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

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3. The Joy of Painting

If anyone deserves to be called the O.G. of soothing reality TV, then it’s got to be Bob Ross. Even if you haven’t seen a single episode of his long-running PBS series, The Joy of Painting, you probably know of Ross and his be-permed head simply through cultural osmosis. You can picture it right now, can’t you? There’s Bob Ross, turned slightly away from a canvas covered in a mountain and happy little clouds. He’s got a brush in one hand, a palette in the other, and a gentle, welcoming smile on his face. And, of course, that great, big light brown ‘do rising above it all.

Ross’s show was predicated on his belief that anyone, really anyone, could paint off they put their mind and heart to it. Every half hour episode shows him putting together a beautiful landscape painting, all while uttering gentle platitudes and occasionally talking about the animals he rehabilitated and eventually released back into the wild. Yes, you could paint a mountain scape or ocean scene. No, you didn’t need years of art school or pained frustration.

It was made all the more remarkable, given Ross’ past. He was a master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, spending his days yelling at recruits. Eventually, Ross said he got sick of it and vowed that, if he left the military, he would never to yell at someone ever again. He started painting, got a deal with PBS, and it took off from there. It’s like a reverse Batman origin story.

Unfortunately, Ross passed away in 1995 from lymphoma. Yet, even after his death, his popularity continued to blossom. The advent of streaming services and online video platforms like YouTube and Netflix made his show even more accessible to new viewers.