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Prime for Pandemic & Beyond: The Best Shows to Escape Reality

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Happy New Year! We made it through 2020 and 2021 and this pandemic situation, among other things, is still going strong in 2022. Luckily these past few years have brought a ton of entertaining shows that can whisk us away around the globe to try delicious foods, meet interesting characters, and see sensational sights.

Here’s a list of delightful shows to escape-binge.

LOVE IS BLIND

I love this show. I more than love this show; I was obsessed with this show when it first came out. It was my escape from 2020 before I even knew I needed one. Released in time for Valentines Day, I binged this series more than a few times. Zero shame in admitting that. I just could not get enough. Not to mention how ahead of their time this show is; they started the social-distancing isolation (pods) of 2020 before it even became a thing.

Watch Love is Blind on Netflix

Season 2 is now available as well, and while it didn’t give us any divinely fated romances quite like the first season, it still brought us hours of binge-able entertainment. And a few more reasons to appreciate either being single or being with the one we’ve got.

Watch Love is Blind on Netflix

Oh, and if you don’t mind subtitles, Netflix has two more seasons to sink your teeth into, both worth the watch for the ladies realizing their worth and walking away from settling for less than they deserve.

THE ULTIMATUM

Speaking of escaping into other people’s relationship problems, Netflix brought us another romance reality series from the Lachey’s in 2022 designed to test the fortitude of already-established couples. By giving them the opportunity to date each other, these couples get to decide if they’re right for each other, or if they were right in not rushing to the altar just yet. It has questionable motives at times, but this show makes for one entertaining binge that’ll once again have you feeling grateful for whatever current relationship status you’re toting. Oh, and there’s an excellent example of narcissistic abuse, the incredibly insidious kind, in the doomed relationship between Madlyn and Colby, so have fun watching that if you can stand the empathic frustration.

Watch The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On on Netflix

RESTAURANTS ON THE EDGE

2020 gave us not one but two seasons of this transformational show that transports us viewers to some of the most beautiful locations the globe has to offer. Plus, there’s an entire restaurant makeover each episode to fully satisfy our before-and-after desires. I already have a list of places I want to go because of this show. (Here’s looking at you, Frequency Winery.) If you miss traveling, and have a love for the art of the makeover in any form, I highly suggest you check this show out.

Watch Restaurants on the Edge on Netflix

UGLY DELICIOUS

“Without community, a restaurant is just, what? Eating.” Cheers!

I could watch David Chang cook and/or eat all day, and I have, as he’s on just about every food docuseries Netflix has to offer. I’m exaggerating, but there are a lot, and from Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner to The Chef Show; they’re all great. (Although this hunk of meat on the trailer cover here is kind of grossing me out, but to each their own.) If you want to remember what it’s like to share the joy of food while connecting with others, check this one out.

Watch Ugly Delicious on Netflix

100 HUMANS

Released March 13th, 2020, this docuseries came out just before we were ordered to stay home and stop going near each other. 100 Humans humored me with its quirky scientific insights while allowing me to vicariously mill about awkwardly. Knowing how much people can bond on long set-days, I can imagine what a fantastic and unforgettable experience this must have been for everyone involved. Plus, by the end of the 8 episodes, I felt like I got to know everyone, too. If you miss socializing or people-watching, or you just like to gain insight into human nature, this is the comedic, educational show for you.

Watch 100 Humans on Netflix

SELLING SUNSET

For better or worse, the pandemic has now given us five seasons of this out-of-touch reality show. It’s so terrible, and I mostly love it. Who doesn’t want to see how the rich live in LA? Who doesn’t want to look at all the homes we can’t afford in this town? Some of the women on this show are downright narcissists, maybe even sociopaths (I’m looking at you Christine Quinn, enjoy the attention), but that just adds to the fun, and in later seasons can be skipped through altogether. If you want to judge people for their ridiculous first-world problems from the comfort of you home, this is the show for you.

Watch Selling Sunset on Netflix

SOMEBODY FEED PHIL

Yet another show now boasting five seasons; this one surprises me. That is, I am surprised how much I like it, and how much I appreciate Phil‘s quirks and antics. Plus, he enjoys the food so much that I feel like I am right there enjoying it with him. (Oh, if only!) If you miss traveling and eating all the foods, check out this show. I don’t know how he eats so much, but if I had any dream job, his would be it (second only to Padma‘s, of course).

Watch Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix

QUEER EYE

We’ve now been gifted six seasons, plus a stint in Japan, with these Fab 5 and honestly, this is a show and a movement this world needs more of. I cannot get enough of these transformational makeovers that do way more than prettify the outside package. How can you not be inspired watching this show? It is my dream to one day have these wonderful humans give me a makeover. I’ll continue to dream, and in the meantime, go binge this show if you haven’t already. Oh and check out the newest Fab 5, or should I say Fabelhafte Fünf, as they take on Germany.

