10 Shows Your Parents Don’t Want You To Watch That You Should Watch Anyway

Growing up, my parents didn’t really care what I watched on television. They were doing their own thing while I was busy watching hours of Hey Arnold Nickelodeon and music videos on MTV. The only show they considered inappropriate was The Simpsons…and yet, there I was, 12-years-old and watching South Park (which, for the record, is ten billion times more inappropriate than any episode of The Simpsons). While my parents weren’t strict about what I watched on television, plenty of parents (understandably) are. To the point where it becomes stifling when you enter your teen years and your mom still clutches her pearls if you’re watching anything with an MA rating. Ugh, why won’t they let you grow up already, right?

Well, I’m actually here to agree with you and suggest something a little bold: You should defy them. Why? Because there are some really great shows out there that might not necessarily be geared toward teenagers, but still portray storylines that teenagers can find entertaining or enlightening. I don’t care how you do it–maybe you’ll watch on the DL with your laptop, or switch the channel when mom or dad come into the room–but here are ten TV shows your parents don’t want you to watch that you should watch anyway. Having strict parents can suck, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bend the rules every now and then with some harmless binge watching.

Broad City

This Comedy Central show about two 20-something-year-old potheads living in NYC isn't exactly what your parents might want you to watch...but you should anyway, because it's amazingly funny. Yes, it's goofy, but if you're into that sense of humor, you'll love it.

You can watch it on Comedy Central.


It's rare to find a TV show about a young black woman going through the motions of sex, career, and identity, but Insecure manages to do just that with a bomb soundtrack to match. It's hilarious but also gut wrenching and stressful and makes you way too emotionally attached to literally every single character and whack scenario they get into. Did I mention the soundtrack is bomb?

You can watch it on HBO.

Sex And The City

There's a lot to critique about Sex and the City: Its absurd whiteness despite being set in NYC, its weird treatment of bisexuality...but it's still a classic that is amazingly relevant and provided so much fresh commentary about sex, sexuality, when it debuted in the late '90s. It remains one of the best TV shows to binge watch, period.

You can watch it on HBO.

Mad Men

This show about the world of advertising in the 1960s often comes across as a show about men drinking, cheating on their wives, and drinking some more. And, yeah, there's a lot of that in it. But it's also a great show about women, sexism in the workplace, and gender roles. The show is not just about men, not at all. Plus, it spans most of the '60s, meaning that there's amazing music, wardrobe, and social commentary (it was a turbulent decade, guys). It's a slow burn, but once you're invested, you'll stay hooked for the long run.

You can watch it on Netflix

Big Little Lies

Rich people, big secrets, amazing acting, some death and a lot of drama? Um, who could say no to that? Also, can we talk about a the cast? Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, and Zoe Kravitz. Sure, not exactly teen demographic in any way, shape, or form, but you can definitely appreciate it regardless of your age.

You can watch it on HBO.

Bojack Horseman

I never thought I'd end up recommending a show about a depressed horse who is a washed up former actor living in LA...but I'm doing just that. This show is critically acclaimed for a reason, and while it's not aimed at 15-year-olds, you could probably find some humor in it if you're on the more precocious side. This dark comedy is good, but also low key depressing.

You can watch it on Netflix.

Rick And Morty

If you haven't heard of Rick and Morty yet...are you living under a rock? Like, at the very least you've seen a GIF from the show, right? Okay, well if you don't know about it, it's a cartoon about a snarky, cynical scientist and his grandson. It's like Back to the Future on crack, basically. The fanbase can be a little extra (ignore them, TBH), but the show itself is worth a watch, especially if you have a dark sense of humor.

You can watch it on Adult Swim.


Shameless, a remake of a British program of the same name, is the definition of naughty television. It's about an alcoholic single father of six and their bizarre misadventures in working class Chicago. Don't let that description fool you into thinking this is just a show about an old dude; the teens on the show are a huge part of the focus, and they make for some seriously endearing plot lines and characterization.

You can watch it on Netflix.

Arrested Development

Arrested Development is a modern classic, to the point where you'll have a harder time navigating the world without knowing a few jokes or references from the show. This show about a rich, dysfunctional Southern California family lived a short life on Fox back in the '00s, but became a cult classic and received enough adoration to make a comeback on Netflix years later. But start with the original series, you won't regret it.

You can watch it on Netflix.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is the quintessential HBO show that your parents don't want you to watch: It has a lot of violence, a lot of bad language, and a lot of sex. While there is plenty of criticism for the gratuitous boobies, it's still one of the most entertaining shows on television and it's pretty much a cultural phenomenon. There's only one more season left, so jump on the bandwagon sooner than later.

You can watch it on HBO.

What TV shows do you watch even though you know your parents wouldn’t approve? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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