TV viewing recs - teenage kid visiting his middle-aged relatives
July 7, 2014 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Our 17 year old cousin is coming to visit. He comes from a sheltered environment, not allowed to watch TV at home, and they don't have wifi. We'd like to enjoy some really good TV together. I'm looking for good quality shows that are sophisticated and fun, with minimal romantic/sexual content. On the kid's last visit, he really enjoyed the Firefly and Justified series.

We have Amazon prime instant video and HBO. We have the world's best video rental store near our home. So we have access to lots of titles.

We prefer:
-- Really good stories. We all like sci-fi, nerdy topics, aviation, comedy. Crime shows, if they are fun.
-- Violence is ok.
-- Not interested in vampires, magic, and gore.
-- Minimal romance, and no sex scenes. No bawdy humor. Romantic and sexual scenes are too embarrassing for us to watch as a group.
-- We prefer TV series over movies. Because the episodes are short.
posted by valannc to Media & Arts (62 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

The Glades.

Maybe the new Sherlocks as well.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 11:23 AM on July 7, 2014

How long is he staying? Because experiencing all of Breaking Bad in a very compressed time period is an incredible experience, and it meets all of your criteria.

+1 for Sherlock, too. And since you emphasize "really good stories" ... Twilight Zone marathon?
posted by jbickers at 11:29 AM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

He might be at the exact age where Malcolm in the Middle seems stupid, but I'm going to go ahead and recommend it anyway because he may also love it. Nerdy comedy. Lots of silliness. Very little in the way of romance.

And from there go watch Breaking Bad to see Brian Cranston in a totally different role.
posted by bondcliff at 11:32 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Breaking Bad definitely has sex scenes.
posted by dilaudid at 11:32 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:32 AM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:33 AM on July 7, 2014

posted by Ferrari328 at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Jericho. We watched this a few years ago and I loved it. (I can't remember if there's much romance, though.) The best part of it is, it will give you so much to talk about later - my aunt and I still talk about getting apocalypse skills. I know there are a lot of dysoptian-type shows, but this is the best.
posted by umwhat at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Psych is great. You won't have to finish the full series, the episodes are procedural and stand alone-ish.

Pushing Daisies is lovely, only 2 seasons, and truly splendid.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:35 AM on July 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Doctor Who
posted by fireandthud at 11:35 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Veronica Mars - minimal violence, teenage detective, plus lots of pop culture/geeky references
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 11:37 AM on July 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Veronica Mars has ongoing rape subplots. Might not be the most comfortable viewing in this case.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:38 AM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Dead Like Me • Bob's Burgers • The Venture Bros. • (Twin Peaks?) • (Friday Night Lights?)

(Also: minimal sex/romance because he's so sheltered as to find it appalling? Or minimal sex/romance because he's a boy and therefore prefers things blowing up to people making out?)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 11:39 AM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Battlestar Galactica? The West Wing?
posted by DingoMutt at 11:39 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm going to go in a different direction and suggest some British comedy - namely, Red Dwarf and Black Adder.

Super funny, meets all your criteria, available on Netflix.

(Skip the first season of Black Adder - it's not good.)
posted by dotgirl at 11:40 AM on July 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

- Robot and Frank
- All Is Lost
- Most of the Wes Andersen oeuvre
- All of Miyazaki
- Michael Apted's Seven Up series
- The Other F Word
- The original '67 series The Prisoner
- PBS's reality series, Frontier House and Manor House

Also, you could totally root him in some 70s-80s classics that are cultural touchstones like The Brady Bunch, The Waltons, Bewitched, Mork & Mindy, The Odd Couple, The Cosby Show, Family Ties, The Greatest American Hero.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:41 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Our similar-demographic household has enjoyed:

Bob's Burgers
Star Trek TNG
Star Trek DS9
Battlestar Galactica*
Almost Human
Doctor Who
Breaking Bad*
The Office
Walking Dead
Dirty Jobs
Burn Notice
Sleepy Hollow

*some sex scenes, but I felt we got through them with the appropriate amount of group embarrassment
posted by rhapsodie at 11:41 AM on July 7, 2014

The West Wing!
posted by mercredi at 11:42 AM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cosmos! Unfortunately, after watching that it may be the last time your cousin is allowed to watch anything in your house.
posted by Sophont at 11:43 AM on July 7, 2014

