Tired of politics? Ideas for stress relief Tuesday night
Presidential elections come around only once every four years, but this one seems to have dragged on for twice as long.
Sweet relief from talking point pundits, Electoral College maps and conflicting poll numbers is almost here, but there's still the matter of weathering what could be a long election night before anyone is called the winner.
Sensing that some viewers may be ready for a break, the Weather Channel is one of the few networks offering some inspired counterprogramming. On Tuesday it will run a nine-hour marathon of visual relaxation in the form of footage of natural wonders that the network described in a statement as "Clouds! Rainbows! Autumn Splendor! And ... yes ... smooth jazz!"
While the last of those could be considered a stress inducer for some, there are ample options in the on-demand and streaming era for those looking to get away from it all while the votes are being counted.
So cast your ballot and then set your cares aside for a few hours as you catch up on the fall's most buzzed-about shows below. (And seriously, Animal Planet: You had four years to pull together some kind of an election night Puppy Bowl — your country needs you.)
"Atlanta," FX: Recently wrapping up an acclaimed first season, this series created by writer, rapper and former star of NBC's "Community" Donald Glover was one of the best surprises of the fall season. An occasionally surreal and entirely engrossing story of two cousins (Glover and Brian Tyree Henry) trying to make it in the city's hip-hop scene, "Atlanta" thrives on revealing small human moments and richly absurd details, many of which are provided in the easy, non-sequitur-filled drawl of the group's scene-stealer Darius, played by Lakeith Stanfield.
"Chance," Hulu: Led by Hugh Laurie of "House" and, more recently, the stylish spy miniseries "The Night Manager," this drama has only four episodes available in accordance with Hulu's release schedule, but that's enough to keep you away from the early returns — at least until Stephen Colbert's live election-night special kicks off on Showtime at 8. The series gets off to a somewhat violent start introducing Laurie's forensic psychiatrist, but if you can stick it out, "Chance" offers some atmospheric, noirish pleasures. And if that's not escapist enough, Hulu's far-out offerings from Adult Swim — "Rick and Morty," "The Eric Andre Show" and "Sealab 2021" — are only a click away.
"The Crown," Netflix: If you've fleetingly wondered during this contentious election season if maybe things would be better if we shelved this whole democracy thing and switched back to a monarchy, this series from the creator of the 2006 movie "The Queen" will play to those instincts. Where that film earned Helen Mirren an Oscar for her portrayal of a steely Queen Elizabeth II, this 10-episode series is earning accolades for the performance of actress Claire Foy, who portrays the queen in the early years of her long reign. (And, if it's any comfort, things don't come all that easy for her, either.)
"Fleabag," Amazon: This six-part series, based on a one-woman show by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is a raw, raunchy and funny import. The breaking of the fourth wall with barbed commentary and eyebrow-arching asides takes a moment of adjustment, but once you get in the groove of the show's off-kilter, manic pace, Waller-Bridge is powerful as a young woman attempting to pull her life together in the wake of a recent tragedy.
"Westworld," HBO: For all the pre-release controversy, HBO's latest prestige series exhibits every sign of delivering the goods. Now, halfway through its first 10-episode season, it's the ideal time to catch up with the goings on among the near-humans at the world's most decadent theme park. The internet is already aflutter with fan theories about alternate timelines, robots who may be passing as humans and just why a map would be concealed inside someone's skull, so now is the time to watch and attempt to pull together ideas of your own. After just five episodes, "Westworld" doesn't all make sense yet — but neither does politics.