When I ask friends about the unexpected benefits of quarantining with their families this past year, most of them mention bonding in front of the TV. A lot of my friends (and my own household included) have abandoned dinner around the table. Instead, we grab our plates and settle into the living room to watch a show together. Consequently, some may argue that this isn’t really quality time because we’re zoning out in front of the television. But, my response is: quite the opposite!
Without mundane conversation starters like, “How was your day?,” we’re discussing an array of important topics thanks to what we’re watching. We’re discussing serious dramas together, laughing our butts off, and we’re even escaping into the world of sci-fi, and things like the pandemic were the furthest thing from our minds for a few hours. I love having the extra time with my kids and bonding over our favorite shows. If you’re looking for a few recommendations to watch with your squad, check out our picks for the 10 best shows to watch with your teens for quality bonding time. To help you settle in on the couch, we’ve also compiled a list of TV show binging must-haves. So, get into your coziest gear, grab a blanket and some popcorn, and let the show begin.
#1 | Hanna
This addictive series is part high-concept thriller and part coming-of-age drama. The story follows 15-year-old Hanna, an extraordinary girl with enhanced abilities. She has spent her entire life raised in the secluded wilderness of northern Finland, trained to be an assassin by her father. He’s training her because they’re being relentlessly hunted by an off-book CIA agent. But what happens when an extraordinary girl just wants to be a normal teen? This is where the story really shines. Streaming on Amazon Prime.
#2 | Schitt’s Creek
This is the perfect show for a hilarious pick-me-up. The Canadian sitcom tells the story of a wealthy family who loses everything when they’re defrauded by their business manager. They move into a tiny, backwoods town and are forced to live out of a motel. Catherine O’Hara gives a phenomenal performance as the family matriarch, a former soap actress in denial about her social status. Also, a forward-thinking show, the son’s pansexuality is met not with scorn or judgment, but with a full, loving and witty embrace. Streaming on Netflix.
#3 | The Umbrella Academy
A beautifully filmed series, it’s based on the comic books written by popular Gen Z musician, Gerard Way. It’s about a group of adopted siblings with superpowers who team up to try and prevent a fiery future apocalypse. Parents with younger teens should be aware that there’s a lot of gore. Sex and romance are downplayed in favor of violence, but one adopted sibling does have romantic feelings for another, and there’s an openly gay, but hilarious, character who is a drug addict and alcoholic. Apart from that, the show is fun and visually stunning, and will surely score cool points with your kid. Streaming on Netflix.
#4 | The Queen’s Gambit
There’s a reason this limited series was #1 on Netflix for so long. It’s a heart-warming fictional series about a young female chess prodigy in the 1960s. Based on the novel by Walter Tevis, it deals with serious themes including mental illness, suicide, and addiction. The lead character struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, an issue that is furthered when her adoptive mother turns into her drinking buddy. But it’s also a triumphant story of making your dreams come true with hard work, and against all odds. Streaming on Netflix.
#5 | Breaking Bad
We just finished binging this with our 17-year-old, and let me tell you, it was a great conversation starter. A masterpiece of storytelling, Breaking Bad is a series that veers left every time you think you have a read on it. It’s never afraid to swing below the belt with despicable human behavior and wicked deeds. Bryan Cranston is amazing as Walter White, the high school chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin. A perfectly crafted show, it will keep your nerves on edge, and it’s impossible to only watch one at a time. Streaming on Netflix.
#6 | The Witcher
Based on a video game character, The Witcher is an absolute blast. The fantasy series is Lord of the Rings meets Game of Thrones—but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously. The show’s first season follows three stories that eventually converge. Henry Cavill’s Witcher is a muscle-for-hire monster hunter who begins to question why so many princesses have been turning into creatures. Yennefer of Vengerberg is a powerful sorceress in training who struggles to keep her emotions in check. And princess Ciri is on the run after the conquering of her city. Parents should be aware that there are some nudity and sex scenes, so it’s best to watch with older teens. Streaming on Netflix.
#7 | Orphan Black
The show is about clones, and that’s really all you need to know. But no matter how crazy the plots get, or how many clones it keeps adding to the original pack, the thing that will always hold the series together is Tatiana Maslany’s absorbing performance as multiple members of Clone Club. The mind-bending plots and pseudo-science are best left not too closely examined. When binged, however, the show takes on a rhythm that focuses on the character drama, which really draws you in. Streaming on Amazon Prime.
#8 | All American
Spencer James is a rising high school football player and a student at South Crenshaw High. When coach Billy Baker recruits him to join his team in Beverly Hills, Spencer’s mother, Grace, and his best friend, Coop, convince him it’s an opportunity of a lifetime. However, the coach’s son, who is also the starting quarterback, is less than thrilled to be sharing his father’s attention—or the team spotlight. While Spencer struggles to find his footing, the show tackles issues of racism, class differences and belonging. Streaming on Netflix.
#9 | Riverdale
Based on the iconic Archie comics, the show is nothing like the lighthearted original. While navigating the troubled waters of romance, school and family, Archie and his gang become entangled in dark Riverdale mysteries. After the death of one of the rich and popular Blossom twins on the 4th of July, the small town of Riverdale investigates the murder. True-to-life teen themes like slut-shaming, bullying, gang culture and sex are all covered. However, the strong female characters keep Riverdale well balanced, especially when depicting female friendships. Streaming on Netflix.
#10 | Stranger Things
If you haven’t watched this modern cult favorite yet, what are you waiting for? The smash-hit is perfect for younger teens and is much more filmic in nature. Show creators and brothers, Matt and Ross Duffer, say that binging Stranger Things is more akin to reading a great novel in one day. A win for sci-fi fans who don’t mind suspense and a bit of horror, the show’s main characters are a refreshing mix of tweens who bring both intensity and humor to an otherwise creepy storyline. Streaming on Netflix.
What are some of your family’s favorite binge shows? We’d love for you to share in the comments below!
Looking for another way to bond with your kids? Check out everything you’ll need for the best DIY mother-daughter spa day here.
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