You’ve been sitting in the same chair for eight hours now, having just downed your fifth bottled Starbucks coffee. Scattered around you are highlight-filled books and a laptop with essays not yet started and due tomorrow. It’s one of those nights every college student has experienced, typically before an exam, where the studying does not stop until sunrise. Although it might sound counterintuitive, watching a show on Netflix could help you get through the night.
Staying awake and focused through an all-nighter, especially if there are consecutive study (read: cramming) days in a row, is a difficult task. Many students struggle through by listening to music. Yet, after six hours, listening to the same old “study” Spotify playlist can become a chore. So, what I like to do is open a new tab and watch a show on Netflix.
Netflix and TV are typically seen as distractions for college students trying to grind out a midterm paper. Yet, for some students, especially those who struggle to focus on one task at a time, having another window open with their favorite show can intensify their focus as they are given another point on which to concentrate.
However, the show in the background cannot be too sophisticated, like “Breaking Bad” or “Mad Men.” Still, the choice of content should be more than just white noise. When one wants to watch Netflix in the background, the content should be enough to attract attention yet not be so complicated that it demands constant attention.
With these guidelines in mind, here are some series on Netflix that can help you get through a long night of studying. For the purposes of this list, I will not include shows such as “Friends” or “That 70’s Show” because they have been available to audiences for decades now.
While most sitcoms fit the definition of a series that can help students study, I will stack this list with relatively new and relevant shows that get you through the grind of exam prep.
1. “The Good Place”
Being genius is hard. To be funny while presenting audiences with a smart, deep and emotional TV series is near impossible. Michael Schur (of “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn 99”) has created possibly his funniest sitcom ever for NBC about four flawed souls, who “accidentally” find themselves in a heaven-like dimension referred to as the Good Place.
“The Good Place” has some of the best jokes, ranging from the angel Michael’s attempts to be human, to the absurd omnipresence of the android Janet, to how mundane modern annoyances, such as taking off one’s sock and shoes on an airplane or being a waiter and exclaiming, “You hated that one” when a customer finishes their food, condemns people to the Bad Place.
However, the show goes beyond jokes or typical sitcom tropes, delving deep into philosophical thought. The very premise of “The Good Place” necessitates discussion of morality, theology and ethics.
Schur prepped extensively for creating “The Good Place,” delving into the writings of philosopher David Hume and consulting with multiple academics. As a result, “The Good Place” essentially amounts to an ethics course, like that taught by Chidi, with the objective of making the characters better people.
So, watching “The Good Place” cannot only help you focus on your studies, but you can also learn from the sitcom. Bonus points if you study philosophy or ethics.
Also, as a Floridian, I acknowledge that everyone in the Sunshine State is just like Jason Mendoza. BORTLES!
2. “Schitt’s Creek”
Please tune into the little-show-that-could before the series ends later in 2019. Perhaps no other series on the internet is more endearing, sweet or charming.
“Schitt’s Creek” follows the adventures of an extravagantly wealthy family of four that loses all their wealth and is forced to move to a small town in the middle of nowhere. Without their wealth, the members of the Rose family can no longer hide behind their superficial selfishness. Therefore, they are forced to develop loving relationships with one another.
The town of Schitt’s Creek is a delightful cesspool of idiosyncratic people, from Mayor Roland Schitt and the absurd diner, staffed solely by Twyla the waitress.
Watch the Rose family go from being fish out of water to growing legs and walking as they become ingratiated in the town of Schitt’s Creek. It is one of the best on-screen journeys in recent years.
Also, Daniel Levy is an icon.
3. “Queer Eye”
Look, you’ve probably watched “Queer Eye” at this point. But you will re-watch it in the library at three in the morning, and Karamo will give you the inspiration to keep going.
In terms of inspiration, few mainstream programs are as uplifting as “Queer Eye.” Centering on The Fab Five, the series focuses on the overall betterment and wellness of each of the series’ heroes.
So not only will “Queer Eye” harness your focus, but the reality series can help you maintain your inner well-being during stressful times of cramming.
So, grab a box of tissues, henny, and get that work done.
4. “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”
While your academic essays might not bring you joy, the mega-popular Japanese organizing consultant will. Kondo’s overall kindness and exuberance for life and cleanliness will make the drudgery of the school library basement more tolerable.
Also, hopefully “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” will inspire you to re-organize your disaster of a notebook. Maybe then you’ll actually know what the instructions are for the assignment that’s due tomorrow.
5. “Chef’s Table”
In truth, almost any food-based program, such as “Ugly Delicious” or “Street Food,” could occupy this space. However, “Chef’s Table” has a certain emotional quality that drags in viewers. The series goes deep into the personal lives of some of the greatest chefs alive.
For example, it highlights Ramen chef, Ivan Orkin, in a particularly emotional episode, which explores how the Long Island native recovered from the death of his wife by opening his successful restaurants.
Nothing can help students get through readings like having something to look forward to. For me, food is how I reward myself after a long night of writing, so “Chef’s Table” gives me an incentive to work.
To be honest, most reality docuseries or TV sitcoms can fit the bill for shows that students can watch while studying, which simultaneously do not require too much attention and are more than mere white noise. However, these shows help me.
For students that have trouble focusing on one task at a time, don’t force yourself to do so. Instead, embrace your fidgeting nature. Give yourself another outlet, such as Netflix, to focus on so that your mind does not wander away from productivity.