Preacher. Bosch. Goliath. Longmire. Often, I'll pass an advertisement for a show with an unfamiliar one-word, macho-sounding title and assume it's a recent addition to the peak TV stew. Then, I'll learn it's a) been running for a while and b) is critically acclaimed. How could I be living so far into the pop culture cave! Maybe, I've learned, it's because these shows weren't made for me. They were made for dads!
How do you know a show is a Dad Show? You just do. In 2016, writer Anna Silman captured the essence of the "Dad Show" TV category for Thrillist:"a Dad Show is not merely something watched by dads; it's something that has some sort of crucial dad-ness about it." Typically, they feature an older male protagonist (played by a recognizable face), handling the trials of middle-age with unexpected swagger, while also working a (too) cool job. Designated Survivor is a quintessential Dad Show: Isn't too trendy, features a noble yet complicated lead, has high stakes, but isn't hard to follow.
Dad Shows are a sound enough category — but do our dads actually watch these so-called "Dad Shows?" Ahead of Father's Day, we studied the TV-watching habits of Refinery29 dads to find out. In some instances, their viewing habits aligned with expectations. (Many really do watch Ray Donovan.) Generally, our dads are a multi-faceted bunch. Here's how our dads define dad TV, including a colorful essay by a real life dad.