It’s Friday night. It’s been a long week, and all you want to do is sit down as a family, eat some junk food and watch a show. If your family is anything like ours, that is a more complicated request than it feels like it should be. With kids aged 7-16 and two very nerdy parents, it’s hard to find something that keeps everyone engaged. Adding to that complication is that everyone has an opinion they hold onto strongly, and it’s a recipe for a not-so-relaxing evening. Well, you’re in luck. I’m not sure we’ve entirely cracked the code, but I have found several family-friendly TV shows everyone will love.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
On the surface, Avatar: The Last Airbender looks like a kid’s show and an anime kids’ show to boot. So, I was a bit skeptical. However, after hearing good things from multiple friends, we decided to try it. I am so glad we did. Not only is the animation lovely, but it is also a fantastic story. It had us entertained from episode one until the end.
At its core, it is a story of friendship, responsibility, and a redemption arch that is beautiful. What makes a family? Can a person really change, and what does it mean to fulfill one’s destiny? The story is simple enough for the younger kids to follow, with enough nuance for the adults and older kids to enjoy. Add beautiful artwork and some truly enjoyable slapstick humor (My cabbages!), and you won’t regret trying this show.
Troll Hunters: Tales of Arcadia
Yes, Troll Hunters: Tales of Arcadia is another cartoon TV show. Hear me out. Everyone from my youngest to my oldest enjoyed the story. There’s sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery, and comedy in one series. There are two other spinoff shows that contain many of the same characters from different perspectives (Wizards: Tales of Arcadia and Three Below). The characters are likable and relatable. It’s interesting enough that I wanted to watch it, which, given my particular cocktail of mental health (or lack thereof), is a good trick. You can watch it on Netflix.
I know. I know. Some people hear the words “Star Wars,” and their brain has already checked out. I get it. I really do. But The Mandalorian has something for everyone. Cute baby, comedy, drama, cute baby, spaceships, and did I mention the cute baby? Ha. Okay, there’s a slight chance that the overall female population of my family was fixated on a certain small, green Yoda-like Jedi. I was nervous this one wouldn’t be family-friendly, despite its home on Disney Plus.
The story revolves around a Mandalorian ( a religious group/ tribe in the Star Wars Universe.) They have a code they follow and greetings for when they meet each other. The protagonist is a lone Mandalorian who thinks he is the last of his kind. He is contracted to transport cargo and finds himself in a moral quandary that will ultimately change his entire life. There is an overwhelming possibility we had a Christmas that was almost entirely Mandalorian-themed merch (Grogu stuffies, Grogu pajamas, Grogu ornaments etc.). And there’s a chance I’m biased since I am, in fact, a massive Star Wars and sci-fi nerd. But even my not so sci-fi loving family members were wildly entertained.
The Worst Witch
If you grew up in the 80s-90s, there is a good chance you saw the movie version of The Worst Witch. Mildred Hubble is a hapless middle-grade age witch who works hard to improve her skill and make friends. I watched our VHS tape so many times. So imagine my surprise to find out there was a TV show! It is delightful. Absolutely a good time. The plot is easy to follow, and the themes of friendship, loyalty, and honesty make it easy to say yes to my kids watching it over and over again. Everyone in our family enjoyed watching it together. Want to fly off into adventure with Mildred? Netflix is where you can find her.
The Dragon Prince
Please allow me to gush for a minute. I was a little nervous about The Dragon Prince. It is yet another cartoon TV show (streaming on Netflix, the enabler of my couch potato ways) that I was reluctant to watch. I suffer from depression, and sometimes I lose interest in everything. I take care of what I need to (like the gaggle of children and pets in my house at all times) but finding something that makes me feel entertained is a difficult task. However, we have a policy that if I’m going to let my kids watch it, I either need to watch it with them (so I can turn it off if it is either too scary or inappropriate) or have watched it beforehand. I didn’t want to watch this one. However, I tried to entertain my children even less, so the cartoon won out. I’m so glad it did. I love it. They love it.
The animation is lovely, the story is good, and it manages to normalize several things that are usually difficult to do without seeming preachy or condescending. What things? I’m glad you ask! Here are just a few: The fact that sometimes evil looks good. For kid’s shows especially, it is easy to paint in broad strokes of black and white, good and evil. And this show has some of that but also? It shows a family struggling with making those choices. It shows a character who appears to be good doing evil.
What are some of your favorite family-friendly shows? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
This article was written by Chrissy Gochnauer.
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