This summer In All Things is light-heartedly including recommendations, tips, and joys that we would love to share with you, readers, in the format of Top Five Fridays, switching up our themes each week. Enjoy these recommendations from various editorial board members.
April Fiet’s List
- 1. Man vs. Bee—This Netflix original show is only one season long, and each episode is short (only around 11 minutes), but Man vs. Bee employs the typical physical comedy and cringe humor Rowan Atkinson is known for. My family couldn’t help bingeing this show, and we found ourselves laughing out loud—something we really needed this year.
- 2. Abbott Elementary—While this mockumentary-style show takes place in an elementary school, the unflappable optimism of young teacher Jeanine is inspiring and encouraging. For anyone who is feeling discouraged during this COVID time, Abbott Elementary will lift your spirits. I am eagerly awaiting the release of next season’s episodes.
- 3. Superstore—This show follows the lives of employees at fictional big box store Cloud 9. This show tackles serious issues–health care costs, maternity leave, and cultural appropriation–in a pointed yet humorous way. Even though the show centers on the relationship between Amy and Jonah, each character brings their own idiosyncrasies and flaws to the mix, the results of which is laugh out loud humor and food for conversation.
- 4. 3rd Rock from the Sun—This throwback show explores the lives of four aliens who have taken on human form as part of their mission to understand life on Earth. Dick (John Lithgow)–high commander of the mission–assumes a role as a physics professor at Pendleton State University, where he becomes enamored with anthropology professor Mary Albright (Jane Curtin). Throughout this show, the alien-turned-humans explore the oddities of humanity in a way that will make you laugh and think.
- 5. Parks and Recreation—Another mockumentary-style show, Parks and Recreation follows eternal optimist and hard worker Leslie Knope (Amy Pohler). I love the humor and the hijinks of the show, but what grips me the most is the way Leslie doesn’t let anything hold her back. She is a beautiful example of a person with a purpose and a passion, and in that way, I strive to be like her.
Donald Roth’s List
- 1. Moon Knight—This somewhat mind-bending look at a superhero who struggles with Dissociative Identity Disorder is one of the first Marvel properties I’ve watched in some time that felt fresh.
- 2. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds— This iteration explores the experience of the Enterprise before Captain Kirk. I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek, but I think some of the series I watched in my later adolescence favored big conspiracies, wars, and intrigue over using exploration as a platform for investigating human nature. I have really enjoyed this series as a return to exploration. The Star Trek Discovery series was also quite good.
- 3. The Witcher—This is not a family-friendly recommendation, but I really enjoyed both Andrzej Sapkowski’s books and the video games made about Geralt of Rivia. The plot features a monster hunter as a sort of knight errant in a fantasy setting inspired by the cultural memory of Poland. I really get sick of shows that seem to be nothing but gritty misery. However, while this show walks the line of a miserable world, it interjects with rays of hope and honor in central characters Geralt and Ciri, and that makes a major difference for me.
- 3. Bluey—I’ll offset the last recommendation with its polar opposite. If you haven’t yet encountered the phenomenon in family entertainment that is this lovable cartoon from Australia, it’s worth checking out. The series is one of the few shows I’ve ever seen to consistently portray a positive representation of parent/child interaction, as well as dealing with important topics in growing up. The third season just came out on Disney+ on August 10, so it’s a good time to jump in.
- 5. Any show from your childhood—It’s amazing how many old series have made their way to one streaming platform or another. I’ve really enjoyed watching some of these shows with my kids and seeing whether they resonate with a new generation or not. Some, like the old X-Men cartoon, hold up; some, like Batman: The Animated Series, should hold up, even if my son hasn’t figured that out yet. Others, like Power Rangers, remain pretty awful but seem to have captivated my kids just as much as they once interested me.
Sarah Moss’s List
- 1. New Girl— A sitcom that follows a schoolteacher, her three roommates, and her best friend as they navigate careers and love in Los Angeles. I don’t usually choose to rewatch shows, but I’ve come back to this one a few times. There’s something about the inside jokes, the clever banter, and the ways the writers excel at continuity across multiple seasons.
