Monday, September 06, 2010

What Shows Do You Watch with Your Tweens and Teens?

I wrote (um, more than once or twice) about Amanda and I watching American Idol last year. We really enjoyed the experience, both joining in the hype that most of the rest of the world has been involved in, as well as sharing it together.

When it was over, she said, "We need to find a new show." I was all for that, but there are two major obstacles to that.
  1. Family viewing is difficult. There's not much that is truly family-friendly.
  2. Add to that that we are on the East coast, with no DVR. That means that the first prime-time show doesn't even begin until 8:00pm and the last isn't over until 11:00 pm (I should have added that to the surprising facts about myself, but that might actually be changing soon. Very soon.).
When we spent many many hours in the car on our road trip to Texas, it led to what many hours inside a big metal box should lead to -- conversation. Amanda (almost 12), told me that she wishes that I'd let her watch PG-13 movies, as "all" of her friends do. She went on to say that she feels so babyish as compared to her friends.

It was a good time to have a heart to heart, and we did. I did realize that she's growing up. Along with the shaved legs and mascaraed eyelashes, which I started doing even earlier than she did, I know that by her age, I was watching more adult movies and TV shows as well.

I did quickly correct the assumption that just because she watched TV shows or movies with mature content, that did not make her mature. I also told her that she was going to have to learn to assert her independence, because very very soon (too too soon), her peers were going to be doing other things that they think will make them more mature, such as smoking and drinking.

My DARE graduate said, "But that's stupid. That's against the law. This is just a show."

I have loosened restrictions on reading, and I know that some of what she reads dips into typical high school behavior, but I also know it's nothing like the constant barrage she'll get if she immerses herself in mainstream media.

Back to the movies, I said, "I never said you couldn't watch any PG-13 movies. I said that even when you are 13, it won't mean you can watch all PG-13 movies. I'm willing to consider them on a case by case basis. What movies have your friends seen that you want to see?"

We went back and forth for a while, her insisting that she just wanted to be able to watch them, and me saying that isn't going to be able to, even when she's 13 (or 14 for that matter).

Finally she said, "I've heard The Proposal is funny."

I remember watching The Proposal and I actually remember thinking that it was surprisingly clean.  So it will probably be on our Netflix list soon.

She also mentioned Psych, and with any of those detective shows there's some inappropriate crimes, but we've watched a few together.  I liked this exchange in episode two from this season:
Gus said, "They weren't even married. Why would they be trying to get pregnant?"
 Of course Psych-guy immediately corrected him. But that is life, right? Most people do think that marriage isn't a prerequisite to having children, but I liked that the less-mainstream viewpoint was expressed.

We recently had a "Fail" with this whole experiment.  I remembered loving 27 Dresses, and thought it was on the clean side of PG-13.  Since I had seen it, I didn't do my research (PluggedIn is very conservative, but gives a complete run down of violence, cursing, and other mature themes in movies so that I can make my own decision).  When there had already been a couple of sexual comments and not-so-mild swear-words within the first 15 minutes or so, Terry was giving me looks.  I reevaluated my decision, and we sent Amanda to bed, and she was fine with it.  Terry and I enjoyed it thoroughly -- being quite over the age of 13.

So -- I'll send it back to you.  What TV shows and movies do you watch with your tweens and teens?  Or if you don't have tweens and teens, which movies and shows have you seen that would be appropriate to share?


Carrie said...

White Collar is actually surprisingly clean! They're only into Season 2 and just at the beginning of Season 2 there was a brief nude scene in a pool, but you didn't see any thing. Otherwise, it's FANTASTIC story telling, suspenseful, full of twists, turns and cliff hangers and just FUN! At the end of almost every episode Jonathan and I sit back in awe of the story tellers and cinematography. We're fans. =) When our boys are teens, I'd definitely let them watch a show like this!

Florinda said...

It's tricky around our house - we have a 10-year-old and a 16-year-old, and there aren't many shows we can all watch together, so sometimes we're in shifts. Psych isn't a bad choice for all of us, though, and I'd echo Carrie's recommendation of White Collar - LOVE that show! But aside from those and The Amazing Race, the list of "family" shows is pretty small.

We have more latitude with the 16-year-old after the 10-year-old's bedtime. Currently, our favorite with her is Battlestar Galactica on DVD - highly intelligent, but much too intense for her younger brother.

KidSkills said...

After watching 2 seasons of Royal Pains, I have found that it's pretty good. I agree on White Collar. Tweens are catered to on Disney and Nickelodeon but most of the shows aren't much fun for a parent to watch. However, sometimes I turn to movies when spending time with tweens - The Blind Side is a good one. The old shows are a hoot to watch with the kids... I Love Lucy is fun!

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Thanks all for the recommendations (so far -- keep them coming!).

I will definitely check out White Collar (for me, even if tweenie doesn't watch with us), and I had been planning on looking into Royal Pains as well. When I was on my Despicable Me press junket, Mark Feurstein the star was there as well, because they were doing the Royal Pains press stuff as well. He was super-nice to everyone (as he hung out at the pool as super dad).

And KidSkills, thanks for the Blind Side recommendation, because it's definitely on mine and my husband's list that we haven't gotten around to watching, so we'll include Amanda on that as well.

Nancy said...

Doctor Who, maybe? It's a great show and is actually considered a kid's show in the UK. At 7 my son is a ways away from PG-13 so no suggestions there.

Also is another good resource for determining if the content is acceptable.

dianne said...

For a few bucks more a month, I think DVR is surprisingly worth it. Our current favorite show is Rizzoli & Isles but we can't make it till 10pm to watch it so we have a backlog of taped episodes to watch. Not sure if NCIS would be too mature for family viewing. I like White Collar too. You could always rent episodes of Monk or some other TV series from Netflix perhaps. It's a shame there really aren't more worthwhile family shows out there.

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Well, since I'm probably the most uptight mom you know when it comes to "family friendly" TV & can guess that we don't watch a whole lot. :) Honestly, we enjoy geeky stuff together -- History channel or Science channel. We also like America's Funniest Videos and C. loves Minute to Win It (which I tolerate for the together-time). We really liked watching Next Food Network Star together.

Not much at all in the way of dramas or comedies. But my husband and I don't watch much of those to begin with...

morninglight mama said...

You know, I didn't comment on this the other day because we don't really watch TV together as a family... the younger kids watch a "kids show" in the morning while I eat/check email/go to the bathroom by myself, and JAM watches DVR'd episodes of Clone Wars on the weekends, and Scott and I watch random stuff together after the kids go to bed.

But then tonight, I came downstairs after putting the younger kids to bed and JAM and Scott started watching a DVR'd episode of Wipeout. Some snarky humor in the "commentary," but innocent enough, and the three of us are CRACKING UP!

monica @ paperbridges said...

Last season, we all watched Survivor together. we've had great discussions on ethics, friendship, sportsmanship, lying. They bleep out the super bad words, blur wardrobe malfunctions and with the DVR we can skip the ads. The commercials are worse than the shows! If DVR isn't an option, you may want to watch via CBS or another online venue such as .... can't remember! You get the content but no comericials, just a brief ad. The downside is it comes on a day after the program.