How Post-Election Stress Completely Changed My TV Habits

Photographed by Gunnar Larson.
The day of the election, with hours to go before the polls closed, I found myself on the hunt for a new TV show to watch. I'd just finished intense Black Mirror and The Crown marathons, both of which I recapped for Refinery29, and I craved something equally thrilling and intellectually stimulating.

Only...maybe I didn't. I made it about 30 minutes into the first episode of The Night Of, the critically lauded HBO crime drama my coworkers have been raving about for months, before I shut it off. The last thing I saw was Riz Ahmed's character, Naz, being taunted by two men accusing him of being a terrorist. It was less entertainment and more, This shit is too real and I can't take it right now, so I stopped watching.

The themes of flawed justice and racial profiling have become even less appealing now that the ballots have counted and the tone of the next four years has unfurled before me. So, too, have programs dealing with politics. Designated Survivor, in which Kiefer Sutherland plays a cabinet member who suddenly becomes POTUS after the Capitol is blown up, had been a recent mindless pleasure. No more. Viewers are meant to be rooting for Sutherland's character as he lobbies against some bull-headed conservative governors who want to ban immigration, but the whole thing just made me depressed.

My go-to shows were out. Black Mirror would be too paranoia-inducing and Orwellian to watch again. The Crown, with its political maneuverings and recurring reminder that laws often stand in the way of the right thing, isn't likely to soothe frayed post-election nerves. But that's okay, because I finally found just the thing: Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

I'd never seen the Andy Samberg sitcom, about a Brooklyn police station, until its first two seasons popped up on Netflix recently. I'd never even really found Samberg funny, to be honest, and indeed remember scoffing when he won a Golden Globe. Now, he and his costars are the only thing making me laugh. Last night, I canceled plans, curled up on the couch, and plowed through a dozen episodes. It's my self-care.

I'd also like to point out that the show is diverse, without resorting to stereotypes. Andre Braugher and Terry Crews, both Black men, play superior officers, one of whom also happens to be gay. The two female detectives, played by Stephanie Beatriz and Melissa Fumero, are both Latina. One of them wears a pantsuit. How could I not love this?

It's a privilege to be able to lose myself in a TV show when outside, the world feels uncertain. If I could switch off the anxiety and fear and animosity, too, I would. I can't. I'm donating, venting, and fighting, but I can't do it 24/7. And when that need to switch off for a moment hits, relief comes in the form of a rag-tag police squad. Fingers crossed there are enough episodes to see me through this.
Advertisement