For all the enriching of the soul it brings, fatherhood also taketh away big time. Once you’ve done your days’ work, tended to your brood, then done a quick sit-down wee, you literally have about 58 minutes to fill with whatever you want. Sport, DIY, baking a cake, staring into the distance. You could drill a hole, or light a barbecue, or shave your face using shaving foam. OR you could do what every single father does every single night when the children have stopped wailing – you could sit scrolling through Netflix and Amazon Prime, feeling completely bewildered, panicked, and overwhelmed, like you’re watching an egg timer emptying in fast forward.
“There’s too much choice!” you yell at the television, before spinning out and bricking up the lounge. Then you fall into a heaving pile of tears on the living room floor, and weep until morning.
What a waste. It honestly needn’t be like this.
No, for the sake of all mankind, we’ve generously sieved through hours of sewage in search of the good stuff. Watch these ten Netflix/Amazon Prime shows, and never feel perplexed again.
Almost definitely the best dysfunctional family drama since Six Feet Under, the quick sell is that Transparent is the story of a family adapting to their father’s transition into womanhood (Transparent – trans-parent, geddit?). Yet it manages to be even more than that, sharpening the focus on the best set of TV siblings in recent memory, all desperately trying to figure themselves out. Best of all, each episode is just 30 minutes.
Queer Eye (Netflix)
We’ve already committed an entire piece to the wonder of this relentlessly uplifting behemoth, how it zones in on masculinity issues with missile precision, and channels much-needed positivity at a time when the world is on a collective downer. Plus, it’ll teach you that, to reach true spiritual enlightenment, you just need to chop an avocado.
Freaks and Geeks (Netflix)
The show that got canned but launched a thousand careers (including Seth Rogan, Judd Apatow, Jason Segal, and, um, James Franco), this is about as good a representation of teenage life as you’ll find. Not too glossy, it’s steeped in nostalgia, and perfectly holds up a mirror to the awkwardness of adolescence. It’s also very funny.
Despite it never having seemingly left our screens, it was viewed as a massive coup when Netflix landed the entire Friends back catalogue, but for a much healthier dip into the 1990s, surely the actual best sitcom ever is a far better use of your time? Jerry, George, Elaine, Kramer. These are your friends now. Just don’t google “what Kramer did next”.
There’s no dearth of good Westerns from the last few years. Westworld is excellent, Deadwood, another show cancelled before its time, will go down as one of the best TV programs ever made. This one isn’t far behind either, telling the story of a town manned almost entirely by women following a mining disaster. It’ll feed your natural masculine urges to watch cowboy films, while simultaneously being great for your feminist credentials. That makes it a win win.
All or Nothing (Amazon)
It’s almost an impossible sell, trying to convince someone that their time would be well-spent watching a documentary series about American Football, but seriously, just try it. Two seasons in, and you can follow the Arizona Cardinals or the LA Rams as they attempt to leave a dent on one of the most complex league systems ever invented. It should be awful, but it’s ridiculously gripping. Find of the century.
As with so many great bands, this show suffered from second album syndrome, and the third one wasn’t much better either. But for the first series alone, this is a must-watch. Set in a stunning part of Florida, where the mood is so humid and sweaty you can feel midges on your neck, a family is torn apart when the black sheep strolls back into town with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. It also stars Carrie, from the movie Carrie.
Parks and Recreation (Amazon)
Occasionally in life you just need to sit back and watch a million sunrises while listening to the sounds of children laughing. That’s essentially what this show is – a concentrated dose of unabashed happiness and positivity, which you are legally required to view with eyes like ping pong balls, and a gigantic smile on your face.
You’ve seen Breaking Bad, now watch the domestic drug dealing odyssey that actually came before it. Set in the suburbs, it’s all about an entrepreneurial widow attempting to keep her family in the manner to which they’re accustomed by becoming the local weed dealer. It has a lighter touch than Walter White’s descent into hell, and is all the better for it.
The Crown (Netflix)
Now there’s another royal baby in the picture, you may as well yield under the pressure and embark on this rich dramatization of the Queen’s topsy-turvy life – as she goes from being a shy girl with a clipped English accent, to become the completely unrelatable matriarch that you’re apathetic about today. Seriously though, this is excellent.