I like movies. My parents like movies. I like my parents, most of the time. My parents like me, all of the time. Therefore, in theory, it would make sense for the three of us to see movies together. In reality, this is a very, very bad idea. More often than one might imagine is possible, I’ve found myself sitting in a theater with my parents, watching helplessly as a graphic sex scene changes an innocent family-bonding activity into the most awkward experience ever. Sometimes, it’s even worse - I’ll be squished on a couch between my folks without a few dozen strangers acting as a buffer, covering my eyes (and my parents’) as Jason Segal parades around naked on our 60 inch flat-screen. If you haven’t experienced the discomfort that comes with watching sex scenes with your parents, let me tell you - you are incredibly lucky, and I envy you.
Here are some of the most awkward movies/TV shows to watch with your parents:
1. The Sessions. Over Thanksgiving break, I came home from college to visit my parents. We saw two movies during that time - Life of Pi, about a boy’s inspirational fight for survival while lost at sea, and The Sessions, about a man’s use of a sex surrogate to help him lose his virginity. Guess which one was more awkward? The entire plot of The Sessions is about sex, with more nudity contained in 95 minutes than I’d ever thought possible. Helen Hunt plays the surrogate, and she spends the film explicitly teaching John Hawkes’ character how to get comfortable with his sexuality. It’s a sweet, charming movie that’s definitely worth seeing, but please, do yourself a favor and see it alone or with friends, anyone but your parents.
2. Borat. Oh, no. Just thinking about how I watched this movie with my parents makes me cringe. Parts of the movie are funny, and parts are so disgustingly vulgar (hello, naked male fighting scene) that I remember all three of us closing our eyes at once, too afraid to see each other’s reactions. A few years later, whenBruno came out, I saw it with friends. I think it was for the best.
3. Any Episode of Girls Ever. I love, love, love this show. It’s smart and funny and so scarily accurate at depicting the lives of New York-based 20-somethings that I’m kind of terrified for my own future. However, it’s also “that show where Lena Dunham gets naked every episode.” In the show’s short first season, my parents and I witnessed Dunham’s character, as well as many of the show’s others, both having awkward sex and talking about having awkward sex in excruciatingly graphic detail. Even when I left for school and had to watch the rest of the season online, away from my parents, I didn’t feel much less uncomfortable. I knew that a few hundred miles away, my parents were sitting on the couch, watching the same borderline NC-17 scenes that I was. Lena Dunham, I love you, but please, do me a favor and think of the parents!
4. Friends With Benefits. For whatever reason, my dad missed out on this one, so I got the joy of experiencing the, ahem, beneficial relationship between Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis with just my mom. This one wasn’t as bad as the others, partly because we both loooove Timberlake and have girl crushes on Kunis. Still, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. The movie’s about exactly what it sounds like, and unlike it’s tamer counterpart No Strings Attached, it’s not afraid to show some skin. Suffice to say, watching that movie with my mother sitting next to me, whispering about how perfect Timberlake’s butt looks on-screen, was an awkward experience.
And one that’s great to watch with them:
1. Thirteen. A nerdy teen, falls into the wrong crowd, does drugs, gets pierced and fools around with older guys. In other words, she becomes a parent’s worst nightmare. This is perfect to watch with your own folks, as they will be horrified by the movie, but then realize how lucky they are to have such a loving, wonderful child as you. The same goes for HBO’s Mildred Pierce. Kate Winslet sacrifices everything to make her ungrateful and manipulative daughter, Veda, happy. In return, Veda steals her mother’s money and sleeps with her step-father. Compared to Veda, you’ll look like an angel. Weirdly enough, both movies’ brats are played by Evan Rachel Wood. Coincidence? Maybe. Whatever the reason, thank you, Evan Rachel Wood, for making the lives of millions of us a little less awkward, one movie at a time.
This essay was originally published on TheReelist.com.