Apple TV+’s “Dads” Review: A Refreshing Film That Flies Because We Want It To

Apple TV+ Movies, Documentaries
Apple TV+'s Dads

I don’t usually watch documentaries. In fact, I could say never watch documentaries and it won’t be a misplaced hyperbole. I watch documentaries on TV or Youtube. The other day, I watched a documentary about how Football confronted a repressive junta in 1970s Chile on Aljazeera and it touched me deeply. But Youtube doesn’t feel like documentaries. They are just 15 minutes long, or so. I think Apple TV+’s “Dads” is one of the only film-length documentary I have watched in my remembered memory. There should be others but I have to think too deep and too long. I don’t have that time. P.S. This is my side hustle.

I am writing this on Father’s Day. I think it wasn’t coincidental that Apple+ TV released this on Father’s Day eve, though it was released in 2019 in festivals. There couldn’t be a better time to release it but on a day set aside to celebrate fathers worldwide. The first thing that came to my mind when I watched the documentary was an article I read in the cause of my degree which was written by Pamela Paul in the Atlantic titled “Are Fathers Necessary?” It isn’t a great article I must confess rereading today.

She ended the article by saying, “The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there’s nothing objectively essential about his contribution. The good news is, we’ve gotten used to him.” The first sentence is false. The second sentence is false. As a feminist myself, I hate to openly contend with the points of a comrade but this one is very necessary. She attacks and dismissed an important aspect of the family setting, traditional family but family all the same.

The family is the first social unit a child comes into. The family is the first unit of education for the child. The family can teach the daughter not to shriek. The family can teach the son to respect women. And no, Paul’s alternative can work but it is not superior to a father and mother setting. All male parents and all-female parents lack either a mother figure or a father figure respectively. Two fathers cannot make up for the lack of a mother in the same way two mothers cannot make up for the lack of a father. But this last scenario, lesbian parents is what Paul bases her entire essay on. Research shows that lesbian parents are closer to their children than dads.

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If research is infallible, let’s look at this one: Children without a father at home are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit a crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and twenty times more to end up in prison. Guess where I got this research? From Pamela Paul’s article. But she dismissed it as “not proven”. Conveniently, she championed the superiority of lesbian parents over “diaper-bag-toting” fathers based on “not proven” research.

Beyond Apple TV+’s “Dads”

Fathers are important, very important, and it is not because of Apple TV+’s “Dads”. What “Dads” does for you make you proud of your father, miss your father happy you are a good father, excited to be a father soon, happy to be married to a good father, etc. This documentary film does not change the fact that there are millions of terrible fathers out there. This film doesn’t change the fact that fatherhood is not as exciting as the film shows. Fatherhood is rewarding. If you didn’t know that, listen to the voice of the men in the documentary. Will Smith likened fathers as master gardeners. The reward of a gardener is watching his rose grow as a rose and not an ostrich.

It is easier for a rich man who is also a celebrity to make a good father than the so-called everyday father. If you don’t have to worry about rent, about what the kids will eat, wear, and the toys to play with; if you have a lot of space and rooms, it won’t be a cramped frustration – they would be enough space to vent and sigh. If you can afford cleaners and minders, it would be easier for you to handle the mess. And if you are a comedian, reality star, or actor, it would be easy to find the words to make fatherhood sound exciting.

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It shows men when they learned that they are going to be a father because the test showed the wife was pregnant. They howl, they run leap to the sky, they run around. Then they stop, some of them, to think of diapers and baby poo and then they are not so excited.

Even if you are a men-hating type of feminist, you will not hate this movie. Or you should not. It is easy to tell why, Apple TV+’s “Dads” is about moms too. You see pregnant mothers excited about the fact that a full human being is growing inside of her. We saw mothers in the delivery room, sweating, biting their lips as they push out those tiny little bundles.

This documentary is also about children, sweet little mobsters.

The film was directed by Bryce Dallas Howard and featured Will Smith, Jimmy Fanon, Jimmy Kimmel, Judd Apatow, Hasan Minhaj, and other stars and non-stars. Now, imagine if all these stars are ex-criminals who were each jailed for terms and then come out of prison and Howard gives them a call to make a documentary about prison to be titled “Prisoners”. I promise you, by the end of the show, you would relish prison. Perhaps this is a bad comparison. Fatherhood is not a terrible place to be in but I am saying that people who can make you fall in love with a prison would make you excited by fatherhood. If you let them.

I think you let “Dads” have this impact on you because you watched it. It is like a magnet, if you bring a pin close to it, it would capture it. Another terrible comparison. But it is up there with Will Smith’s rose and ostrich. I had fun watching this film. You too will.

Image source: Collider

Amos JC

Amos JC

Amos JC is the head of movies and TV content.