Why Comfort Food TV Seems to Be More Popular Than Ever

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Feel Good TV, The Good Doctor, Will & Grace, Seal Team, Dancing With the Stars

ABC; NBC; CBS; Melissa Hebeler / E! Illustration

All it takes is one fast look on the exhibits which have discovered success this fall (and all people who have not) for one factor to turn out to be abundantly clear: Audiences are turning out in droves for TV that makes them really feel good.

The thought of consolation meals TV is nothing new. Because the days of Lucy Ricardo and her Vitameatavegamin loopiness, viewers have been utilizing TV as a method of escaping their world for one the place issues are tidily resolved inside an hour, everybody’s all the time fast with a joke, and the great guys (virtually) all the time win. Although the medium’s current golden age selected to eschew these really feel-good properties for exhibits that mirrored actual life, no matter how uneasy they left you by episode’s finish, it appears the pendulum is as soon as once more swinging again in favor of the basic mannequin.

And with a world that is seemingly gone mad, delivering an onslaught of spirit-breaking information at breakneck tempo, this pivot is absolutely no shock.

For proof of this, you want look no additional than the autumn’s largest breakout hit, ABC’s The Good Physician. Starring Freddie Highmore and based mostly on a Korean drama of the identical identify, the collection tells the story of Dr. Shaun Murphy, a younger surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, as he navigates a brand new profession as a member of the distinguished St. Bonaventure hospital’s surgical unit. The present has been an in a single day success, debuting to eleven.2 million viewers (19.21 when DVR viewership was factored in) in its first week, making it the community’s highest-rated Monday drama debut in 21 (!!) years and the No. 1 drama on TV.

The medical procedural, which hails from Home creator David Shore and EP Daniel Dae Kim, wasn’t precisely a essential darling previous to premiering, however its mixture of sentimentality and earnestness, to not point out its depiction of a foremost character overcoming adversity and discrimination, has definitely endeared it to followers. “This present is completely superb,” writes one fan on the present’s official Fb web page. “It’s selling each autism consciousness, acceptance, and positivity.” 

“Love this present and all the messages. This present could be very significant for right now,” writes one other.

The Fb web page is completely filled with critiques like those above, and if you converse to followers, it is clear that the present has actually struck a chord. “His autism and his capability to perform as a physician and as a person,” one such fan, Elizabeth Ann Cannon, tells E! Information when requested what drew her to the present. “Many occasions you assume that youngsters which might be challenged shall be at residence with mother and father, however in reality most stay independently on their very own. Love that the character exhibits many sides of autism.”

When requested if the present offers her a respite from an unsightly world, she admits that it does. “We should do this in life, rise above our personal preconceived ideas on others,” she says, referencing the newest episode, which noticed the primary character’s chief adversary lastly acknowledge that he is, in reality, an excellent physician. “Sooner or later we should take a look at others as human beings, dwelling and loving. I do not know if it is THE cause I watch, nevertheless it’s ONE of the explanations I proceed to observe. (Nice appearing is likely one of the fundamental causes.)The characters are evolving for the higher I want our nation would take notice and do the identical.”

The consolation that The Good Physician is clearly offering to tens of millions week after week works on two ranges. First, it follows within the footsteps of final season’s breakout hit This Is Us in that it gives a catharsis, a chance to expertise a full vary of feelings and shed a number of wholesome tears within the course of. And second, its procedural factor ensures that every week, issues will often be solved neatly. And it is that second half that may’t be understated.

“Individuals need solutions and are on the lookout for options to issues. We’ve got had a yr of social turmoil and upheaval the place previous options not work,” New York-based mostly therapist Kathryn Smerling, LCSW-PH.D tells E! Information concerning the attraction. There’s a easy sense of delight that one will get from fixing a dilemma.”

The Good Physician is hardly alone on that entrance this season. Together with procedural powerhouse mainstays like NCIS and Regulation & Order: SVU, freshman collection like Seal Workforce, S.W.A.T., and (to a lesser extent) The Orville are connecting as a result of they’re delivering on an concept of hope, an concept that the great guys will virtually all the time prevail, an concept that regulation and (particularly) order can nonetheless exist.

On the flip aspect, the season’s different huge success tales are succeeding because of nostalgia and laughs, a strong recipe for consolation. The revival of Will & Grace premiered to 10.2 million viewers, making it NBC’s highest-rated comedy telecast since The Workplace signed off in 2013, whereas CBS’ The Massive Bang Concept prequel Younger Sheldon, starring Huge Little Lies breakout star Iain Armitage, introduced in a staggering 17.2 million viewers with its premiere, making it probably the most watched comedy premiere on any community since 2011. Their attraction, in fact, is straightforward: Tune in, snort, and overlook concerning the world for half-hour.

“Individuals are nostalgic for less complicated occasions. The information is so critical and surprising that folks need to make an effort to really feel good and to snigger,” Smerling notes. “Laughing is a option to keep pleasure, and easy enjoyable is what all of us want extra of. Retro comedies through which the characters are self-conscious are foolish and supply a aid from the seriousness of our world at this time. It additionally gives a glimpse of friendship and distinctive characters who respect one another’s variations in a great-humored trend.”

And naturally, there are the truth TV staples like The Voice and Dancing With the Stars that provide up some razzle-dazzle, some good-natured competitors, and the ever-essential escapism. “There’s a lot chaos, turmoil and dissension on the planet as we speak that individuals are craving easy enjoyable,” Smerling says. “Exhibits like The Voice resemble previous expertise exhibits with a contemporary twist. They’re egalitarian in that they cope with your innate expertise—some that are extraordinary! [They] spotlight exhausting work, apply and the age previous fantasy of being found!”

At a time when the world appears remarkably unstable and our Hollywood heroes are turning out to be remarkably much less-than at an alarming fee, these really feel-good exhibits are extra essential than ever. They comply with by way of on TV’s preliminary promise to, as household therapist Dr. Paul Hokemeyer notes, assist audiences “study concerning the world, snort at human blunders and and hook up with one thing outdoors of themselves.”

“Right now the necessity for this escape is extra related than ever,” he tells E! Information. “Really feel-good tv allows us to get out of the ache that we expertise from dwelling in a chaotic world and hook up with the thrill of being human. It suspends our private actuality and transports us into visually interesting and emotionally soothing place.”

With the success any such programming has seen this fall, you’ll be able to rely on the networks investing in it increasingly. And that is one thing we will all be ok with.

(E! and NBC are each a part of the NBCUniversal household.)

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