11 Ready Or Not Episodes That Soothed My COVID-19 Anxiety

Photo: Dick Loek/Toronto Star/Getty Images.
The day I decided to start re-watching Ready or Not was the first time in a week I didn’t have an anxiety attack. The ’90s Canadian series follows the (mostly) unshakeable friendship of two adolescent girls — uber-feminine Amanda Zimm and tomboy Busy Ramone (played by Laura Bertram and Lani Billard) — in suburban Ontario from Grade 6 to early high school. And it was one of the seminal shows of my youth.
The idea to revisit it came to me on my couch, like all good ones — and all ones — do these days. Stress-inhaling carbs in my rattiest, holiest sweater and most worn-in sweatpants, I was spiraling. I had convinced myself that in the wake of this global pandemic, my parents were going to die, my loved ones who lost their livelihoods would never get them back, and that I would never see my brother who lives across the country again. AND that the millions of people less fortunate than me, with their own familial and financial worries, would not be OK. Spiraling.
Then I re-watched Amanda buy her first bra and all the big, heavy, apocalyptic thoughts didn’t feel like they were piled on my chest anymore. For a very specific demo (older Canadian millennials, mostly women), Ready or Not episodes are seared into our brains like Backstreet Boys lyrics or Spice Girls outfits. The series aired on Global TV in Canada and the Disney Channel in the U.S. from 1993 to 1997, but I think I discovered it mostly through reruns in the late ’90s. Degrassi gets the most credit as the Canadian teen series that navigated life’s big problems with nuance, but Ready or Not did that too — and sometimes better. Teen girls are often portrayed on television as one-note bratty caricatures, but Ready or Not gave us two with depth, and the show treated girlhood mistakes with the levity and gravitas they deserve. Ready or Not is really good adolescent programming, but it’s also just a great show, period.
We all have our go-to pop-culture picks to help cope with existential dread and impending doom. But Ready or Not is working in ways I never could have predicted. Watching it feels like a sturdy hug — warm and reassuring — and slipping back into the lives of these girls who were like best friends to me evokes a time that never felt simple but definitely was. Buying my first bra was, like totally, a monumental milestone (I’m a Busy but I was more like Amanda in this case), but I couldn’t remember the specifics of the purchase, so I texted my mom. 
Do you remember the first time I got a bra? I asked. “Not sure about your exact age, but I do remember thinking, Why? There was nothing to go in it, but you were adamant that you needed one,” my mom responded. It was the first big, guttural laugh I’d released in weeks. This is the exact plot of the pilot episode of Ready or Not — Amanda makes her mom take her bra shopping, much to her mother’s confusion and that 30 minutes of television is exactly why I begged my mom to buy me my first bra. There are many examples of this, when my life and Ready or Not storylines exist side-by-side, and going through the awkward and messy times of girlhood felt a lot less excruciating because of Busy and Amanda. At its best, when it was tackling tough topics like divorce, racism, consent, homophobia, and bullying, Ready or Not was an educational tool. But the reason I loved it so much was how it handled smaller, embarrassing stuff like periods, unrequited crushes, and pimples. It always made me feel less alone. Twenty years later, that’s still true. 
A Canadian teen TV show is not going to cure my anxiety or fix the very real problems the world is facing right now. But if you’re looking for something to ease your boredom, take you back to the blissful ignorance of youth (and '90s fashion), and make you feel a little less lonely, it’s the perfect show to binge right now. 
Lucky for us, the entire series is available on Encore+ on YouTube (the show ran for five seasons but Season 2 and 3 are combined on the channel). Not ready to commit to the full series? Here are the 11 best episodes of Ready or Not to re-watch right now. 

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