Kid friendly grown up movies/TV?
July 11, 2013 2:36 AM   Subscribe

My 10 and 8 year old daughters adored The Nr. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (the TV series). What other made-for-adults movies or TV could we watch together?

My kids would really, really like to watch (together with me) movies or TV series about adults. I guess it's about getting their first glimpses of the grown-up world. But I still want to filter a bit! We watch relatively little TV in general.

Things that are important to me:

- Passing the Bechdel test, preferably with flying colours
- Diversity, no negative stereotyping
- Age-appropriate wrt sexual content (not in itself a taboo subject in our house; make out scenes are fine, actual copulation not)
- Not too bleak, violent or frightening
- I'm not fussy about bad language
- The girls prefer realism to fantasy

Aside from The Nr.1LDA, which ticked all the boxes, we've enjoyed watching e.g. a season of Survivor (the girls were especially fascinated by the social game), some classic adventures such as Back to The Future 1-3, and Penelope and a few other romantic comedies. The girls were e.g. really into No Reservations (!!). I'm a bit reluctant to immerse us too deep into the romcom genre, though. And adventure & superhero stuff tends to be quite male-centric, which frustrates us all.

What else is there? My attempts to google this aren't turning up anything useful.

NB. Not looking for kids' movies/TV that grown ups can also stomach. Those are efficiently marketed to us every day.
posted by sively to Media & Arts (46 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Try the BBC series of Miss Marple with Joan Hickson. It's on Netflix in the US. The books were written beginning in the 1930s, the series is set in the 1950s and it was filmed in the 1980s, so there are some (rare) moments of social attitude across 30 hours of television that are not what you'd call contemporary but Miss Marple herself is very progressive.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:49 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Gilmore Girls?
posted by empath at 2:50 AM on July 11, 2013 [7 favorites]

Doc Marten, a uk tv series will meet your criteria.
posted by BenPens at 2:51 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Depending on their sophistication, Downton Abbey? They'd probably just like it for the clothes alone!
posted by caoimhe at 2:54 AM on July 11, 2013

Best answer: I have never heard anyone negatively review or not enjoy the New Zealand film Whale Rider. It was rated PG-13 but it should have been rated G or PG. Inspiring and entertaining story with a teen female protagonist.
posted by samuelcramer at 2:55 AM on July 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

I found it hard to understand myself, but at that age my daughters adored Dog the Bounty Hunter. The family is filled with interesting characters, you get a nice sense of teamwork (Dog and his family work together) and Dog's wife Beth is just an ass-kicking but ultimately very sweet, tough as nails and maternal woman.

They were also huge fans of Arrested Development because at that age, the Bluths are just sublimely silly and they didn't catch a lot of subtext.
posted by kinetic at 3:03 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Another British TV suggestion: Wild at Heart.
posted by misteraitch at 3:15 AM on July 11, 2013

Gone With The Wind, though obviously it has some stereotyping...
posted by sagwalla at 3:35 AM on July 11, 2013

When I was growing up, my mom filled this category for us with movie classics from slightly earlier decades, before everything was super sex-and-violence-saturated

Tootsie (zero sex, great feminist discussion-starter)
9 to 5
Amadeus (I think there's a brief boob shot in there)
The Women (old version)
The Sound of Music (sure, it's a musical, but plenty of interesting cultural stuff in there)

On the modern rom-com front, You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle are pretty innocent and not unintelligent.
posted by Bardolph at 3:36 AM on July 11, 2013

The obvious one is Borgen, but that might be a bit boring for them because it's about politics. But in terms of a strong female lead and a great primer for how people navigate life and compromise it's pretty good. The Good Wife and Damages would also qualify on the same grounds and perhaps be disqualified as being a bit too adult.

Other suggestions: My So Called Life, Alias, Veronica Mars, Call the Midwife, The Closer, Glee, Nikita (the later TV series), Nashville, Bones. I know you've said fantasy is not a preference, but Buffy otherwise qualifies.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:41 AM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Cold Comfort Farm
His Girl Friday
The Katharine Hepburn Little Women
The Search
posted by brujita at 3:51 AM on July 11, 2013

Psych! My daughter started watching it with me when she was 10.
posted by cooker girl at 4:05 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fried Green Tomatoes.
posted by Specklet at 4:24 AM on July 11, 2013

I have the best memories of watching Matilda & Annie with my 10 year old daughter. So many great little jokes for the grown ups in these movies, which both carry the same message: little girls are awesome!

ps if they are into scary stuff: The Addam's Family, probably the most romantic film of all time.
posted by ouke at 4:29 AM on July 11, 2013

Is Star Trek: The Next Generation too "fantasy"? My mother raised me on that and to this day we gleefully attend openings of new Star Trek movies together. I loved it as an elementary school kid, and still rewatch it regularly when I need comfort TV.

