Teens can be a bit difficult to predict. Sometimes it probably seems like they hate you, but other times they need you. And doing literally any activity with them might seem impossible sometimes; you’ve probably tried and failed to get them to play a game, go for a walk or maybe even just have a conversation with you. But what if you found an activity where you don’t have to talk, you both get a chance to relax and you’re more than likely laughing during the whole thing?

Yep, you guessed it — I’m talking about watching TV. While parents and teens don’t have a ton in common, something most people in any phase of life enjoy is streaming a show. And believe it or not, there are a lot of options available that people of all age groups can enjoy.

The best part is that you can actually use the shows as a way to start otherwise difficult or awkward conversations with them. For example, it would be weird if you brought up anything related to sex, drugs, or alcohol with your kid out of nowhere — but it wouldn’t be as weird if you just watched a character on a show learn about the same things the hard way.

Keep reading to see some suggestions of shows you and your teen will get a kick out of, and maybe a conversation. If you can skillfully leverage a conversation from one of these, it may help you bond with them… and then maybe they’ll forget to hate you.

01

Gossip Girl

Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

OK, your teen’s life probably doesn’t look much like Serena van der Woodsen’s. But anything that happens in her Upper East Side private school could be happening in your kid’s life too. You and your child can use this dramatized rendition of growing up to discuss how they can approach situations involving everything from gossip to consent to addiction. This is probably better for you if you’ve seen the show — and if you have an older teen who isn’t too uncomfortable watching some sex scenes with their parent.

02

Derry Girls

Netflix

This comedy series set in Ireland focuses on five teenagers attending a Catholic high school during the late ’90s, when discrimination against Catholics ran rampant in the country. Your teen might not have been alive during this, but it’s still pretty recent. Having a newer example of civil unrest and widespread prejudice could help your child understand and talk about similar problems in the U.S. right now, as well as religious freedom, the wealth divide, and more.

03

The Summer I Turned Pretty

Erika Doss/Prime Video

The Summer I Turned Pretty is a more recent book-turned-show about Belly, a girl who has a “glow up” and attracts the attention of two boys she has known her whole life because their mothers are best friends. Belly and her family visit the boys and their family every summer at their beach house. As Belly comes to understand herself more, she gains confidence but also makes some poor decisions.

TSITP shows a lot of character development amongst all of the teenagers on the show, as well as the struggles their moms face amid divorces, career difficulties, and grief. This series, which has already been renewed for a third season, is a great conversation starter about the growing up that happens in your late teens and adulthood.

04

Never Have I Ever

Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023

Never Have I Ever focuses on the life choices of Devi, a high school teen whose ultimate goal is to get into Princeton. After suddenly losing her father, Devi’s ability to see right from wrong weakens. She is forced to learn from her mistakes the hard way, which impacts her future.

Devi and her friends face school-aged issues like what different types of bullying can look like, but also real-world problems like racism, homophobia, and more. They’re also navigating sex and dating for the first time. Since your teen could be dealing with any of these issues, watching the show together could foster a conversation about it.

05

Atypical

Tyler Golden/Netflix

This heartwarming comedy-drama tells the story of Sam, a teenager on the spectrum, who decides he wants to start dating. His parents were unprepared for it, just like you might feel about your child wanting to date. This could help you understand their goals for a love life and how you might want to approach it. Or, it could start a conversation about challenges people face that may be unfamiliar to us but how it’s important to understand their struggles.

06

Gilmore Girls

Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Yes, this gets added to every list of shows for parents and their kids, but for good reason: Rory and Lorelai have unique lives and silly situations, and they handle a lot of them quite poorly. The hilarity of the show makes the characters really likable, though. Your kid can get a laugh from it, but also learn from their mistakes and start talking about how to confront the issues we face in life, logical decision-making, and properly dealing with people we may not like very much.

07

Kim’s Convenience

CBC

Kim’s Convenience is about a couple who immigrated from Korea to Canada and own a small grocery store there. Their interactions with their customers, friends, and each other lead to conversations about everything from racism to growing up to dating. It’s another show that will make you laugh and bring up issues that otherwise may be difficult to approach.

08

The Good Place

Colleen Hayes/NBC

What do most teenagers need to become more aware of as they approach adulthood? The consequences of their actions. Doing good leads to being good, which is what protagonist Eleanor has to realize when she ends up in The Good Place (a Heaven equivalent) despite being kind of a bad person on Earth. She has to learn to fit in with “good people” who rightfully got there by becoming a better person herself.

While you probably don’t want to send the message that any lousy decision can send your kid to whatever bad place there might be out there, it’s a funny show that you can use to communicate the benefits of being good.

09

Friends

Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Getty Images

Friends has 10 whole seasons of content to watch and discuss. The six friends in the group make so many bad decisions, have so many celebratory moments, and undergo a lot of unique situations that can serve as a model of what “growing up” looks like (and how we’re still growing even in our late 20s/early 30s).

Watching this show can help your child understand there’s no rush to figure things out. It can also show them how different a group’s individual lives can look — and why it’s OK to make the choices that feel the best for them, not their peers.

10

Freaks and Geeks

NBC

Another ’90s sitcom, this one focuses on two high school-aged siblings, Sam and Lindsay. Lindsay is coming into a sort of “bad girl” phase and falls into a group that gets her into a little bit of trouble, sometimes at the cost of her brother and his friends. As they both grow up, they experience growing pains related to dating, bullying, and self-assurance.

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