Tag Archives: TV

How The West Wing on Netflix Got Me Through the Election

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Bring back President Bartlet!

It’s no secret the outcome of the presidential election was not to my liking. Which is an understated way of saying I was absolutely devastated in every way, shape, and form.

And when I’m upset, I binge-watch.

Netflix may not have started with therapeutic intentions, but I’m willing to bet it’s become that for millions of customers. And after it became clear I was going to have to raise my kids under President Donald Trump, I needed a distraction in a big way.

I needed The West Wing on Netflix.

It might seem strange to immediately watch a political show when politics is the cause of my stress in the first place. But after 15 months of watching Trump say horrifically ignorant things only to be rewarded with the highest office in the land, I needed the fictional White House of my dreams.

I wanted President Josiah Barlet’s steady hand and unmatched intellect. I craved Sam Seaborn’s unrelenting idealism and deep love for doing the right thing at all costs. I longed for Toby Ziegler’s stubbornness matched only by his ability to string together perfect words to form transcendent speeches in the loftiest of moments. And I marveled at Josh Lyman’s witty arrogance combined with his heartfelt dedication to the service of his country.

I’m of the opinion intelligence should be held in the highest esteem, and Aaron Sorkin writes brilliantly smart dialogue. The banter between cast members moves at light speed with expert precision, and the result is some truly memorable scenes that will forever stand out in your memory. Like this one.

I have re-watched the whole first season of West Wing since the election. Unfortunately, I fear it’s the only recourse I’ll have if I want to see an extraordinary intellectual painstakingly weigh crucial decisions of national importance instead of firing off an ill-advised tweet that seeks to strip Americans of their Constitutionally protected rights.

In a world turned temporarily insane, Netflix is my escape and my therapy. Let’s hope there’s four years worth of entertainment to keep us all occupied.


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I was compensated for writing this post, but all opinions are my own.

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No Grown-ups Allowed: Why The Little Prince on Netflix Made Me Sad

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Will uttered the sentence, pictured above, three short years ago when he was five. When I showed him this The Little Prince graphic Netflix sent me and told him how much I loved it, my son immediately illustrated why the movie — a cautionary tale about becoming an adult — is so important.

“Manners? That was a stupid thing to say. Oh well, I was just a kid then.”

Just a kid. My 8-year-old seems to think he’s become a full-blown adult in the three years since melting my heart with that super adorable phrase, and he looks back at his “ancient” 5-year-old self with mocking disdain.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic gets a reimagined, animated twist courtesy of Netflix, and it’s really, really good. The existing story fits within a modern framework of an overbearing Type A mother who over-schedules and overworks her young daughter until she’s an automaton with absolutely no imagination or flexibility. But when she meets the strange man next door known as The Aviator and is taken by his hand-drawn story of a celestial “Little Prince,” her imagination is set free and she embarks on an emotional adventure that is literally out of this world.

This movie moved me. Part of it is because it’s just legitimately touching and well-done, but it wasn’t all pleasant. Mainly because I realized I’ve got a fair amount of the mom in me.

I’ve always pushed Will to grow up and stop acting like such a child. I never understood the fun of “using your imagination,” and I still don’t. I chose journalism because it’s the opposite of creative writing and I liked recounting facts and actual happenings in a clear and concise way. I don’t like nonsense, tomfoolery, or whimsy. I live in the real world, and I make Will do the same.

As far as I’m concerned, when your head is in the clouds it just means you can’t see anything clearly.

The Little Prince makes a powerful argument against all that. It’s a nod to the fact that maybe the real world could use a little imagination and a little less rigidity. That there is room for silliness, innocence, and color amongst all the monotony. That growing up shouldn’t mean growing callous or losing all joy and frivolity. And it certainly doesn’t mean I should pass that along to my kids at such a young age.

Speaking of age, if you’re interested in knowing where you stand in The Little Prince’s eyes, you can take Netflix’s Grown-up Test. Here’s how Will ranked. Let’s just say I came in slightly older.

