What show should my wife and I watch next?
February 8, 2018 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Now that we've watched all the Call The Midwife that's available for streaming via Netflix in the U.S., my wife and I are looking for a new show.

We've also watched the early seasons of E.R. and enjoyed them, but we were watching that with another family member who moved out of the house and is intermittently available now (just available enough to make it awkward to continue watching without her).

The shows I listed happened to be medical dramas, but that's not a requirement at all. We are looking for something that features mostly-admirable people working together towards positive goals. The show should take its female characters seriously.

We are not looking for dramas focusing on assholes (e.g. Mad Men) or pervasive misanthropy. We are not looking for horror. Things that proved too graphically violent: Stranger Things, Orphan Black, Black Mirror.

We have access to Netflix (Streaming + DVD) and Amazon Prime. Our device does support other services (e.g. Hulu, Vudu...) that we aren't paying for yet; if you know of a show that would be perfect that would require a different service please mention that in your answer. Thanks in advance!
posted by Jpfed to Media & Arts (46 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Friday Night Lights, if you haven't watched it. The TV show, not the movie.
posted by lalex at 7:56 PM on February 8, 2018 [14 favorites]

Parks and Rec, Parks and Rec, Parks and Rec!!!!!!!
posted by kate blank at 8:01 PM on February 8, 2018 [14 favorites]

The Crown.
posted by HotToddy at 8:05 PM on February 8, 2018 [10 favorites]

The Good Place is excellent and features people working towards a positive goal eventually.
posted by Calzephyr at 8:12 PM on February 8, 2018 [23 favorites]

The Good Place (and Parks and Rec if you haven’t seen that yet) totally fits this bill!
posted by caitcadieux at 8:12 PM on February 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Came here to suggest The Crown. Both serious dramas. Jane the Virgin is also a good one, very light hearted. The Good Place, though only season 1 is available on Netflix right now. All of those easily meet all your stated criteria. I'm tempted to suggest Alias Grace, a serious, female-centric drama, but it's a bit dark maybe for your preferences.
posted by skewed at 8:15 PM on February 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Party of Five on Netflix.
posted by Fukiyama at 8:17 PM on February 8, 2018

You might like Doc Martin. It's a nice little British comedy. The lead Doc Martin character starts out a bit unlikeable, but that's kind of the point as you soon find out that it's mostly all bluster & bluff & social awkwardness and he's a big sweety in his own weird way under it all, trying to help the people of the village he lives in. I love the show, the characters & the locations are just lovely to look at. Some blood etc as it's medical, but no more than "Call the Midwife" from memory.
posted by wwax at 8:35 PM on February 8, 2018 [8 favorites]

Netflix's One Day at a Time reboot is sweet but actually funny and has a great diverse cast.

If you like animation, Steven Universe has a wonderful cast of funny and loving ( and magical) characters and a wonderful open approach to gender and humanity in general. And some great visuals and music.
posted by emjaybee at 8:51 PM on February 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Here to whole-heartedly second Friday Night Lights, Jane the Virgin and OMG The Good Place.
posted by nerdfish at 10:09 PM on February 8, 2018

Numb3rs! It's a crime show about a genius mathematician who helps his FBI agent brother solve crimes. Not graphically violent that I can remember, the cast is filled with wonderful not-asshole characters and quite a few kick-ass women, and by the final season only one of the main characters is a stereotypical white dude.
posted by Tamanna at 10:47 PM on February 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you liked Call the Midwife, you might enjoy another female-centric series set in England in the 1950s, The Bletchley Circle. It's about four women who befriended one another as codebreakers at Bletchley Park during WWII, and who team up again a few years later (when some of them are chafing at the limitations of their postwar lives) to solve crimes. It's a murder mystery series, but not too grimdark or gory, and the cast is terrific. The first season is better than the second. Previously on Netflix, but I think now it's available on Amazon and elsewhere instead.
posted by karayel at 11:20 PM on February 8, 2018 [22 favorites]

If it's available then The West Wing!
posted by Heloise9 at 11:25 PM on February 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

Mindhunter? Even though it seems like it’s about serial killers, it’s not. It’s about the people who try to understand serial killers. And way more interesting than I’m making it sound.

