Scared of being crushed in the coming months by the weight of exams, dissertations and coursework? Fear not: I have a fabulous selection of feel-good Netflix shows, YouTube series and films to totally chill you out and take your mind off your studies. Here’s to rewarding ourselves for all our hard work!
Anne with an E (Netflix)
If you read the acclaimed childhood novel, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, you were bound to fall in love with red-head Anne and her enchanting imagination. Now, you can see her on the screen in a brilliant new Netflix series, based – if fairly loosely – on the books. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, we join a sprightly, optimistic young orphan as she is adopted by good-natured but somewhat lacklustre brother and sister duo Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. Anne lights up their lives and the village of Avonlea (Prince Edward Island, Canada) with her creativity, passion for social good, and heart-warming search for ‘kindred spirits’.
The beginning of the series is sweet and uplifting as we watch Anne, who had such a tricky start to life, come to know love and be understood for the first time. However, it was the concluding Season 3 that was my favourite: I laughed, I cried, then cried some more. Sometimes now I watch my favourite scenes on YouTube and cry (okay I’ll stop now). I particularly adored the ending of the series because we see a more mature side of Anne and social issues topical to the 21st century within the charming 1800s aesthetic. The show addresses consent, LGBTQ+ issues, race and more. I think this is a perfect exam season series: the setting on a Canadian farm is soft and calming, while the plot is arresting enough to keep you thoroughly entertained.
Allie Brooke (YouTube)
This inspiring, eye-opening YouTube series captures the lives of 21-year-old Allie and her 3-year-old daughter Cartia living in Houston, Texas. As a university student who is fortunate to have few real-life responsibilities, it puts my life into perspective, and leaves me in awe and admiration of Allie’s resilience. Their channel features morning and night routines, road trips, and videos dedicated to Allie sharing her mental and spiritual journey. While being transparent about the challenges of being a young, single mother, Allie smashes stereotypes about teen parents and is now a light in the lives of many (she has over one million subscribers). However, her identity as a young mother is only one part of what the series has to offer: Allie is abundant with positivity and faith and works incredibly hard to make the best life possible for herself and Cartia. As you can imagine, their channel can act as an inspiration for many, and I would recommend giving it a visit this exam season.
If I could re-watch one film for the first time, it would be this. Not to be confused with The Circle, Circle is a thought-provoking short film in the same genre as Black Mirror or The Handmaid’s Tale. The premise is simple: 50 strangers awake, standing in a large circle. Soon enough, they come to the deadly realisation that every 2 minutes, one of them dies. Here’s the catch: they can vote on who dies. Circle asks the most provocative questions, what is the ultimate societal hierarchy? Who deserves to live over anyone else? Is it the soldier, pregnant woman, or 8-year-old girl? If you thought that was suspenseful enough, the ending will take your breath away and have you rushing to watch the whole thing over. As an aid during exams, Circle will certainly draw you in and leave you mesmerized, which is just what you need to take your mind off some work (and, as a note for my fellow horrorphobics, the deaths are quick and non-graphic, they simply collapse!)