I crave real substance in my television shows. Sometimes, I will sit for forty-five minutes surfing Netflix on the television with the laptop open to reviews of whatever shows I happen to be investigating. Before I begin a show, I like to know what people are saying about it, and more than that, I like to know if it is a show that will make me cry. I hate shows that induce tears for no apparent reason. I will cry to see some growth, I will cry to see some virtue, and I will even cry if it cannot be helped, but I will NOT cry for deteriorating characters, depressing themes with no redemption, or an ending that had little reason for ending that way. I don’t mean that I physically will not cry, I just mean that I won’t even turn on the show because I am a crier. I know I’m not alone, and in fact, my own mother is the same way. She taught me to value virtue in television before I even knew what that meant!
That doesn’t mean that every show I watch must never feature sin in any way (there would be startlingly little to watch if that were the case), it just means that it must not feature the glorification of sin, or even the majority tolerance for sin for it to be in my “to watch” list. I am Catholic, and I believe there is a lot to learn from seeing different scenarios played out and seeing the consequences for them, but I also believe in a good redemption story! If you’re reading along and thinking the same things, you may have found five new shows to love that are currently streaming on Netflix.
Call the Midwife – I had heard my mom and aunt talk wildly about this show, and had it in the back of my mind for a rainy day, but I wasn’t convinced to try it right away because I’ve never been a “birth fanatic.” I finally decided to try it and was surprised that I was moved as much as I was by these midwives doing their job and the friendship that they shared in doing it. There are really so many medical scenarios to cover in the 1950s as well as political and cultural scenarios, and since it is narrated by the main midwife, “Nurse Jenny Lee,” this show may feature the most character growth of all five shows. She learns not just about her midwifery job, but about life in general, of people, and love, and tragedy. The other midwives are much the same and this show also has a healthy dose of humor throughout (especially where Sister Monica Joan is concerned). The themes I love about this one are friendship and compassion. And a word for the men, Daniel watched this one with me until we became pregnant ourselves (and knew he might be too sensitive towards the medical scenarios during the course of our pregnancy) and he really loved it. He never shied away from the birth aspect of it and commented often of the high quality of writing and filming. This is really a great date night show!
Death Comes to Pemberley – I just tried this one recently after running out of “Jane Austen shows” on Netflix and I have the least to say about this one, but it deserves mentioning. It’s meant to be taken as a sequel to “Pride and Prejudice” and is adapted from P.D. James’ novel of the same title. The quality of filming is wonderful, the sets and dresses are beautiful, and it really feels like a Jane Austen show, although I don’t know that I can say it is on par with Austen’s books. I haven’t read the novel by P.D. James but watching this show made me really want to read it! It’s a murder mystery which I found to be interesting in a Jane Austen setting, but I think that’s what makes it. No one is trying to “be” Jane Austen in the making of the miniseries, and there is enough original style to make it appealing. I will say that it is enough like Austen’s books that it makes you value virtue and loathe dishonesty and immorality.
The Paradise – This is a show that is gorgeous to behold. The sets are dreamy, the costumes are intricate and trim, and the actresses are pretty. This show is basically eyecandy. It follows character “Denise Lovett” around a department store in the late 1800’s as she learns the ropes of being a shop girl for high society. Her curious, bright eyes make the show and you find yourself as enthusiastic as she is in pursuit of bettering the store. This show was canceled and I’ve heard that the show, “Mr. Selfridge” is quite similar and did better overall, but I don’t think this one should be overlooked. The theme that stuck out the most to me in this show was diligence to work your hardest, and love your work.
Merlin – This one was recommended by a friend and while it is geared to a younger audience than the rest of the shows, both Daniel and I enjoyed it! The main actor that plays Merlin also looks like a young Benedict Cumberbatch so there’s that for all of you Sherlock fans (also another great show). I kept thinking that I want to watch this one with Eliot when he’s old enough. It’s influenced by Arthurian legends and has a healthy dose of fantasy involved. Camelot is a place where magic is banned and Merlin is a boy who has to hide his true nature because of it. He ends up becoming Arthur’s manservant and there is a lot of “polish my armor, clean my bedchamber” dynamic going on, but what makes this show is the character development between the two. The two grow a friendship between them and explore themes of trust and kindness. It’s a pretty awesome bromance. I will definitely re-watch this one (probably before Eliot is even old enough to watch with me)!
Parenthood – This is by far my favorite Netflix show, and I happened upon it randomly. Normally, I’m not one to try a show without recommendation or extreme screening before turning it on, but I was in the thick of Pregnancy, stuck at home, and desperate for a new show. I have to say, Parenthood hooked me by the end of the pilot episode. It is a show about family all the way from Grandfather to Grandbaby and as you can imagine, having episodes that feature different family members can offer a look into many different situations and problems that arise in a typical (or not so typical) family. Parenthood takes problems like spoiled children, rebellion, absent fathers, and health scenarios and solves them in an atmosphere of family, love and patience. There is only one scenario that I can call to mind that made me want to skip for controversial reasons (this goes back to what I said about tolerance of sin and even glorification of it) and there is really only one character throughout the series that has little development from start to finish. I cannot stand serious shows that feature little character development or even worse, a deteriorating character over the seasons. I’m very drawn in by character driven shows that feature the character(s) growing. Out of all of these shows, this one is more likely to make you cry than any of the others, but I did make it through with all of my raging pregnant hormones and was not depressed for days when it ended! The obvious theme in this show is “family” but the underlying theme that I really love is the theme of elderly wisdom (and sometimes not) in the place of the Grandfather’s role.
There you have it, five shows that are definitely binge worthy and should not make you ball like a baby for no reason (although you might cry through some of them, the tears will be worth it).