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7 Throwback Shows That Get Me Through Finals Week

It’s officially May, and that means that finals week is upon us. Yes, you should definitely study diligently for your exams by making hundreds of flashcards and quizzing your study group, but you should also take breaks and get good sleep! Studies show that taking a thirty minute break for every 90 minutes of study increases brain function significantly. And lucky for Netflix bingers like myself, that gives us exactly enough time to enjoy a throwback show on one such break. There’s just something special about the shows I’ve compiled down below, whether because they offer comfort to me in a stressful time, or because they’re a perfectly ridiculous distraction from my final papers. Without any further ado, grab some popcorn and (more) coffee, drop your pencils, sit back, and watch some old classics.


1. Friends

When NBC’s hit sitcom Friends first aired in the fall of 1994, I wasn’t yet born. Sorry for making you feel old, mom. Thankfully, Friends turned out to be such a smashing success that it ran for ten years, which allowed me enough time to, you know, be born and actually have the show on while I was growing up. Although I didn’t catch the nuances in all the jokes on Friends at seven years old, I was able to appreciate the physical comedy of the infamous “PIVOT!” scene and the humor in Phoebe’s “Smelly Cat.” Now that I’m older, I find that I never get tired of watching the same episodes over and over again, especially when I’m stressed. Sitcoms in general seem to me like a great stress-reliever during finals week, considering they don’t usually get too complex or dark in theme. What’s more, the conflicts are typically resolved in twenty-one minutes. It’s a win-win.

2. Boy Meets World

I discovered Boy Meets World long after it stopped running. MTV used to play about five or six episodes every weekday afternoon, so I always turned it on while I did my homework after school. As a result, I find that Topanga and Cory really relax me during finals week and beyond. Boy Meets World deals with surprisingly serious topics, like addiction, bullying, and even parental abandonment. At the same time, though, the show balances these themes with light-hearted comedy and charming character development. I definitely recommend this 90’s sitcom, which ran for seven seasons on ABC.

3. Law & Order: SVU

This show, which originally aired back in 1999 and is still going strong, distracts me and sucks me in like nothing else. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I used to watch more than a dozen episodes in a day when this show played back-to-back on USA. When I recommend that you watch SVU, I don’t necessarily mean the newer seasons. What’s great about this show is that you can start anywhere, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest starting at season one. Arguably the best seasons of SVU are the ones where Mariska Hargitay, a.k.a. Olivia Benson, has a pixie cut and still has Detective Elliot Stabler, played by Christopher Meloni, as her partner. If you’re looking for a dramatic show that will shock, disturb, and endlessly entertain you, try out SVU. Just try to oscillate between studying and watching, or else you could end up three seasons deep before you know it.

 4. Drake & Josh

I could not, in good conscience, neglect to mention at least one of Dan Schneider’s Nickelodeon masterpieces. Although I’ve chosen to include Drake & Josh, which first aired in January 2004, I may as well recommend other classics like The Amanda Show, All That!, and Zoey 101. Few television shows lift my spirits so quickly as Drake & Josh, and lord knows we all need that during finals week. I’m being a truther when I say that this show will turn any finals-frown upside down.

5. That’s So Raven

If for some reason you were not a Nickelodeon kind of kid, might I interest you in a binge-fest featuring That’s So Raven? This show was my absolute jam when I was a kid, due in no small part to Chelsea’s delightful stupidity and Raven’s hilarious disguises. Of course, other O.G. Disney Channel shows like Lizzie McGuire and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody deserve shoutouts, but there’s just a special place in my heart for Raven Baxter. I don’t need to be able to gaze into the future to know I’ll be watching That’s So Raven all during finals week.

6. Trading Spaces

This show, which was recently revamped after a decade-long hiatus, captivated audiences from 2000-2008. If you have never watched Paige Davis’s bubbly smile as she revealed hideous rooms to overly trusting neighbors, then you’re really missing out. The premise of the TLC show went like this: two neighboring couples swap houses for two days to redecorate one room in the other’s space; although these novices have the help of designers and contractors, they only get a budget of $1,000. When I tell you that the results of nearly every makeover are disastrous, I’m not joking. But that is exactly why the original Trading Spaces was so addictive! It’s like watching a train wreck over and over again. And if you’re still not convinced, then let me tempt you with the thought of feather walls, sand-covered floors, and rainbow ceilings. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.

7. The Brady Bunch

I’ve saved the oldest, and the corniest, for last. The Brady Bunch aired from 1969 to 1974, but was accompanied by more than a few made-for-TV movies following the show’s end. Although I’ve only seen a handful of episodes, I can confidently say that The Brady Bunch will serve as a welcome detachment from reality for anyone drowning in real problems. Every single episode features an extremely mild conflict, which may just be considered an inconvenience at best, and ends happily. Every. Single. Time. But hey, that’s exactly why this show is so wonderful! It’s almost mindless, which is exactly what I’m looking for in a brain-dead state. If you want kitschy and light-heartedness, look no further than The Brady Bunch.

I'm Grace, a senior English-Writing major (Narrative Journalism) and Educational Studies minor at Denison University. I work on campus in the Writing Center as the manager and as an assistant in the English Department. Mostly I spend my time doing homework, watching makeup tutorials on YouTube, and hanging out with friends and family. Right now I’m figuring out post-grad plans and working on a book-length senior writing project. I often write about relationships, mental health, body image, and pop culture, so stay tuned if any of that sounds remotely interesting.
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