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Serotonin Supplements: Five Must-Watch TV Shows for Midterm Season

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

It’s week five, officially heralding the start of midterm season. Every vending machine on campus has been cleared out (with the exception of the pretzels), the District Market’s stock of instant ramen will be depleted for the next two weeks, and libraries reverberate with the ambient noise of rustling textbook pages, frustrated sighs, and the anxious footsteps of students frequenting the corner coffee machines. It’s a bleak, sleep-deprived time for all. So, I’m here with a list of my favorite tv shows to binge watch – perfect for those days when classes have depleted your serotonin levels to an all time low and you just need a little break. 

1. Succession 

This is one of my favorites by far. Created by the accomplished Jesse Armstrong, the series follows the Roy family and the billion-dollar dynasty they have built in corporate America. And it’s addictive, though not in the sense that this show is an action-packed drama inundated with cliff-hangers. Rather, its brilliance lies in the carefully crafted dialogue, the subtle nuances of each scene, and the prolific portrayal of each character by the cast. Perhaps it’s the outrageousness of the unchecked mega-rich that’s so fascinating to me, or the gilded brokenness that can only be borne from such concentrations of wealth and power, but once I started watching, I couldn’t stop. I’m not going to lie, it does induce a slight existential crisis about being a business major every time I watch it, but it’s still 100% worth it. Absolutely love it. The theme song is also one of the best I’ve ever heard to date – a hauntingly beautiful piece that captures the series in all its wickedness and glory.

2. The Newsroom

This is another one of my all time favorites. Written by Aaron Sorkin (need I say more?), The Newsroom provides audiences with an intimate glimpse into the intricacies and complexities of cable news networks in the modern age. It invokes larger conversations surrounding the integrity of American journalism, the erosion of objectivity in an increasingly polarized society, and the role morality plays – if any – in news reporting, all the while still being absolutely hilarious. It’s deeply human and profoundly relevant in contemporary society, given the unanimous mistrust and deep-seated skepticism of journalism today. Just a brief disclaimer: my opinion of the show does seem to be a controversial one. Canceled after only three seasons, the series did not perform as well as expected, perhaps due to the highly didactic nature of its premise. However, I still stand by everything I’ve said. I absolutely adore this show, its characters, the setting, but most of all, Sorkin’s brilliant dialogue. The “America Isn’t The Greatest Country in the World Anymore” rant in its premiere episode is one of TV’s best pieces of writing, in my humble opinion. 

3. The West Wing

I am sheepishly ashamed to say that this one is also written by Aaron Sorkin (I went through a massive phase a few summers ago and binge watched every one of his works. 400 hours definitely well spent). I am also sheepishly ashamed to say that this is a fan favorite amongst Moms and Dads, not so much amongst Generation Z college students. However, I love shows like this which draw upon reality, capturing something so mundane and tedious with such intimacy and humanity. In this case, it’s the inner workings of our government. It sounds so incredibly boring and I probably seem like an old man after citing three of my favorite shows being about business, the news, and the executive branch, but I promise it’s one of the most hilarious, brilliant, heartstring-tugging, warmth-filling, rewarding shows that always leaves you in awe after each episode. It’s the portrayal of an America that everyone wishes for. 

4. Gilmore Girls

I have to redeem myself after the last three recommendations with a show that’s a little less “Grandpa-esque,” for lack of a better term. I absolutely love Gilmore Girls. I first watched it in freshman year of high school with my sister and it’s now my go-to comfort show (I’ve probably watched it 15 times by now). Something about the small town atmosphere, the story of a mother and daughter, and the sheer number of scenes that are filmed in adorable bookstores, makes it the perfect selection for a cozy Friday night-in. Or a warm Saturday afternoon. Or a bright Sunday morning. Or any day of the week for that matter. 

5. The Vampire Diaries

I realize this one comes way out of left field, but to be honest, I watch copious amounts of TV on a regular basis and will consume any genre of serialized entertainment, and The Vampire Diaries is a forever favorite of mine. It’s the ultimate archetype of a CW show – anxiously dramatic, Wattpad-esque, with a cast that is way too attractive to ever pass as realistic. Though I guess for a show about vampires, the last one is not too paramount of a concern. This show might seem tacky in the beginning, but the plot is actually surprisingly well-woven – it’s gripping, entertaining, heartbreaking at times, and has Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, and Ian Somerhalder. What more could you possibly ask for in a show? 

Honorable mentions that I also love but have no mental energy left to write about, because I am also in the midst of midterms: Dexter, Prison Break, Defending Jacob, Scrubs, Friends, The Office, and 24. 

Hannah Chen

Washington '23

Hannah is a Finance and Marketing major with a minor in English Literature at the University of Washington. She is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii and enjoys reading, creative writing, traveling, and watching copious amounts of Netflix in her free time.
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