Writing about the best TV shows for empaths may seem like a frivolous subject, but it’s something that’s been really grating on me recently. I’m sure I can’t be alone: so much of the good TV that’s currently about seems to be gratuitously violent, or – and I’m happy to admit that I’m not good with horror – so full of sinister suspense that I simply can’t watch.
For example, I loved Luther, until it became too stressful; I’ve heard such good things about The Handmaid’s Tale, yet I couldn’t get past the first scene. I recently started watching Line of Duty as the synopsis sounded right up my street – I found that pretty tough going too. Weirdly, a close friend described it as slow going – and I was really surprised!
Please tell me I’m not alone?
It’s not that I’m naïve – I can cope with the brutal realities of life when they’re delivered in a matter-of-fact manner. It’s the sinister shock tactics that leave me so aghast. Call me pathetic, I don’t mind. But the fact is, I’m an empath and mainstream television is not created for people with my sensibilities; it is what it is.
What’s An Empath?
Until recently, ’empath’ (derived from empathy) was used in the context of a paranormal ability to perceive the emotional or mental state of others.
However the term is now used to describe a person who feels deeply the emotions of others, as though experiencing them themselves. This is highly accurate in my opinion – in terms of the feelings evoked, when watching TV I find it hard to separate fantasy from reality:
Even if logically I know the story playing out is not real, my body betrays me and responds as though it were happening to me.
In practice, this means that I don’t only cry at the drop of a hat (embarrassing), I also experience heightened anxiety and terror, with the associated physical responses (racing heart and sweaty palms). I’m sure it’s not difficult to appreciate that for me and others like me this does not amount to entertainment – and is certainly not conducive to relaxing before bed.
Just lately it’s really started bugging me – the kids are finally sleeping through, and I want to find a great series I can unwind with in the evenings. There’s so much choice, there surely must be a huge variety from which to choose?! And yet I really struggle to find anything suitable.
So I Googled it – Google knows everything, right?
Well, apparently not this. With that in mind, I decided to put together a list of the current best TV for empaths, that I have or am currently enjoying, in case there are others like me out there! I surely can’t be the only person to be searching for interesting TV that doesn’t leave you on the edge of your seat? I guess we’ll see! If this post proves popular then I’ll keep it updated as I find more shows that fit the bill.
The Best TV Shows For Empaths
I won’t pretend that these don’t make you feel anything – they do. The point is, it’s manageable. It’s intelligent, slick TV for people who don’t want to be sickened by gratuitous violence or scared witless/filled with dread by stressful scenes and those full of suspense and/or horror.
I personally like these shows for their human element, by which I mean the level of brutality is not at maximum for shock value. It is, after all, entirely possible to imply without the explicit savagery.
Stand Up and Panel Shows
You can’t go wrong with comedy, right? While that’s true and it’s a very easy genre to fall back on, it lacks the interest and draw of a really great storyline. The whole point of a series, for me at least, is having a story in which to lose yourself. You become captivated by the plot, and it’s a fantastic form of escapism.
So yes, if there’s nothing else then this is my foolproof fall-back. But I much prefer to watch a series I’m invested in.
With that in mind, these are some of the series I’ve recently loved:
It’s an unusual idea, and really quite fascinating. There’s no lack of emotion, but it’s manageable for an empath.
Upload is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Just because I can’t stomach gratuitous violence doesn’t mean I don’t relish an intelligent crime show, particularly when the focus is on its psychology. This series treads that line perfectly for me.
Watch Criminal: UK on Netflix.
This Is Us
Well. This one is just – I’m not quite sure how to describe it. Brilliant! It’s very clever, the foreshadowing is on point; the scenes played out from different character’s points of views is excellent. It’s incredibly emotive, harrowing at times even.
But it’s so worth it.
And while it may make you cry (a lot), it won’t fill you with dread.
The irony, of course, is that my husband wonders how I can enjoy watching something that is so emotive. I’m not sure how to answer that – see above point I guess.
Watch This Is Us on Amazon Prime.
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
This is good because it has a bit of everything. It’s very funny, with a healthy dose of reality in spite of the storyline being about a woman finding fame as a comedienne!
Watch The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime.
Love love LOVE this show!
It has everything and I was so sad when it finished that actually, I may watch it all again. I’ve done this with books lots of times but I’ve never yet watched a TV show again. This might just be the series that changes that for me.
Watch Suits on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
This one is the next best thing to Suits (I’m still looking for something to match it!). It’s what I resorted to when my beloved series ended. It was quite entertaining, but after a while it became way too far-fetched and I ditched it.
Worth a try, but Neil McCaffrey is no Harvey Specter.
Watch White Collar on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
My latest evening entertainment. I was still looking for crime but couldn’t find anything resembling the light relief I was seeking, so thought I’d give a medical show a try instead. So far so good, with a lovely positive vibe despite the sometimes harsh realities of the storylines.
Watch New Amsterdam on Amazon Prime.
Update: I found a new favourite!
Lie To Me
I’ve learned that I love psychology in a TV show, some intrigue and mystery, a case to be cracked. I just find the grisly violence too much to stomach. With that in mind, Lie to Me is excellent. I checked it out and it’s 90% accurate which is probably why I’m so fascinated by it; they have a real-life Cal consulting on each episode and he writes a blog examining each one too. It’s a brilliant programme, and I’ll be sad when I work my way through them all.
Just watch out for season one, episode 12 – it’s gruesome. But otherwise a very cool show.
Watch Lie to Me on Disney+.
So concludes my list of the current best TV series for empaths. Do you have any other recommendations? Please share with me as I’d love to find more series I can enjoy!