Watch Queer Eye on Netflix

TASTE THE NATION

By now it’s no secret that I like to escape with food, so this show has to be on the list. Padma is like the super cool friend I not-so-secretly want to be but also wouldn’t want to piss off because I definitely feel inferior in her presence. I love her. She can do no wrong, and this show is a wonderful way to check out some drool-worthy food and drink while learning about the different immigrant cultures that make this nation of ours so great.

Watch Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi on Hulu

SAY I DO

This is the fairy tale reality show we didn’t know we wanted but found out we totally needed. Each episode is so heartwarming and inspiring and just a generally nice way to witness love and generosity. Similar to Queer Eye but for couples getting married, the Fab Three changing the world here are Jeramiah Brent, Thai Nguyen, and Gabriele Bertaccini. If you want a reminder of the good in the world, put on this show, and get ready to cry in the best way possible.

Watch Say I Do on Netflix

DOWN TO EARTH WITH ZAC EFRON

I’ve never really been a fan of Zac Efron. I never watched High School Musical so I never swooned over him in my younger days, but as an adult? Ahem, he’s aged well. Couple that with his desire to learn about the planet and natural health remedies and practices and, yeah, I guess now I’m swooning. Joined by Superlife author, Darin Olien, Zac takes us on a journey through some of natures most beautiful places and spaces. I thoroughly enjoyed learning alongside this unlikely duo who actually make a terrific pair, and wholeheartedly recommend you give this docuseries a try if you’re at all interested in holistic healing and plant-based eating.

Watch Down to Earth with Zac Efron on Netflix

STREET FOOD LATIN AMERICA

Not only do they take you on a tour of some amazingly drool-worthy food, but you get to meet some pretty incredible people along the way in this show. While we can’t travel and try the amazing hidden cuisines of the world, we can live vicariously. I suggest you get on that and give this one a try.

Watch Street Food: Latin America on Netflix

GET ORGANIZED WITH THE HOME EDIT

This show is perfect for pandemic, and proved it by providing us two seasons during it. The first round had us all running to the pantry and closets to get working, or at least inspired to think about it. Organization is so soothing. If you haven’t watched this gem of a show yet, get on it.

The Home Edit is Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin.

Watch Get Organized with The Home Edit on Netflix

EMILY IN PARIS

I’m not even going to tell you how many times I have replayed this show since it came out just to have Paris and French landscapes on in the background. What a fantasy world she lives in! A beautiful, nostalgic fantasy world. Je suis très envieux. Now someone please lift the travel ban, find me a job in Paris, and let me go sit at a cafe alone like I was born to do. *Le Sigh* Not everyone appreciates what this show has to offer, but not every show is going to save the world. Just enjoy it for what it is; pretty moving pictures of Paris. The more people hate on this show, the more I love it. If you need an escape, miss traveling, or you, too, haven’t had a vacation in over a decade, I definitely recommend it.

Starring Lily Collins and more. Created by Darren Star.

Watch Emily in Paris on Netflix

EATER’S GUIDE TO THE WORLD

This show was fun! It made me hungry and want to travel the world eating all the food. Maya is great, saying all the things we need said as our favorite travel-eating companion. If you’re looking for an escape, spend an evening with this series. Just make sure you have some food on hand for when all the drool-worthy meals they serve up get your stomach growling.

Narrated by Maya Rudolph!

Watch Eater’s Guide to the World on Hulu

STYLISH WITH JENNA LYONS

I’d never heard of Jenna Lyons before, so I didn’t feel a pull to this show, but after HBO Max and Roku got their cooperative act together, I put this on on a whim and couldn’t put it down. Although some of the pre-pandemic complaining (and privilege) doesn’t land in today’s climate, the design aspects of this show are so much fun. I learned some great tips and got inspired to look at my own home and style in different ways. The “challenge” aspect of this show for the employee candidates really gives this a Top Chef-vibe for me, as well. I would totally watch another season of this show, and recommend it if you want to escape to a pre-pandemic world of design.

Watch Stylish with Jenna Lyons on HBO Max

BRIDGERTON

Pure magic. My eyes lapped up these gorgeous visuals and sweeping idyllic landscapes with fervor. Thank you, Netflix, for eight glorious episodes of this great escape. This show serves up some seriously delectable drama. It’s everything we want it to be and more. Gorgeous landscapes. Incredible costumes. A sassy narrator commenting on the social status of nobility. This is the Gossip Girl of early 19th century England and I can’t get enough.

Starring Adjoa Andoh, Julie Andrews, Ruby Barker, and more. Created by Chris Van Dusen. Written and directed by many. Based on the book series by Julia Quinn.

Watch Bridgerton on Netflix

The Duke and I
by Julia Quinn
(affiliate links)

Netflix has already given us Season 2, and with eight books to work from, here’s hoping they go on to make all eight seasons.

Watch Bridgerton on Netflix

So there you have it! What did I miss? Be sure to let me know in the comments if there’s anything else I should be escaping with this year.

Happy viewing,

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