Disclaimer: may teach your child to be a damn hippie idealist in direct opposition to your political beliefs, leading to many arguments when she finally grows up.
posted by olinerd at 4:37 AM on July 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

I loved Murphy Brown when I was their age. My mom and I would watch it together, and I think I absolutely wanted to be Murphy Brown when I grew up. I haven't watched it in years and I have no idea how it would hold up.

But I'm thinking workplace shows might be good at meeting the 'grown-up' requirement with less sex. Maybe some of Aaron Sorkin's stuff: Sports Night or The West Wing. They aren't great at the Bechdel test, but they meet your other requirements. Bones was suggested above, and it's a workplace/crime drama that is especially good as far as the Bechdel test.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:03 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My 8 year old daughter was fascinated by The Truman Show which was on the other day here in Aus.

How about something 'law'ish. Maybe the older ones like Ally McBeal, Judging Amy, even Boston Legal. I think newer ones are getting a bit too full on, but maybe that's ok? Or cop type ones like The Bill, Rissoli and Isles (something like that) or there's a British one about female detectives.
posted by Youremyworld at 5:03 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

A Prairie Home Companion (film) is very kid-friendly, but unlike the eponymous public radio series is also very subtly dark, depressing, and even scary in a grown-up sort of way.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:04 AM on July 11, 2013

13 going on 30
Indiana Jones
Star Wars (Princess Leia kicks ass!)
Murder She Wrote
Clue (the movie)
Lois and Clark: the new adventures of Superman (LOOOOOVED this as a pre-teen, still love it now)
Xena: Warrior Princess (though maybe too violent? It is pretty tame violence though...)

I whole heartedly agree with olinerd. Star Trek: The Next Generation was a show my sisters and I LOVED growing up that we watched with my mom. I was just about the age your youngest daughter is and I was hooked.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:17 AM on July 11, 2013

Duck Dynasty. (Seriously.)
posted by jbickers at 5:34 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Psych and Veronica Mars. Psych passes the Bechdel test only occasionally, but the lead characters are two best friends that happen to be white and black. The show is also consistently light-hearted, comedic, and fun. (Plus so. many. episodes.)

Veronica Mars is LADY AWESOME DETECTIVE with AWESOME DETECTIVE ADVENTURES. It is about a set of high schoolers, though, rather than full on adults? And sometimes, there is stuff that is pretty heavy (death of best friend, sexual assault of Veronica Mars, child abuse).

If you're willing to go scifi/fantasy, how about Buffy and Firefly? Definitely tween friendly, largely full of awesome ladies and Bechdel passing, and like No. 1 Ladies, full of sweet moments and humor with an episodic plot.
posted by joyceanmachine at 5:39 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Doc Marten
posted by FergieBelle at 5:40 AM on July 11, 2013

Nthing Star Trek: The Next Generation, if they can get into sci fi.

If they like comedy TV shows, Parks & Recreation and New Girl both have strong female friendships at their core.

Two movies I saw this year that would qualify:

Pitch Perfect
Cloud Atlas

posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 5:47 AM on July 11, 2013

The old "I Love Lucy" series. Nthg Poirot mysteries as well as Agatha Christie. Filmed musicals, "West Side Story," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "State Fair," etc. The original "Cheaper by the Dozen." "Goodbye Mr. Chips."
posted by Elsie at 6:06 AM on July 11, 2013

I know you said they're not fond of fantasy that much, but Once Upon a Time is a wonderful series. A lot of the show is set in a town in the "real world", and the women pretty much carry the show. There are some great male characters, but most of the plot-drivers are women, and the main character, Emma, is both kick-ass and smart. There aren't many (if any, I'm having a hard time thinking of one) women who only exist to be a man's love interest, though there are some romances. Many of the "evil" characters are sympathetic too, which I appreciate.
posted by ashirys at 6:27 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wonder if they might like Bryan Fuller's series Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies. They meet a lot of your criteria (cool/interesting female characters, snappy dialogue, protagonists who solve riddles/mysteries). They do deal with magic to an extent, but in a fun, whimsical way.
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 6:33 AM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: How about Australian series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries? It's based on the popular series of novels by Australian author Kerry Greenwood, about a glamorous female private detective in the 1920s.

