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Curtis Flowers’s day typically began around 4:30 a.m., when a prison guard slid a breakfast tray into his cell. The tray often included a biscuit, potatoes, oatmeal or grits — “a bunch of starch,” as Flowers said to me recently, with a quiet laugh.

Sometime after 8 a.m., the guards led him from his cell to a small outdoor pen where he was permitted to exercise, look up at the sky and talk to other death-row inmates in nearby pens. The pen was large enough for him to take three steps in one direction and two steps in another. “Walking in circles, you get dizzy real quick,” Flowers said.

After an hour in the pen — sometimes less — he returned to his cell for the rest of the day. There, he read books, wrote letters, watched television and talked with the guards or fellow prisoners through the bars.

Flowers lived like this for more than 20 years, on death row in Mississippi — despite there being no good evidence that he committed the crime, a 1996 quadruple murder in a furniture store, for which he was convicted.

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What is “nice TV”? It’s a resurging genre of sitcom that focuses on day-to-day life and radiates a gentle sweetness. These shows tend to be “more lovable than sidesplitting,” as The Times’s TV critic James Poniewozik writes — but that’s the point.

Early examples include: “Parks & Recreation,” which follows a cheery director of a parks department in Indiana; “Bob’s Burgers,” an animated show; “Schitt’s Creek,” the Canadian series about a once-wealthy family who finds new purpose; and “The Good Place,” which is set in the afterlife.

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