Summer is almost here! School will be on break, snacks will be stacked in the cupboards, car windows will be rolled down, and the TV remote will be in-hand. Most likely, your teen already has a to-do list of friends to hang out with, concerts to go to, and TV series to binge. Binge means to excessively indulge in an activity, so binging a TV show is watching a series from start to finish in a short amount of time. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime feed off of binging audiences and are locked and loaded to promote their most popular shows this summer when even more viewers have the time to watch nine seasons in a week. With that being said, here are some of the most popular TV shows that your teen could see as binge-able this summer. Most of these shows do not have a new season release in the summer, but they are popular enough for teens to binge in their free-time.
As always, we at Life Teen are here to inform you of the culture your teen is living in, not to tell you how to raise your teen. With that being said, these are simply short reviews to help give a basic understanding of the kind of shows your teen could be watching. If they are binging a show not on this list, do a little bit of research on your own, but let your teenage tell you specifics. Start a conversation with your teen about their interests, what they are watching, and learn about the show from their perspective. These are not recommendations of shows but rather a review of shows that are currently popular in teen culture.
When They See Us:
In 1989, a woman jogging in Central Park, NY was attacked and raped by an unknown person, and five black and Latino male teenagers were wrongfully accused, convicted, and served felon time for the crime. They were all exonerated in 2002 after the real criminal confessed to the attack. Created by well-known director, Ava DuVernay, this dramatized series tells the true story of young men of color being failed time-and-time again by the United States’ law enforcement, courts, and political higher-ups. Everyone needs to watch this mini-series. The four-episode story premiered on Netflix May 31, 2019.
This TV series is about a 17-year-old girl who was just released from rehab, and has no intention of remaining clean. This show certainly doesn’t represent ALL teens, but from pornography, to sexting, to drinking, to tough family situations, teens can relate in one way or another to this show. However, this is not at all a show for teens. The star of the show, Zendaya, shared this statement on her Instagram page:
“Just a reminder before tonight’s premiere, that Euphoria is for mature audiences. It’s a raw and honest portrait of addiction, anxiety and the difficulties of navigating life today. There are scenes that are graphic, hard to watch and can be triggering. Please only watch if you feel you can handle it. Do what’s best for you.”
Again, this show is not for teens, and is not to be taken as a blanket statement for teens’ experiences. The first episode of Euphoria premiered on HBO June 16, 2019.
If you have not seen Stranger Things, it is arguably one of the best Netflix Original Series. Think “Stand By Me” and “The Goonies”, but with monsters, alternate dimensions, and superhumans. The small town of Hawkins, Indiana is home to Hawkins National Laboratory, a secret government-run operation that focuses on scientific discoveries. In the first season, the lab accidentally opens the floodgates to supernatural happenings, and a group of teens set out to save their town. This series is a lot of fun and full of adventure, humor, and friendship. Season 3 is set to release on July 4th, 2019.
Orange is the New Black:
As one of the first Netflix Original Series that made a big name for itself, OITNB’s 7th and final season premieres on July 26th. The entire series is a comedic, yet honest approach to the realities of female prisons, where many of the laws and guidelines are easily infringed (on both sides). This series contains many adult themes, and should be approached with caution.
13 Reasons Why:
A highly popular, and highly dramatic show, this Netflix Original Series starts and remains in a very dark place. A high school junior commits suicide and leaves behind 13 audio cassette tapes that expose reasons or people that gave her a reason, to kill herself. Her friend is given the tapes, and he follows the clues left behind to uncover the real reasons behind her suicide. This show is very complicated, and another of our resident experts, Leah Murphy, unpacks the show even more in THIS BLOG. Season 2 was released May 18, 2018, with Season 3 expected sometime in 2019.
I hope you understand what the title implies. This Hulu Original is about two girls starting 7th grade in the year 2000, which brings with it puberty, drama, gossip, and all of the feelings in-between. What is funny about this show is that the two main girls are played by adult actors, while all the other actors play their actual age. It is intended for mature audiences and brings to light all of the awkward, cringe-worthy moments that an average teen in middle school goes through. Season 1 was released February 9, 2019.
I love this show! Queer Eye is a Netflix Original Series about five gay men who go to a new city each season and help people improve their clothing, meals, décor, and overall self-confidence. This is a joyful show that promotes self-care and self-expression. While this series is hosted by a group of homosexual men, and dives into the lives of people from all walks of life, it is always a positive thing to be your true self and to promote self-care and self-love. Season 4 debuts on July 19, 2019.
Think of Black Mirror as The Twilight Zone, but will a lot of technology and even more bonkers scenarios. The conceptual creativity in this show is jaw-dropping, because each episode is dark and disturbing, but in reality, each scenario could happen any day now in our world. The most recent season includes three episodes that speak to many of today’s issues, and do so in a way that frightens the viewer. Season 5 has a plethora of famous actors, the main three being Anthony Mackie, Miley Cyrus, and Andrew Scott. As creatively pleasing as this show it, Black Mirror deals with real problems and very adult thematic elements. Each episode is unique, with it’s own storyline, characters, and situation. Look at this show by each individual episode, not the whole series. Season five was released on Netflix June 5, 2019.
RuPaul’s Drag Race:
What all is there to say? It is about drag queens being queens. RuPaul is an Emmy-winning celebrity who acts, sings, produces, directs, and everything else under the sun. Most recently, he was featured on Miley Cyrus’ new EP, “SHE IS COMING”, and on the music video for Taylor Swift’s summer hit, “You Need to Calm Down.” He is most well-known for his entertainment as a professional drag queen. This is a reality competition show about RuPaul training and forming drag superstars. It is high creativity, high energy, high drama show. Just like any reality TV show (The Bachelor, Survivor), the actors and personalities are quite extra. Season 11 was released February 28, 2019 on VH1.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina:
A revamp of the 1996 series “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”, this show follows a 16-year-old witch who is discovering her powers through her family and her school. Although the original series was a friendly sitcom, the new series on Netflix revolves around dark baptisms, demons, and a witch academy that is much different than Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. I have not seen any of Sabrina, but this is not a show I would recommend. Based on trailers, reviews, and promotional art, nothing about the concept or core values are positive, and there are a million other teen dramas better than this. Season 2 was released April 5th.
These are just a few examples of popular shows at the moment. They are all divergent from one another, so take each short description as it is: a short description. Understanding teen culture and entertainment will never occur if we stand from a distance and say, “Hey kid, you’re wrong. Leave all of that stuff over there and come over here.” Understanding teen culture will occur when we love teens where they are, and have a willingness to actually learn about where they are. This way, we are able to call them into something more exciting than any TV show they watch this summer.
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like ‘struggle.’ To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
-Mister Fred Rogers
If you would like do dive deeper into learning the Catholic perspective on some of these series, or how the Catholic Church approaches these topics, check out some more Life Teen blogs here:
“The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” …a Series not Worth Watching
Why My Catholic Heart Loved “Stranger Things”