Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan | Photo Credits: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME

Father’s Day is coming up, which means it’s once again time to think about Dad Shows. 

Dad Shows are shows that are not just beloved by dads but have something essentially Dad-ish about them. They’re unhip but dependable. They’re well-made and often critically acclaimed, but they don’t always get a lot of attention because they aren’t trying to innovate. They look and feel like prestige TV but don’t have the depth. With a Dad Show, what you see is what you get. Dad Shows tend to be Showtime shows, not HBO shows. Some dads may love Succession, for example, but Succession is a little too slick and satirical and political to qualify as a Dad Show. Billions is a Dad Show, though. 

Dad Shows span all genres, and no two Dad Shows are exactly alike, but there are certain components that many Dad Shows share, especially Dad Dramas. They’re usually about a middle-aged white man who’s very good at his job (which often involves doing violence) and has a complicated relationship with his family. He loves his family, but much of the time he doesn’t get along with them, usually because of the demands of his job. He assumes his family doesn’t understand, but they actually do, and he’s just kind of an ass. Some dads are like this, but not all dads who like Dad Shows are like this. 

You don’t have to be a dad to like Dad Shows. Many moms like Dad Shows, as do sons and daughters. In fact, you may already enjoy one or more Dad Shows. Because even though Dad Shows are from Dad’s point of view, they invite other people to see the world through Dad’s flawed but well-meaning eyes. This Father’s Day, give your dad two gifts: a life-size cardboard cutout of Ray Donovan, and the gift of your time as you watch one of the shows from this list with him.     

Ray Donovan 

Where to watch: Showtime

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Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan

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It’s been said before, but it bears repeating because it’s still true: Ray Donovan is the ultimate Dad Show. Nothing else even comes close. This is the Magnetic North towards which all other Dad Shows bend. It stars gravel-voiced, stubble-faced Liev Schreiber as the titular fixer, who bribes and blackmails and beats people up and covers up misdeeds on behalf of his wealthy clients. He does his best to take care of his Irish American family, even though his family is really messed up because of his abusive gangster dad, Mickey (Jon Voight). Ray Dadovan is who all dads secretly wish they were: tough, competent, loyal, willing to do anything for the people he loves, and has a moral code even when he has to do unsavory things to protect his family and his livelihood. Your dad is probably still pissed Showtime abruptly canceled Ray Donovan, and if he could blackmail someone into bringing it back, he would. 

Men of a Certain Age

Where to watch: HBO Max

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Ray Romano, Andre Braugher, and Scott Bakula, Men of a Certain Age

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Dads may want to be Ray Donovan, but in reality they’re usually more Ray Barone. And that’s great! Everybody loves Raymond. Ray Romano understands how to make relatable Dad Content. He and One Day at a Time‘s Mike Royce created this dramedy that ran for two short seasons on TNT between 2009 and 2011. It stars iconic Dad Actors Romano, Scott Bakula, and Andre Braugher as three best friends dealing with the problems men face in their late 40s, like divorce, stress over money, scary new health issues, and the reality that your life didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. Men of a Certain Age earned critical raves for its grounded, intimate writing and performances and won a Peabody. It kind of disappeared for awhile, but it’s ripe for rediscovery on HBO Max. 


Where to watch: Peacock (July 15) 

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Kevin Costner, Yellowstone

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