What Makes Both Parents And Teens Tune In?
- July 9th, 2009
- 2 Comments
Today’s Youth Advisory Board Post is from Liz Funk on what makes certain TV shows and films “co-viewing” material for teens and their parents, and others.. not so much. Remember, you can communicate directly with any member of the Ypulse Youth Advisory Board by emailing them at youthadvisoryboard at ypulse.com… or just leave a comment!
What Makes Both Parents And Teens Tune In?
I love watching “The Mentalist” with my mom, but I get so irritated watching “The Closer” that I can’t be in the same room when it’s on. Even though they’re both crime shows featuring charming, quirky, yet blunt detectives. Meanwhile, my mom and I love watching “30 Rock” together—a sit-com featuring a few prominent stars and their wacky antics at work—but my mom can’t find the humor in “The Office”—a sit-com featuring a few prominent stars and their wacky antics at work.
So, what gives media intergenerational appeal? I have two theories and a handful of predictions…
A relatable protagonist. Call me sexist, but I have a theory: I think shows that feature middle-aged women protagonists (“The Closer,” “Saving Grace,” “Damages”) are less likely to appeal to teens. Perhaps teenage boys may be more likely to watch shows like “The Closer” for the Lara Croft factor (attractive women with guns kicking butt), and teenage girls may be more likely to watch “The Mentalist” to see charmer Simon Baker and his beautiful blond ‘do… but I don’t see adult women crime fighters drawing massive teen audiences.
Another reason why shows starring middle-aged female protagonists may be less appealing to teens could be because they don’t rely on the slightly sexist comedy that makes shows with middle-aged dads and dudes as leads funny (like “Still Standing,” “King of Queens,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond”). However, I still can’t completely explain why no young people I know watch “The Closer,” but many watch “Psych” and “Monk.”
A mild use of profanity/ obscenity. South Park, Judd Apatow films, and anything with the names of drugs (or White Castle) in the title probably won’t be comfortable to watch with Mom and Dad. However, shows like “30 Rock,” “Psych,” and even “America’s Funniest Home Videos” have enough innuendo (or, in AFV’s case, enough videos of people getting hit in the crotch) to keep teens from feeling like their “Sesame Street” days are back.
Predictions for Teen/Parent Viewing in 2009…
I Love You, Beth Cooper: Based on the hysterically funny book of the same name, the movie stars Hayden Panettiere and newcomer Paul Rust who plays Dennis, a boy being chased around his hometown on high school graduation night by his crush’s maniacal boyfriend. Lucky for Dennis, his impulsive dream girl is with him, commandeering the evening. Even as a one-crazy-night teen film, it walks just the right line between edgy and harmless.
Despite its high school theme, the movie will likely appeal to both teens and parents given that the story comes from New Yorker humor writer Larry Doyle whose quality comedy writing is more sophisticated, and hilarious in a way that doesn’t just apply to one age group. I know more than a few adults who read the book and felt that it possessed a “Hey Arnold” or “Rocko’s Modern Life” kind of quality: media for kids/ teens that is simultaneously meant to entertain their parents.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: Opens July 15th. Parents and teens will go see it. Occasionally together. Naturally.
Glee: This is a charming and funny new TV show about dorky kids and their nervous soon-to-be-dad high school teacher who takes over the struggling glee club at their high school. It’s slyly funny and there’s enough grown-up plot to keep parents interested, while “Spring Awakening” star Lea Michele and the high school setting are more than enough to reel teens in. The pilot is currently available on hulu.com and iTunes, and new episodes start September 16th on FOX at 9pm.
30 Rock: As you’d expect, Tina Fey’s show about being the lead writer at an NBC sketch comedy show is hysterical and usually family-appropriate. It won’t start up again this fall until October 15th, but it’s well worth the wait.
These are just some theories of mine. What do you think? What gives a show or movie good intergenerational appeal? Do you have predictions for summer or fall shows or movies that will be popular with both parents and teens?
About Liz Funk
Liz Funk is a freelance writer and college student. She has written for USA Today, Newsday, the Christian Science Monitor, the Huffington Post, Girls’ Life, and CosmoGIRL!, among other publications. Liz’ first book, Supergirls Speak Out, about the pressure on girls to be perfect, will be published by Simon and Schuster in March of 2009. She writes a blog for the Albany, N.Y. newspaper the Times Union and she edits the teen culture and politics blog GirlHeadQuarters.org. Liz is a senior at Pace University and lives in Manhattan. Her web-site is www.lizfunk.com.