Last week, I chatted with some colleagues about the television shows we’ve been watching. One of my coworkers, due with her first baby in a few short weeks and therefore looking for something to watch during those 2 AM feedings, took notes on all the things we said we loved. I tried to remember what I watched during my maternity leaves and came up blank. On leave before the advent of Netflix, Amazon Prime TV, Hulu, and the other ways we watch television in 2015, I was stuck with cable and maybe On Demand. I think I watched Gilmore Girls, or maybe it was The Golden Girls.
Anyway, nowadays, I rarely sit on the couch in front of the television when a show broadcasts; instead, I fit in shows while I’m cleaning the kitchen and making school lunches for the kids, laptop open up on the countertop, show streaming online. The plus of this approach is that I don’t often see commercials and I don’t “surf” around looking for something to watch. The challenge is to find the right thing to watch. So, for my colleague who is about to go off on maternity leave and for anyone looking for great TV to binge watch (i.e., watch from start to finish in a short period of time) right now, here are my eight recommendations:
- Catastrophe (Amazon) – A laugh out loud series about an American man who, on a business trip to London, has an affair with an Irish woman that ends in an unplanned pregnancy. The leads—Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgans—are terrific in this saucy, sexy tale. Outlander fans will love Tobias Menzies in a surprising comedic turn, while Star Wars fans will look forward to Carrie Fisher as Delaney’s mom.
- Call the Midwife (Netflix) – Following a group of midwives (some of whom are nuns) through the East End of London in the late 1950s and 1960s, this show boasts a strong ensemble and an addictive peek into post-WWII England, with a specific focus on the lives of women. I love the spirit of the show—positive and hopeful—and how it traces the evolution in thinking about childbirth and pregnancy.
- Bloodline (Netflix) – A dark look into a prosperous family in southern Florida, I enjoyed the tension of this series, which features Sissy Spacek and Kyle Chandler, along with a number of other very strong actors. Worth watching if you’re looking for something brooding.
- Frankie & Grace (Netflix) – How can you not love the combination of Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, as two women who husbands—after decades of marriage—come out as gay—and then leave their wives for one another? And the husbands are Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen? Fonda and Tomlin are the heart of the show, which has lovely things to say about friendship and moving on.
- Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon) – An inside look at the secrets (Sex! Drugs! Jealousy!) in the world of the classical music, Mozart in the Jungle has a who’s who cast (Bernadette Peters, Malcolm McDowell, and Gael García Bernal) and wonderful music (as you might expect). Season 2 is expected in 2016.
- Orphan Black (BBC America) – Season 3 of this must-watch show concluded this weekend, but you can catch up now. A dazzling performance by lead actress Tatiana Maslany who portrays Sarah Manning and her nine clone sisters (yes, that’s one actress in—so far—10 different roles, often in the same scene). I love how this series is smart, unexpected, and bold, with the right mix of sisterhood and sci fi.
- Friday Night Lights (Netflix) – If you’ve written off FNL because it’s a “football show,” think again. This series is an insightful study on small town America and family, with great performances by Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, and Taylor Kitsch.
- Battlestar Galatica (Netflix) – If you’re a sci fi fan, Battlestar Galatica is a must-see TV. The first television show I binge watched, I couldn’t get enough of it. As a fan of the original 1970s Battlestar Galatica, I was skeptical to embrace the remake, but it’s so well done, with a number of strong female leads.
I’m sure the minute I put up this post, I’ll think of several other great show that are worth watching (House of Cards! Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Veronica Mars! Outlander!). I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!
Disclosures: None! I just watch too much TV.