Shows that the teen enjoys but us parents pretty much hate 100%:

Malcom in the Middle
American Dad
Family Guy
My Little Pony
Raising Hope
posted by rhapsodie at 11:44 AM on July 7, 2014

Parks and Recreation!
posted by anotherthink at 11:47 AM on July 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'd say the Young Justice cartoon. Good storyline, interesting themes, nerdy, and nothing romantic besides some chaste kisses.
posted by skittlekicks at 11:47 AM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Adventure Time is a cartoon and very surreal/weird (there is magic in case that's a dealbreaker), but with a very good heart.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:50 AM on July 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Star Trek!
posted by likeatoaster at 11:57 AM on July 7, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for this plethora of recommendations!

Why do we prefer minimal sex/romance scenes? Because it is embarrassing for this teenage boy and his ancient relatives to watch it together in the same room. We all cringe.

The new Sherlock is a great idea.

I'm going to consider Breaking Bad. I seem to remember the sex scenes are infrequent and short. I think he would love BB, but I'm not sure I could stand watching it again.

His older sister loves Psych. So, that's a no.

Dead Like Me is an interesting choice.

These recs include many shows that I don't know. I will look into all of them.
posted by valannc at 12:02 PM on July 7, 2014

The Closer is a great crime show with lots of fun moments. Monk is silly but so enjoyable. King of the Hill. House.
posted by imalaowai at 12:05 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Flight of the Conchords.
posted by imalaowai at 12:06 PM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

My 18 year old loves Top Gear
posted by 724A at 12:07 PM on July 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Generation Kill - only 7 hourlong episodes, high high quality, not PC at all, definitely worth watching.

Brooklyn 99 is pretty hilarious and worthwhile.
posted by hepta at 12:11 PM on July 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

(I asked about the reason primarily because of Friday Night Lights -- it has soapy elements, but I don't remember much in the way of actual sex scenes.)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 12:14 PM on July 7, 2014

Warehouse 13! I don't remember any sex scenes but I could be mistaken...
posted by missriss89 at 12:20 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding Brooklyn 99, too.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:22 PM on July 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

Castle is network TV, so the content is relatively tame on the sex and language, and since he enjoyed Firefly I assume he'll enjoy more of Nathan Fillion.

I'll also 2nd or 3rd or whatever Warehouse 13 and Eureka - both are good clean fun shows.

And I'll pitch Buffy, because I think withholding Buffy from a teen is child abuse, thus it's your duty to show it to him.
posted by COD at 12:33 PM on July 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

Sports Night - Aaron Sorkin show about a late night cable sports news show, and so much more.
Battlestar Gallactica
movies - Star Wars, Backdraft
posted by theora55 at 12:37 PM on July 7, 2014

The IT Crowd? Very little romance, and the scenes that are romantic are meant to be cringe-inducing.
posted by jabes at 12:48 PM on July 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated. We just watched all 56 episodes and it's just the right amount of goofy, adult humor and Scooby.

The whole thing is on Netflix, and as two grown adults, Husbunny and I really enjoyed it.

Red Dwarf is an excellent show as well. Silly, and funny. Easy to watch in a mixed crowd.

Nthing Bobs Burgers.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:05 PM on July 7, 2014

What about Orphan Black? It's only on Season 2 so it's not a ton of episodes, but it's kind of sci-fi crime thriller with a bit of violence, great female characters and decently interesting plot.

Breaking Bad would be the bomb though.
posted by barnone at 1:25 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Many (all?) of the Sherlock eps are 90 minutes, which is basically movie-length, in my book. I feel like Buffy crosses the line for sex/romance, especially with the whole Angel arc coming fairly early on.

That said, I would suggest Elementary, which is objectively way better than Sherlock, especially with regards to treating anyone who's not a white dude as an actual human being.

Seconding Orphan Black, Doctor Who, Brooklyn 99, and Bob's Burgers.

