After she is caught stealing designer sunglasses, Hanna, a popular blond teen on the new TV series “Pretty Little Liars,” shares a heartfelt moment with her understanding and fashionable single mother. The two agree to put the shoplifting incident behind them.
Informing the scene is a new insight that is reshaping the way Hollywood portrays the modern family: Teens like their parents.
For decades, TV has depicted teens as angst-ridden and rebellious, and parents as out-of-touch and unhip. Then network executives realized that popular shows that tapped into the defiant-youth subculture were losing viewers. Now, teen shows tend to be more like ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars,” an emotional drama premiering in June about teens caught up in the disappearance of a popular classmate.
This less-defiant generation is influencing plots, changing what types of shows get made and prompting networks like MTV that have long specialized in youthful rebellion to rethink their approach. The new, more-sanguine shows still broach racy topics like sex, drug use and teen pregnancy, but they appease parents by always presenting consequences. Parents typically have prominent roles and just as many tawdry story lines as the teens—and look almost like older siblings.