It doesn’t matter what stage in life you’re in—finishing school, midway through your career, starting a family, or heading into retirement—we all face changes and experience milestones. Watching a TV show revolving around people the same age as you, going through relatable experiences, may provide comfort (or just good old-fashioned entertainment).
Whether you’re looking back, preparing for the future, or are right smack in the middle of a certain stage, these shows may hit the spot:
It may be hard to believe sometimes, but your parents did have a life before you came along. You may come to the realization when you or your friends start having children, like, “Oh, this is what my parents were like when they were younger, they were like I am now.” The couple in Catastrophe meet, get romantic, find out they’re having a baby, and make a commitment. The second season of Catastrophe just premiered on Amazon Prime, fast-forwarding to the couple having their second child.
2. Raising Hope
The series Raising Hope follows a family raising a baby into toddlerhood. Jimmy Chance, 23, finds out he’s a dad when visiting his former fling, who is serving time in prison. He’s not on his own though, his mom, dad, and grandma, all help him raise his baby Hope. You may remember a scent or an image, but for most of us, we don’t remember our toddler years in great detail. Raising Hope may be like watching the home video that was never made (but minus the mom being in prison part and family making it up as they go.)
3. The Wonder Years
Kevin Arnold makes his way through childhood into adolescence with a little help from his friends in the 1980s series The Wonder Years. While the series is set in the 1960s, his struggles are pretty universal: fitting in, first kisses, and avoiding his brutish older brother.
4. My So-Called Life
Angela Chase struggles to figure out who she is when entering high school in My So-Called Life. Her parents just don’t understand. Her crush Jordan Catalano (now the Joker in Suicide Squad) is definitely a distraction but not a solution to her teen-angst. Her BBF Rayanne Graff has her own problems and might be deemed a bad influence on Angela. High school is supposed to be the best time of your life, but it can also be scary.
5. The Inbetweeners
Four young guys in England make their way through their teenage years, heading into adulthood. You could say, they’re in between those two stages. The teenagers struggle with the typical headaches of high school life, like nosey teachers, maintaining a private life away from their parents, and getting invited to parties, but they always seem able to laugh it off in The Inbetweeners.
Felicity Porter followed her high school crush to New York University. NYU is a great school, planted in the middle of a vibrant city, but she didn’t necessarily follow the traditional route when deciding on what college to go to. Even so, she makes the best of it. You may have watched Felicity in real-time while you were in college, and this is a bit of nostalgia. Or you may be in college now, and it’s new to you.
Once completing college, what do you do? You get a job—at least hopefully. The TV show Workaholics might be a good reminder of what life is like early in your career or a what-not-to-do if you’re just entering the work world.
Life can’t all be work. It’s nice to have some downtime and spend it with your friends. If you’re having a bad day, week, or even a year, it’s good to turn to your support network. Or the TV show Friends.
Once you land a job, secure your place in a group, then you might find yourself available and looking for love. The appropriately titled series follows a group of friends enjoying the gay scene in San Francisco, who are working and just that … Looking.
Mickey and Gus find themselves recently out of love in the first episode of Love. They aren’t really looking for anything, but the two newly singletons accidentally bump into each other at a convenient store. Love doesn’t come straight away, but when it does, things get complicated. Whether you’re in love, or out of love, this is a show that will remind you what comes with the “L” word.
11. Master of None
Your first job out of college is one thing. You can remind yourself, “I won’t be here for the rest of my life.” But it’s another thing when you’re at the mid-career point and are not quite where you want to be. Aziz Ansari‘s show Master of None follows an actor in his thirties who isn’t landing the jobs he pictured he’d have by this point in life. If you’re making your way through your career and have some doubt, this show might be a good reminder that it’s not just you. The NSFW trailer can be found here. In the below clip, Ansari tells a sweet story about working with his real-life dad on the show:
12. House of Lies
On the other hand, House of Lies follows a group of consultants working at the fast-paced firm Galweather Stern. The consultants think on their feet, make decisions without hesitation and do not look back. If they have any self-doubt, nobody knows. House of Lies might be a bit of inspiration. If you do know what you’re doing, great, but if not, fake it until you make it.
The series thirtysomething follows two married couples balancing work and family. The show includes several story lines, with multiple characters, making a great point: not everyone is married and settled down in their thirties, throwing in two singletons still “fighting the good fight.”
14. The Family
The series The Family revolves around a young man, presumed dead, who returns to his family. If you think your family dynamic is a little wackadoo, this might give some perspective.
15. The Detour
A dad in crisis takes his family on vacation to put off admitting he’s lost his job in The Detour. A road trip can test anyone’s patience. Depending on where you are in life, this may bring back memories of long-distance trips in the car, fighting with siblings, or being “threatened” by parents to pull the car over if your behavior doesn’t get better. Or, if you are a parent, the series may act as a warning … stay home.
16. Love & Marriage
Pauline Paradise has experienced both love and marriage, but is slightly over it and needs a change. She decides to move in with her sister who lives an unconventional life. You may need a break from your life, but rather than making a rash decision and ditching your situation, maybe watching this show will scratch that itch.
Lifelong bachelor Jimmy Martino finds out he’s a father at the age of 50. And then gets the news he’s also a grandfather. The series Grandfathered may not detail the most common route to becoming a patriarch of a family, but it does give us a look at what comes with the grand title.
Freddie and Stuart have lived as partners for close to 50 years in their London flat. They rely on each other as they ease into their later years. Retirement can be hard, as you’re so used to being busy and having a place to go every day, but these two shine a light on how to spend long days entertaining guests … and maybe throwing in a little arguing.
19. Six Feet Under
The TV series Six Feet Under revolves around a family who runs a funeral service home. The eldest son and his brother inherit the business when their father unexpectedly passes away. The show gives us some insight into the grieving process and how death is handled delicately on the business side.
20. Doctor Who
Wouldn’t it be nice to go back and re-experience some moments? Or regenerate into another physical form? That most likely won’t happen for any of us, but the Doctor can. Doctor Who allows us the indulgence of “what if” with time travel.
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