June 27, 2022

8 Entertaining TV Shows for Teachers on Vacation

After another year of teaching during the Covid pandemic, it’s understandable that teachers are tired.  Combined with the economic downturn, school shootings, and political polarization, it’s no wonder teachers need a break this summer more than ever. 
This blog post offers recommendations for some TV shows for summer that are entertaining and escapist yet also have an educational connection, if you truly can’t stop thinking about school while on vacation (or if you are still teaching or not located in the U.S.).  There are many more shows I could recommend but the ones below either released new seasons in the past 12 months or became available to U.S. viewers within the past year.

Black woman pointing a remote control device at a TV
Source: The ESL Nexus
In alphabetical order by streaming service, below are the shows I especially enjoyed.  After describing each show, I include info about the number of seasons and episodes, what the connection is to teaching, and how to watch the show.  (This post contains some Amazon affiliate links.  That means that I make a small commission if you buy any of those products listed below but it's at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!)

Dickinson, on Apple TV+

Synopsis: A coming-of-age story about Emily Dickinson in her 20s.  It’s a comedy-drama with touches of the surreal.  Uses anachronistic music.  Snippets of her poems flash across the screen in every episode.  Includes scenes of women kissing and implied lesbian sex. Dickinson’s poetry is central to most of the episode plots. 
Seasons & episodes: 3 seasons, 10 episodes each.  Episodes are around 30 minutes long. 
Education tie-in: Poetry by Emily Dickinson
How to Watch: Sign up for a free 7-day trial.

Ted Lasso, on Apple TV+

Synopsis: A fish out of water story as well as a sports story.  A comedy about an American football coach recruited to coach an English soccer team. 
Seasons & episodes: 2 seasons.  Episodes are around 30 minutes long (1 more season produced and will probably be broadcast later in 2022).
Education tie-in: Cross-cultural differences, how to adjust to different cultures.
How to Watch: Sign up for a free 7-day trial.

Bridgerton, on Netflix

Synopsis: Historical romance set in the Regency period of England.  Focuses primarily on 2 families of the "ton" and their lives and loves.  Uses clever casting to subvert assumptions about race and classical versions of contemporary music.  Some steamy looks and behavior but only a few actual sex scenes. 
Seasons & episodes: 2 seasons, 8 episodes each (2 more seasons have been greenlit).  Episodes are about 1 hour long. 
Education tie-in: English history, status of people of color in historical periods.
How to Watch: Subscribe here (free trial not offered).

The Last Kingdom, on Netflix

Synopsis: Historical fiction drama about the Anglo-Saxons versus the Danes and Norse and the creation of a united England.  Includes scenes that are quite violent and/or gory but they are never gratuitous.  Based on the book series by Bernard Cornwell. 
Seasons & episodes: 5 seasons, 46 episodes (1 feature-length movie in post-production).  Episodes are approximately 1 hour long. 
Education tie-in: History of England; biographies of Alfred the Great,his son Edward and daughter Æthelflæd, and grandson Athelstan.
How to Watch: Subscribe here (free trial not offered).  Or buy the DVD set on Amazon (affiliate link).

Queer Eye, on Netflix

Synopsis: A reality show about being the best person you can be, with a little help from 5 gay men and non-binary people.  Each uplifting episode focuses on 1 person who gets a home, fashion, food, attitude, and grooming makeover.  (A recent episode showcased a groups of high school students.)  A reboot of the 2002 - 2007 TV show.  
Seasons & episodes: 52 episodes, plus 4 episodes shot in Japan and 2 specials.  Episodes are around 1 hour long.
Education tie-in: LGBTQ+ issues, developing empathy and a growth mindset
How to Watch: Subscribe here (free trial not offered).

Servant of the People, on Netflix

Synopsis: The TV comedy that propelled Volodymyr Zelensky to the presidency of Ukraine.  It’s a hilarious satire that skewers politicians and politics.  Although set in Ukraine — and it’s fascinating to see what Kyiv and other parts of the country looked like before the war — the issues it addresses and its plots are relevant to other countries as well.  Although produced some years ago, it’s only just recently been made available on Netflix again. 
Seasons & episodes: 3 seasons, 23 episodes in the first 2 season and 3 episodes in the final season.  Episodes in Seasons 1 and 2 are 23 - 35 minutes long, except for the first episode of each season which is longer, and the episodes in Season 3 range from 42 - 65 minutes long.
Education tie-in: Current events.
How to Watch: Subscribe here (free trial not offered).  Or buy the Season 1 DVD on Amazon (affiliate link).

All Creatures Great and Small, on PBS

Synopsis: Heartwarming story about a veterinarian in Yorkshire, England, in the interwar period of the 20th century.  A drama about animals and the people who care for them.  Based on the books by James Herriot.  PBS made an earlier TV show based on the books in the 1970s. 
Seasons & episodes: 2 seasons, 6 episodes each plus 2 Christmas specials.  Regular episodes are 53 minutes long, specials are longer. 
Education tie-in: The changing roles of women, socio-economic class issues, England between World War I and World War II, treatment of animals.
How to Watch: Watch both seasons for free with a PBS Passport subscription.  Or buy the Season 1 DVD on Amazon (affiliate link).  Alternatively, you can get a 7-day free trial to PBS Masterpiece on Amazon and stream both seasons (affiliate link).

Outlander, on STARZ

Synopsis: A hard to classify story of time travel and romance about a 20th century English nurse and 18th century Scottish rebel.  Based on the books by Diana Gabaldon.  Episodes in the first 4 seasons switch back and forth between the centuries but the last 2 seasons are set in 18th century pre-Revolutionary War America.
Seasons & episodes: 6 seasons, 75 episodes (1 more season has been greenlit so far). Episodes are around 60 minutes, give or take a few minutes, except for the last episode of Season 2 which is 90 minutes.
Education tie-in: The Jacobite rebellions in Scotland; the Southern Colonies in America before the Revolutionary War; the changing role of U.S. women.
How to Watch: On Amazon, stream Season 1, Episode 1 for free, then watch the rest with a 7-day free trial to STARZ through Amazon and/or pay to stream individual episodes through Amazon (affiliate link).

Happy Viewing!