Okay, so we all know maternity leave is designed for prepping the house and yourself for the baby and healing from delivery and that all-important baby bonding time. But newborns sleep a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. And you can read only so many baby and parenting books during maternity leave before your head feels foggy. So, then what? Well, look no further than this list. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best shows to binge-watch on maternity leave, so the next time you ask, “What should I watch?” come here. Between your naps (you know you need to sleep too, right?) and during those middle-of-the-night feeds, you can have characters like Carrie Bradshaw, Jon Snow, or Rachel Green to keep you company.
Some comedies will help brighten your days and have you rolling with laughter. And the dramas will absolutely capture you to bring you along for the ride. Be warned; some of these dramas will pull at your heartstrings (um, hello, This Is Us), so make sure you have your tissues handy.
Best Older TV Shows to Binge-Watch on Maternity Leave
Some of these shows you’ve seen a hundred times, and you might even know every episode by heart, so if you binge-watch while you drift in and out of sleep, it’s okay. You know what parts you may have missed, and the storyline still comes together. And then there are shows you heard people talking about but never sat down to watch. Well, now’s your chance! No more smiling and nodding – now you can tell everyone how you feel about that finale from The Sopranos.
1. Friends (Stream on HBO Max)
The one with six 20-somethings living in New York navigating work, relationships, and the rollercoaster of life during a time when your friends feel like family. Chances are you’ve seen one or two (maybe 200?) episodes, but now you can relive this gem from start to finish. And by the way, THEY WERE ON A BREAK!
2. Sex and the City (Stream on HBO Max or Hulu)
So many of us came into adulthood watching sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw and her friends Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda navigate the dating scene in Manhattan. In many cases, there were blunders and fails by all the ladies, but they still managed to look fabulous in their Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo shoes.
3. Schitt’s Creek (Stream on Hulu)
Ew David. This sitcom birthed many TikTok trends and spoofs; now you can see why. Schitt’s Creek is about a wealthy family that loses everything and is forced to move to a small town (aptly named Schitt’s Creek), where hilarity ensues as they adjust to their new, downsized lifestyle.
4. The Office (Stream on Peacock or Amazon Prime Video)
This mockumentary-style sitcom is adapted from the original British TV show, and it follows the daily lives of a group of co-workers who work for a paper company. It’s known for the ensemble cast’s humor and will be a favorite of anyone who has worked in an office or cubicle.
5. How I Met Your Mother (Stream on Hulu)
Haaaave you met Ted? Think of it like Friends, but instead of hanging out in a coffee shop, they all hang out in an Irish pub. It’s basically the longest “when boy meets girl” story you’ll ever hear, but it’s worth it, I promise. The series has so many teasers; if you binge-watch the show, it’ll keep your interest because you just have to figure out what that pineapple incident was all about.
6. Modern Family (Stream on Hulu)
This series follows one big — straight, gay, multicultural, traditional, multigenerational — happy family. It covers all different topics and perspectives on family life and growing up, and it’ll keep you laughing even through those newborn sleepless nights.
7. New Girl (Stream on Hulu and Peacock)
If you take a quirky young woman who’s just gone through a breakup and have her move in with three single guys, what forms is an unlikely, albeit a slightly dysfunctional, version of a family.
8. The Good Place (Stream on Netflix)
So, the main character dies. Don’t worry – it’s not a spoiler. But when she finds herself in the afterlife, she’s surprised to learn that she’s landed in “The Good Place” instead of the alternative. By the way, binge-watch the whole show and stay for the end for a BIG plot twist.
1. Gilmore Girls (Stream on Amazon Prime Video or Netflix)
This dramedy concerns the relationship between a single mother and her daughter. It’s set in a picturesque Connecticut town fit for a Hallmark movie and full of all kinds of mother-daughter connections and drama.
2. This Is Us (Stream on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or Apple TV)
Grab your tissues. You’re going to need the whole box. You’re in for an emotional rollercoaster between the heart-breaking storylines and your pregnancy or postpartum hormones. But it’s a truly wonderful ride about a family. I’ll leave it at that.
3. Parenthood (Stream on Hulu or Amazon Prime Video)
This is like the TV show sibling of This is Us. Four grown siblings navigate parenthood while leaning on each other for support as their parents handle marital issues and daily life. This is another one that requires a pretty full tissue box.
4. The Sopranos (Stream on Hulu or HBO Max)
Another family drama, but this one involves two kinds of families – a nuclear family and the mob. If you like movies like Goodfellas and The Godfather, this is a show for you.
