10 Shows Parents and Teens Will Enjoy Watching Together

TV time can be quality time when you watch and discuss topical, timely, or thought-provoking shows with your teen. By Polly Conway
10 Shows Parents and Teens Will Enjoy Watching Together

Watching TV with your teens has all kinds of pitfalls: out-of-the-blue raunchy sex scenes, a surprise bloodbath (Game of Thrones, anyone?), and other awkward moments you never wanted to share with your kids. And that's if you're lucky enough to get them in the room! But the right shows can bring families together.

Even though it doesn't always feel like it, part of the fun of raising teens is that they have the ability to think deeply about issues, with strong opinions that are easier to share when they're talking about TV and not their own lives. You can use the following teen-friendly shows as a launchpad for conversations you might not otherwise be able to have. And your kids might, just might, think you're cool for a brief, wonderful moment.

Amazing Race, CBS
Competitions and game shows are great for parents and teens to watch together; they're engrossing, dramatic, and thoroughly entertaining. This one can inspire chats about teamwork, perseverance, and even culture clashes.

The Good Place, NBC
This afterlife-set series asks the big questions in delightfully ridiculous ways. Teens just figuring out how they feel about the world and what it means to be a good person will love exploring deep stuff through the lens of a motley crew of misfits (including Jacksonville's worst amateur EDM DJ masquerading as a Buddhist monk!) who definitely don't belong in "the good place." 

Black-ish, ABC
A sitcom that's appropriate for whole-family viewing, this lovable show is funny, brave, and topical for families of all colors and creeds. And older teens who are ready for plots that are a bit more mature can follow daughter Zoey to college on spinoff Grown-ish

Queer Eye, Netflix
Your teen may think they're  tough as nails, but all parties will be reaching for the box of tissues after watching this heartwarming and just-plain-fun makeover show. While it's a delight to watch the physical transformations created by lifestyle experts the Fab 5, it's the self-esteem lessons and examples of human kindness that really shine, making this much more than your average reality show. 

Freaks and Geeks, streaming
This early '80s-set cult classic is so hilarious your teens might forget that it's all about how hard it is to be a teenager. No show understands teen angst like this one, and teens will see themselves and their own challenges reflected in a freak, a geek, or both.

Jeopardy, syndicated
Yeah, it's pretty square. But it can also be a low-key way to test your knowledge against your teens. With its topical, historical, and just-plain-fun trivia questions, it can spark interesting discussions.

Monty Python's Flying Circus, streaming
Pretty clean and seriously silly, teens who are just developing their grown-up sense of humor will come for the goofy sight gags but stay for the absurd satire.

Nailed It!, Netflix
Cooking shows have long been a welcome safe space for all-family viewing; from Chopped to The Great British Baking Show, they offer just enough drama and hardly any cringe-worthy moments. However, this goofy dessert competition has just the right amount of edge for teens who crack up at cake fails and jokes that'll land with grown-ups too.

Seinfeld, streaming
Teens are old enough to understand that all the characters on this show about nothing are selfish, rude, and an absolute delight to watch.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, streaming
If your kids are sci-fi fans, this is a wonderful watch-together option. Its futuristic setting allows it to make social commentary on all kinds of issues, including racial discrimination, intergalactic political rivalries, gay rights, and lots more, without being too heavy-handed.

Stranger Things, Netflix
This retro sci-fi mystery is a really fun choice for families with older teens. Not only does it star lots of great kids and teens learning some major lessons about friendship, love, and life, but its plot, featuring creepy government plots, a spooky underworld, and lots of drama, is gripping from start to finish (and just scary enough!). 

About Polly Conway

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As Common Sense Media's Senior TV Editor, Polly is responsible for championing the latest and greatest in TV for kids and families. She's an expert in the realm of shows that are created for (and/or appeal to -- not... Read more

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Comments (15)

Teen, 15 years old written by TheAlmightyCastform

Me and my mom both enjoy watching Steven Universe together, though I recommend you don't start watching until the series ends so you can avoid the long hiatuses between new episodes.
Adult written by Tom S.

