Fall TV means lots of new shows on primetime -- some surefire flops and a handful of potential hits. Sorting the winners from the losers is fun for pop culture-loving teens and parents. But families who dig into the new fall TV schedule together get more than just couch potato time.
Watching TV can be a low-pressure way for a family to spend time together, especially when many teens are focused more on their own interests and less on you. Also, post-show chats about TV characters' choices can be a great (and not-so-forced) way to express your values when it comes to touchy issues.
This season's line-up includes the role model-worthy heroine of a post-apocalyptic world, a Downton Abbey-like British drama and a comic-book hero. These seven shows have the potential to be entertaining and worthy choices for teens and parents to enjoy together.
The New Normal, NBC, premieres Sept. 11
Produced by Ryan Murphy of Glee fame, this comedy about a gay couple who hires a surrogate to carry their child has a great cast and loads of comedic material to work with. There's some sexual content and some edgy humor, which might make watching together occasionally uncomfortable. But for families looking for a modern spin on "family," this one seems like a potentially hilarious way to spend an evening together.
Tune in if you like: Raising Hope
Revolution, NBC, Sept. 17
The latest from J.J. Abrams (Lost) looks like a potential winner. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, Revolution stars Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson, a strong-willed survivor of a world in which all technology has stopped working. She strikes out on her own to save her brother and possibly help her estranged uncle restore order to the chaotic world. Revolution is sure to be tense and violent, so parents will probably want to keep younger and more sensitive kids away, but thrill-seeking teens and adults can dig in.
Tune in if you liked: Jericho
Call the Midwife, PBS, premieres Sept. 30
This British period drama will feed any Downton Abbey withdrawal your family is experiencing. Following a young midwife as she begins to work with an order of nuns in London's East End, this 1950s-set drama is sure to be filled with poignant moments and heartwarming messages that will appeal to teens and parents alike.
Tune in if you like: Downton Abbey
666 Park Avenue, ABC, premieres Sept. 30
This creepy drama starring Terry O'Quinn (Lost) and Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty) as devilish NYC landlords has the potential to offer scares without going too far into gore territory. While viewers will have to suspend their disbelief to get into the far-fetched story, families who like fantasy and don't mind a bit of blood can get their fright fix here.
Tune in if you like: Supernatural
Nashville, ABC, premieres Oct. 10
For parents and teens who love a lathered-up guilty pleasure, Nashville looks like a sure thing. With a stellar cast including Hayden Panettiere (Heroes) and Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) as dueling country singers, this soapy drama is full of intrigue, scandal and a few sexy moments. Parents can chat with teens about rivalry between women and why it's such a popular TV premise.
Tune in if you like: Smash
Arrow, CW, premieres Oct. 10
Comic book fans will be clamoring to watch the classic DC character revived as a modern-day playboy (Stephen Amell) turned do-gooder after years spent as a castaway. With shots of the shirtless hero doing sit ups and engaging in heavy-weapon duels, parents might want to preview this action thriller first before letting younger fantasy fans indulge.
Tune in if you liked: Angel
Emily Owens, M.D., The CW, premieres Oct. 16
Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie Gummer makes her small-screen debut as recent med school graduate Emily Owens, a young woman who's ready to leave the social hierarchies of school behind and start down a mature path to adulthood. Sadly, she finds that the same insecurities and embarrassments (and even her high school nemesis) follow her to the hospital where she's training to be a surgeon. This light dramedy has its touching moments, thanks to Owen's knack for making personal connections with patients, and Gummer will hopefully smooth out a few annoying character tics as time goes on. Teens and parents both can relate to her character's struggles navigating social terrain and feeling insecure.
Tune in if you like: Grey's Anatomy
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