My girls have introduced me to (and hooked me on) a TV show called The Gilmore Girls. Unlike much of the "vast wasteland" of TV, the show has wit, humor, conflict over real issues, a sense of place, and is not exploitative. It's healthy for twelve and 13-year-olds. We like it for these reasons, and especially because the banter, showing a mixture of challenge and affection, between Lorelai (the mother) and Rori (the daughter) is similar to our house, where no turn of phrase goes without critique or challenge.
The relationships between the girls are also interesting and funny. The super-anxious, super-competitive, but goofy Paris is a particularly interesting character.
Here's an interview (free subscription required) with Amy Sherman-Palladino, producer of the show. It's an interesting, candid look at the world of TV, through the eyes of a woman who has done some really good work.
Up-tight Parents' Update: Just when you thought it was safe to let your kids watch, I should warn that there's some hanky-panky going on that might not meet with approval from the more strait-laced among us. Not depicted, but there.