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These Shows Make Great Background Noise While You Study For Finals

Whether to help you romanticize your life or to keep you focused, background noise has become somewhat of an essential in college students’ routines — especially during exams. Lo-fi beats, white noise, ASMR and study playlists are more often than not part of the ritual of studying. 

Sliding right beside other study techniques like using sticky notes, teaching someone else the material and writing out the topics into flashcards, this type of soundtrack is proven to offer benefits like improved concentration and task performance to its listeners, aside from a very soothing company, of course. 

As a fellow student, though, I’ll let you into a secret: Your favorite television series can probably double as an effective background noise tool too. Having that in mind, here are 8 series that can chaperone you through your finals prep with some background dialogue and laugh tracks. Brown noise and dark academia playlists, step aside.


Friends is the classic go-to choice when we talk about background noise shows. 

Ever since its release in the ’90s, this widely popular series has both conquered new viewers with its short, light-hearted episodes, and kept its old ones holding tight to the nostalgia it brings. 

Since it’s not really focused on a specific or dense plot — which is important when you’re studying, since you’re not really paying attention to what’s happening — Friends has a bunch of episodes to choose from according to your mood. The low-key inspirational message that everything will work out soon (or even the “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m doing it” attitude) can also be a plus in your study sessions.

Where you can stream it: HBO Max.

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

With its funky colors and a lot of laugh tracks, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air might not seem like an obvious backdrop choice, but it can be a very good one. Another not-so-plot-oriented series, the sitcom’s short episodes and chit chat will keep you company as Will finds his way through school and his new home in Bel Air.  

Beware, though: Its iconic theme song might be a distraction. Singing “In West Philadelphia, born and raised” simply doesn’t get old. Sorry. 

Where you can stream it: HBO Max.

The Office

The Office is not only a fundamental part of pop culture, but it can also be an incredible partner when you are preparing for exams. That is, if you can get past some pretty annoying coworkers, of course.

All jokes aside, with some snarky Dwight one-liners snuck in and a lot of awkward Michael Scott moments, the series provides the perfect balance of chattering and workplace background sounds.

Also, you can count on The Office for your motivational shot of the day. You know what they say, right? “‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take — Wayne Gretzky’ — Michael Scott.” Yup. 

Where you can stream it: Peacock.

New Girl

You might be seeing a pattern in this list: Sitcoms are always the ideal pick for a studying soundscape, and New Girl  is no exception to this rule. 

As the awkward and upbeat school teacher Jess moves into an apartment with three male roommates, the series seeks out messages about friendship, pursuing your goals, and the highs and lows of life, both personally and in your career. Since most of the action happens through the interactions of its characters, it’s pretty easy to follow — or not — absentmindedly. 

Where you can stream it: Netflix, Disney+.

Queer Eye

Queer Eye can be peak watching-but-not-really TV if you want it to. 

Led by the Fab Five, the series aims to transform people’s lives through lifestyle and personal changes, empowering and refining them into the best version of themselves. The experts JVN, Antoni, Karamo, Tan, and Bobby advise the participants as they encourage glow ups in wardrobe, hair and décor. 

Since a lot of the transformations are long, you can jump in and out of the show without being lost in its events. All in time for the main attraction, of course: Seeing the final product of the makeovers at the end. Thanks, Fab Five. 

Where you can stream it: Netflix.

Gilmore Girls

The OG study girl Rory Gilmore should be your friend during finals week. So why not take a look at the source of the countless “Study like Rory” playlists you’ve seen?

Set in a small town (with a lot of time spent inside Luke’s diner and Chilton Preparatory School), Gilmore Girls has gentle, abundant dialogue and is focused on the relationships between the characters. A lot of the episodes also follow a somewhat similar storyline too, so it’s not hard to follow if you want to — or tune out if you really need to finish writing that paper.  

Where you can stream it: Netflix.

The Great British Bake Off

Not sure if this is a me thing, but cooking shows can be incredibly calming at times — especially if we are talking The Great British Bake Off rather than, I don’t know, Hell’s Kitchen

With its trademark, aesthetic meadow backdrop and soft-spoken judges, this U.K. series pits amateur bakers against each other in a race for the title of Britain’s best baker. Although it is a competition, everything about The Great British Bake Off is just kind of calming and soft. 

Also, looking at pretty pastries and seeing the process behind baking pies? Count me in.

Where you can stream it: Netflix.

One Day At A Time

Fellow Latinxs, this one’s for you. 

Following three generations of a Cuban-American family, One Day At A Time is a reboot of the ’70s sitcom of the same name. With Rita Moreno in the cast, the sitcom discusses serious themes like sexuality, immigration, and homophobia while also highlighting Latin culture and offering funny, laidback moments. 

Throughout its four seasons, the series counts on short episodes to depict the day-to-day interactions of its characters. Because of that, a lot of the plot is simple, making this show a good option for a soundscape. 

Sure, it can be noisy sometimes, but that can just remind you of your own Latin home, right? At least it does for me. 

Where you can stream it: Netflix.

Whether with good humor, nostalgia, or upbeat intro songs, let these shows help you power through finals week. Good luck!

Isabella Gemignani

Casper Libero '23

Isabella Gemignani is a National Writer for Her Campus and editor-in-chief of Her Campus Casper Libero. She covers everything culture-related for the national website - and oversees her chapter's content production, which involves editorial, social media, podcast and events verticals and makes up a team of over 100 girls. Beyond Her Campus, Isabella writes for the architecture and design magazine Casa e Jardim, Brazil's oldest magazine currently in the editorial market. With a 70-year-old history, Casa e Jardim is known for its traditional culture, gastronomy and lifestyle curation. When not writing – which is rare –, Isabella can be found reading classic novels and looking for new music releases that remind her of the feeling she had when she listened to AM for the first time.