Grief has weirdly changed my TV habits – here’s what to watch if you’re grieving or struggling to concentrate

I think I should start off by saying that my mum absolutely loved TV. Don’t get me wrong, it got way more intense over time but it’s definitely one thing that we’ve always had in common. We both enjoyed watching the same kind of TV shows, both swooned over the same TV heartthrobs (yes, she was quite partial to the Duke in Bridgerton too), and we both counted down the days until our favourite shows returned. Basically: my love of TV – I got it from my mama.

While my school friends would be in their teenage bedrooms, I’d be in the front room with my mum. You would find me sat crossed-legged on the floor watching the Rugrats, Art Attack, Sister Sister, Sweet Valley High or Clarissa Explains It All, and my mum would be there in the background puffing away on a cigarette. When I was a teenager pining over Pacey in Dawson’s Creek and Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my mum would be there. When I went off to University I’d sometimes stay in on a Tuesday night and watch CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (the Vegas one!). I’d be in my Uni halls in Sunderland, and my mum would be at home in Coventry and we’d both be on the phone dissecting the episode. Honestly, she always guessed who-done-it – she had a special skill in that department. In fact, I bet if she was here now she’d know who the hell H is in Line of Duty.

Even when I lived in London, we’d chat pretty much every night on the phone and the conversation would often go to TV. When Love Island was on I’d call in the breaks and we’d gossip over the latest re-coupling at the fire pit. My mum might have been in her seventies, but she was as obsessed with the show as any 20-year-old. We even got her a Love Island water bottle just so that she could impress everyone poolside on holiday.

During lockdown, my mum and my sisters binge watched SO much TV, and then when she left us on that fateful day in February 2021 it was really hard to know what to press play on. Because do you know what, the strangest things can upset you – and TV was a biggie for me. Even Gogglebox made me cry because my mum loved it so much and I just wanted her to be on the sofa watching it with us. Medical dramas – which we used to love – can be quite tough… people die all the time so that can really upset you, and then when you watch something new – something that you know the person who left would enjoy – well, that makes you feel more heartbroken too.

“Oh mum would love this,” we’d all take it in turns to say.

Mum in her happy place – on her chair watching TV with Coco

There’s another reason why watching TV is hard when you’re grieving – being able to concentrate. Your concentration really takes a hit when you’re in grief mode.

I remember when she first passed away my sisters and I watched a Marvel show to try and distract us from our grief – we needed some escapism that wouldn’t upset us any more than we already were. It kind of worked. I think it was called The Iron Fist and while it’s not something we’ve continued watching, it served its purpose in the aftermath of her death.

There were two films we watched in the weeks after mum passed away actually: Miss Bala and Instant Family – both On Netflix. Instant Family is a feel-good movie with comedy actress Rose Bryne. I couldn’t tell you much about each movie as I watched them in a daze but I know we all said they were good at the time.

But our real revelation – and the whole point of this pretty random blog post – is watching foreign TV shows with subtitles. It has been a game changer in recent weeks for myself and my sisters.

Even if you’re not grieving, you might be going through something hard in life and you want to be able to switch off and watch TV but you can’t seem to concentrate and your mind wanders. Honestly, try something with subtitles.

Right now there are two foreign TV shows I’m juggling on Netflix: Call My Agent and Velvet.

The latter, Velvet, is a cheesy Spanish drama set in a regal department store in the 50s. There’s lots of romance mixed with fashion – and it’s definitely up my street. The Spanish actors speak so quickly and passionately you have to read fast to keep up. We tried to watch it while eating dinner once, but it was too damn hard and I barely had time to look at my fork. It’s a great show though and you’ll want to watch all four series in one go. Try this one and let me know!

Velvet… I think it has a bad score on Rotten Tomatoes but that usually means I’ll like it 🙂

Call My Agent is my next suggestion. My friend Helen suggested this to me and it’s a French drama based in a celebrity agency looking after the country’s biggest stars. It’s SO good and it’s a really fast-paced show so you have to pay attention, your mind can’t wander and you can’t look on your phone or stare at pictures of whoever you’re missing.

Call My Agent … J’adore this!

As well as the two foreign TV shows, I’ve also started watching the Formula One show on Netflix. It’s fast-paced (quite literallly) so that’s a good option as well. It’s not my usual cup of tea but right now, my usual favourites make me sad.

I have no idea why I’m writing a blog post about what to watch on TV if you’re grieving, I’m sure it’s pretty niche, but the reality is I’m not doing much else. I’m really jealous of all my friends who are excited about the world opening up a little bit tomorrow. I wish I felt the same but until I do, I’ll be sat on the sofa watching more of my Spanish TV show.

Adios amigos xoxo

One thought on “Grief has weirdly changed my TV habits – here’s what to watch if you’re grieving or struggling to concentrate

  1. Margaret Marvelly says:

    Leanne darling you should make writing your full time job. You are so very talented. Loved this post so much makes you laugh and cry. Has everything 👏🥰💞

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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