- 2. Girl Meets Farm—I enjoy watching cooking shows, in part because they’ve taught me a thing or two about cooking. In Girl Meets Farm, food blogger Molly Yeh shares her Chinese and Jewish heritage with viewers, while also incorporating in some Midwestern staples.
- 3. The Bear— This Hulu show about a famous chef who returns to his family’s sandwich shop in Chicago after a tragedy grew on me, primarily because of the cast of characters, their stories, and the food they make. Be warned, this show is intense and not a good fit for children; it’s full of swearing, fighting, and thematic elements.
- 4. Friends—A classic sitcom about friends living in New York City in the 1990s and 2000s. As with New Girl, I enjoy this show for its quips and memorable characters.
- 5. Only Murders in the Building—I enjoyed the first season, which followed three residents of a New York City apartment building as they try to solve a murder. My husband and I are currently watching the second season, which doesn’t seem quite as good as the first one, but so far it’s still entertaining.
Ruth Clark’s List
- 1. Ted Lasso—If you haven’t yet enjoyed this adult TV series, I highly recommend it. It’s one of the few TV shows that my husband and I have watched more than once. You don’t need to be a sports fan (which we aren’t) to enjoy this dramatic comedy about an American “football” coach in the UK.
- 2. The Wonder Years (2021)—Following an adolescent boy growing up in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1960’s, this beautifully-crafted drama explores the joys and struggles of adolescent years in both broad strokes and minute details. Dean, the main character, experiences all of the awkwardness of junior high while simultaneously experiencing historical events unfolding that affect the adults in his life with far greater ramifications than comic books and friendships. I commend the storytelling within this family comedy drama.
- 3. Abbott Elementary—As an educator, this mockumentary sitcom addresses many humorous (and some serious) circumstances that teachers navigate daily in a school year. Akin to The Office, Janine works rather desperately to develop her teaching expertise and share her knowledge with her colleagues and students.
- 4. This Is Us – With the finale completed in May 2022, enjoy the complete story if you haven’t yet watched this show. I appreciated the unique use of timelines throughout this drama, and the nature of family complexities through various seasons of life.
- 5. Nature Documentaries—Anything voiced by Sir David Attenborough, specifically Planet Earth, Blue Planet, and Our Planet, as well as Welcome to Earth, Into the Okavango, Cosmic, and A Life on Our Planet—have inspired curiosity, wonder, joy, and a sense of responsibility as caretakers of our earth and the vastness of God’s world for me and my family.
Erin Olson’s List
- 1. Call the Midwife—If you love historical memoirs or fiction, this is the series for you. Set in East End London in the 1950’s, this series is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth and follows a group of midwives on their adventures. The series highlights the plights of maternal health and rights during an era when healthcare was limited and medical knowledge was still somewhat minimal. Midwife is definitely more suited to women (both my mom and mother-in-law loved it), but men could also enjoy the storylines and historical genre.
- 2. Downton Abbey—Another historical series set in England in the early 1900’s, the PBS show follows the aristocratic Crawley family who live in the Abbey and are waited on by servants. The show starts in 1912 when the Titanic sank, and follows the family and their household through many societal and historical changes. The show does lack some diversity, but does traverse through some challenging subject matter. It can be a little sappy, but Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess provides some phenomenal humor.
- 3. Station Eleven—I love a good apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic storyline, and this show (based on the book by the same name) provides just that. The story jumps back and forth between a time when the world was first hit by an epidemic called the Georgia flu and twenty years in the future when the small group of people left on the earth are working to rebuild what’s left. This is one example of a book to TV transition where the adaptation was as good as the book, though a little different.
- 4. The Queen’s Gambit—I haven’t played chess since elementary school, but this Netflix show made me want to start playing again. Set in the 1950’s and 60’s, Gambit follows Beth Harmon who learns to play chess in an orphanage after her mom dies in a car accident. Beth struggles with mental illness, along with drug and alcohol addiction (making this not suitable for kids) while also rising to the top of the national and international chess circuits.
- 5. Longmire—This Netflix show follows Walt Longmire—sheriff of fictional Absaroka County in Wyoming—as he works alongside his colleagues, friends, and family to solve crimes in this Western drama. The plotlines are easy to follow and interesting, along with interwoven stories of grief and loss, Native American culture, and the challenges of working in rural law enforcement.