What to Watch TV Shows

What to Watch When You're Not Watching Soccer — TV Shows

Since we’ve got a bit of time on our hands with the MLS season suspended, we thought it would be a good time to relax, have a little fun and stretch out a bit with some posts beyond the usual recaps, preview and interviews. Here we’re going to dig into some options for televisual entertainment beyond the pitch with some help from MNUFC players and coaches.

An essential part of the modern human condition is figuring out what to watch. Many of you no doubt lean heavily into live sports, whether that means watching MNUFC in person or on TV, watching EPL on weekend mornings, or any of the other sports and leagues that are currently on hiatus. But never fear! We have plenty of shows for you to work on now.

Coaching Staff and Players

On the road, rest and recovery is an integral part of making it through the season, so it comes as no surprise that both coaches and players spend some of that downtime catching up on shows when they’re not on the pitch. Last season, more or less the whole coaching staff worked its way through Peaky Blinders (Netflix), which tells a story loosely based on an actual British youth gang from the early 20th century. Set in Birmingham — just about an hour from Head Coach Adrian Heath’s hometown of Newcastle-under-Lyme — Peaky Blinders is great if you don’t mind a spot of violence and love thick British accents, newsboy caps, tweed vests and long-on-top, shaved-on-the-sides haircuts.

Sticking for the moment with dark British tales of woe, the Netflix documentary series Sunderland ‘Til I Die was supposed to follow England’s Sunderland A.F.C. as they vied to come back from relegation and rejoin the Premier League, but it all went a bit pear-shaped. It’s a compelling look into soccer culture in England, particularly how deep the roots go for clubs that have been mainstays in their towns for well over a century. A second season is expected in the coming months.

The players, of course, all have their own favorites. Goalkeeper Tyler Miller is such a big Game of Thrones (HBO) fan that he wants to live in Dubravica, Croatia, because that’s where King’s Landing is on the show. Mason Toye likes Workin’ Moms (Netflix), a Canadian show about an unlikely friendship between four, well, working moms. Romain Metanire likes throwback shows like Friends and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (both on HBO Max in May), Brent Kallman likes Barry (HBO), and Ethan Finlay favors Mindhunter (Netflix) and Big Little Lies (HBO). Jan Gregus is a fan of Black Mirror (Netflix), which ... I wouldn’t at this moment, personally. Ike Opara didn’t have any recommendations but wanted it noted that he hates Game of Thrones. Watch out, Tyler.

Time to Dig In

If you’ve missed out on any of the major series from the era of Peak TV — The Wire, Breaking Bad, Deadwood, etc. — now is the time. One of the most eminently watchable of these is Friday Night Lights (Hulu), but it helps to know some of the background before you dig in. While it might look like a show about football, it’s really about small town life through the lens of high school football. It took a while for the show to find its footing, plus the second season came right in the middle of a Hollywood writers’ strike. The first season is good, the second season is kind of confusing and tonally off, and then the third, fourth and fifth seasons are some of the best ever on television, capped by a truly satisfying ending — a rarity in television.

Classic Comedy

The triumvirate of 2000s network comedies comprised of The Office (Netflix), 30 Rock (Hulu) and Parks & Recreation (Hulu, Netflix) remains a solid and dependable option for binging shorter shows — sort of television comfort food. Each shows its age in its own way, but episode by episode, there’s a lot to love, whether it’s your first time watching or you’re on a nostalgia trip.

Current Comedy

The Good Place (Hulu, Netflix) just wrapped its fourth and final season and it covered an enormous amount of ground from funny to heartfelt to brainy with two main characters played by two of the best actors to grace the small screen, Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. Schitt’s Creek (Netflix) is almost done with its sixth and final season, and although it starts a little slow as it tells the story of a wealthy family brought low and forced to live in a decrepit motel in a backwater town, it only gets better and better over its run. It eventually displays one of the biggest hearts of any show and the performances are replete with subtle and old-school comic genius from Eugene Levy, his son Daniel Levy (who created the show) and the incomparable Catherine O’Hara.

Fleabag (Amazon Prime) might be short, but it packs both comic and dramatic punches. Created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the show follows the tumultuous and alternately hilarious and cruel dating life of a single woman in London. The second season unfolds in surprising and satisfying ways, ultimately leading to a resonant, if not entirely clear, ending. Depending on your tolerance level for anxiety — social or otherwise — there’s also Curb Your Enthusiasm, which recently returned to HBO for its 10th season after a three-year hiatus of its own. Larry David’s long-running series remains the gold standard for uncomfortable and hilarious comedy.

A Flair for the Dramatic

HBO also recently aired the finale of The Outsider, a series based on the novel by Stephen King and adapted for television by Richard Price, an outstanding writer in his own right who worked on The Wire as well. It’s sort of a better and more tightly written True Detective with a distinctly supernatural bent. The Expanse (Amazon Prime) is also based on a book, this time a sci-fi series by James S.A. Corey that explores politics and conflict on an intergalactic scale in surprisingly thoughtful and thought-provoking ways.

Miscellaneous Options

A random assortment: The Mandalorian (Disney+), Russian Doll (Netflix), New Girl (Netflix), Better Call Saul (AMC, Netflix), Orphan Black (Amazon Prime).