It’s been a rough election year. Politics makes everything ugly these days, and it can be easy to lose hope or just curl into a ball and try to forget about anything. But the only way anything gets done in America is by believing in it, so if you need to take a break, take it with a few show recommendations from the Uproxx team that will restore your faith in America.
Friday Night Lights
Deep in Texas in a town called Dillon is not exactly where one might expect to find grace and tolerance, but for five seasons, that’s exactly what Friday Night Lights represented. Kyle Chandler’s Coach Taylor taught his players how to be a team, not just on the field, but in life. He taught them to stick up for each other, to protect each other from bullies and blowhards. Coach Taylor saw the full hearts in everyone, even when it was not always immediately apparent. Friday Night Lights humanized the very people that we are often incapable of humanizing ourselves. He saw through the bigotry in his Texas town, and he found insecurity and fear at the source. He rooted it out by finding the goodness in them and making them believe in themselves. Coach Taylor preached that “women should be respected,” that there’s compassion and honor in all of us. He also taught his team how to win, but how to show humility in victory and in defeat.
Coach Taylor taught his players how to be better men, and the audience watching at home, how to be better people. We should all be so lucky to have a leader like that in our lives. — Dustin Rowles
Parks And Recreation
Last night showed us the cold breakdown of our political attitudes and divisions. We were all numbers and pixels in the vast red or smaller blue areas on John King’s supposedly “Magic” map. We could use a reminder of our individual quirks within the context of local government and trying to get things done, now. No big speeches or proposals, no corrosive partisanship (unless you count Councilman Jamm). Just people working through their differences to come together. — Jason Tabrys
The West Wing
If you fall, say, a little left of center politically and are currently in the market for an escape where everything works out the way you want and people giving rousing patriotic speeches about it, look know further. Just maybe stop watching after season four. And try not to kick yourself wondering how different the 2016 election would’ve turned out if Hillary had her own Leo McGarry. Also, wolf highway. It’s a good show, that’s my point. — Brian Grubb
At its root, Netflix’s take on Marvel’s hero for hire is about a man who has his roots with his community cut. A former sheriff and Force Recon Marine, Luke gets framed for a crime, loses everything and, after getting his powers, runs away. When we meet Luke, he’s doing menial jobs, hiding in Harlem, and just trying to get by. But, as the series progresses, Luke discovers both that he can rebuild those roots, and that by working for his community, he can heal himself and bring everyone together. At the same time, staying away cuts him deeper than the pain of losing someone he loves. It’s an inspiring message, and a reminder that change starts on the street where you live, and grows from there. — Dan Seitz
When asked for a bio around the time he was working on Twin Peaks, David Lynch offered up an economical four-word description: “Eagle Scout. Missoula, Montana.” There’s a pretty clear throughline between Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, the show that briefly revolutionized television in the early ‘90s. Both deal with how the struggle between good and evil plays out in small-town America. But only one makes the embodiment of all that’s good a representative of the U.S. government. As played by Kyle MachLachlan, agent Dale Cooper is driven by a commitment to pushing back at the ills of the world — be it a serial killer or “the plight of the Tibetan people” — using politeness, intellect, and our shared American values. Surrounded by evil and weirdness, he remained steadfast in his beliefs and a sense that the system could work, and that his job was to shine a light in the darkness. For a while, Twin Peaks was both the weirdest show on TV and the most inspiringly square vision of American values. –Keith Phipps
More than anything, it seems the outcome of the 2016 presidential election came down to class. Not race or gender or sexual orientation, but class. Voters from staunchly white, blue-collar urban and rural districts across the nation came out in droves to vote for Donald Trump. It’s a socioeconomic dynamic of days gone by that most American television media seems to have forgotten, which is why revisiting the classic ‘90s sitcom Frasier offers despondent viewers both a hilarious reprieve from reality and a lesson in the very social relations that played a part in what happened.
“Wait a minute,” you’re probably thinking. “What does a Cheers spinoff have to do with the 2016 election?” Everything, especially when you consider the relationship at the center of Frasier’s eleven seasons: divorced psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) and his retired, widower father, Martin Crane (John Mahoney). One is a highly educated professional with liberal leanings, and the other is an older conservative who spent his entire life working as a police officer. The obvious class differences between the two were often the butt of the show’s many jokes — especially in the second season episode “The Candidate,” in which Fraser and Martin supported their preferred liberal and conservative congressional candidates. They spent much of the half hour ranting and conspiring against one another, but eventually remembered they bound by family ties (and love) before the end credits rolled.
Also, “The Candidate” involves supposed alien abductions (The X-Files was popular, after all), so there’s that. –Andrew Husband
You want to feel good about America? Try two brothers joining together to run their own airline together. Try a self-made man presenting them with good old fashioned American competition. Toss in employment and care for the elderly, the positive acceptance of immigrants into society and the workforce, and respect for the blue collar working class and you might just have the perfect representation of America.
Wings takes to the skies and doesn’t look back, not allowing the negativity of the world to drag it down. The story of Brian and Joe Hackett is purely American at its core and it’s the best of America. Also it’s pretty damn funny, which is something a lot of folks are going to need in the days to come. — Andrew Roberts