Start your love affair with your favorite TV shows before they go off the air by watching them together. The clan tends to stay interested longer if you give them an emotionally meaningful story arc. Parents might find it easier to care about a show when their kids are emotionally attached to it, too.
But you don’t have to restrict yourself to most recent episodes. Most of these shows (including prestige dramas like HBO’s Westworld and Netflix’s Queer Eye) run for multiple seasons, so there’s no reason you can’t watch them together as long as you feel like it. Here are 11 programs you should watch with your older kids.
The Amazing Race
Reality as family drama? It’s not the norm, but The Amazing Race is about as close as TV gets. It’s the only show on this list that involves more than one parent in the race.
8 Simple Rules
The Hughes kids seem like relatively typical suburbanites until Randy (Bobby Flay) makes them commit to something. Yes, that means they drive out of their neighborhood on an adventure, but Randy’s not just some murderer who just wants a little thrill. He’s a recovering alcoholic whose own family has turned its back on him, and this series ends with him realizing that being a good man means making all his relationships work.
On the surface, Allison Harwood’s documentary seems like a bittersweet look at author John Bartram’s efforts to work things out with his daughter, Helen. But the documentary isn’t just about Helen, it’s about how Harold and Allison (and their daughter, Callie) grapple with the truth that Helen will probably never forgive them for abandoning her in the middle of a battle with serious mental illness.
This Fox series takes place in the not-so-distant future, in a small town surrounded by a huge wall that keeps out outsiders. But the inhabitants find the town an amazing place to spend their time, thanks to a charismatic leader (Matt Dillon) and a healthy sense of nostalgia for the days before the wall.
“There’s a world outside the one we live in. It’s called the other half of the world.” If that keeps your younger kids at bay, it’s a perfect recipe for family viewing. It’s not the darkest thing in this soap opera, but as a complex story about people forced to make tough choices, it’s a good time to take a step back and appreciate the complex humanity it depicts.
The Clone Club
This late-’90s series examines how the core group of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. deals with the passage of time. They might only show up in the present day, but the overarching story of Hydra and the Inhumans changes their whole past and present as they deal with the dangers of the future and the triumphs of the present.
This Is Us
Even if you don’t have much time to watch TV together, the entire series has a great chance to make you interested in what went down long before your older kids have been born. There’s almost no chance you’ll know what the Pearsons are talking about.
The Price Is Right
If you have three generations trying to agree on what price to pay for an item on the Price Is Right stage, it might just get a little heated. The most recent iteration, with Rob Riggle as the host, offers another quick chance to bond over televised auctions and catch up on the series.
Life in Pieces
In the 1990s, CBS scored a huge hit when this comedy had three generations — all headed by fathers — facing great odds. Now, it’s a little more middle-of-the-road and stars a quartet of clans, so your teen will be the star. This show offers a perfect opportunity to hear the stories from the youngest generation, since they’ll probably know about those tough situations they lived through — your oldest might not care.
No Strings Attached
Here’s another sitcom that requires an entire family to get along. However, its hook — that two people are in love with each other and get assigned to opposite romantic partners to see if that’s a good idea — actually appeals to just about everyone.
You’re already watching Stranger Things, right? Why not have your younger kids spend the next year rediscovering their interest in the supernatural sci-fi show they’ve just heard about (no, we don’t know who played Eleven).