I've seen a few episodes and I'd say it's quite kid-friendly even though its marketed to adults. There's no explicit sex or violence and it has the vibe of a fun caper rather than a serious drama. Everyone has a jolly good time and everything works out alright in the end - I think I would have loved it as a kid.
posted by RubyScarlet at 6:52 AM on July 11, 2013

I have a 5 and a 9 year old daughter finding something that the whole family can watch and enjoy is tough. The shows that we watch most often together (that everyone enjoys) are Mythbusters, AFV, and, How It's Made.
posted by jmsta at 6:57 AM on July 11, 2013

I think you might also like The Sapphires, about an Aboriginal girl group of Motown singers who travel to Vietnam to entertain the troops in the 1960s. It's a cute film (a bit cheesy actually) and satisfies your criteria especially with regard to strong diverse female characters.
posted by RubyScarlet at 7:04 AM on July 11, 2013

I really enjoyed Bomb Girls, a Canadian show about women working in a munitions factory during WWII. There are subplots involving sex (one male character sleeps with a woman who isn't his fiance, but is furious when she may have done something similar) and something scary/gross happens to a character in the first episode (violent, though not inflicted by a person), but I really appreciated that all the main characters are women with reasonably realistic dialogue, issues, storylines, and character development. The first season is streaming on Netflix.
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:13 AM on July 11, 2013

Waking Ned Devine. The Irish accents may need subtitles, also, brief nude old men, not in a sexual context.

At that age I really loved The Golden Girls. There's an occasional episode that runs on the blue side, but it was on prime-time in the 80's, so most of the references were innocent enough to totally pass over my 10 year old head. It passes the Bechdel test ridiculously well; the one female character who likes to talk about men is teased about it.

Any of the Star Trek tv shows have obviously fantastical elements but often have a lot to do with people learning how to work together. Mythbusters is not fictional but I think it also does a good job of showing grownups working together on interesting projects.

I'd peruse PBS' Masterpiece Theater listings. There are a lot of BBC series that would accomplish many of your criteria though not so much with the diversity. I enjoyed the series Bramwell, about a female physician making her way through Victorian London. Occasional mild (mostly medical) scariness, but lots of fun.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:25 AM on July 11, 2013

Early seasons of Project Runway. They have diverse casts of cool, career-oriented adults and the focus of early seasons is creativity and making things, not drama.
posted by before and after at 7:32 AM on July 11, 2013

Psych. Its silly fun, the stories are easy to follow. The 2 main females in it are strong police woman that are just doing their job and not just there to be love interests (though one does become one later on she is still a kick ass cop), and while there is the tiniest bit of relationship stuff it's mostly the guys doing it. There is also a fun father and son learning to relate as adults sub plot which might interest your kids.
posted by wwax at 7:34 AM on July 11, 2013

Seconding the Golden Girls and Murder She Wrote. Failing the Bechdel test, but very funny and light: the Jeeves and Wooster series with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry; several episodes are on YouTube.
posted by meijusa at 7:45 AM on July 11, 2013

I loved Roseanne when I was around that age - while there are kids in the series, it's really about the grownups' issues more than the kids, and with a lot more depth of subject than you see in comedies now. You can catch it in reruns, but I think it's worth watching in order because the storylines do continue in a linear way.
posted by Mchelly at 7:58 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Finding shows I can watch and enjoy with my ten year old has been a bit of a quest for me. It's really not easy.

Things that have worked:
• Roseanne (LOVES IT)
• Gilmore Girls (which she also loves)
• Community (we power watched the first three seasons twice, were very sad about the fourth, and now she is re-watching 1-3 over and over again on Netflix)
• Parks and Recreation (super funny, and the humour isn't mean, which is surprisingly hard to find)
• Square Pegs (we watched a couple episodes on Netflix and she loved it, but it may not turn out to be something I can bear to watch again)

I am looking forward to watching My So-Called Life with her, but she wouldn't be into it just yet. We watched a few episodes of Arrested Development when she was quite a bit younger (7-8?) and she thought it was hilarious and all the wildly inappropriate stuff just flew right over her head. I wouldn't watch it with her right now, though, because she'd get it just enough to ask questions about it that would make me feel horrible for enjoying it. I have Wonder Years and Malcolm in the Middle as future possibilities.

