comfort TV
(KUM.furt tee.vee) n. Television programs with unsophisticated or homespun themes that comfort or provide solace.

Example Citation:
But by mid-September, the Condit story was a faint memory. 'Comfort TV,' fed by nostalgia for more innocent times, came on strong, typified by huge viewership for a Carol Burnett special.
—James Hebert, "The big-budget blowout 'Pearl Harbor' fed into post-Sept. 11 patriotism," Copley News Service, December 28, 2001

Earliest Citation:
'Truckin' USA,' The Nashville Network, 3 p.m. (also 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Sundays). Buried among the weekend fishin' and racin' lineup is this little gem, steered by Ed Bruce, a homespun country singer who makes Wilford Brimley look wired. Bruce hosts from behind the wheel of his pickup, journeying Kuralt-style to various outlets of Americana. Other contributors offer repair and renovation tips, usually concluding, oddly enough, with gushy words for some sponsor product. From the tire-tread graphics to the hokey scriptwriting, this is real comfort TV: stilted, but so smooth.
—Darel Jevens, "Uncharted Channels," Chicago Sun-Times, March 5, 1993

Notes:
This phrase (also seen as comfort television) is no doubt a play on the familiar comfort food, which entered the language in the mid-70s. This refers to simple fare (especially food loaded with carbohydrates) that's comforting because the eater associates it with their childhood in particular or with home cooking in general.

Although discussions of comfort TV have popped up all over the place since September 11 (or 9-11, which was recently declared the "Word of the Year" by the American Dialect Society), the notion has been around for a few years.

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