As my teens get older, they’re becoming increasingly independent and so we’ve traded summers filled with family activities for summers filled with friends and drop-offs. This means we see each other less and the time we spend together is important. So every summer I make a list with my teens of the best television shows to watch with my teenagers.
Many times, the shows I choose bring up issues we can explore in a comfortable place. Sometimes they provide needed humor in the often strained kid/parent dynamic that has become a reality since they’ve segued into their teen years. Either way, the shows we watch together allow us neutral ground where we can spend some downtime together.
Here are five binge-worthy shows to watch with teenagers. I’m looking forward to watching them with mine.
Shows to Watch with Teenagers:
This CW show is based on the iconic Archie comics but is actually nothing like the lighthearted original. Attractive, 20-something actors play teens with intense, soap opera storylines guaranteed to keep your teen interested.
Not only are we old enough to parent teens, but so are the teens we used to idolize. The late Luke Perry, of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame and Molly Ringwald, the ginger-haired muse of several John Hughes films, play Archie’s parents. Watching our youthful idols will soothe your GenX nostalgia-loving soul—and maybe make you feel old. The freshman, sophomore and junior seasons of Archie are now available on Netflix.
Beverly Hills, 90210 (Yes, the original)
Part nostalgia, part cheesy teen soap opera, there is nothing like this 1990s drama to show your teen what life was like when you were a teen. From the baby-doll dresses and mom jeans to the retro music you can now hear on the oldies station, this Aaron Spelling show still shines.
You and your teen can discuss whether Dylan belongs with Kelly or Brenda and analyze Brandon and Brenda’s creepy-close sibling relationship. When you finish the series (or your teen grows bored), you can watch the reboot. But I can tell you from experience that it might be a tough sell to convince your teen to watch the middle-aged versions of Brenda, Brandon, and David.
This Duffer Brothers’ Netflix show is a nostalgic pastiche of the many great movies GenXers grew up watching. Spotting the numerous references has become something of a game between my kids and me. The show is infused with familiar 1980s memories, from toasting Eggo waffles for breakfast to playing Dungeons and Dragons in the basement. It’s an interesting homage to a childhood that feels like it happened all too long ago.
Stranger Things has already developed a cult-like following across generations and spawned a million products. The first two seasons are available on Netflix, and the eagerly-anticipated third season started July 4.
This binge-worthy mystery, set in the fictional town of West Ham, premiered on Netflix in May. If you read Lord of the Flies in school, then this parent-free drama might hold appeal. The premise features a group of attractive teens who return from a rained-out field trip to find their town empty. When left to fend for themselves without parents, things get interesting and complicated.
Where is everyone? How will they find food once their supply runs out? And why does a random dog show up at the oddest times? The Society will keep you and your teen guessing (and talking).
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Don’t be fooled by the title. This reboot is nothing like the late 1990s ABC sitcom starring Melissa Joan Hart. Gone are the kindly aunts and the inviting house. Instead, Sabrina’s aunts run a mortuary and cater to the town’s recently expired. Sabrina is played by the glorious Kiernan Shipka, who also played Don Draper’s daughter on AMC’s Mad Men.
Based on the Archie comic book by the same name, this supernatural tale is a dark and disturbing journey that follows Sabrina Spellman, half mortal and half witch, on and after her sixteenth birthday. Originally meant to be a CW show like Riverdale, Sabrina instead went to Netflix. The first two seasons are available to binge.
My teens are growing up and away, and I’ll take any opportunity to connect with them in these last summers at home. It doesn’t hurt that these shows not only let us connect, but also they keep all of us engaged. That’s half the battle with teenagers. The other half is learning to let go —at least until they come home and join me on the couch for another episode.