And The Good Place. And dear lord, Steven Universe gets great,
posted by greermahoney at 11:50 PM on February 8, 2018

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries!
posted by quacks like a duck at 12:00 AM on February 9, 2018 [15 favorites]

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Amazon Prime
Yes it revolves around a woman being left by her husband, but it also features restitution, people following their dream, and people finding their hidden talents. It really was marvelous.

Psych - Amazon Prime
If you didn't watch this when it was out - See it now on prime... it is hilarious and heartfelt.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - Amazon Prime
(Its a movie) Tina Fey plays a war correspondent. Its good and funny and... interesting.

Frankie and Grace - Netflix
My mom likes this a lot... Its about... two older women who's husbands leave them because they decide they are gay... and the women go in to business making... sex toys? I know it sounds like it can't be appropriate... but... my mom likes this show a lot. I've seen it, it is actually very good with compelling characters.

A-Typical - Netflix
An autistic teen comes of age. Solid show.

Derek - Netflix
This was a Ricky Gervais surprise. It is absolutely delightful and while it is a 'comedy' its such an amazingly uplifting story despite being very real about the challenges of and for elder care and the staff.

Carrie Pilby - Netflix
(Its a Movie) Someone who seems to have it all while in school can't make real life work... but... she can and does.

Today's Special - Netflix
(Its a Movie) Asif Mandvi plays a chef that has to balance aspirations with family obligation and finds himself in the process.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:13 AM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

I really enjoyed Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon. A gentle, frothy comedy-drama about an orchestra.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:29 AM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Everyone should watch Derek. Honestly, if you want to have a happy cheery cry at human existence and natural kindness, Derek is it. What a lovely creation. Gervais was inspired by his family members who work in care roles and his character in this series oozes empathy.
posted by Thella at 2:24 AM on February 9, 2018

You’ve mentioned dramas but I’d like to suggest the Great British Bake Off (called the Great British Baking Show in the US) as a wonderful example of people not being jerks and a really lovely show. It is on Netflix.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:32 AM on February 9, 2018 [15 favorites]

I really recommend The Good Wife, which is on Amazon Prime. I generally don't care for lawyer shows, but this is a show about smart, complicated people. Overall, there's never drama just for the sake of drama. The women on this show are all complex and interesting in ways that don't fit into any particular stereotype. (The kids kind of start out as ... kids ... but they do get better as the show progresses.)

(When I mentioned I was watching this show on FB recently, I was delighted how many of my friends chimed in with "I LOVE THAT SHOW!")
posted by darksong at 5:04 AM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Foyle’s War is a BBC World War II era detective show. It involves murders, but I wouldn’t call it violent.
posted by FencingGal at 5:17 AM on February 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'm telling everyone I can to watch Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. She's a crime-solving flapper in Australia. The crimes are not graphic or anything, it's fairly light-hearted (which I really needed recently) . Plus, amazing historic outfits and cars and decor.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:29 AM on February 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

posted by Dolley at 5:31 AM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm telling everyone I can to watch Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.

Yes! Also a little harder to find but filmed in the same part of Australia (you see them re-using certain buildings and bit players) is Dr. Blake which is a little more medical. He's a doctor, works with police, interwar period. Can sometimes be a little graphic but not much and not for long. Definitely no horror type stuff. Seconding Doc Martin. The doc is sort of a jerk sometimes but ultimately not an asshole at the core, just has some sort of alternative personality (and is a very good doctor). You might also like Murdoch Mysteries (all 11 seasons!) which are turn-of-the-last-century Toronto cop-and-doc mysteries (there is a female coroner whose analysis is often an important part of figuring out what is up).

