Top TV Series On Netflix For Parents
This list carefully curates TV shows on Netflix that are not only entertaining but also have everyday parenting experiences and lessons to learn from. Draw inspiration from these TV series.
By Jasmine Kaur
While TV shows and sitcoms are often criticised for their unrealistic portrayals of life, there are some that do have the power to teach us important lessons while still being entertaining. Watching a TV series doesn’t have to be a passive activity. It can be an engaging one, which can not only allow you to learn from the characters and stories on screen, but also help you tackle similar challenges in your own life.
The following is a list of shows curated especially for you. Each of them has something important to offer you as a parent, rendering ideas on navigating some tricky situations that you often face. While one may show you the positive results of communication in a family, another may show you why and how it is necessary to seek help with parenting.
Best Series on Netflix on parenting and family life
- Working Moms,
- One Day At A Time,
- Jane The Virgin,
- The Letdown,
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,
- The Good Place,
(All of these series are available on Netflix India. There might however be some variation in the availability in other countries.)
Show: One Day At A Time
Takeaway: Empathy and Communication
This critically-acclaimed and award-winning show is about a Cuban-American family. It focuses on the divorced mother, Penelope, who is dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from her service in the American army, as she raises her two children, Elena and Alex, with the help of her mother, Lydia.
The story starts off with the discussion of Elena’s upcoming Quinceañera, which is a Hispanic celebration to mark the transition of a girl becoming a woman at the age of 15. Elena refuses to go through with the celebration because historically the main goal of Quinceañeras was to declare that the girl is ready for marriage and motherhood. She explains that she doesn’t want to continue this oppressive tradition, even though in the modern-day context it is more of a celebration. This causes plenty of unpleasant arguments among the family. It’s only when Penelope opens up and explains why having a Quinceañera is so important to her that Elena agrees to having one to show her support for her mother. This portrays that when we empathise, we can understand and communicate effectively.
This is also a common scenario of a teen rebelling against traditional/social practises and clashing with her family. But we also see that through expression and communication of core needs, the teen and her parent come to a mutual understanding and support each other, which is something that we can learn and practice.
Although this is only one small part of the show, there are various other storylines where the characters work through important issues like accepting help, working on self-care, being open about your mental illness, being a responsible teen despite peer pressure, dealing with the stigma of being a minority and so on. One Day At A Time inspires effective and mature communication because it offers us a chance to see just how well people can nurture strong and loving bonds when they are empathetic and open to help.
Watch One Day At A Time trailer here:
Show: Jane The Virgin
Takeaway: Showing up
Produced in the beloved Latin American form of a télénovela, this Golden Globe winning show is full of dramatic reveals, incredible odds, warm and soothing narration, multiple plot-twists, and above all lovable characters. The story starts off with Jane finding out that she is pregnant (through artificial insemination) even though she has remained a virgin as per her religious grandmother’s wishes.
Despite this incredible challenge, we see Jane’s family stick together. “Family shows up”, a line often repeated in this series, captures important values - showing up for your family is important and giving up on them only when it becomes absolutely necessary. Characters, who might have been written off as evil and incorrigible in other TV series, are presented as complex people and are given chances to redeem themselves. Through this we see that when people receive love and kindness, even if they don’t seem to deserve it, they can bloom into better humans. Of course, we also see how it is absolutely okay to cut out remorseless and toxic people from our lives. And, that although family might not behave in the best of ways, people can change and should be given chances to work through their mistakes. If your child can grow up seeing how supportive and loving the relationships in your family are, then she is sure to emulate these qualities. Not to mention that it would also help her have a high self-esteem that is built from a secure attachment that she shares with you.
At least when it comes to Jane, it’s apparent that such love and support has made her a loving and kind person herself, who is able to give that love forward, especially when it comes to raising her own son. After all, love begets love!
Watch Jane The Virgin trailer here:
Show: The Letdown
Takeaway: Asking for help and accepting changing priorities
Becoming a new parent can make you feel lonely and helpless. This TV series affirms that you are not alone in your feelings. The plot revolves around a new mother who is really tired and sleep-deprived because her baby is nowhere close to being sleep-trained. When she tries attending a support group for mothers, she rejects it thinking that she has a good support system in her family and friends.