Movies she has enjoyed:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (camp and ridiculous in a way the TV show is not; she loved the series for the most part but hated all the make-out sex stuff, and I think she was actually too young for most of it--we started when she was 8 and finished when she was 9, and probably 10-11 would have been better)
Whale Rider (is excellent, so excellent)
Billy Elliot (she watched this with her grandparents and by all accounts loved it)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (spoiler: Ferris kind of seems like an asshole to my grown-up self)
Hugh Grant romcoms (she saw that one with Drew Barrymore, where they are songwriters and totally loved it)

Documentaries can be really engaging
Being Elmo
Every Little Step (she liked this one so much she made her babysitter watch it with her a second time)
posted by looli at 8:19 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I remember being 10 or so and watching "grown-up TV" with my mom. A lot of the things we watched together have been mentioned: Poirot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, I Love Lucy. We watched a LOT of older sitcoms like The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, The Andy Griffith Show, The Cosby Show, Growing Pains, etc. Monk was also a favorite!
posted by sarahgrace at 8:26 AM on July 11, 2013

Freaks and Geeks!

Seconding ST TNG, Gilmore Girls, Roseanne, and The Truman Show really hard.

I used to watch The Mary Tyler Moore show with my parents all the time when I was a kid, but I don't entirely recall if it passes the Bechdel test. I have a feeling Mary and Rhoda did talk about money and job troubles though, so probably.
posted by telegraph at 8:34 AM on July 11, 2013

I think this is more of an "all ages" thing to begin with but The Secret Life of Machines is good for everybody.
posted by NoAccount at 8:46 AM on July 11, 2013

I don't think it's a kid's film but a little girl is one of the protagonists: Corrina, Corrina. Which is a romance set in the 50s starring Whoopie Goldberg and Ray Liotta (you can see there's an issue being tackled here - tackled excellently well.) Goldberg is just slightly too old for her role but it's such a nice film. Excellent performance from the child actor too.

Bechdel test, huh? The original Charlie's Angels (I never watched it)? I don't know if Cagney & Lacey is too raw, though on the whole older series tend to be much less hard-edged.

Do your daughters love Friends already? I don't know any little girls who didn't get into Friends. When it was shown here (UK) anything obviously saucy was edited out.

I just had a wonderful idea: the original Avengers. The first 5 series are good, but series 3 & 4, with Emma Peel, are FABULOUS. That's Diana Rigg, for anyone who doesn't know. Honor Blackman was Cathy Gale in (I think) series 2. If you come out of watching The Avengers without having a girl-crush on Dianna Rigg, I'll...I'll...I'll - eat my hat. And then my shoes.

By the way, The Avengers is very silly, and completely fabulous.
posted by glasseyes at 8:59 AM on July 11, 2013

The Amazing Race!!
posted by matildaben at 9:05 AM on July 11, 2013

I think you all might enjoy Leverage. Two of the 5 main characters are women, awesome awesome women. They help people though crime!
posted by monopas at 1:18 PM on July 11, 2013

Not heavy on diversity, but I think Lark Rise to Candleford fits the bill otherwise, if period pieces are ok. Centers around a teenage girl in 1890's England who moves from her village to the nearest city to work for her cousin, who is the Postmistress at the local post office. I watched it on Amazon.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 2:20 PM on July 11, 2013

Wasn't expecting Star Trek TNG, but it's nice to see. It's worth looking around to see what the must-see eps are and just jumping to those.

X-Files would be good, although maybe a bit scary at their age.

Also, Newsradio was a good mix of smart and dumb humor, fast paced, ensemble cast. I think for the most part the humor was pretty clean. Both shows were tame compared to typical modern fare.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:51 PM on July 11, 2013

I don;t know how easy this will be to find in the US, but when I was that age I loved watching The House of Elliot with my mum - a BBC drama about two sisters in the 1920s who set up a fashion house. It has, if I remember correctly, some plot lines about the Suffragettes which could be an interesting thing to discuss.

I've been watching Murphy Brown recently, and because it's an older show now and I'm not American, I don't always get the current affairs references first time out.
posted by mippy at 4:06 AM on July 12, 2013

My kids LOVE How It's Made. Duck Dynasty, Pawn Stars, and American Pickers are popular favorites as well. Psych is the only non-reality series I can think of that fits the bill. My ten year old daughter has been enjoying old MGM musicals lately, but those may not be a realistic enough glimpse of adult life for your girls.
posted by Dojie at 6:22 AM on July 12, 2013

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