20 of the most relaxing reality TV shows to watch right now

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4. Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations/Parts Unknown

Yes, seriously. Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations was hosted by the late, great Anthony Bourdain, the foul-mouthed, take-no-guff chef and presenter who wasn’t afraid to let the truly unworthy have it. Yet, at the same time, he was so voraciously open to the experiences of different people that he didn’t dare to discard it. Where some with a snottier sense of the culinary world might completely disregard, say, a taco truck idling somewhere in Los Angeles right now, Bourdain would have been there, wolfing down some of the best carne asada in the world.

The joy and fierce opinions that Bourdain brought to his travels are a large part of what makes No Reservations oddly relaxing. Now, that may not apply to every single episode, like the one where he travels to conflict-laden places like Syria (though he still manages to present a lovingly complex portrait of the capital city of Beirut, at least according to some commenters).

But travel itself can be exciting and relaxing all at once, especially the way Bourdain would dive into local cultures with deep respect and open eyes. He could be harsh and unyielding, but then he could also find the kind of beauty and art in the everyday that is vital to living a good life.

Plus, on a purely practical level, travel shows can be relaxing simply because you don’t have to, you know, travel. There’s a lot of stress involved in going to and from airports, presenting various documents, and navigating new-to-you environments and peoples. Of course, Bourdain (who passed away just this year) would argue that the subsequent experiences are more than worth the strife. Still, a show like No Reservations or his later Parts Unknown aren’t bad places to start.