However, she soon realises that her support system is not that great and that she can’t return to her life with her friends (or her family) before her baby. This makes her feel more isolated than ever, and we see her reaching out to the support group of mothers she initially rejected. She gradually comes to accept that her priorities are different now that she’s a mother and understands that it is okay to ask for help instead of being expected to raise her child all by herself. The Letdown offers a realistic view of parenting. It shows us that we can’t pretend that we haven’t changed after becoming a parent and that it’s okay, and even good, to ask for help with parenting. After all, there’s a reason for the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
Watch The Letdown trailer here:
Show: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Takeaway: Taking care of your mental health
While this may not seem like a show for parents, this anti rom-com musical sure has a lot to say about the role parents play in shaping the people we become. A winner of not only a Golden Globe but also a Primetime Emmy, this show revolves around Rebecca Bunch, a very successful lawyer dealing with serious mental health issues. The premise of the show is that she moves cross-country for an ex-boyfriend after running into him and realising that the last time she was happy, she was with him.
As we delve deeper into the show, we learn how some of Rebecca’s negative patterns stem from her relationship with her parents. Her father’s manipulative behaviour sends her confused messages on what healthy personal relationships look like. Her mother Naomi, on the other hand, is controlling when it comes to pushing Rebecca to make money and be successful. This ‘push’ is also attributed to the trauma of the Holocaust, which is a part of her Jewish heritage, and the idea that money and success might be the only things that can help in keeping her daughter safe. Sadly in pushing for safety, she pushes her daughter into serious mental health issues.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend shows us how much our behaviour patterns and thought processes stem from our childhood. In doing so it offers caution not only to people dealing with mental health issues but also to parents who might not realise how their actions, even well-meaning ones, can harm their children.
Watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend trailer here:
Show: The Good Place
Takeaway: What it means to be a good person
Most parents want to raise their children to be good people and do good deeds. This is why The Good Place, which has won both the Critic’s Choice and People’s Choice awards, is on this list despite not being a core parenting show. It explores the question of what it means to be a good person. And while it may seem like a silly question, we soon realise just how complex it is to be ethical, and that even our most obvious assumptions about goodness might not always hold up to scrutiny.
Set in a candy coloured version of heavenly afterlife, the plot starts with Eleanor Shellstrop realising that she got into the good place by mistake. Because she doesn’t want to spend the rest of her afterlife being tortured in hell, she asks Chidi, who was a moral philosophy professor on earth, to help her learn to be a good person. Eleanor and Chidi go through multiple philosophical theories to understand how ethical decisions can be made. The Good Place does a brilliant job of applying ethics through engaging narratives. This show can help you understand how you can be a good role model for your child.
Watch The Good Place trailer here:
With Michael Patel, a teenage character, in the lead role, this is a promising show about diversity and acceptance. The show starts with Michael’s single mother, Priya, introducing him to his birth father, Vince, because Michael needs a place to stay in his father’s city to attend a prestigious school. The show follows the new dynamics that emerge as a result of Michael moving in with his father.
Adolescence is a time of self-discovery, and so often a time of self-doubt. This is why it’s so striking that despite being fifteen and gay, Michael is so comfortable in his skin, especially in a way that many people struggle with well into adulthood. This also makes him good at standing up for himself, even if at times it means disagreeing with his parents, who are responsible enough as well to recognise their own follies.
Michael’s character helps us understand how self-confident and resilient a child can be just by being accepted by the people around him, especially his parents. Although not perfect parents, Priya and Vince show us the importance of acceptance.
Watch Champions trailer here:
This show is significant for its meaningful representation of working mothers. We see the main characters struggling with their changed life post maternity leave. While one character is excited to go back to work, another would prefer not to, and yet another is dealing with a worsening case of post-partum depression. It shows that one doesn’t always know how to balance motherhood and work right off the bat, but that if you accept changes one step at a time things will work out.
Watch Working Moms trailer here:
This is a sitcom about a Korean immigrant family living in Canada. A heart-warming show, it deals with the dynamics of a family with adult children and the role tradition plays in family bonds. It also explores the dynamics between an estranged son and his strict, but loving, father. It shows the importance of controlling your ego and not letting it get in the way of your relationships.
Watch Kim’s Convenience trailer here:
This is a coming of age story about Sam, who is on the autistic spectrum (hence the title). The show portrays the pressures and pleasures of parenting an atypical child, with special focus on what it means to be an atypical teen. It provides good insight into the mind of a teen on the autistic spectrum and the roles his family play in his life. It shows that while being ‘Atypical’ brings its own set of problems, it doesn’t change the core needs of the people involved.
Watch Atypical trailer here:
We hope that you enjoy watching these shows and that they provide some insight and tips on your journey to becoming a great parent.
Also read: 6 Great Movies to Watch With Your Child
About the expert:
Written by Arundhati Swamy on 31 May 2019.
Arundhati Swamy is a family counsellor and Head of the Parent Engagement Program at ParentCircle.
About the author:
Written by Jasmine Kaur on 31 May 2019.
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