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5 of the Best 'Parent Traps' in TV History

Lindsay Lohan's iconic remake of the "The Parent Trap" turns 20 today, but the movie's legacy is still alive and well in pop culture.

by Leila Ettachfini
Jul 20 2018, 8:21pm

Screenshot via Netflix

July 20, 2018 marks 20 years since Lindsay Lohan let kids with divorced parents everywhere get their hopes up that maybe one day—if they just tried hard enough—their parents would reconcile their differences and let love conquer all. Other than setting kids up for a lifetime of disappointment, though, The Parent Trap was incredible—and unlike lots of nostalgic films, watching it again doesn't compromise that fact.

Beginning with the 1961 original, The Parent Trap was so vastly influential that it's hard to catch all the ways it's shaped the pop culture narratives of today. To celebrate the pleasurable profusion of the film's iconic trope that never seems to get old, we put together a round up of movies and shows where its legacy has lived on.

New Girl

Episode: “Parents”

Zooey Deschanel’s character, Jess, possesses more wishful thinking than she does quirky tights—which is to say, a lot—so it’s no surprise that she’s guilty of parent trapping her divorced mom and dad. In season two, episode eight, Jess is preparing her Thanksgiving dinner. Wanting to see both of her parents (who don’t get along) she tells her roommates she’s going to invite her mom for half the day and her dad for the other half. When her dad arrives early, however, it becomes clear that Jess has been scheming a parent trap all along. She proceeds to trick her parents into hanging out and showing off for one another—and it kind of works! When she catches them making out, she’s simultaneously horrified and thrilled, but her excitement is cut short when her mom assures her, “Your father and I are not getting back together."

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Episode: "Dennis Looks Like a Registered Sex Offender"

When a local prison releases several inmates—including Mac’s father, Luther, and Dennis’s sex-offender doppleganger—Dennis is mistaken for the now-free child molester. Meanwhile, Mac, with his dad no longer locked up, throws a dinner party with the hope of getting his parents back together. To his dismay, Charlie disrupts everything in a way that can only be described as truly wack by setting Luther up with his own mother. Smh.

House Arrest

Film: 1996

Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Pollak, House Arrest revolves around a reverse parent trap that is very literal on the “trap” part. When two kids, Grover and Stacey learn that their parents are planning to separate they decide to lock them in the basement until they’ve worked out their problems. The kids’ friends get wind of the news and start bringing their own parents to Grover and Stacey’s house to lock them up in hopes they’ll solve their problems, too. As the parents in the basement work together to get out, they begin to somewhat get along. Spoiler alert: In the end Grover and Stacey’s parents decide to give their relationship another try and head off on a second honeymoon!

Mom's Got A Date With A Vampire

Film: 2000

Okay so the kids in this Disney Channel original movie don’t try to get their mom and dad back together, but they do set their mom up—with a vampire. Annoyed that their mother had the audacity to ground them, they decide to trick her into leaving them home alone by trying their hand in some matchmaking. They set her up on a date that they assume will be harmless. All is well until they hear that their mom’s new suitor might be trying to make her his next meal. Sigh, life is hard when you accidentally dupe your mom into dating a vampire.

The Powerpuff Girls

Episode: “Keen on Keane”

Since Professor Utonium—the scientist who created the Powerpuff Girls out of sugar, spice, everything nice, and Chemical X—came up with that mixture all on his own, he's the girls' single parent. And according to Professor Utonium, he doesn’t have time for dates. On Valentine’s Day, Ms. Keane coincidentally also tells the girls that she doesn’t have time for dates, prompting them to start scheming ways to set her up with their dad. They send a letter to Ms. Keane impersonating Professor Utonium and asking her to meet him “at the finest restaurant in Townsville, at the corner of Amore Avenue and Passion Parkway.” They get caught, but all is not lost because Ms. Keane and Professor Utonium decide to go on some real dates together. (The relationship eventually turns sour, but hey, they tried.)