Maybe it’s just my curated internet landscape, but it seems like more and more people are focusing on memes, media and interactions that are deemed “wholesome.” From YouTube videos of people being kind to one another to shows about treating each other compassionately, there’s an abundance of content that fuels those “wholesome” vibes.
But what does it mean for something to be wholesome, anyway? At the risk of sounding like a high school student writing their first paper, I turned to the dictionary for a definition. The first definition is about foods and habits that are good for physical health.
Notably, the second definition makes more sense in relation to media:
Wholesome is an adjective that means “conducive to or promoting moral well-being.” THAT is the drive behind the wholesomeness revolution in media. It’s not necessarily lecturing about moral well-being. Instead, today’s wholesome content promotes a world that makes you feel supported, safe, encouraged and willing to be your best self!
In my opinion, we could all use some wholesome entertainment these days! Here are just a handful of my favorite options to promote “moral well-being” any time!
All of my closest friends know this…but I’m a bit obsessed with Paddington 2. Its pastel colors, sunny attitudes and great cast make me think of a wholesome Wes Anderson movie for kids…but without the emotional damage
It’s hard to pick out the most wholesome thing about Paddington 2, but I think my favorite has to be the saying Paddington picked up from his Aunt Lucy: If we are kind and polite, the world will be right.
In times of social adjustment, uncertainty and stress, I like to think of Paddington’s politeness mantra as a centering phrase to keep me going! It’s not streaming for free anywhere that I know of, but trust me—this one is worth renting to inject sunshine into darker days.
Bonus points: Hugh Grant gives a DELICIOUSLY hammy performance as the film’s villain, a washed-up actor named Phoenix Buchanan.
One Day at a Time
This show aired three seasons on Netflix and is set to return in the future on the Pop cable network! I classify it as “wholesome” because its aesthetic, scripting and studio audience harken back to the sitcoms of yesteryear that were used to teach families meaningful lessons.
One Day At A Time follows Penelope, a single mom raising two teens. Her feisty mother (portrayed amazingly by EGOT winner Rita Moreno) also lives with them, and a supporting cast of characters like their wacky landlord and Penlope’s bumbling boss round out the ensemble.
Each episode tends to tackle some big issues and ideas, but at the end of each half hour the family makes progress on their differing ideas and comes back together. If it sounds cheesy, that’s because it is. But that cheesiness also makes it SO good for the heart!
One Day At A Time is a beautiful television show to promote wholesome, fuzzy feelings!
Another Netflix offering in the wholesomeness roundup: Hilda! This sweet cartoon with an impeccable color palette is based on a series of graphic novels for kids.
Hilda is a young, precocious, adventurous kid who moves from her remote home in the countryside to the fictional city of Trollberg. She and her friends encounter all kinds of supernatural creatures, many of which are pulled right out of adapted Scandinavian folklore!
When the world seems a bit small, Hilda’s adventures capture a feeling of wonder at natural majesty and unexpected surprises. It’s been one of my favorites for a long time and certainly counts as wholesome content to turn to when you need to fight off cynicism!
Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere
People have been turning to Bob Ross for years as a source of calming entertainment. In my case, I’m actually new to the world of Ross and his happy little trees. I’ve discovered that there’s a reason that he’s such a tried and true favorite for folks who need some joyful enrichment.
Bob Ross is known for painting lovely landscapes on his show as he teaches the viewer to paint along with him. Along the way, his soothing voice provides comfort, reassurance about how to follow his technique and tidbits of sweet stories. His signature optimism about happy trees, happy mountains, and happy accidents helps us keep a positive outlook through each half-hour episode.
Plus, every once in a while you’ll encounter something delightfully strange like his pet squirrel friend, which is bound to bring a smile to your face!
The Great British Baking Show (Also known as GBBO)
Sure, it’s almost cliché to put this on a list of wholesome content at this point. But who am I to deny the truth? This is one of the finest examples of wholesome entertainment in today’s media landscape!
If you’ve yet to check out The Great British Baking show, it’s very simple: it’s a weekly baking competition, with each week focused on a different kind of baked good used to demonstrate contestants’ mastery.
GBBO isn’t just wholesome because it’s baking content. It’s wholesome because it’s built a reputation over the years that contestants will be kind and helpful to one another. Even in competition, a good-natured spirit of camaraderie permeates the environment.
Unlike many high-intensity American competition shows, the judging isn’t solely dependent on a winner/loser model. Even the toughest judges are able to recognize when parts of the finished product work, or when effort pays off in at least some ways.
I’m not patient or detail-oriented enough to be a baker, but The Great British Baking Show still creates a beautiful sugar-coated world that I’m more than happy to be a part of!
These are just a few of my favorite wholesome picks. When my brain needs a recharge and my cynical or anxious tendencies need to be put in check, I can turn to any of these pieces of media to refresh my heart and my moral compass.
Do you have any favorite pieces of wholesome entertainment? Tell us all about ‘em! And in the meantime, remember: if we are kind and polite, the world will be right!