By Kelly Hines
Our family cut the cord to cable several years ago, and we’ve never looked back. The amount of quality program available to stream on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime is almost limitless, and we never feel like we’re missing out. Supplement that with the amazing programming on PBS, and the time we do spend on television is never wasting on flipping channels trying to find something to watch. What’s more, we have our individual channels set up so the grown up stuff stays in the grown up area, and we don’t have to weed through 400 episodes of Kickin’ It.
If you’re looking for something new to watch, here’s a few shows to check out:
House of Cards (Netflix): You think real life politics are crazy? This award winning Netflix original stars Kevin Spacey and the breathtakingly lovely Robin Wright as a political power couple who stop at nothing. They are truly terrible people and the worse they are, the more I like them. Netflix recently released Season 4 and it is a mind blower. As smart as The West Wing and twice as intriguing, you’ll want to binge watch this one. TV-MA Mature audiences only.
The Man in the High Castle (Amazon): Based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, this show imagines what life in the U.S. would be like if the Axis had won World War II. Germany takes over the East Coast, Japan takes the West, and an underground web of rebels ferrying pro-American propaganda films. There are agents and double agent and bad guys and good guys and bad guys you want to be good guys. Season 1 is currently available and Season 2 is in production now. Recommended for ages 16+
The Great British Baking Show (PBS): All that intrigue has probably made you hungry. Check out The Great British Baking Show, where home bakers square off in a weekly challenge in the most civil, lovely, very very English competition you’ve ever seen. The creations are divine, and some even exotic to American tastes. The shows hosts are clever and quick, but never mean, and the judges are perfection – how couldn’t they be with names like Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry? My kids love this show, too, making it great family entertainment. Recommended for the whole family!
Broadchurch (Netflix, via BBC): A small seaside town, an unspeakable crime, a cop with a tortured soul – sound familiar? Maybe, but this show is anything but ordinary. Starring David Tennant (possibly your favorite Dr. Who!) as the tortured soul, it follows the investigation through this close knit community with heartbreaking realism. Olivia Colman is Tennant’s partner, smoothing out all his rough edges. Never gory or over the top, Broadchurch is no less powerful for it’s subtlety. Recommended for ages 15+
Living on One Dollar (Netflix): My kids started watching this, and I was sucked in. Two middle class young filmmakers take on the challenge of living on $1 a day for two months in rural Guatemala. It is eye opening to the problem of global poverty. The filmmakers are honest without being overly sentimental, and you’ll finish the documentary wiser and inspired. Recommended for ages 10+, but I have had no issues with my 6 year old watching too. As with all shows, do what is right for your family!
Missed It the First Time?: Streaming services are great ways to get through all the shows you meant to watch years ago, but never got around to it. Here are some that you really shouldn’t miss, again:
Mad Men: In my opinion, one of the best shows ever on television. Poignant, funny, serious, and always, always gorgeous, Mad Men follows the lives of the men and women in a New York ad agency during the 1960s and early 70s. There’s no such thing as a weak character in this show, and the series stays true to all of them from beginning to end. Recommended for ages 15+
Arrested Development: The show you always wanted to watch, but never got into. Get into it. Insanely clever and irreverent, AD skips the laugh tracks and formula jokes, and star Jason Bateman is perfection in his role as straight man. If you liked The Office, you’ll love Arrested Development. If you didn’t watch The Office, start now. When you finish both of them, start on Parks and Recreation. Recommended for ages 15+
Glee: If you are a musical theatre geek (like me) with a teenager who is also a musical theatre geek (like mine), you HAVE to watch Glee. It’s like, required or something. It’s hilarious, and still manages to tackle some really important issues, and the music is off the charts good. Even if the later seasons got weird and overwrought, the music held it together.
Everything on BBC America/PBS: The Brits knock it out of the park, pretty much every time. Recommended for ages 14+
If none of that appeals to you, here are some additional titles: Bloodline, Generation War, Peaky Blinders, Endeavour, Grantchester, The Mind of a Chef, Orphan Black.
Streaming services give you almost unlimited choices, and you’ll never say “There’s nothing on TV!” What are some of your favorites?