Murdoch and Doc Martin were on Netflix last I checked, but there's a new season of Murdoch and I heard they took down some old episodes. It's available on Hoopla if you have a public library that has that.
posted by jessamyn at 5:39 AM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Not sure if it's on the US netflix but "This is Us" is a great emotional show.
posted by lafemma at 6:25 AM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

the Great British Bake Off (called the Great British Baking Show in the US) as a wonderful example of people not being jerks

Love this show. And if this very specific genre of cooking competition shows with people being kind to one another is appealing, I also highly recommend MasterChef Junior. Gordon Ramsay is just a completely different person around kids, and the kids themselves are all incredibly supportive of each other, at least in all the seasons I've watched so far.

Seconding The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; the characters are complex but with maybe the exception of the departing husband all trying very hard to do their best; the conflicts in the show largely arise from everyone having very different ideas of what 'best' is. If you liked the pacing of Gilmore Girls you will like this show. It may have displaced The Good Place as my favorite show currently running, which I would honestly not have thought possible before seeing it.
posted by solotoro at 6:25 AM on February 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Weird suggestion, but Star Trek, either The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, or Votager might be good. They were all available on Netflix last I checked.
posted by itsamermaid at 7:51 AM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

I LURVE TNG and totally see how it meets the criteria but I have yet to get my wife on board.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far!
posted by Jpfed at 8:00 AM on February 9, 2018

On the Historical Woman-Friendly TV show front (that may be one of my hyper-specific Netflix theme recommendations):

My instant response to a Call the Midwife fan is Bomb Girls, which follows the lives of the people (mostly women) who work in a WWII munitions factory. All the main characters are complex with a really solidly good core, trying to do their best under tough circumstances. They remind me a lot of what I've watched of Call the Midwife (my threshold for sadness is too low to watch much of Call the Midwife, so ymmv).

Bramwell, about a female physician in the UK in an era slightly earlier than Call the Midwife, is also excellent.

I have a really soft spot for The Paradise, which focuses on one young woman with an entrepreneurial spirit as she starts to work at The Paradise, an early department store. Everyone in it is just the most charming. The "positive goal" in this case tends to be "encourage this rich lady to buy a fancy dress" so it's not especially high stakes, but it's harmless enough.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:08 AM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Seconding Broadchurch. It is a murder mystery, but it's not one of those case of the week type things. The real heart of the show is the small, (British) sea side town setting and the relationships between all the people who live there. It can be dark at times, but I think it still meets your "mostly admirable people working towards positive goals" criteria. It's definitely not graphically violent, and each season is basically devoted to one crime (more or less), so it's like someone is getting killed in every episode.

Oh, and it does a great job of taking female characters seriously. It's an ensemble cast, but I would say the most central character is the female detective played by Olivia Coleman, who is just so incredibly fantastic in the role. Jodie Whitaker is also amazing in her role.

All three seasons should be available on Netflix. The second season isn't quite as good as the first, but I'd still say it's worth watching, and I think the third season goes back up in quality.

Also want to strongly second the West Wing. It's sort of the platonic ideal of a show that features mostly admirable people working towards a positive goal. One of the great things is that even many of the "antagonists" (aka the Republican politicians) are given a sympathetic portrayal. It's so good. The only thing is that there is a bit of a gender imbalance in that more of the main characters are male, but the female characters are taken seriously, and CJ is particularly awesome.

The West Wing was available on Netflix when I last checked. Just a heads up that the show kind of goes downhill after the first 4 seasons when Aaron Sorkin leaves, although the quality picks up again in the seventh season.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:19 AM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Veep! - HAHA jk! Not a redeemable one among them.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - FYI she is vulgar and profane, but in the most charming ways!

Goliath - Not really a Billy Bob fan, but he's great in this

Broadchurch - Great British who-dunnit

For TNG, maybe just cherry pick the top 20? So many great cliffhangers and character arcs

If you like Ricky Gervais, Life's Too Short and Extras might fit your criteria.

Veronica Mars, especially the first season?

Is M*A*S*H too obvious?