My goodness, Ms. Conway is extremely permissive in her suggestions of what is appropriate for a 13-year old to watch! SNL and Daily Show are most certainly NOT appropriate! I am concerned that Ms. Conway's ideologies are getting in the way of her critical faculties. I will not trust her opinion going forward.
Teen, 14 years old written by Camille Engelson

As someone who was recently 13 years old I would like to inform you that while you may not think SNL is appropriate the reality is that middle schoolers, yes younger than 13, are very familiar with SNL due to it being an extremely important aspect of pop culture. As for it being appropriate, topics you may find controversial are frequent conversation topics in a middle school, especially anything sexual. And since sex ed is taught in middle school there isn’t a way to avoid it, which is probably why Ms. Conway found it appropriate to recommend a show so relatable to what 13-year-olds are actually talking about.
Kid, 11 years old

I watch Survivor with my Mom. Even though the rating is 14+ , it is good for ages 10+ if you are ok with words like B****, A**, and H***(and they aren't said that frequently). With worse words the audio is just removed. Great show and Very addicting! (SIDE NOTE: If you have Hulu the first season I recommend watching is Season 25: Philippines)
Kid, 12 years old

Ooh, another one to add is Gilmore Girls. My mom and I watch this together and it's great. 12 and up.
Adult written by m s

Why is this Polly Conway doing these reviews? Have you even watched the shows you reviewed? Or do you even have kids? I would expect this type of review on many other sights but I thought csm was legit for parents and kids to get trustworthy recommendations. Sure Saturday night live has funny skits-that I used to utube afterwards with my kids. But to watch the show live-with kids-OMG! I have seen some of the most crass, disgusting, even obscene scenes in the last few years that I choose to not watch it anymore. I'm shocked that you would recommend this for 13 year olds!! And the Daily Show??? REALLY? Is that what csm is? Well, do you have any other shows you would like to recommend that have a left leaning/racist(yes) agenda to sexualize children??
Parent of a 11, 13, and 17 year old written by Wen O.

Agreed! SNL is DEFINITELY not appropriate for young teens... there is a reason why it comes on SO late. The last time I stayed up to watch it, it was very vulgar and it wasn't even THAT funny. Not what it used to be, that's for sure.
Adult written by Sadman

I don't know about Monty Python. Most episodes are OK for families but there are also some with comedic gore and there was even an episode where a topless woman appeared. SNL isn't bad by today's TV standards, but it might not appeal to kids. I would add Doctor Who to the list, definitely. At least as of the end of 2016 it was still a very family-friendly show (there are some troubling rumours of it becoming more "adult" going forward in 2017 which in my opinion will kill the show). I'd steer clear of its R-rated Class and Torchwood spin-offs, though. (There's no reason for teens not to enjoy The Sarah Jane Adventures but it's pitched a little younger.)
Parent written by shaunah1

SNL and The Daily Show are totally inappropriate for 13 year olds. It's too crass to watch as an adult. There are other shows that are better to watch with teens and tweens. We like Studio C on BYUTV. It's a sketch comedy group that has been recently featured on Conan. You can watch them on YouTube. We also like Who Do You Think You Are? on TLC. It's about celebrities finding their ancestors.
Parent of a 10, 13, and 18+ year old written by osubux1

The idea that a show like The Middle doesn't make the list and the Daily Show does is laughable. Perhaps you should check CSM's own review on both shows. One would assume that the show with a CSM higher ranking for positive role models and positive messages would make the list over a show with a higher CSM ranking for sex and language. Here, let me help on your Daily Show review: "Cursing, including unbleeped ("s--t" and "bitch")and bleeped curses ("motherf---er"). Jokes about sex and body parts, race, religion, tough topics like war and famine." Can't wait to gather the family around to enjoy some of that! You used to be better than this CSM.
Kid, 11 years old

Lol! next list: Top Ten Family Shows great for kids Ages 6 and up! Number One: South Park
Parent written by ib4u

When our three were tweens, Star Trek TNG and DS9 were our go-to shows (and both series ran 7 years ea., so plenty of ep's). Now in high school we have been working through Elementary, the reimagined Sherlock Holmes with Lucy Lui and Jonny Lee Miller. Great acting and production quality, complicated, imaginative plots (just like Conan Doyle, but the writing is fresh, plots have little to no connection with the original stories), and the bad guys are always caught in the end.
Teen, 15 years old written by Elvis1202eE

SNL is Definitely not appropriate for 13 yr olds. It hosts and weekly talent go into certain topics that are crude and quite frankly grotesque.
Adult written by kim1970

"The Middle" is a great, wholesome sitcom that our family enjoys together. How the SNL of today made this list is beyond me. It seems to get cruder every episode.