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Bar none, one of the best inventions for new parents over the past few years has to be all the TV-on-demand services out there.
In the middle of the night when you're up feeding the baby, or in those precious few minutes after everyone's in bed for the night, you can now choose from hundreds of shows and movies. And now -- lucky us! -- there are two shows on Netflix that highlight the new mom experience in a way that resonates amazingly well.
The Letdown is an Australian TV comedy series that premiered on Netflix in April. As I watched the first few episodes, I had to stop myself from shouting, "THIS!! This is what I wanted from Tully! Exactly this!!"
The show stars Alison Bell, also a co-creator and writer, as Audrey Holloway, a mother trying to navigate her first few months of parenthood. She joins a non-judgmental new mothers' group (that's actually kinda judgy, in the way these things tend to be) and shows up late and flustered for her first meeting. The show made me laugh out loud at several of the situations she faces -- including one where she tries to bargain with a drug dealer when she accidentally parks in his spot after driving a crying baby around all night.
It also made me tear up several times as well. In one scene, she cries into her partner's shoulder while she lists all the ways she's a terrible mother. I may have done this last week, and I don't even have a baby anymore. It tackles Instagram-perfect moms and the hidden challenges they fear they can't share.
One episode wonderfully shows the tension Audrey feels when she wants to go out with her pre-baby friends, but realizes things have changed irreversibly now that she has a newborn. It's a perfect blend of snarky, slightly dark comedy and drama that shows the struggles that come with motherhood.
Fair warning: there is plenty of swearing in the show. In fact, one of my favorite running gags is when Audrey forgets herself, curses, and then belatedly covers her 2-month old's ears as if that might help.
I also recently watched Ali Wong's Hard-Knock Wife, which was released on Netflix on Mother's Day. She performs the stand-up while heavily pregnant, and even if it had been a flop (it's not), watching her do high kicks, squats, and some serious dance moves while walking around the stage for over an hour is impressive in itself. I could barely get off the couch at that stage.
This is Wong's second comedy special -- she filmed Baby Cobra while pregnant with her first child -- and she talks about a variety of topics including sex and childbirth (she says those mesh panties we all know so well are "made of the same material they use to package fancy Korean pears in").
She talks about her emergency c-section and wonders, "Why the f*** did I do all that pushing when there was this perfectly good emergency exit?" She also takes on breastfeeding, saying it made her feel like The Giving Tree. And she addresses the low parenting standards for dads, compared to what moms are expected to do for their babies. It's funny, and relatable, and very dirty -- she may talk about kids but this definitely isn't something to watch around them.
Both shows are wickedly entertaining...and both might make you feel like finally, in the land of television, someone actually gets how new moms feel.
Screenshots from Hard Knock Wife and The Letdown
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.