Depressed? Here Are the 20 Best Shows & Movies on Netflix for Mood Improvement


20. New Girl

I was very shocked at just how effective, funny and likable this sitcom was. Starring Zooey Deschanel as a perky, klutzy young woman moving in with three guys, the show has a sense of lightness and Deschanel is immensely sympathetic and entertaining. I don’t really watch sitcoms these days, but New Girl is done so well and is so consistently funny episode-to-episode that it’s worth checking out.


19. Dinosaurs

I’ve had very mixed results in revisiting the pop culture of my childhood as so much of it reemerges online and in DVD format. Looking back on Dinosaurs when it first appeared on Netflix made me reflect on what a central place in TV entertainment the sitcom once had as a genre. Hannah, do you think that might be a subject to explore in future lists articles? Figuring out what the best sitcoms are/were, and when/why the genre started to decline in significance and popularity?  

18. The Avengers

The best superhero movie. Seriously: popular culture thrives when it fulfills the function mythology once did in providing templates and tools for self-transformation: How 10 Esoteric Secrets Hidden in Joss Whedon’s Best Movie Can Change Your Life. By watching movies we remind ourselves that it’s within our power to change our moods to thus change our thoughts and actions.

17. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

Hannah, I remember from our last writer-editor brainstorming call talking with you about a screenplay idea that we might collaborate on someday. And then you had the best suggestion — of modeling it on the Love, Actually style-narrative structure with numerous characters and interlocking story-lines. We should explore more movies and stories that successfully juggle characters and plots. Maybe escaping into Lock, Stock and thinking more about how this structure could work would be a fun escape? We should think about what other films would be good to study and consider as models for screenplays or novels.


16. Robot and Frank

This comedy about an old man and his initially unwanted robot companion looks lame and predictable but it’s actually a lot of fun and a sweet story. Like New Girl, it may play to a formula, but when it’s executed so well by a strong central actor then why complain?

15. Aqua Teen Hunger Force

There are many ways to turn the brain off for a bit. The absurd surrealism of Aqua Teen Hunger Force is one of the most effective. Only the next cartoon on this list is more so…

14. Squidbillies

I think with Squidbillies the genre of ultra-bizarre, low-quality-animation, shocking, character-based humor has reached its supreme peak. Don’t scratch the trim! It will get no better than this. (Or no worse for those who regard such shows as evidence of the coming apocalypse — which they in fact are.)

13. The Office

Hannah, I imagine you’ve already watched the original version of The Office, perhaps even multiple times. So just skip to the most amazing part — the end — when you need a boost. Do you agree with me that the Christmas special and the show’s conclusion of Dawn and Tim’s relationship is one of television’s best moments? I think in your writing you should aspire to someday craft a love story that tops theirs.

12. Sherlock

I really want to rewatch all of Sherlock. It’s such a wonderful show to escape into. Note to self: assign writers to do some list articles dissecting why it’s so great…. Gee, I wonder who might want to do that.. 


11. Super High Me


:) :) :)

10. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

9. Battlestar Galacticacreated by Ronald D. Moore

8. The 4400, executive produced by Ira Steven Behr, with episodes written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe

I’ve been vocal about my Star Trek: Deep Space Nine partisanship and will continue to be so and develop more list articles advocating for the show’s unique greatness amongst the Trek canon. However, there are two other shows that are so good that I want to rewatch them both. (I suspect a key reason for their high quality is the involvement of very talented writer-producers who developed their craft on DS9.) Escape into all three. Binge-worthy shows all.

7. Sherlock Jr. Directed by Buster Keaton

During my film obsessive days I was always a Keaton partisan in the silent film wars. What do you think?

Any Charlie Chaplin defenders out there?

6. Disney Animation: Volume 5: Wind in the Willows

Also includes a great sampling of Silly Symphonies, including “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Robber Kitten,” “The Grasshopper and the Ants,” “The Wise Little Hen,” and the Walt Disney-directed “The Golden Touch”

Of the various sets of classic Disney cartoons on Netflix, this is the best. The “Wind in the Willows” segment from Ichabod and Mr. Toad is the stronger half of the film and one worth watching again and again.


And check out those and other Silly Symphonies on Netflix and you might see more why I became fascinated and decided to blog through all 75 of them in the PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon feature. (I’ll have more lists of favorites, most controversial, and other organizations of them soon.) Here are some of the strongest that I highlighted and wrote about a few weeks ago: The 7 Revolutionary Silly Symphony Cartoons That Won Oscars In the 1930s

5. Punch Drunk Love

It shouldn’t be controversial to say this is Adam Sandler’s best movies, should it? Hannah, are you a fan? P.T. Anderson is one of my top 5 favorite filmmakers and I regard this as another of his masterpieces, worth rewatching over and over again just like Magnolia, Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, and The Master. Any other P.T. Anderson adherents out there? I’ll need to do a list at some point explaining all the reasons why his movies are so awesome…

4. Jackass: Number Two

My wife and I saw this at a dollar theatre when we were dating and laughed so consistently throughout. I think it’s the best the series ever did, filled with clever gags and hilarious pranks and some effective shocks. If there’s a more genuinely funny expression of low-brow humor then I’d like to see it.  

3. Jackie Brown

One of my absolute favorite films for years, and as I’ve argued, Quentin Tarantino’s best film: 8 Reasons Why Jackie Brown Beats Pulp Fiction.

Hannah, have you seen this one? What do you think of it? (And if you’ve only seen it once and don’t like it, WATCH IT AGAIN!!!! This one took a few viewings for me before I really started appreciating it.)


2. Duck Soup

I was on a Marx brothers kick a few years ago and really need to get back into watching them more regularly again. Is Duck Soup their best? I see a list ranking the best Marx Brothers movies and their funniest jokes coming…

1. Amelie

Kyle Smith put Amelie at #6 on his list of best of the ’00s. He’s right to include it, though it might end up higher or lower when I do my own such list eventually.

Amelie may be the single best prescription for mood improvement not just on Netflix but of all movies. It’s a whole film dedicated to the power that we have to change how we feel and inspire others to feel better too.



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