The best shows to stream when you’re doing something else

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The best shows to stream when you’re doing something else

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Netflix on a tablet. (Marcel De Grijs/Dreamstime/TNS)
  • Story Highlights
  • That laundry isn't going to fold itself, so why not catch up with some background TV?

We all lead busy lives. And sometimes it seems like there’s not enough hours in the day to get all your chores/other work done. 

Since we also live in the age of streaming, it’s now easier than ever to have access to a world of entertainment at the click of a button. 

Netflix is home to a ton of original programming, big-budget movies and hidden gems.

Hulu, which started out as a way to watch TV without a cable subscription, is now a fount of original programming itself.

HBO, the forerunner of original premium programming, has its entire catalog available on its streaming services, HBO NOW and HBO GO.

But with such a wide berth of options, it can be daunting to know which shows you need to devote your full attention to. If you’re busy, say, with laundry to fold, dishes to wash, food to cook, work to do, papers to write, and you want something that’s not too distracting to turn on in the background, what do you watch?

The following shows are all good to watch while you’re doing something else, and you won’t miss much in the process:

  • “How I Met Your Mother” — When it comes to sitcoms and lighter fare, Netflix is the place to go. And with subscriptions starting at $10 a month, you’ll get your money’s worth. All nine seasons of Ted  Mosby’s search for the right woman are available on Netflix for your perusal. Jury’s still out on that controversial series finale, though.
  • “Friends” — The original “New Yorkers in wacky situations” comedy, the ‘90s juggernaut caused quite a stir when Neflix announced the entire series would be available for streaming. Relive the adventures of Ross, Rachel, Joey, chandler, Monica and Maurice the monkey one episode at a time.
  • “30 Rock” — This show’s two-jokes-a-minute writing rewards repeat viewings, with many of the jokes not becoming apparent until the second or third watch. Perfect for background noise when you just want to relax, too. 
  • “The Office” — The whole series about life and American white-collar boredom is available to stream here, and the awkward silences in between most of the show’s jokes make it the perfect show to fold laundry to.
  • “The League” — Fantasy football, lewd jokes and a lot of improvisation, all in easy-to-digest 20-minute episodes.
  • Stand-up comedy selections — Netflix invested big in the stand-up comedy game, in 2017, with specials from Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle and Amy Schumer premiering exclusively on the service the first few months of the year alone. Other acts include Jana Kramer, Bill Burr, Hannibal Burress and  Michael Che.
  • “Gilmore Girls” — Especially if you’ve seen the whole show (and the Netflix revival), watching this show again is like coming home to old friends.
  • “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”— The procedural is an old standby for a reason. Familiar plot, familiar characters, and that always comforting “dun-DUN” sound make it easy to concentrate on those dishes you‘re washing while you’re trying to find out whodunit.
  • “Bill Nye” — He’s back! With More science!
  • “Pokemon Indigo League” —Bask in your ‘90s cartoon nostalgia.
  • “Magic School Bus” — There’s a Kate McKinnon-starring reboot int he works, but the Lily Tomlin original is still perfect for catching upon your science facts while you work.
  • “Bob’s Burgers” — Alas, you’ll have to go to Hulu to see any more than the first season of this animated sitcom featuring the unmistakable voice of H. Jon Benjamin, but what a first season it is. Come to think of it, “Archer” also fits this bill, too.
  • “New Girl” — Wisely pivoting to focus on the crazy relationship dynamic between Zooey Deschanel’s quirky Jess and her equally quirky roommates, this “Friends” for the West Coast has jokes, but it also goes down smooth.
  • “Parks and Recreation” — It’s just a happy show Fit for any occasion. RIP Lil’ Sebastian.
  • “The OC” — Binge watching, here we come. 
  • “Scrubs” (For now) — This show about the adventures of Doctor John Dorian, his best friend Turk and the many misadventures they have at Sacred Heart Hospital is a comedy with a lot of heart, and it changed the medical genre for good. And it’s easy to watch.
  • “The Ranch” — Ashton Kutcher’s sitcom about a football player coming home to the family ranch is foul-mouthed, predictable, and full of upcoming country artists.
  • “Rick and Morty” — Like if “Community” wasn’t beholden to a network executive’s notes.
  • “Bob’s Burgers” — See above.
  • “Seinfeld” — What’s the deal with the delay in getting this show on streaming sites?
  • “Inside Amy Schumer” — A sketch show with political commentary that goes down easier if you’re laughing.
  • “Flavor of Love” — Clocks for everyone!
  • “Broad City” — All the trials of being a millennial in a big city.
  • “Community” — Zany community college adventures, complete with an animated episode and a musical episode. Even viewers who payed attention all the time didn’t know where this show was going to go.
  • “America's Next Top Model” — Figure out what you want in your wardrobe while folding your clothes. 
  • “I Love Lucy”/Other classic TV — Hulu has a lot of older selections in its catalog, if that’s your thing.
  • “Top Chef” — Perfect for some inspiration while you meal-prep for the week.
  • “Entourage” — You don’t even really need sound to fully experience the bro-adventures of Vincent Chase and the rest of his Hollywood pals. Come to think of it, most of the sitcoms in HBO’s lineup are just riffs on the “Entourage” formula.
  • “Silicon Valley” — “Entourage,” but with tech bros. And it was created by sometimes-Austinite Mike Judge!
  • “Ballers” — “Entourage,” but with sports agents. Starring The Rock and Rob Corddry. 
  • “Sex And The City” — “Entourage,” but with women in  New York City. 
  • Stand-up comedy selections — While Netflix is looking to take the comedy crown away from HBO, the premium channel used to be where stars like Chappelle, Schumer, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Margaret Cho used to go to film their specials. The “Comedy Half-Hour” segments are perfect listening pieces. 

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