Seconding Psych, especially for the 80's pop-references, before 80's pop-references were "the thing".
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 8:33 AM on February 9, 2018

I just binged the Australian drama Wanted, about two women who find themselves on the run after becoming innocent bystanders of fatal carjacking. Suspenseful at times and does involve some violence, but you may enjoy the way the show slowly introduces more and more about protagonists and their history as the two women get to know each other while traveling together.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:44 AM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is M*A*S*H too obvious?
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra

Mr. Ant and I recently rewatched some MASH, and BOY HOWDY it has not aged well, especially the first few seasons. Women are treated terribly and the only black character is nicknamed 'Spear Chucker'.
posted by workerant at 9:02 AM on February 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Wish Me Luck! It's a BBC show following two British women who parachute into France during WW2 to join the resistance. One is somewhat posh, the other is working class; both are intelligent and the series is very much about them, with their male counterparts as accessories.

I think it's only available on Acorn TV but that's a worthwhile subscription service if you are interested in British shows
posted by basalganglia at 3:49 PM on February 9, 2018

The Hour! It's about the team producing a live weekly news show in the '50s. So delicious. Also there is a character named Lix Storm, who happens to be fabulous.
posted by gideonfrog at 4:14 PM on February 9, 2018

Home Fires. A British drama about women on the WWII home front.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:19 AM on February 10, 2018

It's hard top top Midwife, but there is a similar ethos in many of the films of Mike Leigh eg Happy go lucky and Ken Loach eg Jimmys' Hall

I watched the first season of Friday Night Lights, I can heartily endorse that too. The West Wing is strong on everything but even the most admirable women are persistently seen as the support team.
posted by smugly rowan at 3:59 AM on February 10, 2018

UPDATE: we binged the first series of Bletchley Circle and, while the show was well done and we totally see the appeal, it's becoming clear that crime is not for us.
posted by Jpfed at 8:30 PM on February 10, 2018

Home Fires is great and seems to tick a lot of your boxes, but fair warning that the last series ends on a cliffhanger and it wasn't renewed, if that kind of thing is a problem for you.
posted by Preserver at 6:30 AM on February 11, 2018

I came back to mention that the first season of Friday Night Lights is amazing. The second season was heavily affected by a writers strike at the time and hard to get through. The last three seasons aren't as good as the first, but still enjoyable.
posted by Calzephyr at 1:36 PM on February 14, 2018

I came back to mention that the first season of Friday Night Lights is amazing. The second season was heavily affected by a writers strike at the time and hard to get through. The last three seasons aren't as good as the first, but still enjoyable.

For me the last three seasons were as good, sometimes better than the first, but want to strongly echo Calzephyr about the second; unless you have serious completionist tendencies I don't think any fan would mind if you skipped it entirely.
posted by lalex at 1:47 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

This one is kind of out there, but a few weeks back I simultaneously binged Call the Midwife and Little Witch Academia, and it was great because literally all I was watching was nice women/girls supporting and mentoring each other and trying to leave the world a better place. So, Little Witch Academia.

Is The Durrells available on US Netflix? It’s a charming period comedy about a very odd English family living on a Greek island between the Wars.
posted by bettafish at 7:20 PM on February 15, 2018

The Good Place
Steven Universe

Seriously 2 of the best shows ever period (assuming the end as well as they’ve progressed so far). I still can’t believe The Good Place is on network tv.
posted by sirshannon at 7:16 AM on February 17, 2018

We tried The Good Place and it's fun and enjoyable; we call it "TV cotton candy".

Parks and Recreation was (surprisingly, considering how popular it seems to be 'round these parts) a dud; we only made it through one episode. Leslie Knope was likeable but a pretty silly caricature, and everyone around her seemed... less likeable.

Thanks for all the recommendations!
posted by Jpfed at 8:50 PM on March 14, 2018

Parks and Recreation was (surprisingly, considering how popular it seems to be 'round these parts) a dud

oh man, the first season of Parks and Rec was .... not great. It's uneven and dumb and not at all like seasons 2-7. I would suggest trying one more time with season two, and then if you don't like it you can call it done forever.
posted by kate blank at 7:14 AM on March 15, 2018

I would second that. Leslie gets more likeable and the interelationships with the characters get more complex. Totally AOK if you want to give it up, but just a pitch for "it will improve, and fast"
posted by jessamyn at 8:02 AM on March 15, 2018

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