We’re looking back on some of our favourite big reads from TimeOut this year. Today, we revisit Karl Puschmann’s opinion piece on what to watch when what's on TV is just too much to handle.

Action, adventure, excitement ... It's all gotten so bloody boring hasn't it? There's only so many decapitated heads or brutal shootouts you can watch before everything starts to coagulate together into one big bloodstained blotch on the screen.

It was thrilling for a while. Watching along as television's new golden age stormed the gates of the big budget blockbuster, delivering epic entertainment and calculated intrigue week after week after week.

But now? Now it's just exhausting.

I've seen enough broken bones and fiery explosions to last a lifetime. And that's just on the news.


Changing channels into fiction is just a non-stop rollercoaster of mass murder, spilled blood and breathless cliff-hangers.

I needed a change of pace. Some time off from the splatter and spectacle to reset the zen.

So while everyone's been busy with their dragons and explosions I've instead been watching paint dry. And I mean this quite literally.

For reasons that I cannot begin to fathom Netflix have added a decades-old show that teaches you how to paint. It's called Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere and it's the most chill thing I think I've ever seen.

It's just so damn genteel. You can be stressed to the max and the show will simply wash over your worries and lull you into a state of enormous wellbeing. It's like popping optical Valium from atop of a giant fluffy pillow. It really is that good.

The title may not be familiar but chances are host Bob Ross is at least somewhat recognisable. Clad in double denim and rocking an outstanding white-man afro he's an unforgettable figure. Even if the only exposure he's had here is via obscure shout-outs in cult faves like Peep Show and cut-away gags in Family Guy.

After the soothing early-90s muzak of the hammy intro we join Ross in an empty black studio. There's no distractions. Just Ross, his paints and his easel.

In his soft, lilting voice he gently welcomes you to either "paint along" or "drag up the ol' easy chair and enjoy a relaxing half-hour".

On his canvas an unsightly smudgey brown shape that he'll slowly transform into intricate and incredibly picturesque scenes of mountains, or sunsets or serene little log cabins.

Unfortunately our world is more like the shows I was escaping, full of fire and brimstone and clueless jerks mucking everything up for everyone.


Watching him work has a trance-like, hypnotic quality to it. He paints in real time - meaning there's none of that "and here's one I prepared earlier" malarkey - gently narrating as he goes.

He exudes encouragement, always inviting you to do what you want. He'll add a forest to an incredible mountain that's materialised out of nowhere and say, "you can put as many or as few trees as you like in your world. We want to teach you freedom and turn you loose on the world."

Isn't that a nice mission statement? He's hippy-dippy yes. But he means it, man.

His method seems simple. Just tap the brush softly on the canvas, tap-tap-tap, and occasionally mix things up by dragging the brush instead. Drag and tap. "Back and forwards," he says. "It's so easy."

It certainly looks to be. I'm under no delusion that it is.

With one brush stroke a deep green mess becomes a gloriously shimmering lake, immaculate snow-capped mountains appear out of blunt brown triangles after a single drag of the brush and triangles turn into detailed trees with the tiniest dab of yellow.

All the while he's gently encouraging you to "just do what feels good in your world".

It's such affable and positive reinforcement that you can't help but feel good. Even when all you're doing is sitting on the couch in relaxopants stuffing Tim Tams in your face and not actually painting anything ...

"I get letters sometimes," he muses. "People saying, 'everything in your world is happy'. And that's true. We try to keep everything happy in here. Shoot, if you want bad stuff watch the news. In this world we only have pleasant things."

What a wonderful world. If only the real world was more like it. Where every evergreen had "a friend" and people routinely rescued little woodland critters like Bob Ross does.

Unfortunately our world is more like the shows I was escaping, full of fire and brimstone and clueless jerks mucking everything up for everyone.

"This painting," he says putting down his brush and looking at the camera, "can truly become a world of its own. You can find anything that you want in here. You can find peace. You can find calm times. Anything. It's right here."

If anyone else said that they would sound utterly ridiculous. Coming from the calming spirit of Bob Ross it sounds completely plausible.

He turns back to his painting and says, "now let me get off my soapbox here and find a brush."