Maybe Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., especially if he's into superheroes? No real romance--you're aware that there are two people sleeping together, but it all happens offscreen.
posted by MeghanC at 1:43 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Brooklyn 99
Parks and Rec
posted by GilvearSt at 1:56 PM on July 7, 2014

I'd say no to Orphan Black, not because it's not great (it is! I love it!) but because there is sex. It's not incredibly graphic per se, but one instance in one episode made my 17-year-old son leave the room because he was sooooo embarrassed. And he's not easily embarrassed.
posted by cooker girl at 2:17 PM on July 7, 2014

Nthing Dead Like Me and adding Wonder Falls.
posted by rw at 2:25 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

FWIW when watching Sherlock keep a heads up for the episode (I think it's A Scandal in Belgravia?) featuring Irene Adler; on the show she is a dominatrix and spends a good amount of time in the episode flirty and naked (but strategically positioned/framed in the camera so no FCC complaints). Don't know how comfy you'd be watching that with a 17 year old. The rest of the episodes would be great fun though. Oh! And do also check out CBS' Elementary. It's wonderful, actually somewhat diverse, and easy to watch.
posted by krakus at 2:37 PM on July 7, 2014

Sherlock is pretty safe but there is that second season episode where Irene Adler is just wandering around naked for a while. I don't think any Actual Boob is seen, but it could be embarrassing. (On preview, what krakus said.)

Totally sympathize on the embarrassment factor, btw - a few months ago I sat down to watch Orange is the New Black with my dad and we both almost died. We were 35 and 60.
posted by mskyle at 2:42 PM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by The corpse in the library at 2:54 PM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Stargate Universe. I like all the Stargåtes, but Universe is the latest and looks the best. I don't remember there being too much sex or romance, although there is both. ("Stargåte" should be said with a Danish accent, FYI, kinda like "Stargoat" or "Stargot.")
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:58 PM on July 7, 2014

Buffy (one shouldn't miss this due to vampire-gore-aversion. Those aspects are totally incidental, and the show is serious and important stuff for any lucky teen that gets to see it in their formative years.)
Red Dwarf
Star Trek TNG
Futurama maybe
Eureka maybe
Dr. Katz
Fawlty Towers
Monty Python
Home Movies
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 3:04 PM on July 7, 2014

There's some network-grade sex in Buffy, and at least one attempted rape. Lots of off-screen, normalized premarital sex.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:21 PM on July 7, 2014

Arrested Development!
posted by to recite so charmingly at 3:59 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would recommend Leverage: it's witty and creative, with minimal sex. The violence isn't too bad, as the one violent character hates guns and prefers to hit people really really hard (the actor does his own stunts).
posted by suelac at 5:30 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Monty Python?
posted by Salamandrous at 5:56 PM on July 7, 2014

Orphan Black! Yes, it has some brief sex scenes, but the kid is 17! Even if he's from a sheltered environment, he'll be able to handle it. I watch it with my 16 year old - no problem! You can probably watch all of season 1 during his visit - and then he'll be hooked!
posted by kbar1 at 6:21 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, totally Brooklyn 99
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:40 PM on July 7, 2014

I'd recommend Gilmore Girls -- it's a really well written story, just full of wit. There is some dating and romance, but any sex is kept offscreen (there are occasional scenes in bed the next morning, but sans sexytimes).
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:00 PM on July 7, 2014

Moone Boy (available on Hulu) is a great new show. Skip S1E4, though, as it deals with Martin getting his first erection.
posted by fireandthud at 11:40 PM on July 7, 2014

Arrested Development
Doctor Who
Star Trek TNG
Red Dwarf
posted by ruhroh at 11:48 PM on July 7, 2014

Thirding Dead Like Me, especially for a 17 year old.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:22 AM on July 8, 2014

Dead Like Me. The Closer. Buffy. Switched at Birth. (I think BB is terrifying so would not do that.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 12:32 AM on July 8, 2014

Avatar: The Last Airbender
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:54 AM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

/Ctr-Fs "Battlestar Galactica"

/sees three recommendations so far.

posted by General Malaise at 5:15 AM on July 8, 2014

I didn't see any Adventure Time or Steven Universe on there, although they are targeted to a slightly younger audience. Both come off cutesy, but I like the stories.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:00 AM on July 8, 2014

Also, Freaks and Geeks, maybe?
posted by to recite so charmingly at 7:24 AM on July 8, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks to all for the recs!

We're watching Battlestar Gallactica. The kid loves it. I'm enjoying it for the 2nd time.

If we have time after BSG, we will watch Dead Like Me.
posted by valannc at 12:41 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

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