Remember dating? Yeah, me neither. I have many friends who have set up very regular date nights with their spouses (good for them!), but that’s not a luxury my husband and I enjoy. Last year we resolved to have a monthly at-home date night, and while we set the bar low (i.e., a pot of decaf coffee and a slice of cake we purchased from a local bakery) we have only achieved this three or four times in the last year. We know this stage of parenting won’t last forever, and so, for us, for now, the easiest way to connect and unwind is to watch a show together that either makes us laugh or spurs good non-child-related conversations. Here are a few of our favorites:

House of Cards (Netflix)


This Netflix original show starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright is dark and twisted and very, very difficult to turn off. My husband and I can blame many groggy mornings on watching “just one more” episode of this political thriller about the dark underbelly of D.C. politics. Plus, the relationship between Frank and Claire Underwood is unbelievably fascinating. We have spent hours dissecting their marriage.

Wolf Hall (Amazon Prime Instant Video)


Another great political drama, albeit less contemporary, this one focuses on the court of King Henry VIII. Driven by great writing (based on the novels by Hilary Mantel) and fantastic actors (including Damien Lewis and Mark Rylance), this show is beautiful (shot at castles around England) and a great re-telling of a classic story from an interesting point of view. The only drawback, I think, is that because the focus is on courtly politics and Rylance’s unspoken inner monologue, you do have to pay close attention to this show (don’t browse Pinterest while watching!).

Parks and Recreation (Netflix and Hulu)


If you have only 25 minutes or just really need a good belly laugh, “Parks and Rec” is a great bet. The cast, led by Amy Poehler, is amazingly funny, and this show gets bonus points for being one of the only shows on network TV to portray co-parenting in a very normal way. Even if you watched while it was on the air, it’s worth another watch — the characters are just too lovable to be left behind.

The Office (Netflix)


“The Office” is another show that you’ve probably already seen, but do you remember just how funny it is? Do you? Re-watching a few years after it ended is just as great as the first time because the show is just so funny and well made.

Portlandia (Netflix)


I’m going to go out on a limb here suggesting “Portlandia,” because this show is probably not for everyone. But if you occasionally feel like you are a walking caricature of a hipster parent, then Portlandia is the show for you. I love local meat, NPR, the farmers market, and alternative children’s music as much as anyone, but it’s still nice to poke fun at it. We can’t take ourselves so seriously.

The West Wing (Netflix)

west wing

“The West Wing” is especially great to watch during an election year because it is a reminder that maybe (just maybe) politics isn’t all bad. Is President Bartlet fictional? Sure. But don’t you still cry whenever he gives a speech? I do! If you have older children, this might be one of the best shows to watch together as a family.

Sherlock (Netflix)


Each episode of “Sherlock” is at least 90 minutes, so this is more like watching a movie together. Sherlock is, at times, a drama, a comedy, a mystery, and a thriller, which makes it the perfect show. No matter what mood you are in, Sherlock delivers.

The National Parks (Netflix)


I’m highlighting “The National Parks,” but any Ken Burns documentary will do. They are all impeccably researched, beautifully shot, and they have great soundtracks. “The National Parks” documentary may inspire many great trips in your future — you can get started with Acadia this summer!

The Tonight Show (Hulu)

jimmy fallon

Jimmy Fallon is a delight, and watching “The Tonight Show” provides a bonus — you feel like you’re catching up on contemporary events during the opening monologue! I’m always floored by the improvisational talent of The Roots, and the hashtag and thank you notes segments every week generally make me laugh so hard I cry.

Game of Thrones (HBOGo)


The books and TV show are both wildly popular because the drama is REAL in this series. Truthfully, I find it very violent and disturbing, but my husband read all the books and loves the show, so this is one of those sacrificial ways I connect with him. Close your eyes during the gory bits!