10 Best TV Shows to Watch While Nursing
Awake while the house sleeps or too exhausted to read? Many new breastfeeding moms need postpartum shows to call their own. Look for long-running series, whole-season passes, and escapist fare that have nothing to do with diapers.
Friday Night Lights
Pros: Actors Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins and Connie Britton as Tami Taylor, emotionally-engrossing storylines
Cons: Can be sad for hormonal moms (Tami struggles with postpartum depression), LOUD-quiet-LOUD volume can be annoying with a sleepy baby
Friday Night Lights is much more than football—it’s moving, smart, riveting TV with a loving family at its emotional center. Plus, Tim Riggins. Moms looking for true television brilliance can discover five seasons worth of beautiful Tim Riggins footage, “clear-eyes, full-hearts, can’t lose” inspiration, and Tami Taylor mom-idolatry.
Pros: Witty, great mom-daughter relationship, sweet
Cons: Keeping pace can be challenging when exhausted, the last two seasons are weaker
Like fast-talking funny ladies? Try The Gilmore Girls! It may take time to adjust to the caffeinated, whip-smart dialogue when your mom brain is still at a “pass that thingy” vocab level. But the love between mom Lorelei and daughter Rory, and the show’s rich cast of lovable eccentrics (Melissa McCarthy as TV’s first Sookie!) make GG as addictive as the coffee the Gilmores mainline.
The Vampire Diaries
Pros: Action-packed, not intellectually-taxing, escapist
Cons: Violent, ridiculous
The Vampire Diaries won’t win any awards for acting, plot, or realism (or really anything, ever). But The Vampire Diaries is amazingly addictive (true story: I went into labor mid-VD marathon). Afraid Baby might pick up on your programming’s adult themes or body count? Then just say no to VD. But for fantasy with a sense of humor and a cast stocked with pretty boys, check out this guilty pleasure (when everyone else is sleeping).
Pride and Prejudice
Pros: Perfect cast, romantic, will open interested moms up to a world of BBC adaptations
Cons: Only six hours long!
Long before he won the Academy Award for The King’s Speech, Colin Firth won every Austenite’s heart as the Best Mr. Darcy Ever in 1995′s Pride and Prejudice miniseries. The definitive filmed version of Jane Austen’s classic, P & P is a treasure trove of period costumes, wit, plucky heroines, and romance—without the guilt, because it’s a) English and b) from a classic work of literature!
Pros: Absurdly funny, amazing writing, a cast of ‘before they were stars’
Cons: Episodes are short, not for lovers of the standard sitcom
Need a nursing show that doesn’t require narrative threads to keep track of, remotely depressing content, or more than a half hour of your precious mama-could-catch-a-nap time? Find 30-minute nuggets of hilarity with Arrested Development, the criminally underlooked comedy that’s found a second life and cult appreciation online. Added bonus? An entirely new season will be available on Netflix in May, so you can catch up and be current with the cool kids!
Pros: Timothy Olyphant as perfect male specimen Raylan Givens, wickedly smart, compelling
Cons: Plotlines can be dark, violent
Everybody could use a little Raylan Givens in their lives, especially tired mamas looking for a strong, sensitive anti-hero to call their own (especially as their husbands sleep through the loudest of baby cries). Though Justified is unafraid to go seedy with its criminal plotlines and many sleazeball characters, moms will find hours of gunslinger-goodness here as well, and the show has a gift for making even the darkest of characters sympathetic. The sharp humor, intelligence, and depth of Justified make it as addictive as the Hillbilly Heroin the good people of Harlan keep getting mixed up with.
Pros: Addictive, fantasy-based, surprisingly relevant
Cons: It is Sci-fi
If, exhausted at 2:00 AM, you need your escape to be stronger than a show set in Kentucky, why not broaden your horizons with some thoroughly great sci-fi? Battlestar Gallactica gave nerds, academics, and even hipsters (see Portlandia) 4 seasons worth of space adventure and intrigue to get ridiculously into, and that’s not even counting the spin-offs, prequels and movies.
Toddlers & Tiaras, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Say Yes to the Dress
Pros: Funny, Immersive, Realish
Cons: It’s reality TV
Yes, reality TV is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures, and you probably never watched such terrible, fake, demeaning trash before Baby. But there’s something super fun about finding a ridiculous show to get into during the blurry waking dream of your baby’s first months, when hormones, baby-love, and exhaustion make everything new and unfamiliar. Also, you’re a new mom, and you’re feeding a baby, so don’t let anybody make you feel bad for watching the awesomeness that is Honey Boo Boo.
Pros: Dance numbers galore, snappy dialogue, sweet
Cons: Sutton Foster can be a bit broad for TV (see musical theatre star), the young actors are weaker
Bunheads is from the creators of Gilmore Girls, so you run the same love-it-or-hate-it risk when it comes to the show’s incredibly quick, pop-culture-laden dialogue and tween aesthetic. But if you love the Gilmore Girls, dance, and musical theatre stars hamming it up on TV, then you are a) my long-lost twin, and b) in for a treat with Bunheads. The show, now in its second season, is brimming with a rare combination of smarts and sweetness.
The West Wing
Pros: Immersive, witty, political
Cons: Can be preachy, dated
Yes, the Bartlett presidency was a long time ago, the earnest Aaron Sorkin-penned screeds can sound like parody at this point, and you probably saw this whole series when it aired, like the rest of the country. But dipping back into a classic like The West Wing is a great odd-houred endeavor, and there’s still so much to appreciate in the political drama. As long as you’re already feeling a little emotional over this perfect baby, why not get sentimental over some vintage Bartlett speeches as well? He was such a good president!
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