Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Sydney icon-chevron-right The best binge-worthy feel-good TV shows on the ABC and SBS
Celia Pacquola and Luke McGregor in Rosehaven
Photograph: Supplied Celia Pacquola and Luke McGregor in Rosehaven

The best binge-worthy feel-good TV shows on the ABC and SBS

Need some low-stress comfort TV shows to fill these long days at home? We've got you sorted with these free and easy-to-view options

By Stephen A Russell
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We know there are bunch of us feeling bummed out at home right now. If you're in desperate need of something light and easy to binge-watch while sinking into your sofa, don't worry. We've got your back.

With minimal tolerance for grim and gritty right now, we've turned to our public broadcasters (bless the ABC and SBS) for lowkey cute chuckles with a side of feel-good warm and fuzzies that will cost you nada to mainline.

Here are a few of our current faves that you should pop onto your must-watch-now-k-thanks list that will easily see you through the next few weeks.

Best easy viewing free TV shows

Rosehaven on ABC iView
Photograph: Supplied

Rosehaven

Ok, so you can't binge the new series of Rosehaven as yet, because the ABC are only drip feeding us one ep a week, but you can go back to the start in the meantime. It’s comforting to see comedy chums Celia Pacquola and Luke McGregor return for a fourth season of these lovable Tasmanian real estate screwball lols. They’ve spiced up the format a little too, with the addition of a rival agency keeping Emma and Daniel – and their new pet bunny – on their toes. The kooky community of Rosehaven makes it such a salve for sore souls, from Sam Cotton as town bully Bruce, to Noela Foxcroft as octogenarian receptionist Mrs Marsh and David Quirk as locksmith and hoarder Damien. Bless them all. 

 

Aidy Bryant in SBS hit Shrill
Photo: supplied

Shrill

If you’re looking for a little bit of Lizzo’s “hair toss, check my nails” energy, then you might just fall in love with SBS highlight Shrill. Written by and also starring Saturday Night Live ensemble member and sometime Girls guest Aidy Bryant, this is a pop culture-primed, body-positive, feminist fun show about Annie, a young magazine journalist living her best life while refusing to fit anyone’s stereotype. Look out for Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell chewing the scenery as Annie's bad bitch boss, and we also love British star Lolly Adefope (The Spy Who Dumped Me) as her lesbian bestie. Short, sassy eps whizz by.

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You're the Worst makes rom coms less pukey cute
Photograph: supplied, SBS

You’re the Worst

If your sick-o-meter flips over to vomito when meet-cutes get a little too sickly sweet, fight your gag reflex with You’re the Worst. Ill Behaviour’s elastic-faced Brit Chris Geere and sparkling Fosse/Verdon star Aya Cash play obnoxiously self-centred LA types who fall in with each other for convenience's sake. If that sounds yuck, it's actually a pretty heartfelt anti-rom-com that somehow works for all the wrong reasons, dealing in the absurdities of reality. As is often the case, it’s the sidekicks who make it sing, with props to Desmin Borges and Kether Donohue as the besties who do it better, and babin’ scene-stealer Brandon Mychal Smith, who pops up as a perma-cussing, mic-dropping rap star.

Essie Davis in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
Photograph: ABC supplied

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Essie Davis is a queen, what more need we say? Whether she’s fighting a grief monster in horror movie The Babadook or bringing up a baby bushranger in The True History of the Kelly Gang, we’re down. But for something a little more low-key, slip into the arched-eyebrow adventures of the impossibly glam, pearl gun-slinging flapper detective Phryne in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Set in 1920s Melbourne, it’s Agatha Christie, but sexy. A costume-lover's dream, the will they, won’t they tease with Nathan Page’s surly copper Jack is dreamy.

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The Wellington Paranormal cops
Photograph: supplied, SBS

Wellington Paranormal

Spun off from Thor king Taika Waititi and his best creative buddy Jemaine Clement’s spooktacular vampire spoof What We Do in the Shadows, this gem definitely doesn't suck. A ludicrous laugh riot, the first two seasons of Wellington Paranormal on SBS features deadpan dopey Kiwi cops tackling the capital’s silliest supernatural forces. Think Ghostbusters meets Hunt for the Wilderpeople and you’re onto a winner packed full of gormless ghouls – vampires, zombies and werewolves, oh my! – with a gang of New Zealand’s funniest comedians playing the long arm of the law trying to keep the rest in peace.

Carina Hoang in The Heights, ABC TV
Photo: supplied

The Heights

The ABC launched its WA-set soap opera The Heights last year and from the outset, it was pure easy-viewing gold. Set around a housing commission tower and the steadily gentrifying suburb around it, the cast balances lovable stalwarts like Shari Sebbens, Roz Hammond and Kelton Pell with cute newcomers like Bridie McKim, Phoenix Raei and Yazeed Daher, plus Carina Hoang as no-nonsense shop owner Iris. The show covers coming out, uncertain paternity and secret crushes, with just enough cliff-hanger drama without giving you a heart attack. Season two's dropping one ep per week, but you can mainline the first in a cheery blur.

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Harlots
Photograph: SBS supplie

Harlots

This one’s a no brainer, with all the quivering bosom for good measure. Fiercely feminist with a saucy, potty mouth full of colourful 18th-century swears that need to be pressed back into action stat, Harlots has the sauciest soapy plot you could hope for. Put Phantom Thread’s permanently arch Lesley Manville as a hoity-toit brothel madame in one corner and The Walking Dead’s Samantha Morton as her a common-as-muck competitor in the other, then sit back and watch the fireworks. London men of all social standing are comic collateral damage in the middle in this fabulously wicked show entirely written and directed by women, with bonus Liv Tyler for extra ‘90s realness too.

Need more chill? Stream these escapist fantasies on Netflix

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