8 TV shows to watch with your mom for Mother’s Day

Marcel Ruiz, from left, Rita Moreno, Justina Machado, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gomez star in Netflix's remake of "One Day at a Time." (Netflix)
Marcel Ruiz, from left, Rita Moreno, Justina Machado, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gomez star in Netflix's remake of "One Day at a Time." (Netflix)
Published May 10 2018
Updated May 10 2018

Mom should spend Mother's Day however she wants. And if she doesn't want to go anywhere, suggest a heartwarming TV show to binge together. My mother and I have always shared a love for television, and I remember proudly declaring to my fifth-grade class that The Pretender was my favorite show. Here are eight recommendations that will keep you and mom glued to the couch. Don't forget snacks!

The Crown

"You mean this is a show about that little old British lady in the pastels?" Sure is, Mom. This Emmy-winning drama stars Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and begins when she marries Prince Philip (Matt Smith) in 1947. As the next Windsor royal wedding arrives next week, you both can bond as you Google certain plot lines to fact-check European history of the mid 20th century. Also up for discussion: Fair pay in Hollywood. Foy recently received back pay when it was revealed she was paid less than her co-star Smith. Both seasons streaming Netflix.


My mom and I bonded over this medical show when I was much too young to be engrossed in such an intense drama. Watch from the beginning to see a very young John Carter (Noah Wyle) learn from Dr. Peter Benson (Eriq La Salle). It's such a joy to see the brimming bromance between Anthony Edwards and George Clooney. And maybe you and your mom will rethink your opinions on Dr. Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes), a stern doctor trying to manage a bunch of men. Even though it's almost a quarter-century old, ER's take on health-care coverage, race and gender politics in the workplace are still relevant. Entire series of 15 seasons streaming on Hulu.

Ivonne Coll as Alba, Andrea Navedo as Xo and Gina Rodriguez as Jane. (CW)

Jane the Virgin

This CW show has quite the premise: A 20-year-old virgin accidentally gets artificially inseminated; gets wrapped up in a multiple crime families; and falls in love with two different men. Straight out of a telenovela, right? Jane is at its absolute best when it showcases the relationships between Jane (Gina Rodriguez), mother Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) and grandmother Alba (Ivonne Coll). All three women live under the same roof, helping each other get through all the crazy. All four seasons, including the most recent one with THAT TWIST, streaming on Netflix.

The Good Wife

What mom doesn't enjoy a good lawyer procedural? Instead of going for Mariska Hartigay in Law and Order: SVU, may I recommend Julianna Margulies' stunning portrayal of Alicia Florrick, the wife of a disgraced politician (Chris Noth) who goes back to work as a lawyer at her ex-boyfriend's firm. She's a darn good lawyer with a stellar closet of suits. The cases each episode are intriguing, but the you'll both be immersed in the "will they/oh, please WILL THEY" tension between Alicia and Will Gardner (Josh Charles). Entire series streaming on CBS All Access and Hulu.

The Great British Bake Off

Even if your mom isn't the best cook in the world, the two of you can binge one of the best cooking competition out there. This isn't your American reality show. There's really nothing at stake, just amateur bakers not knowing how long to prove dough. Watch as they stare at oven doors, make (sometimes accidental) sexual innuendos and create adorably broken biscuit structures. It's calming and just might inspire the two of you to head into the kitchen together to make one of Grandmom's classic baked goods. Streaming on Netflix.

Allison Janney as Bonnie and Anna Faris as Christy. (CBS)


Is this a little too on the nose? Probably. However, this CBS sitcom, which was just renewed for a sixth season, is the best depiction of working-class America (sorry, Roseanne). The comedy with a laugh-track (groan) stars Allison Janney and Anna Faris as mother and daughter who are also recovering addicts. Their relationship is both laugh-out-loud and lots of love.  Four seasons streaming on Hulu and CBS All Access.

One Day at a Time

Your mom most likely watched the original Norman Lear 1975 sitcom, so introduce her to the new series on Netflix, which Lear is thankfully still part of. It's the same comfortable set-up: A single mother (Justina Machado) raising her two kids with her mom and a wacky neighbor Schneider (Todd Grinnell). But now, to make things relevant, yet still comical, it's a Cuban-American family in Los Angeles with a queer daughter (Isabella Gomez); and they aren't afraid discuss everything from religion, immigration and mental health. The best part: Rita freakin' Moreno. Lydia is as colorful as her bright wardrobe. You'll want to adopt her as your abuela. Two seasons streaming on Netflix.

Fred Savage as Kevin Arnold and Danica McKellar as Winnie Cooper. (ABC)

The Wonder Years

Sometimes I wonder if everything I learned about relationships was through Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper. As Kevin (Fred Savage) and Winnie (Danica McKellar) navigate their adolescence in the 1960s, be prepared for Mom to share stories from her childhood. Norma (Alley Mills) is one of TV's best moms, even though she lost those tax receipts. And every mom should find her individuality in a pottery class. All episodes streaming on Netflix.

Just please, now is not the time to watch The Handmaid's Tale. Catch up with that beautiful trauma on your own time.