These are trying times, and the need for a little bit of escapist bliss amid the chaos has never been more pressing. One of the best ways to soothe the soul is with music, so there may never be a better time to watch (or rewatch) some of the greatest musical TV shows of all time, Cop Rock not included.
In no particular order (seriously, who needs the stress of a ranking right now?) here are some of the most enjoyable musical series to hit the small screen on broadcast, cable and streaming, and they're sure to make you break out in jazz hands and forget about your troubles, even if only for a little while.
If you're looking for even more great recommendations of what to watch, we have a constantly growing list of TV shows and movies to fit any mood, broken down by genre, network, and more. And if you're just in the mood for the latest and greatest shows, head over to our Watch This Now! page.
Where to watch: Netflix
André Holland stars in this sultry and sexy story about a man trying to keep a Parisian jazz club afloat who gets tangled up in a murder mystery. Executive produced by Damien Chazelle, who also directs some episodes, The Eddy, which has both English and French dialogue, deftly blends hope and tragedy with beautiful music, while ruminating on what family means as well as what we owe our own pasts. Come for the satisfying drama, but stay for the gorgeous, serious soundtrack featuring jazz legends like Fats Waller and the series' band — each of them accomplished musicians in real life.
Where to watch: Netflix
One of the hits that established Ryan Murphy as a bankable force, Glee was like a love letter to theater geeks, band nerds, and kids at heart. Centered on the glee club inside the fictional William McKinley High School, the Fox series followed a group of precocious performers trying to take their woe-begotten club from disrespected to dynamite. Over the course of the series, the kids in the club spent a great deal of time and energy working to compete in regional, state, and national competitions, but the heart of the series was watching them navigate personal issues, from relationships to sex, drug abuse, bullying, homophobia, and more. Then there was, of course, the music, the glorious music! Glee featured more than 700 performances in its six-season run, reworking pop hits and show tunes into memorable and often unexpected tour-de-force pieces of perfection. From Elvis to the Beatles to Rihanna, Glee covered it all, resulting in hundreds of songs on the Billboard Hot 100, and more than 13 million albums sold worldwide. As devoted "gleeks" will tell you, there is no TV musical series that did it like Glee did, before or after, and there's no way you can see moments like Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Rachel (Lea Michele) belting out "Defying Gravity" and not surrender to the feels.
Crazy Ex Girlfriend
Where to watch: Netflix
High-concept meets high-energy in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the brilliant CW series that followed the travails of one romantically challenged Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom). Cleverly disguised as a dark rom-com, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend really did the heroic work of unpacking and lampooning the toxic societal norms that encourage women into find happiness outside of themselves — specifically in romance. And then there were the songs. Gut-busting, over-the-top, and sometimes shockingly funny, the ditties in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, including "The Sexy Getting Ready Song" and "Gettin' Bi," borrowed from every genre of music imaginable, while pushing out piercing insights about sex, love, relationships, and life in general. Because it's as grounded as it is escapist, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the musical series even people who aren't that into musicals can love.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
Where to watch: Disney+
Before you dismiss High School Musical: The Musical: The Series as a tween song-and-dance party, you should know that it's actually a tween mockumentary, lovingly taking jabs at the franchise from a new angle as students try to put on a production of High School Musical as their high school musical. Going into its second season, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series won't be quite what we would have expected: Instead of doing High School Musical 2 as their next production, they're choosing the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast. Source material aside, the tongue-in-cheek series puts an emphasis on fun and high-gloss performance and it's exactly the kind of chicken soup for the eyes and ears the whole family can rally around.
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
Where to watch: Sundays at 8/7c on NBC or on Hulu
This spirited, inspired dramedy tells the story of Zoey Clarke (Jane Levy), a woman who discovers one day after a standard MRI scan that she can hear the songs in other people's hearts. Slightly absurd, yes, but Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist is quite poignant, given that her father Mitch (Peter Gallagher) is slowly dying from a neurological disorder and her newfound ability allows her to connect with him and others, including her boss Joan (Lauren Graham) and neighbor Mo (Alex Newell) in ways she couldn't before. The cast does pop hits like Destiny's Child's "Say My Name" and Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" in moving ways that can make you wanna sing, dance or cry along with them too.
Where to watch: Tuesdays at 9/8c on Fox or Hulu
Though this show is now part of the history books, and it had a pretty wild real-life storyline become a distraction from the show, but Empire still deserves respect as a pioneering musical series. Especially in its early days, when A-list producers like Timbaland and Rodney Jerkins supplied the show with sick hip-hop beats that slid easily into the soap opera's narrative, Empire rocked the house with top-notch performances.
Where to watch: NBC.com
If you want to get fans of musical TV shows riled up, stoke that fire by bringing up Smash, the critically acclaimed, fan-adored show NBC axed after two seasons. Sure, it went off the rails after a magical pilot and never quite rebounded story-wise. But the series, which started off as a story about a new (fictional) Broadway-bound musical about Marilyn Monroe, was bold, audacious and full of dazzling numbers like Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty's chandelier shaker "Let Me Be Your Star."
Where to watch: Hulu
With a fan following so intense that the series inspired a Broadway show, the country music series Nashville starred Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes, a longtime country superstar, pit against hot new young thing Juliette Barnes, played by Hayden Panettiere. The series showed how Jaymes, who saw herself as the "Queen of Country Music," was personal and professional rivals with Barnes, who had a more pop-country feel. They wound up joining forces and creating some hit records together like "Wrong Song," but the whole series is packed with gems, including "When the Right One Comes Along" and "Don't Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet."