Even under the best circumstances, I am a crier. If my emotional state is even slightly above or below perfectly neutral, I'm either fighting back tears or sobbing. I used to be deeply ashamed of this, but nowadays I like it. I'm sensitive and the world needs sensitive people. It's only grown more intense since having babies and, as you can imagine, when I was postpartum sh*t got real. As you can also imagine, postpartum me watched a lot of TV. So I thought I'd share some of my go-to Netflix shows for when I need a good cry.
"Why would you want to cry when you're already a hormonal, postpartum mess?" you might ask. It's a good question, and I think I have a good answer. When you can externalize all the tough emotions that are swirling through your blood and brain after undergoing something as monumentally enormous as birth, it can help relieve a lot of anxiety, especially if it's a subconscious anxiety. It's like, "OK, if I have to feel these feelings, let me at least feel them for other people until I can get my head on straight." Certainly that's not to say you should ignore the difficult emotions you're going through as they pertain to your experience as a new parent, but sometimes — often, perhaps — it's really just the hormones that are making you feel off. In those cases, I truly believe a steady dose of Vitamin N(etflix) is going to have you feeling back to yourself in no time.
A disclaimer: not every episode of those shows I have chosen are tear-jerkers. Who would watch something like that?! (Other than the 11 million or so of you who watch This Is Us, you damn masochists.) However, each show presents opportunities to have anything from a good "pretend you just got something in your eye" cry to a "OMG! LIFE IS NEVER GOING TO BE THE SAME AGAIN! PASS THE TISSUES!" cry. I have also rated them on a scale of 1 😢 to 5 😢.
So, without further ado, here's your postpartum and/or maternity leave binge watches. Enjoy!
'Parks And Recreation'
You'll only cry because the show is over because why did it have to end?! OK, you might also get so attached to this amazing cast that you'll cry during the wedding scenes, or when certain best friends leave Pawnee, and, of course, RIP Li'l Sebastian. You know what, get the tissues ready just in case.
Rating: 1 out of 5 😢
Honestly, Stranger Things isn't really the kind of well you go to cry into, but if you're rocking postpartum hormones (or you're like me and just cry daily because you're a delicate and sensitive flower), the fact that it's a show about kids in danger could get you going. Poor Will, am I right, you guys?! (And were any of us ever the same after Barb? I just don't think so.) This is a great one to watch if you need, like, a little bit of a cry mixed in with a riveting, action-packed mystery.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 😢
Hailed as a modern Twilight Zone, Black Mirror is a series of unconnected stories about the not-so-distant future that reflect social issues we grapple with today. Some episodes — like "The National Anthem," "The Waldo Moment," or "Nosedive" — are not going to so much as make you sniffle. They're not bad (some of them are pretty brilliant, actually) but they're just not that kind of viewing experience. Others — "Fifteen Million Merits," "Be Right Back," or "San Junipero" — will make you ugly cry. It's like an emotions roulette wheel, so go ahead and give it a spin.
Rating: Anywhere from 1 out of 5 😢 to 4.5 out of 5 😢 depending on the episode.
Breaking Bad isn't a tearjerker, per se, but some episodes make you have all the feels. This is aided considerable by the absolutely flawless writing and incredible performances given by every single actor on the show. Walter White's descent into villainy, Jesse Pinkman's desperate but usually fruitless attempts at redemption, and, of course, the fact that it's a show about meth dealers in New Mexico, so how long do you think you can avoid crying?
Rating: 2 out of 5 😢
'The Wonder Years'
The Wonder Years is a heartfelt series about coming of age in the late-'60s and early '70s. Technically classified as a comedy, the show won a Peabody Award for "pushing the boundaries of the sitcom format and using new modes of storytelling." The opening credits alone can make your face leak if you're in the right mood, honestly.
While the show usually focused on the typical dramas of growing up and family life, it expertly used the backdrop of the era to explore relevant issues, like a young man returning from Vietnam, for example. Also, Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper forever, y'all! You get so attached to these wonderful characters that you can't help but cry for them.
Rating: 3 out of 5 😢
'Orange Is The New Black'
Orange Is The New Black occupies such an interesting place in television. It's serious, but funny, expertly-written, but intentionally dips its toes into calculated melodrama. This well-done and brilliantly acted mix of genres dances between levity and depth, which is perhaps what makes the emotional punches hit all the harder. It has made me cry several times per season, and of course I watched two seasons back-to-back while on maternity leave. So, you know, the hormones were a-flowin'.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 😢
'Freaks And Geeks'
Remember high school? Are you crying yet? Yeah, well, you will be if you watch Freaks and Geeks. This show does something I don't think I've seen more than a small handful of shows or movies do, in that it captures the emotional reality of middle-to-lower-middle-class white teenagers. It respects the ways in which they are attempting to find or assert themselves as being important, without giving the impression that these are the biggest and most important struggles they will face in their lives. You'll watch their travails with the recognition of what it felt like to be 15 with the condescending pity of knowing that half of the person's problem is the fact that they're 15 and there's just nothing to be done for it. (Also, if watching James Franco's character have important personal revelations while playing Dungeons and Dragons doesn't bring a tear to your eye, you're not human.)
You'll also cry because basically everyone who was in this show (which came out in 1999) went on to become famous and you'll be like, "OMG! They were so young!" Then you'll realize that 1999 was almost 20 years ago and you will sob because oh my God, how was 1999 almost 20 years ago?!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 😢
The writer's strike of 2007-2008 really effed up the momentum of Lost. In fact, if you Google "writer's strike" (after Googling "writer's strike year," like I just did to write that first sentence) this comes up...
So it's not just me who knows that this show was unfortunately derailed. Still, so many moments made me sob, rewind, watch a particular scene, and sob again. Penny and Desmond's phone call! "Not Penny's Boat!" Jin and Sun's whirlwind love and reconciliation! Sawyer and Juliet's reunion! Sayid's ill-fated love with Nadia! Most of the sobs are going to be relationship based, but who doesn't need a good love-based cry every now and then, right?
While ultimately not the most cohesive or satisfying show, Lost is a lot like an ill-advised relationship in your 20s. Sometimes it's very fun, sometimes it's just frustrating and annoying because no one knows WTF they're doing, and even though it ended badly you ultimately don't regret having done it.
Rating: 4 out of 5 😢 (Though often it's going to be crying out of boredom or frustration with how stupid an episode was.)
"Oh! A Marvel Superhero show? Cool," you say. "I'm in!"
OK, great. Hold up, though, because this show is basically a 13-hour meditation on abusive relationships and sexual assault. However, it's really, really good and, yes, if you're anything like me you are going to cry. It's a thought-provoking cry you're probably going to be glad you had, though. This is a show that doesn't just use things like rape or partner violence or child abuse as a cheap way to elicit emotions from viewers. This show sees these experiences through the eyes of the victims (all of whom are fully-developed, compelling characters), which in and of itself empowers them. In addition to reflecting on trauma, the show focuses on taking power back. So I definitely had several sad cries, but also cheering cries of vindication and catharsis.
Rating: 4 out of 5 😢
'Top Of The Lake'
I don't know too many people who watched Top of the Lake, but I discovered it on maternity leave in 2014 and have been recommending it ever since. A word of caution: this show is basically just one enormous trigger warning.
It's deeply, deeply dark — the show opens with a pregnant 12 year old attempting suicide — but, like Jessica Jones, this isn't a show that depicts horrors for shock value or easy drama. Top of the Lake is visually stunning, compellingly and thoughtfully written, well-acted, and just stylized enough to make the heavy material simultaneously bearable and more chilling.
Rating: 5 out of 5 😢