from anyone and can save her own ass (except for when she needs Logan, but hey, I'm not gonna begrudge girlfriend getting rescued by Jason Dohring once in a while). When I'm feeling blue or powerless to control events in my life, it's nice to see a heroine who fights back, always gets revenge, and can save the day using her brain, especially her powers of deductive reasoning.
One more thing. Below is quite possibly the most powerful vignette ever told in the history of television, and it comes from John Spencer, as Leo McGarry. It never fails to make me tear up, but it also never fails to remind me that no matter how bad things are, I can always count on my friends.
This guy's walkin' down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, "Hey you! Can you help me out?" The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole, and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, "Father, I'm down in this hole; can you help me out?" The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. "Hey, Joe, it's me. Can ya help me out?" And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, "Are ya stupid? Now we're both down here." The friend says, "Yeah, but I've been down here before and I know the way out.