My first child was born 22 years ago, when basic cable was really, really basic. It was January, and those were some long, cold nights nursing her in the middle of the night, while I struggled to stay awake.
TV was my friend. Specifically AMC (American Movie Classics). It was either that or half-hour long infomercials. It turns out that in January 1995 AMC was running a marathon of versions of Doc Holliday and the Shootout at the OK Corral.
The first one was entertaining, the second wasn’t bad (sort of a different take on the story) but by the third film it was all getting very old.
New parents nowadays are in a much more enviable position. They have tons of options for middle-of-the-night binge watching while feeding or soothing baby. It’s an embarrassment of riches. How to choose?
I polled a handful of friends for suggestions. Only restriction — the shows should be soothing, or at least not disturbing. We want you to be able to get back to sleep ASAP. So Game of Thrones and Criminal Minds are not included in this list.
I’ve loosely categorized the shows to make this post easier to skim. As always with parenting, time is of the essence. This post would be way too long if I provided a summary for each show so instead I’ve linked each one to Wikipedia.
Starting with my favorites: British shows.
British dramas are ideal for watching at any time, but especially appropriate for the wee hours of the morning. They are not action-packed, and have a slower pace than many American shows. Even the police procedurals are light on violence and noise.
Pride and Prejudice (definitely make sure it’s the 6-part BBC version with Colin Firth. You won’t regret it)
Next, Australian shows:
Similar to British shows in that they tend to be less action-packed than American shows, but also delightfully likeable. Also, Australians seem like people you want to be friends with.
Perennially fresh sit-coms:
There are some sit-coms that stand up to the test of time, are still funny and don’t even seem dated.
And more recent sit-coms:
Some really good dramas:
And some difficult-to-categorize but really absorbing shows:
My hope for all parents is undisturbed nights of rest. However, circumstances differ and many parents sometimes find themselves awake when it seems like no one else is. First of all, don’t despair — this too shall end. Second of all, you’re definitely not the only one awake — there are plenty of others in your temporary boat.
In the meantime, I hope some of these shows will help the time go by.