Sometimes you feel bad. It’s part of being human. There’s a really good quote about it in Count of Monte Cristo that I encourage you to google, but it’s something like, “there is neither happiness or unhappiness in the world just the comparison with one state and the other, blah blah you are only capable of feeling ultimate happiness if you experience ultimate despair.” I don’t speak french but that’s basically the gist of it, google it already. So, we feel bad sometimes and sometimes we just want to lean into that bad. We want to really feel it. We want to just live in that sadness and embrace it so we can someday hope to feel really happy. So, I made you this list of sad tv shows to watch when you’re feeling that specific way. (Spoilers for: The Good Wife, Scrubs, NewsRadio, Futurama, Six Feet Under, The Wire, The West Wing)
The Good Wife “Dramatics Your Honor”
Watch this when you feel like: you’re never going to find love. Because things could be worse, you could be Alicia Florek. You could do everything right, you could stand by your man, you could play ever part perfectly while also having the most beautiful, well put-together wardrobe, and yet none of that matters when there is a gun in the courtroom and Will Gardener goes kaput. This is real talk, crying your eyes out shit, go watch Josh Charles in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and you might not feel so bad about this episode of television.
Scrubs “My Screw Up”
Watch this when you feel like: God, I don’t know, when your children’s dog dies and they’re forced to confront death for the first time, show them this first to really depress them, and the dog news won’t be so bad. I guess this was supposed to be an homage to the sixth sense, but instead of being able to speak to Bruce Willis, the sixth sense in this TV episode is FUCKING CRYING YOUR EYES OUT. Also, it is almost made even more brutal by the fact that the person who is causing you all of this grief and pain was the hit star of George of the Jungle and The Mummy series. Your own downward spiral will seem like nothing compared to Dr. Cox here.
NewsRadio “Bill Moves On”
Watch this when you feel like: I guess writing an article on sad tv shows for your blog because I just paid Amazon $1.99 for this and sent Andy Dick some royalties. My local tv station when I was growing up would play NewsRadio and Frasier back to back so my introduction to comedy was pretty snarky, and because they’d occasionally show Kids In the Hall, pretty Dave Foley heavy. I remember watching this episode for the first time and not knowing that Phil Hartman had actually passed before this episode. Then, watching again later after I learned that, and now watching it tonight much later. This is an episode about real grief, but also filled with comedy. It is a perfect example of how sometimes when you are faced with an atrocity, an injustice, something beyond the realm of what humans should realistically have to deal with based on our emotional capacity, sometimes when that happens you have to laugh. You can’t actually process what’s happening, so you just have to laugh. And when you do it feels like something good is coming back into your life maybe, or at least there’s a chance that someday this won’t be so bad. This episode is the first laugh after a tragedy.
Futurama “Jurassic Bark”
Watch this when you feel like: I guess if you thought Marley and Me was too lighthearted? If you think Old Yeller was too jovial? I tried not to pick this. I thought about picking “The Sting” or “Love and Rocket.” But neither packs the emotional punch of this iconic Futurama episode. The final scene will have even the most stone-hearted Westorosi mothers crying by the time it’s over. I can’t actually suggest you watch this because ever since I became a dog owner I’ve avoided it all costs. Watch at your own risk.
Six Feet Under “The Room”
Watch this when you feel like: The notebook wasn’t dark comedy enough for you. Since I went conventional on Futurama, I went off the beaten path for Six Feet Under. Most people will suggest the series finale for a sad episode of television, but this episode was recommended to me and I think its sweet sadness deserves a place on this list. Nate finding a version of his father he never knew existed, Ruth finding out that her past life has become a relic, something she’s surrounded by that doesn’t exist anymore. And a monologue from an old man, whose wife is recently departed that will make you wonder if finding love is even worth it at all… probably: “Some pretty little thing catches your eye, and the next thing you know, it’s been 56 years! And you shit all over yourself in a movie theater, and she’s the only one that’ll help you clean it up. That’s love.”
The Wire “Cleaning Up”
Watch this when you feel like: You wanted more Michael B Jordan death in Fruitvale Station. I might be biased on this Wire episode because I love Michael B Jordan and would watch him do anything and killing him off in the first season was NEEDLESSLY TRAGIC HBO. But, it’s supposed to be. So, I’ll put my angry pen down and just never be able to watch this episode again. Seriously, I just watched the clip of it on youtube and I think I’m really good on this for a long time. Wallace was so good and hopeful in a show that wasn’t about being good or hopeful and that ultimately led to his demise.
The West Wing “Two Cathedrals”
Watch this when you feel like: watch it now, watch it because this is a particularly tough election season (or really, they all are, go listen to Whistlestop and you’ll learn all about it) so in this actually not that out of character for America election season, you need President Jed Bartlet and Mrs. Landingham. This episode is centered around the latter’s passing and it’s affect on the former. He goes on a very Bartlet-esque rant to God. He talks to Mrs. Landingham about the numbers. He inspires passion in a way that we hope the people who run our country could imitate in even the faintest way. This is the story of him losing someone who believed in him, when he didn’t even believe in himself. Oh god, I love it so much I’m going to go re-watch the West Wing. Oh, who am I kidding, I never stop watching the West Wing.
So, I hope you feel bettter. I hope you got whatever you were searching for in this list. I hope you don’t rest too long in this grief. I hope you get the first laugh back soon. I hope you find a way to yell or something. I hope you don’t decide to watch the newest season of Orange is the New Black immediately after watching everything on this list.