Stressed? Binge these must-watch shows

Photo shows Nikesh Patel standing in a tan coat in a living room in HBO's "Starstruck."
HBO’s “Starstruck,” starring Nikesh Patel is one of many perfect binge-worthy shows to watch in a sad post-midterm haze. (Photo courtesy of Mark Johnson/HBO Max)

In the era of the 120-minute movie and the 22-episode season, it sometimes feels utterly impossible to finish any movie or show. But, when you’ve been in a boring class all day and your brain can’t function any longer, you still need some show to watch, right? When the stress of midterms and graduation becomes scary and overwhelming, why not take a micro-break? Here is a list of British shows to take you out of your chaotic, messy world and put you into someone else’s. 

In the vein of “Fleabag” and “Derry Girls,” most of these shows are female-led, hilarious and completely binge-worthy. Almost all of them are less than two seasons long and you can finish them in about four hours! So take a break — your brain needs it — and enjoy.

“Starstruck” (HBO Max)

It’s a timeless tale: Girl meets famous hot guy, mayhem ensues. 

New Zealand’s Rose Matafeo created, wrote and starred in, “Starstruck” a series of miscommunications. The first season spans one year, with each episode dedicated to a season or holiday. Matafeo’s character, Jessie, is a struggling twenty-something year-old living in England, trying to figure out what she wants from life. 

By the way, once you fall in love with Matafeo, be sure to check out “Baby Done,” a romcom with Matafeo and none other than Harry Potter’s Neville Longbottom (Mathew Lewis) on Hulu. “Starstruck’s” second season has already aired in the United Kingdom and should be headed stateside shortly. 

“GameFace” (Hulu)

Messy was promised and messy shall be delivered. “GameFace’s” heroine steals toilet paper from the local pub and gets fired for showing up to work with “wine lips.” Marcella (Roisin Conaty), a struggling actress, navigates familial dysfunction and heartbreak with saucy wit and a good amount of self-delusion. 

Created and written by Contay, this two-season, quick-hitter is sure to relieve any stress you may be feeling — whether it be your run-of-the-mill existential dread or just an essay due in the next few hours. 

“Crashing” (Netflix)

If you loved “Fleabag” and don’t already know “Crashing,” then consider this your formal introduction. Meet Fleabag’s first draft. But it’s one of those first drafts that’s already pretty good — like the kind of first draft your professor says you only have to revise if you want. 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge created, wrote and starred in this 2016 show — are you sensing a pattern here? “Crashing” is only one season, so you can definitely finish it in a sitting if you need to sit down and mindlessly stare at a screen for a few hours to decompress from your exams. 

Also, you’ll find Damian Molony, who plays the love interest and driving instructor in “GameFace,” and one of the brothers from “Bridgerton” in this show,  too. 

“This Way Up” (Hulu)

“This Way Up” is one of the best shows on this list. Aisling Bea, who writes and stars in the show, is hilarious. An Irish comedian in real life, Bea plays the endearing Aine (pronounced awn-yuh). The series begins with Aine leaving a hospital after having a nervous breakdown. While the show handles some pretty serious topics, such as addiction, suicide and depression, it does so with compassion and humor. Aine’s sister, Shona (Sharon Horgan), is another highlight of the show. “This Way Up” is romantic, funny and important. Also, Bea has done stand-up around Los Angeles recently, so if you like “This Way Up,” keep an eye out for one of her shows.

“Chewing Gum” (HBO Max)

Michaela Coel, known for the award-winning “I May Destroy You,” created, wrote and starred in this super quirky comedy about a sheltered, sexually-frustrated twenty-something woman who is desperate to lose her virginity. This show is bright and tactile and not like anything you’ve ever seen before. 

The sets are reminiscent of the must-watch “Spy Kids” or some other children’s blockbuster from 2001, and the camera gets right up in Coel’s face. 

At times, it can be completely overwhelming, but in the best way. It is a total escape from reality, and you can’t help but love the naivety of Coel’s character. The show is based on Coel’s play, “Chewing Gum Dreams.”

“Lovesick” (Netflix)

So, this one diverges from the rest of the list because it wasn’t written or created by a woman, and the second and third seasons have eight episodes each, not six. But this show, formerly known as “Scrotal Recall, is incredibly charming and endearing. 

It stars Johnny Flynn — from “Emma” (2020) and the band “Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit” — as Dylan, a hopeless romantic who has to reach out to all the women he’s slept with after testing positive for chlamydia. 

While it’s about a desperate and unrelenting need for love, this show also pays a beautiful and necessary homage to friendship. 

It’s a little longer than the others on this list, with 22 episodes spread over three seasons, but it is 100% worth it. (Also, it can be a little confusing on the first watch, but stick with it. While unpolished, it’s completely worth the watch).