5. Big Little Lies (Stream on Hulu or HBO Max)
Based on the book by the same title, this show is about a group of mom friends whose seemingly perfect lives are surrounded by scandal and drama. Like the book, the show is gripping, and you won’t want to stop watching. It’s a quick series to get through because there are only two short seasons, so you’ll finish it in no time.
6. Breaking Bad (Stream on Netflix)
You know, just your standard feel-good story about a high school chemistry teacher whose life circumstances inspire him to start a business to support his family. And did I mention he turns an RV into a meth lab to make money? The show has fantastic reviews and a cult-like following, so you know it must be good.
7. Game of Thrones (Stream on Hulu or HBO Max)
Based on a book series, this show is set in a medieval fantasy world of kings, queens, and dragons. It’s an all-out battle between families to determine who gets to sit on the iron throne. And if you like this series, there is a prequel series that just came out called “House of the Dragon.”
8. Mad Men
This one is set in 1960s Manhattan and based on a group of ad men in a top advertising firm. There’s infidelity, women fighting for equality, smoking in the workplace, and a lot of whiskey (like a lot) as the ad execs navigate the social changes of the time.
Best Current TV Shows to Binge-Watch on Maternity Leave
These are all shows that are still currently running. Some are only a few seasons in, so you have time to catch up. More shows are going straight to streaming services, so they’re made for binging when you don’t have much else going on.
1. Ted Lasso (Streaming on Apple TV)
This comedy-drama is about an American football coach hired across the pond to manage a football team of a different kind – a British soccer team. Despite not knowing much about the game, he finds success through his leadership and optimism (which you’ll also find incredibly heart-warming and funny).
2. White Lotus (Stream on Hulu or HBO Max)
This dark comedy features an ensemble cast who travel to a fictional resort chain called White Lotus. The locales will have you dreaming of a babymoon getaway – the first season is set in Maui, and the second season is set in Italy. “Ticket for one and a baby, please!”
3. Abbott Elementary (Airing on ABC or Streaming on Hulu)
This mockumentary-style comedy series is about a group of teachers at a Philadelphia public school. Like all good teachers, they are dedicated and passionate about helping their students succeed, despite their challenges.
4. Only Murders in the Building (Streaming on Hulu)
The three main characters have a passion for true crime, and they use their knowledge to try and solve a murder that happens in their apartment building. This comedy-drama sounds like a live-action game of Clue. I think it was Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick.
5. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Streaming on Amazon Prime Video)
This is a period comedy-drama series set in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Its main character is a housewife who tries her hand at stand-up comedy after her life takes an unexpected turn. She forms a friendship with her coach and manager and navigates life as a stand-up – the big breaks, the fails, and everything in between.
1. Bridgerton (Streaming on Netflix)
I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the infamous Bridgerton sex scenes. I think they’re at least partially responsible for helping us all survive the pandemic. Set in England, it follows eight Bridgerton family siblings as they try to find love.
2. Euphoria (Stream on Hulu or HBO Max)
I’ve heard this show is incredibly relatable to the current generation of teens and young adults – it’s about a high school girl recently out of rehab and the classmates who surround her. It seems like everyone has their own story and life drama that they’re trying to navigate. And from what I’ve heard, it’s an accurate depiction of kids who’ve grown up in the internet and social media era.
3. The Crown (Streaming on Netflix)
If you’re interested in the royal family, this series may be your new passion. It follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s to modern times and includes all the juicy drama surrounding the family for decades. Will it keep going to current times and cover the Prince Harry tell-all book drama?
4. Stranger Things (Streaming on Netflix)
I’ve heard this horror drama is like a thriller version of “The Goonies,” so if you’re a millennial, this might be right up your alley. Maybe don’t binge-watch the show in the dark . . . and you might want to get rid of your grandfather clock if you’ve got one.
5. Succession (Stream on Hulu or HBO Max)
This series is about a family with a media and entertainment company and all the high-stakes drama and uncertainty as the patriarch steps down.
6. Yellowstone (Airing on Paramount and Streaming on Peacock)
This is a western drama set on a ranch in Yellowstone National Park. It follows a family who owns the largest ranch in Montana and the family drama surrounding neighboring tribal reservations and land developers. If you like this series, there are two prequels called “1883” and “1923” you might like, too.
Maternity leave is a great time not to do much. When we become mothers, we often feel we must hit the ground running each day. The pressure we put on ourselves to constantly manage everything and ensure the house and family are perfectly cared for can feel overwhelming. I encourage you to take the time to recover physically and be gentle with yourself emotionally and mentally. Take this time away from your job, bond with the baby, and rest. Oh, and maybe take advantage of the downtime to binge-watch your favorite shows. Or maybe start some new ones!