Back in 2015, watching episodes of Martin helped me maintain my sanity in one of the worst seasons of my life.

As I endured months of blatant disrespect at an underpaid job that I couldn’t afford to quit, I found myself relying on Sheneneh, Hustle Man and Ol’ Otis to pull me out of my funk. And without fail, for 24 minutes, I could escape my bleak reality with mindless laughter. (OK, and a hoard of cookies, too.) But I’m not the only one who understands the powerful impact that shows can have in times of stress, grief and uncertainty.

Below, nine women get candid about the shows that helped them get through the toughest times in their lives, from Ted Lasso to How to Get Away with Murder.

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shows the mindy project
Fox / Getty images

1. ‘The Mindy Project’

“I was going through a ridiculously long and drawn-out breakup that was just horrible and left me feeling so drained and terrified. I was searching for a new show to distract me and decided on The Mindy Project, mostly because I loved Mindy’s outfits in all the promo shots. It is now one of my absolute favorite shows. Watching Mindy go through so many ups and downs and still come out strong, while acknowledging how hard things can be sometimes, was really inspiring and made me feel like if she can do all these things and be OK, then I can do it too. I re-watch the show all the time now, but it is a particularly good go-to on rough days when I just need a laugh and an encouraging smile.” — Abby, 30

shows ted lasso
Ruby's Tuna Inc.

2. ‘Ted Lasso’

“I started watching it the first night it dropped in summer 2020. My husband and I were navigating a rough patch during the pandemic—no childcare, no personal life and no time for ourselves or each other, and the world as a whole just felt so bleak. That show was better than a medical prescription in so many ways. On a night that we had agreed to lock away our phones and just hang out, we binge-watched three episodes and found ourselves swept away by the kindness, but also the jokes. There was a back-and-forth between Ted and Coach Beard that we rewound and re-listened to four times, we were laughing so hard. The stress of our lives melted away, and the show became a safe space: 30 minutes of joy guaranteed.” — Rachel, 39

shows girls
HBO Entertainment

3. ‘Girls’

“Before I went to college, I expected an Animal House experience—epic parties, a large group of friends and no parental supervision. Yet once I was there, I found myself struggling with my weight and feeling generally lost in life. So, when I discovered Girls, it became my beacon of hope. Not only did the show follow the lives of four 20-something girls I very much related to, but it also explored the fickle nature of female friendships alongside themes of insecurity, adulthood and purpose—all of which I’d been struggling with at the time. What I loved most about Girls was the characters’ unwavering authenticity and the sense of belonging I felt after each episode. Plus, Lena Dunham’s ability to unapologetically embrace her body on screen is nothing short of inspiring.” — Sydney, 23

shows broad city
Paper Kite Productions

4. ‘Broad City’

Broad City helped my homesickness after moving out of New York. They featured some of my favorite locations in the city, like St. Marks/LES, Bethesda Fountain and Madison Square Park. Also, the main characters, Abbi and Ilana, resonated with me because they’re strong female leads. Their close-knit friendship and humor are the reasons why I chose to watch this show in particular. In a way, they’re the friends I wish I had if I remained in NY.” — Connie, 30

show schitts creek
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

5. ‘Schitt’s Creek’

“There was a period in the last few months of my husband's life. He was dying slowly from liver cancer, and it was a constant whirl of anxiety, doctor visits and painful small procedures, when all I could do was get through the day holding my breath waiting for my secret garden. And my secret garden was an episode of Schitt's Creek. Something about this family of buffoons and their tone-deaf but warm-spirited reactions to an unbelievable turn of events (They'd lost all their money! They lived in the sticks, not a big city hotel suite!) helped me laugh, even in this unbelievable nightmare I seemed to be living through. And you know what? In some strange way, this family's connections to their new community modeled how I too could have moments of comfort and hope and kindness. I didn't let myself watch more than one episode a night, because I really needed this show to last.” — Dana, 56

shows the bold type
Freeform

6. ‘The Bold Type’

“I was having a hard time finding a job. I was in the middle of doing an internship that was draining me and getting my master’s degree at the same time. I felt like I was stuck and didn’t know which direction to go next. But a show that got me through it was The Bold Type. It was great to see three women in the beginning of their careers, just trying to make it work. I could relate to them because they were around my age and working in an environment that I wanted to be a part of. This show came at the right moment in my life. It’s crazy to think that the show just ended, and I’m now at a place in my career where I’m happy. I’m no longer in the same mindset I was when I was watching season one.” — Chelsea, 27

shows busy tonight
Busy Bee Productions

7. ‘Busy Tonight’

“One month after my daughter was born, my father-in-law died unexpectedly. Our whole family was grieving, and in those sleepless early weeks, I felt totally alone in our new neighborhood in New York. Watching Busy Tonight felt like my window to the world; a sense of joy and normalcy in a life that felt anything but—her interviews, monologues and skits pulled me through the fog and helped me find a way forward, when all I wanted to do was burrow away from real life. I'm still bummed that the show was canceled.” — Candace, 34

shows htgawm
Mitch Haaseth / Getty Images

8. ‘How to Get Away with Murder’

“The last season of How to Get Away with Murder was a part of my healing. It’s something about watching what you can relate to when your situation makes you feel so alone. So, while in my depressive state, this show gave me hope. The healing and therapy that Annalise went through paralleled mine. It reminded me that I am worthy and not the negative things or lies my traumas convinced me of.” — Ruth-Ann, 24

shows satc
HBO

9. ‘Sex and the City’

“In 2008, I went through an awful breakup, but to this day I'm proud of how I handled it: By lying in bed, eating one million clementines and watching the first four seasons of Sex and the City. Even though it's ostensibly a show about dating, it's mostly a show about friendship and fashion and how ultimately replaceable men are. Nothing hit too close to home and, as a woman in her mid-twenties, it was encouraging to watch women in their 30s, who still didn't have it all figured out.” — Jillian, 39

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