If you’re feeling overwhelmed by- well, everything, NatGeo has something that may reset your psyche. They’ve just announced a bunch of spring and summer programming to relax and inspire you again.
Note: I received early screeners or clips from NatGeo. The opinions are my own.
Is anyone else just constantly stressed these days? While it’s incredibly important to stay informed about world events, it can make me feel like I’m drowning in Badness. Fandom is a welcome retreat, but sometimes I need to see something good happening in the real world. That’s usually when I scroll over to comfort shows. This spring, NatGeo is releasing some shows that are making it onto my “help me feel like things are going to be ok” list.
Being inspired and being relaxed are two different (and valid!) needs, so I’m going to break it down by where I think the shows fall. Fair warning: I’m basing this on early press panels. No one chuck me off a roof or anything if we watch later and I’m wrong.
Agreed? Okay, here’s what NatGeo has coming up:
Relaxing Nature Shows
Critter Fixers: Country Vets: This show is back from a loooong hiatus (2020 was Season 1), and I hope we don’t have to suffer from another one. Critter Fixers follows the work of longtime friends and veterinarians Dr. Terrence Ferguson and Dr. Vernard Hodges, who run a Georgia hospital called (surprise) Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital. They handle domestic animals in their office, but also make farm calls.
I cannot emphasize how soothing these guys are to watch. They have such a fun energy: upbeat without being manic, and so kind you can feel it coming out of the screen. The show does involve hurt animals, because it’s a vet show, but it’s kind of a hurt-comfort situation.
Secrets of the Zoo: Dr. Priya Badropa takes care of the animals at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, which has a world-famous group of animals. The Columbus Zoo is a non-profit and noted for their conservation efforts. There are over 800 species of animals spread across 8 “regions of the world” to try and replicate a natural environment.
If you watched Tiger King but felt guilty about how badly those animals were treated, this is the show for you. You won’t have to angst about whether you’re supporting something questionable. Everyone here is just doing their best to make sure the zoo’s residents are cared for, entertained, and given the best lives they can have in a zoo. Plus, the conservation work helps more animals stay in their natural habitats.
Shark Attack Files: This might seem like a weird choice for a relaxing show, but we all know people who watch shows about serial killers to relax (what’s up Fannibals?). No judgement here. This is just a great nature show with an edge of gore, wrapped up in a lot of fantastic facts delivered by host Melissa Cristina Marquez.
Inspiring Personal Profiles
Impact With Gal Gadot: This six-part series, produced by Gal Gadot, Jaron Varsano, and Vanessa Roth, is exclusive to NatGeo. It’s absolutely stunning. It follows young women who have lit a torch in some of the darker areas of the world, and are using that light to help others.
One story I love comes from Rio de Janeiro, where dancer Tuany Nascimento started a dance program for local girls almost by accident. She had to stop training to help her family but still practiced to keep in shape. After a while she attracted an audience, and instead of chasing them away began to teach. She now teaches over 50 girls dance.
According to Tuany, this is an area where young girls especially get caught in a poverty trap by having children very young. The dance program keeps girls focused on something else, and gives them dreams for the future. One of her students, Kaylane, is working to become a doctor now.
The screeners for this show made me tear up several times, in the best way. Every story drives home the idea that small acts of love and community can have life-changing outcomes. These women aren’t setting out to be heroes; they just see something they can do, a need that isn’t being met, and they take care of it.
Breaking Bobby Bones: Radio and TV personality Bobby Bones travels around the United States meeting people with unusual, challenging, or weird life situations, then tries to walk in their shoes.
Confession time: I was not interested in this when I saw it on NatGeo’s release list. I’m not really familiar with Bobby Bones, and it sounded kind of like… inspiration smut? I watched the press panel because I didn’t want to get distracted and miss something I was waiting for afterwards.
I’m happy I did. Instead of being an “oh wow look at this blind man who kayaks, he’s so brave to try that with his disability” it takes the tack of, “here he is helping a sighted person try the same thing (with mixed results) so it’s not impressive for a blind man, it’s just impressive in general”. That’s an important distinction. Each featured “guest star” has worked hard to get where they are, and that hard work is praised in a way that doesn’t (so far) feel fawning or condescending.
Watch your NatGeo listings for the release dates, which will be this spring. There are other programs coming out at the same time. Specifically, Cesar Millan’s new show (tentatively titled Cesar’s Way after his book, I assume).
I’ll probably check those out. I didn’t include them in the comfort programming because- well, we’re not doing as great at protecting whale habitats as we could be, and watching anxious puppers get rehabilitated might stress you out. So maybe watch those on days when you’re in a decent place.
But the shows I picked for this article? Put those on your de-stressing list for sure.
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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