The Atlantic Daily: The Case for Eating Dinner in Front of the TV

Six suggestions for your dinnertime viewing this week

A TV remote folded into a white dinner napkin on a solid blue background
Getty ; The Atlantic

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It’s Wednesday: Do you know what you’ll be watching on TV as you eat your midweek dinner? Jordan Calhoun, who writes the newsletter Humans Being, recommends your six best options.

As a kid, I grew up watching families that came together at a specific time each evening to eat dinner around a table. They might sneak scraps of food to their Saint Bernard under the table (Beethoven) or debate proper table manners (Home Improvement). But proper families always ate dinner at a table.

Except my real-life family never did. To this day, I don’t take a bite of my food until someone presses play.

Eating in front of the TV carries a stigma—antiquated views say it’s unhealthy and is even correlated with laziness and kids eating fewer vegetables. The most enduring assumption might be that TV-watching families don’t talk when the TV is on, but I don’t think that’s true either. Our conversations are just different than they would be at a table: We’re arguing about plot, predicting betrayal, or discussing the real stories behind historical fiction.

When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be like the families I saw on TV. As an adult, I’m no longer embarrassed to watch them while I eat. It’s in this spirit that I recommend the following shows and movies for your dinnertime viewing this week.

  • Moon Knight is the latest mind-bending Marvel action series to come to Disney+. It’s a heat check for Disney, which often takes former C-list characters like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange and turns them into household names. In Moon Knight, Oscar Isaac plays Marc Spector, a mercenary turned moon-god action hero.
  • Catch up on the Best Picture winner CODA, a little indie movie that deserves all the hype, and is streaming on Apple TV+.
  • Earlier this week I wrote about WeCrashed, the Apple TV+ series about the rise and fall of WeWork, from the perspective of someone who was employed there. It’s one of those series that reminds you that real life can be stranger than fiction, as the former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann (Jared Leto) builds a unicorn company on charisma and promises. But as weird as WeWork comes across in the show, the reality was much weirder.
  • The series finale of The Dropout—which, as a cautionary tale about the start-up Theranos, is a spiritual cousin to WeCrashed—streams on Hulu next Thursday, April 7. You already know the story (a Stanford dropout is called the “next Steve Jobs” until everything falls apart), but it’s worth watching for Amanda Seyfried’s captivating portrayal of Elizabeth Holmes.
  • If you’re looking for a binge, the magnetic and unscrupulous attorney Saul Goodman returns in the premiere of the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul—the slow-burn Breaking Bad spin-off that some call better than Breaking Bad itself—on Monday, April 18, on AMC. That gives you just enough time to watch the first five seasons on Netflix with your family this week; four seasons are available now, and the fifth arrives this Monday.
  • Finally, if Sunday’s Oscars telecast sparked your interest in awards shows again, watch the 64th Grammy Awards on Sunday, April 3, hosted by The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah. It’s a bizarre year for the ceremony, which is happening in Las Vegas for the first time: Ye (Kanye West’s new legal name) has been banned from performing following his latest antics, and Drake withdrew his own nominations. Will the shrinking influence of the Grammys lead to desperate stunts and shenanigans? It’s worth watching to find out.

The news in three sentences:

(1) U.S. intelligence reveals that President Vladimir Putin’s advisers misinformed him about the situation in Ukraine.

(2) Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine says she will vote to confirm President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

(3) The Biden administration is reportedly planning to lift a public-health order that has restricted immigration at U.S. land borders since the start of the pandemic.

Latest dispatches: In Wait, What?, Molly Jong-Fast argues that the press is still getting the GOP wrong. Galaxy Brain’s Charlie Warzel writes that the online response to Will Smith’s slap was utterly predictable.

A break from the news: For many Filipino Americans, SPAM is a beloved ingredient—but also a complicated cultural symbol.

Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.