Dads Apple TV Plus Documentary

Dads (Apple TV) Review: An Optimistic Exploration of Western Fatherhood

What is it like being a father? How is fatherhood evolutionary to a man? These are the questions that form the basis of Apple TV‘s latest original Dads. Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, the film is a documentary that emphasizes on the trials and tribulations of modern-day parenting. Though, it is rooted entirely in showcasing the experience of the dads, not the moms. 

Released on the occasion of Father’s day, the film is a suitably good watch. It has a phenomenal lineup of celebrity dads, a fantastic amount of rare footage, and a strong narrative focused on elucidating the questions mentioned above. However, it misses out on something extremely vital that could have made it universally impactful: heterogeneity.

Eastern Vs. Western: ‘Dads’ is Ignorant of the Indian, Chinese Parenting Style

While the film tells 6 resonating stories of fatherhood spanning across varied locations (California, Virginia, Brazil, Japan, and Maryland), it misses out on the Eastern culture, primarily of India and China. There is a significant difference between the parenting practices of both the Eastern and Western people. Hence, at various points in the film, the experiences shared by the parents seem ordinary and uninteresting. 

As an Indian myself, I underwent snatches of boredom in two of the stories (Californian and Brazilian), that emphasize fundamental parenting challenges such as projectile vomiting, untimely poops, backaches, sleep deprivation, and so on. None of the said stuff is unusual, for every parent has to deal with it, regardless of gender. Besides, these challenges have a completely different equation for the Asians. 

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In India, parents massively benefit from their kid’s grandparents, who help divide the burden of parenthood. Though, this is not to say their responsibilities are limited. They have other distinctive obligations that add up, which would have been amazing to see in the film. 

Nonetheless, Dads do deliver when it focuses on expressing how a man has to cope with the drastic changes in lifestyle. Each of the accounts brings a unique aspect to the narrative that effectively portrays every husband’s journey of coming to grips with the massive responsibility of fatherhood. 

Tells Influential Stories of Both Celebrity and Non-Celebrity Fathers

Commendable work has been done in the editing and direction. The narrative goes seamlessly back and forth between the celebrity interviews and the live-action documentation of the ordinary individuals.

While the first 15 or 20 minutes feel easy-going, the emotional weight comes in the second act, where Robert Shelby’s story kicks in. Born with a congenital heart defect, Shelby’s child required extensive care. His wife got separated from him after giving birth, for he showed unacceptance for the kid at the time she attained pregnancy.

As a result of the enormous guilt in his heart, Shelby ensured taking care of the kid as he worked 12-hours a day, without compromising the offduty hours with his kid. The right amount of footage cushions his story very well, which by the time it makes the transition to the next record, leaves a significantly moving impact.

Other than him is Thiago Queiroz from Brazil, who confesses drinking coffee as his way of getting rid of the exhaustion arising from being a stay-at-home dad. From Japan too, there is a househusband, who acknowledges fatherhood as a life-changing experience that helped him cure his illness and discover daily joy.

Reece Scheer in Dads Apple TV Plus

There is a beautiful story of a gay couple as well that spotlights the joy of foster parenting. Since they couldn’t reproduce on their own and were unwilling to a surrogate, they satisfied their yearning to become parents by adopting (a lot of) children. 

Each of the said stories highlight the role of parenthood pretty well. Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, in their commentaries, share moving stories as well. They explain how they became workaholics because their top priority shifted to earning enough money to feed their families upon being a father.

Will Smith shares a very relatable account too. He regales how fearful he was to drive his car when he was returning from the hospital with his wife and newborn son. Everyone seemed to be driving too fast to him than usual, for he knew the infant’s life entirely rested on his shoulders. 

Bryce’s father, Ron Howard, his grandad Rance Howard, and his brother, Reed Howard, also share their fatherhood stories. Their account nicely differentiates from the others based on describing parenthood as a way of carrying on the legacy of being an excellent father. 

Bryce’s dad explains how he never skipped prioritizing time for his kids, even though he used to be too busy with work. In Robert Shelby’s words, “it is the father a child most eagerly waits for at the end of a day. He doesn’t care for whether he is tired or not. All he wants is him to play all the time he gets to spend.”

It is such small but meaningful remarks that makes Dads a rewarding film. Although it could have been universal if it included the viewpoint of the Eastern style of parenting, you’ll feel happy about watching it.

You can stream Dads now on Apple TV Plus. Watch the trailer below.

Rating: 3 / 5

Have you seen Dads? What do you think about Bryce Dallas Howard’s work as a first-time director? Please share your thoughts below in the comments section.

Mayank Nailwal
Passionate about films & filmmaking since 2002.
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