Oh, the dreaded quarter-life crisis. It can strike anytime from your mid-20s to early 30s, and leave you feeling like a total failure. In a world where we’re meant to have solid life goals and full careers by the age of 25 is it any wonder that quarter-life crisis anxiety is a thing? The pressure to be living that Instagram perfect life right now can feel oppressive at times, but there’s plenty of evidence that proves there’s no time limit on figuring out your life. Need proof? Look no further than TV, where shows about millennials grappling with the reality of modern life are plentiful and reassuring.
The 11 shows on this list will make you feel heard, understood, and ultimately better about not having the perfect career, a house, and 2.5 kids already. Whatever your dream future is, you don’t have to race against a societal clock to attain it. The characters in these shows that will soothe your quarter-life crisis know that better than anyone else.
Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa have no clue what they’re doing with their lives. The post-college grads are floating aimlessly through New York City grappling with their privilege, seeking out their dream jobs, exploring relationships, and testing the bounds of their friendships. It’s messy and complicated, but it’s also a warts and all look at one particular type of quarter-life crisis. Girls also shows how sometimes accepting that there’s no such thing as the perfect life is the best way to move forward.
This excellent Freeform show follows three young women as they begin their careers at an NYC magazine. Their friendship provides an anchor as they work to prove that their youth can be an asset in the workplace, start their first adult romances, and learn the value of standing up for their ideas and beliefs. They stumble quite a lot, but that only makes their struggle all the more relatable.
Issa and Molly are facing their early 30s together, and dealing with their quarter-life crises like pros. Sometimes their careers will be soaring while their love lives tank. Other times, they find themselves in solid relationships, but at odds with their friends who are at different stages in their lives. Watching their journeys play out will make you feel so much better about your own life.
The real secrets to conquering a quarter-life crisis are laughter and friendship. Broad City has plenty of both. Abbi and Ilana tackle millennial stereotypes, working odd jobs to pay the bills, and the imaginative ways people find to have fun on a budget in this laugh out loud, sometimes surreal comedy about growing up.
No other show has so perfectly captured the drudgery of office work or how a person’s life trajectory can change over time as beautifully as The Office. No one’s life is even remotely close to perfect on the show, but each day the employees of Dunder Mifflin go to work and make the best of the life that they have, while still striving to achieve their long-term goals.
Six Hollywood hopefuls work as caterers in this cynical, funny, and totally underrated series from Veronica Mars’ creator Rob Thomas. Party Down is the perfect reminder that everyone goes through a period in their life where they’re not exactly where they want to be. It’s what you decide to do with that time that counts the most.
Jess’ life seems to be going pretty great at the start of the series — at least until she realizes her boyfriend is cheating on her. That one moment sends her on an entirely new journey with new friends, fresh goals, and the chance to continue growing as a person before she commits herself to a relationship. Oh, and it’s hilarious too.
Tracey Gordon has lived a sheltered life, following her mother’s plan for her. But it’s not until she starts forging her own awkward, sometimes outrageous path that she truly figures out what she wants her life to look like.
Getting your dream job doesn’t guarantee that everything in your life will suddenly be sorted. Just ask Betty, who has to deal with feelings of insecurity and imposter syndrome at Mode, even as she works her way tirelessly up the corporate ladder in this warm-hearted and infinitely watchable series.
Mid-life and quarter-life crises collide as fortysomething Eliza poses as a 26 to land a job at a publishing company. Her lie allows her to have a fresh start, while also gaining insight into how being an adult at any age comes with challenges and feelings that everyone has their stuff together except for you.
Fresh off of a break-up, Marcella is a total mess. She makes bad decisions like camping on her own, and sometimes she can be totally selfish. She’s also painfully funny, occasionally deeply self-aware, and determined to become an actress even if she can’t cry pretty on cue. She’s the quarter-life crisis hero that you never knew you needed.
Quarter-life crises are exhausting and anxiety-inducing, but they can also be a time for self-reflection. Be kind to yourself while you go through this trying period, and watch these shows to remind yourself that this is a totally normal part of adulthood that you can get through with friends, a sense of humor, and some really good TV.