If you and your loved one are currently having carefree, cutesy conversations about having children while you peacefully chow down on Sunday brunch at your favourite cafe, then you really need to watch Martin Freeman's new comedy Breeders.
Because I've been there and I remember those conversations well. The ones where you discuss your shared future of being the best parents ever to the best kids ever. You picture running along the beach while your two grinning rugrats trail behind trying to tackle you to the ground. Then you let them catch you - best parent ever, remember - and you all collapse onto the golden sand in a big laughing pile.
It plays out in your head in a glorious honey-coloured haze as you scoff down your eggs benny and debate whether another coffee or, perhaps, a cheeky Bloody Mary is what's needed to shake your well earned hangover from the night before.
While there are those summery moments of unbridled happiness, sure, most of the time parenting is more how it's depicted in Breeders. An exhausting and aggravating test of character. That you fail a lot of the time.
There's a line in the first episode that hit particularly hard. Freeman's character Paul, was in the pub having a pint with his doddery old dad discussing how parenting has changed.
"I went to work and your mum did everything else," his Dad says, reminiscing. "I don't think I was ever as nice as you are."
"I'm not a nice man," Freeman replies with a worn out look in his eyes that will be instantly recognisable to parents of young children everywhere. "I found that out. I thought I was nice. For 30 odd years I was convinced I was. But I'm not. I'm nasty."
It felt painfully real. That sleep deprived sadness you feel when you think you're not shaping up to be as stellar as you thought you'd be. Then the show cut away to a flashback of Paul gently cradling his baby, rocking him to sleep. His face lights up. He's done it! Slowly, softly he leans over and slowly, softly he places the snoozing baby into the cot.
"Easy... " he whispers to himself, "easy..."
Slowly, softly, he pulls his hands free and stands up. His face relaxes into a satisfied smile. Quietly he turns to leave and... the baby starts wailing.
"Mother f*****g!!!" he shouts, losing his cool and burying his face in his hands. He turns back to the cot and steams, "Be reasonable you p****!"
It was not too long ago I was in that exact situation so I found this very relatable content. I have to admit that in moments of pure frustration I too have appealed to a baby's sense of reason in a less than calm, cool or collected fashion.
This scene was funny because it was true which was also awful but somehow strangely reassuring. Parenting is relentlessly hard and is not often shown as such.
This is pretty much the whole pitch for Breeders, which streams weekly on Neon. Unlike the family sitcoms of yore where toddlers delivers cutesy one liners with a million-dollar-per-episode smile and children go to bed when they're told, the show keeps it real. And reality is often not pretty or funny. Unless you're watching it on TV.
Yes, Breeders shows what parenting is really like. Every painful, exasperating, sleep deprived moment of it. You would die for you children, it acknowledges, but you also want to kill them.
The first episode is about sleep and how as a parent you often don't get any. Paul and wife Ally (played by Daisy Haggard) take turns throughout the night trying to get their two small kids to go to sleep and stay asleep. The second episode shows them scheming and plotting on how to get their oldest into a good school.
As a reflection of the last year of my life Breeders was scarily accurate. Funny. But also frightening in its accuracy.
In a later episode the kids are in the bath while Paul and Ally chat outside the door about schools. Paul's spiralling down a rabbit hole of 'what if's' as he details the worst possible future if the children go to the good school and not the "outstanding" school. A lot of parents will see themselves in this scene. Having recently lived through this myself the cringe was almost unbearable.
As they talk the kids get louder and louder and louder and the convo gets tenser and tenser until finally Paul snaps, swinging open the bathroom door to shout, "Shut the f**k up with the splashing!" before closing the door again, and lovingly saying to Ally, "I just want what's best for the kids."
And that's parenting. Messy and loud and not at all like you imagined. Apart from those times when it is.