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Ever since I discovered the beauty of streaming and binge watching, I have watched dozens of TV shows. From ever present comedies like Friends, to more recent favorites such as The Queen’s Gambit, I’ve watched a lot of television. But my absolute favorite shows always end up being the ones that make me think and feel things down to my soul. Sure, I still have guilty pleasures like the soap opera-esque Dynasty or Jane the Virgin, and a love of all things superheroes that’s supported with the CW’s Arrowverse shows. But it’s shows that highlight the issues of reality, while still being highly entertaining, that make my favorites list.

1. A Million Little Things

A Million Little Things follows the lives of a group of friends in Boston. When one of them unexpectedly dies by suicide, it makes everyone else reevaluate their own lives and take a deeper look at their relationships and friendships. It’s a show that looks at the intricacies of depression and mental illnesses, while also highlighting the joy of being around the ones you love and how friendship is truly made up of a million little things. 

In their latest season they took a realistic look at the effects of COVID-19 on society and how it affected the general population. I really liked the way they followed a timeline that was close to reality and tried to tackle every aspect of life where the virus had negative consequences.

This show is available to stream on Hulu.

2. Switched at Birth

Switched at Birth is a truly underrated show. It follows the lives of two families, whose daughters were, wait for it, switched at birth. Their lives could not be more different. When the truth of the switch comes out, their families and friendships are all thrown for a loop. This might sound like just another teen drama, but what makes this show really special is that one of the daughters, Daphne, lost her hearing at a young age. So when she’s introduced to her biological family, they’re not just introduced to their long lost daughter, but also to a whole new culture they’ve probably never considered in life. This show makes you think, and really experience what it means to be hearing-impaired and highlights their struggles and triumphs in everyday life. Yes, it is a drama, but with a cast full of hearing-impaired characters, and episodes full of ASL, this show definitely illuminates the true meaning of a life without words.

This show can be seen on Freeform or Hulu

3. The Fosters

The name of this show, The Fosters, has two meanings. One, it’s part of the main family of this show, the Adams-Fosters. Two, most of their family is fostered and the show has a heavy focus on the foster care system in the US. It’s not something that people really think about unless they’re interested in fostering or adopting, but there are so many children whose lives have been affected by the foster care system and this show brings to light a lot of different ways that fostering can affect not just the children, but also the families. 

Apart from that, the show also tackles other norms and standards, like LGBTQ+ issues, women in STEM, gun control and so many more. It’s definitely one worth watching.

You can stream this show on Hulu.

4. Good Trouble

You can’t have a list with The Fosters and not mention its spin-off, Good Trouble. This show follows the lives of two of the Adams-Foster kids and their lives as adults after graduation. While The Fosters can be classified as family television, Good Trouble is most certainly a different genre. It still covers a lot of societal issues, but with older characters comes older content. 

The main characters of this show live communal style and that basically sets the tone for how things are gonna go. But with all the sex, love and drama, the show also manages to comment on actual social issues and does so effectively. From sexism in the workplace, to Black Lives Matter Movement, to body positivity, Good Trouble takes an active look at the issues facing the young adults of today.

Good Trouble can be found on Hulu.

5. The Bold Type

This show is probably the one I’ve rewatched the most out of all of these. The Bold Type follows the lives of three twenty-something best friends who work at Scarlet, one of the leading women’s magazines in the show. Scarlet is the kind of women’s magazine that takes common stereotypes and misconceptions and embraces them. It’s a sex positive, body positive, fiercely feminist magazine and their editor-in-chief is the kind of boss most people wish for. Loosely based on the life and experiences of Joanna Coles, the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, this show is fun, dramatic, glitzy and still manages to take on some of the most controversial issues facing the world today. 

From immigration to cancer to sexual assault, The Bold Type puts their most fashionable foot forward and portrays these issues in a way that not only keeps you hooked, but also educates you at the same time. I do have to say that they lost their way in the last couple of seasons and the COVID-19 restrictions didn’t help that at all. But the first few seasons more than make up for it and are worth my multiple rewatches.

You can stream The Bold Type on Hulu.

Sindu Karunakaran is a writer for the NCSU chapter of Her Campus. She is a senior majoring in English and Communication. She is an avid reader and has an Instagram account and blog dedicated to her love of books. When she's not reading or writing, you can usually find her binge-watching the latest show, or trying out a new recipe. Sindu hopes to continue writing once she graduates and spreading the joy of reading anywhere she goes!
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