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Sometimes I watch TV to zone out because I just need something mindless to pass the time as I unwind. But occasionally you watch something that stops you in your tracks and makes you pay attention. If you’re up for it, I highly recommend it. And after you watch it, take the test with your kids and see how you rank.

As for me, I realized I need a little less adulting in my life. You never want to go “full grown-up,” and I intend to let my three little princes lead me back to some serious silliness in the near future.

*I am part of the Netflix Stream Team and received free products and Netflix for this post.

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Where Have You Done It?

It’s tough to do it after you have kids.

You know how it is, right? Before kids, MJ and I did it all the time. Constantly. We couldn’t get enough and we’d spend all night doing it. In our bed, on the couch — didn’t matter. We did it and we didn’t care who else saw.

But now that we have three boys, it’s not so simple.

First of all, we don’t do it together nearly as often. It seems there’s always a kid around who needs attention, so getting on the same page to do it is nearly impossible. Also, and this is tough to admit, but we just don’t seem to share the same preferences. MJ likes romance but I like action because I want to get right to it. I know she likes to take her time and relax, but I like to do it in short bursts. Sometimes I need a snack or a bathroom break in between doing it, but I’m usually pretty good about getting right back on the horse.

Lately though, MJ hasn’t really wanted to do it. Which means, well, I’ve started to do it alone.

I felt really bad about that at first. After all, we did it together for so long and it was great. I very much prefer doing it with her, but if I have to choose between doing it alone or not doing it at all — I’m going to choose to go solo. And if I’m being honest, sometimes that’s nice. All alone, late at night, lights off and everyone else sleeping. After a few touches it suddenly comes to life and BOOM — I’m revved up and in business.

But there’s a certain amount of shame involved, no question.

Sometimes I’ll hear MJ or the kids stirring while I’m right in the middle of doing it, and I panic. I never want to stop doing it after I’ve started, so I’ll get up and go somewhere else. Yeah, I know. Sick, right? I’ve done it in the bathroom. In the kitchen. In the closet. One time I did it outside and the neighbors were none too pleased. Hell, sometimes I find a way to do it on the train, which is tough with all those people around let me tell you. Another time, Will caught me while I was in the middle of doing it. That was a tough one to explain.

But hey, I’ll do what it takes to make sure I can do it until I reach completion. Otherwise I’ll be totally unsatisfied and grumpy.

Yup. Watching Netflix sure can be tough after you have kids.

The Netflix Sneak

Hey everyone, don’t forget the newest season of Orange is the New Black has dropped and is ready for binge-watching!

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***I received free Netflix for a year and SmartTV for joining the #StreamTeam and writing a monthly Netflix post.

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There’s a Ep(isode) for That on Netflix

vintageTVWhile I don’t use TV as a babysitter, it does help me parent from time to time.

I know, I know. Blasphemy, right? The current thinking is NO TV UNTIL 2 BECAUSE SCREEN TIME IS THE DEVIL!!!!! I just don’t buy it. Maybe it’s because I love TV and I want my kids to love it too, but I’ve found the things they watch often have life lessons that sink in better than when I try to impart them. Does that sting admitting Netflix can reach my kids better than I can at times? A little. But you know what? If it gets the job done and the message across, I’m OK with whatever works.

The truth is, Netflix has some great shows with ever better messages. I’m not saying let Netflix do all the work, but use these episodes as conversation starters that plant seeds of discussion. For example:

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Sofia from the show Sofia the First is on the left. She’s Princess Sofia now, but before her days of wearing tiaras she and her mom were just regular, common folks. With common friends. But in Season 1, Episode 2 when she invites her common friends to a sleepover in the castle, Sofia’s snotty new sister, Princess Amber, doesn’t approve of the girls who were plucked from poverty. Not wanting to rock the boat, Sofia asks her old friends to conform to her sister’s snotty ways.

I showed Will this episode when he said one of his first friends at kindergarten didn’t like new friends he had made. While it’s important to make new friends, I told Will it’s important not to forget about your old friends, and never exclude them or ask them to be who they’re not just because it’s inconvenient for you.

