Throughout my parenting journey, I find myself craving stories that unveil the hilarity behind some of the rather serious aspects of new-momdom. In the earliest days of parenthood, I was sleep-deprived, anxious, emotionally overwrought, and feeling as if my midsection might forever appear like a melted candle. A good laugh from TV show runners who clearly GET IT was exactly what I needed.
Below are five of my favorites, all of them from smart writers who will exercise your mommy brain with their wit, while occasionally making you cry when the plots hit a bit too close to home. But then there’s more laughing. Trust me, it’s all good medicine, both mentally and physically. Did you know that laughing engages your abs in a way that is an approved treatment for diastasis recti? I’m almost positive that I’m right about that, but – full disclosure – I’m not a doctor. Just a mom who watched lots of TV while breastfeeding.
A clever play on words brought me to this Australian comedy centered around new mom, Audrey (Alison Bell), who has recently joined a mommy group filled with colorful characters you’ll get to know as the story progresses. Audrey and her husband, Jeremy (Duncan Fellows), initially seem very out of sync, but you get a sense that they are finding their way back to each other through a shared exhaustion. Frankly, it reminded me of a couple of rough patches my husband and I experienced due to a months-long, late-night delirium after our son was born. The brand of humor in The Letdown is understated, often absurd, but always relatable. Stream the first two seasons now on Netflix.
Irish writer Sharon Horgan (also known for writing HBO series Divorce) teamed up with comedic writer Rob Delaney for this series. It begins with a one-week fling leading to Horgan’s character (also named Sharon), getting pregnant (hence, the “catastrophe”). Rob, an American who labeled her number as “Sharon – London Sex” after their encounter, clearly isn’t expecting anything longterm, but the two of them are clearly meant to stick it out. Delaney and Horgan’s co-writing is absolute magic, as is their on-screen chemistry. Get ready to laugh, but also to deal with difficult topics like the anxieties fueled by “geriatric pregnancies” and alcoholism. Stream all four seasons on Amazon Prime.
If you also watched “The Letdown,” you’ll definitely see parallels when you watch “Workin’ Moms,” though they are not affiliated. The Canadian show, written by and starring Catherine Reitman (as Kate), centers around career women who meet in a mommy group and form fast friendships. As the title suggests, this one does deal with what it means to balance a career, motherhood and marriage, but it also addresses what it’s like to be one of the few women thriving in a corporate setting, how ambition can be be unfairly punished within a hetero marriage, and what it means to discover that you aren’t cut out to be a mom after all. I know, all of that sounds heavy – and it can be – but the dialogue between the characters, coupled with its dark humor and satirical social commentary, make this Toronto-based series really addictive. Stream all five seasons on Netflix.
Much like Workin’ Moms, I love “Modern Family” for the diversity it presents for the family unit. That’s what’s so “modern” about it, right? This one has been around for over a decade now, so it was particularly modern to portray gay parents when the show first went on the air. “Modern Family” definitely hits more of the classic sitcom notes you’d come to expect on prime-time television before streaming became so insidious. Every running gag, over-the-top happenstance, and knowing glance at the camera (like its mockumentary contemporaries The Office and Parks and Recreation) will have you rolling. This one is much lighter than the aforementioned series on this list, but it also addresses family power dynamics, generational gaps in marriages, the complications of existing in a blended family, the toxic comparisons imposed on teenage girls, and many other complex themes that will resonate with parents from all walks of life. Stream it on Hulu, Amazon and Peacock.
The fact that this show only lasted for two seasons is criminal. I loved it so hard. Comedic writer Andrea (played by Andrea Savage) and her husband Mike (Tom Everett Scott) often find themselves navigating the gray areas of parenting. For instance, how do you deal with the awkwardness of having a retired porn star at your kid’s birthday party amidst all the gossip? If your six-year-old says she doesn’t like someone because their skin color is different, does that mean the kid is destined to be racist? Also written by a comedy writer, this one has all the wit of Catastrophe with all the cringy societal embarrassments mined by shows like “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” It’s irreverent, it’s a runaway freight train of inappropriate moments, and its third season was – unjustly – not renewed due to COVID. But you can stream the two seasons of “I’m Sorry” on Amazon.