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

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17. Slow TV

Is Barefoot Contessa just too stressful for you? Does all of that labor on HGTV contain so much strife that you break out in hives? Perhaps thinking about chopping vegetables or tearing down insulation makes you break out in a cold sweat. Even the thought of touching the remote or back button on your computer is simply too much to handle right now.

Of course, if you’re in such a dire place, you may need a bit more help than a soothing reality show can provide. But, once you’ve gotten the big things out of the way (like, say, therapy or some real talk with friends and family), you could stand to reward yourself with some Slow TV.

Actually, “slow television” is its own genre, with examples from the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Belgium, and elsewhere across the globe. Indeed, it’s been around in one form or another since the 1960s, when Andy Warhol was experimenting with exceedingly slow-moving modern art films. Plus, since 1966, NYC station WPIX has been broadcasting its now-famous Yule log program during the holidays. It’s pretty much what you would expect: a real-time depiction of a yule log burning in some nondescript fireplace somewhere.

The best-known examples, however, hail from Norway. That’s where slow TV has truly taken off, starting with a 2009 program that garnered unexpectedly high ratings and acclaim. That episode was Bergensbanen — minute for minute, a seven-hour program showing a train ride from Bergen, Norway to the capital city of Oslo. A full 20 percent of Norway’s population (that’s over one million viewers) tuned in.

The wild success of a seven-hour point of view film from the vantage of a train paved the way for many other Norwegian slow TV programs. These include other train journeys, a 134-hour coastal boat trip, 24 hours of salmon fishing, and a 12-hour knitting marathon. There was even a 2013 broadcast, totaling 12 hours, called “National Wood Night”. There, various participants and presenters held forth on what are apparently Norway’s deeply-held beliefs on firewood. These ultra-soothing broadcasts have since become so well known and beloved that a few episodes are available on Netflix.