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In Season 1, Episode 7 of Dragons: Race to the Edge, my kids learned an even more important lesson — sometimes your friends act like idiots. When Ruffnut & Tuffnut find out they are the owners of the Dragon Riders’ island, they become — well, jerks. They’re arrogant and bossy and they treat their friends like crap. And they don’t realize how awful they were being until it’s almost too late.

I tell Will sometimes he’ll have to deal with friends like this, and sometimes HE’LL be the one doing this. That’s why it’s important to always think of how your words and actions are affecting the people around you.

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One of my new favorite shows since last year is DinoTrux. Mainly because it has a lesson in every episode for younger kids.

I’ve started showing this one to Sam, almost 3, because it stresses teamwork constantly. As a rambunctious almost-3-year-old who doesn’t exactly like to share or play nice with his brothers, I’m letting Ty the T-Trucks and Revvit the Reptool show him things always work better when you team up with friends. Like in Season 1, Episode 4 when Scraptors take Ton-Ton and the group can only save him if they work together to come up with a plan.

Don’t get me wrong, you still have to parent. But thanks to some great shows on Netflix, you don’t have to do it alone.

***I am part of the Netflix Stream Team and received free Netflix and a SmartTV for my work. As always, all opinions are my own.

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The In-Between

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Will is 8. Sam is 2. They don’t share very much in common and the things that do overlap seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate.

The 8-year-old is proving to be the toughest to gauge right now. I watch with a mixture of amusement, admiration, pity, and sadness as he fluctuates between little kid and young adult. He wants so badly to be grown up some days, but at the same time he’s only 8. He is in that No Man’s Land of wanting more responsibility, but immediately reverting back to being a little kid when it proves too much for him to handle. He rushes boldly out into the land of big kids, only to retreat to shelter of childhood when that older world leaves him longing for the innocence back where he came from.

All of that means it’s been an especially rough time trying to get Will to play nice with Sam.

Will is too cool to play with “babies” most days. He wants to ride his motor scooter, his bike, and practice his Taekwondo. When we ask him to play with his little brother we’re most often met with eye rolls I thought wouldn’t start until he was a tween, and sarcastic remarks that sound disturbingly familiar (the apple didn’t fall far from the tree in that regard).

I know the age difference (5.5 years) is going to make that kind of thing inevitable, but I also want my kids to find more common ground. So how do we accomplish that?

By watching TV.

I know that’s not the new age, popular answer. I know I’m suppose to preach screen-free child-rearing and start opining on how technology and electronics are ruining our kids and blah blah blah. Well I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it.

Our Netflix sessions routinely bridge the gap between Will and Sam right now. Obviously I can’t watch The Avengers with Sam like I can with Will, but thanks to the broad array of programming on Netflix I am able to find things we can all watch as a family.

If you have kids with a fairly big age gap, consider these titles to satisfy both of them.

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Will stumbled on this kooky cartoon a few years ago and he still loves it. Even better, he’s passed that love on to Sam, who also can’t get enough of Oscar, Harchi, Buck, and Popy. It’s a nonverbal cartoon and I can hear the hysterical laughter from upstairs as they happily watch it together.

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All kids love animals no matter their age, and my kids are no exception. Martin and Chris Kratt, the two zoologists featured in this show, have taught my children an AMAZING amount about animals. We went to the zoo recently and I was reading from one of the signs near the exhibit, and Will said, “Dad, I know this already. It was on Wild Kratts.”

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Yeah yeah, I know. Some of you think the Princess Bride is too inappropriate for my 8-year-old, nevermind my 2-year-old. Well you know what? Pipe down and keep your judgment to yourself. This is one of my favorite movies and it is awesome for everyone. It’s fun, adventurous, filled with memorable lines, and hasn’t stopped being entertaining after all these years. It also keeps both of my boys entertained at the same time, even if we do have to skip by the ROUS (Rodent of Unusual Size). So yes, I will have fun storming the castle thankyouverymuch.

What movies/shows do you use to bridge the gap between your kids?

StreamTeamBadgeI was compensated by Netflix for writing this post. Although I did not receive monetary compensation, I received free Netflix for a year and an smart TV. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own. Check out Netflix on Facebook.

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