Luckily, I've already traversed Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief and have developed a foolproof progression of Netflix shows to match each stage.
Maybe it has something to do with "breakup season," but it seems like everyone I know (myself included) is going through a breakup right now. All I know is that I’ve got a badly sprained ankle and a badly bruised heart, but luckily my Netflix queue can support me through this difficult time. I've been around this block before, so luckily I've already traversed Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief and have developed a foolproof progression of Netflix shows to match each stage. You're welcome.
Isolation and Denial
You’ll need a show with several seasons to get you through this first rough patch. For this, I recommend Battlestar Galactica. There’s definitely a real sense of isolation here: they’re keeping track of the population of the human race on a whiteboard, their planet is totally destroyed, and they’re just hyper-jumping around space forever trying not to get blown up by Cylons. I’d say that the arc of the series is fairly uplifting, kind of a back-to-the-Earth vibe that may make you want to travel to an organic farm in Costa Rica to really forget your beloved. This is all positive. Proceed to anger.
When you’re entering the anger and disgust phase, it’s helpful to find a show you can really relate with. If you try to watch something too cheerful or emotionally healthy, like a documentary on meditating or something similar, it will make you want to smash things. Louie is a great choice here. What you need is a hardened, nearly defeated, cynical outlook on life and love. His repeated romantic failings aren’t going to be especially hopeful, but sometimes you just need to commiserate. When you’re able to look at others on the train without intense, irrational hatred, you’re ready to move on to bargaining.
You’re thinking to yourself, “What if I had been a better partner?” and “What if I hadn’t spent all my time on the internet and had gone to the gym more often?” and also probably, “How much of my time have I lost to Netflix black holes?” Arrested Development is good for these bargaining nights. Everyone in the show is constantly having to make concessions, or is conniving, or giving up something they want to gain something greater. Plus, the Bluths are guaranteed to raise your spirits. I've also experimented with Breaking Bad during this stage, but I have to say that's a much, much darker way to explore bargaining. (In Breaking Bad Walter White is just gradually conceding his humanity.) You'll need all the laughter you can get to shore yourself for the next stage, depression.
Depression is the worst stage of grieving. All you want to do is eat and sleep and nap. Ken Burns: The Civil War is the perfect companion during these motivation-deficit days. You will sleep straight through the vast majority of this series, but you will still feel smarter for having vaguely watched it. When you can stay alert for fifteen minutes at a time, you are ready to proceed to acceptance.
Felicia Day’s web-series The Guild, now available on Netflix, is the perfect way to transition out of a weeks-long Netflix coma. The characters in the series negotiate their IRL existence with their online experience. They originally all meet on a gaming site, but eventually foster real-world relationships with one another. You must now leave the comfort of your Netflix embrace, turn off your computer, and re-enter the world once more.