One of the loveliest parts of the postpartum phase is the way that time slows down. Yes, there are several new challenges and joys as you are present to your newborn and learning their rhythms and needs, but there is also a surprising amount of downtime because newborns sleep a LOT during off hours. If you’re a television junkie like me, you’ll want to have a good show on hand that is both palatable and has multiple seasons to really sink into.
While I love a good, violent, intense show if the story is there (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Orange is The New Black), I personally wasn’t up for anything too intense in that way while in postpartum. For me, I felt vulnerable and sensitive enough, so I just wanted to watch stories that were generally warm and pleasant.
- Parenthood. My personal favorite because it’s what I watched during my leave. If you haven’t seen it yet, the short synopsis is that it follows the multi-generation Braverman clan; all their dramas, all their conflicts, all their celebrations and joy. It is kind of nothing short of perfection, especially while you are going through the postpartum wave. It’s funny, it’s the perfect opportunity for the good cry (I cry literally every time Kristina (Monica Potter) cries, it’s a thing). Even if you watched it while it was on, it is the perfect show to re-watch because it is so rich and there is a lot to get out of it, especially once you become a parent. That’s not to say every choice these characters make reflects good parenting, but that is precisely what makes it excellent. It’s an honest portrayal of flawed, conflicted, unsure parenting, but their love and intention matters so much more than perfection ever could. You’ll wish you were a Braverman. With six seasons and a phenomenal cast, you won’t be disappointed. (Netflix)
- Glow.This is a new Netflix Original and it is pretty fantastic. I didn’t know what to expect when my sister recommended it to me, but I am so glad I listened! I had only seen the featured image of women wrestlers and couldn’t guess from that that the show was going to be so complex, fascinating, heart wrenching and wonderfully weird. Alison Brie is almost unrecognizable, Betty Gilpin is so funny and so nuanced (fans of Nurse Jackie will be stoked to see Dr. Carrie back on their screens) and Marc Maron is perfectly cast. The freshest part of this show is the focus on female friendships and watching how some of them develop and fall apart is a real pleasure. Bonus: it has a killer soundtrack. Only downside is that there is only one season, but it is well worth a watch anyway. (Netflix)
- This is Us.My love for Mandy Moore runs deep, but it is only one of the reasons I love this new show. This is Us is complicated, different and tells a small story in a big way. A rich examination of family that examines how dynamics and relationships leave lasting impressions on who we are and who we become. There is also only one season, but it will be returning to NBC this Fall. Another good cry kind of show. (Amazon Prime, Hulu)
- Veep.Do yourself a favor and dive all in to Veep. It is a little harder to watch in our current political climate, but it’s no less entertaining. It really is as good as everyone says. (HBOGo, Amazon Prime)
- Grey’s Anatomy.I know, I know. I’m one of the last people who still watches and loves Grey’s (read more about that here), but with 13 seasons and endless entertaining drama, this show is perfectly bingeable. Fair warning: the stories about pregnancy, babies and children are SO much harder to watch as a mom, but the opportunity for a good cry and place to channel that motherhood anxiety is actually pretty cathartic. (Netflix, Hulu)
- The Great British Baking Show. If you have yet to jump on the GBBS train, delay no more! This show is so utterly relaxing and soothing. Seriously, I never expected a reality show about baking to be such a joy I would look forward to. It is nothing like American reality shows- the element of competition is kind and congenial, the bakers are competent and lovely, there is no prize other than winning, the judging is firm but supportive, and everyone is just so happy to be there. Plus, you’ll pick up tons of baking tips. It’s simply delightful. (Netflix)
- Parks and Recreation. You’re not always going to have an hour or forty minute stretches to dive into an hour-long drama, so a twenty-minute comedy may be more up your alley. Parks and Rec is a damn delight (just push through season one, it gets a whole lot better once it finds its feet). This is also a great one to re-watch if you’ve seen it before because the jokes still seem so fresh.
- Nashville. If you’re looking for soapy, bingey goodness, look no further than Nashville. The first seasons are the strongest and it is one of those shows that is totally diverting and will manage to draw even the most unwilling country music fan into its fold. There are several seasons, and is also still running now that the show has been picked up by CMT. In all honesty, the newest season isn’t great, but the first seasons are a blast. (Hulu)
- Friday Night Lights. Also by the creator of Parenthood (Jason Katims), Friday Night Lights is awesome. I didn’t expect a show about high school football to draw me in so thoroughly, but it is emotional and raw and a lot of fun rolled in to one. If you like your high school soaps with a heavy dose of Southern tough love and an overarching melancholy, this is the show for you. #Texasforever (Netflix)
- Gilmore Girls. It took me a long time to become a Gilmore Girls convert. For whatever reason, I didn’t think it would be my kind of show. I cannot remember now what my misconceptions were because I totally love it. It’s funny, it’s fast, it’s heartwarming (if a bit cheesy at times), and is the perfect long show to enjoy while holding your little one and imaging what he/she will be like as a teenager. (Netflix)
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. If you are a fan of musical theatre and whip-smart, fresh stories, this show is for you. I was put off by the title at first, but you’ll come to learn within the first episode just how aware of itself this show is. It’s so funny, so bizarre and so different. Silly while also offering some real truths about feminism, mental illness and the power of female friendships in a totally fun package. (Netflix, Hulu)
- Veronica Mars. If you missed out on Veronica Mars back in the day, you’re in for a real treat. It is a smart, interesting, mystery that is also delightfully early aughts. It was prematurely cancelled since it struggled to find an audience back in the day, so there are only three seasons, but they are well worth your time. (Amazon Prime)
- Sex and The City. I mean, does it get better than late nineties indulgence that focuses on single, successful women in their thirties and bad puns? The friendships, the fashions, the flings (this has got to be a tagline written in some entertainment magazine in 1999, right? It came too easily to me for it not to be). It’s also, of course, so much more than that, particularly the friendships and how revolutionary it was to be bringing so many of the topics that it did to the forefront about women’s experiences, but enjoy the decadence as well! (HBOGo, Amazon Prime)
I just realized that this list is basically the entire “Shows With a Strong Female Lead” category that always comes up in my suggestions on Netflix. What can I say, watching other strong females is a cool way to spend your time when you’ve just birthed a human.
What shows did you watch while on leave?
I still watch Grey’s Anatomy. I started watching the show so late (only like the last year or 2) so I think being able to watch it “binge-style” helped me stay entertained with it longer than a lot of people. I am looking forward to September’s new season!
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Yay! Another grey’s fan! That totally makes sense