It’s Friday night. It’s been a long week and all you want to do is sit down with your family, eat junk food and watch a show. If your family is anything like ours, this is a more complicated request than it should be. With kids ages 7-16 and two very nerdy parents, it’s hard to find something that keeps everyone engaged. Adding to this complication, everyone has an opinion they hold firmly to, and that’s a recipe for a not-so-relaxing evening. Well, you’re in luck. I’m not sure we’ve fully cracked the code, but I have found several family TV shows that everyone will love.
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avatar the last airbender
On the surface, avatar the last airbender looks like a children’s show and an animated children’s show. So I was a bit skeptical. However, after hearing good things from several friends, we decided to give it a try. I’m so glad we did. Not only is the animation beautiful, but it’s also a fantastic story. He kept us entertained from the first episode to the end.
At its core, it’s a story of friendship, responsibility, and a redemption arc that’s beautiful. What makes a family? Can a person really change, and what does fulfilling their destiny mean? The story is simple enough for younger children to follow, with enough nuance for adults and older children to enjoy. Throw in beautiful illustrations and some really enjoyable slapstick humor (Honey!), and you won’t regret trying this show.
Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia
Yes, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia is another cartoon TV show. Listen to me. Everyone from my youngest to my oldest loved the story. There’s sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery, and comedy in one series. There are two other spin-off shows that feature many of the same characters from different angles (Wizards: Tales of Arcadia and three below). The characters are likable and endearing. It’s interesting enough that I want to watch it, which, given my particular cocktail of sanity (or lack thereof), is a good tip. You can watch it on Netflix.
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I say. I say. Some people hear the words “star wars“, and their brains have already checked. I get it. I really do. But The Mandalorian has something for everyone. Cute baby, comedy, drama, cute baby, spaceships, and did I mention cute baby? Ha. Okay, there’s a slight chance that the entire female population of my family is obsessed with a certain little green Yoda-like Jedi. I was worried that this one wouldn’t be family friendly, despite being 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 when they meet. The protagonist is a lonely Mandalorian who thinks he’s the last of his kind. He is hired to transport goods and finds himself in a moral dilemma that will end up changing his whole life. There’s an overwhelming possibility that we had a Christmas that was almost entirely Mandalorian-themed (Grogu stuffs, Grogu pajamas, Grogu ornaments, etc.). And there’s a chance I’m biased since I’m, in fact, a huge star wars and sci-fi nerd. But even my family members who aren’t so much into sci-fi had a blast.
The worst witch
If you grew up in the 80s-90s, chances are you saw the movie version of The worst witch. Mildred Hubble is a miserable middle-aged witch who works hard to improve her skills and make friends. I watched our VHS tape so many times. So imagine my surprise to learn that there was a TV show! This is delicious. 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 go on an adventure with Mildred? Netflix is where you can find it.
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The Dragon Prince
Please allow me to gush for a minute. I was a little nervous about The Dragon Prince. It’s still another one cartoon TV show (streaming on Netflix, the catalyst for my couch potato habits) that I was hesitant to watch. I suffer from depression and sometimes I lose interest in everything. I take care of what I need (like the herd of kids and pets in my house at all times), but finding something that keeps me entertained is hard work. However, we have a policy that if I let my kids watch it, I either have to watch it with them (so I can turn it off if it’s too scary or inappropriate) or watch it first. I do not have want to to watch this one. However, I tried to amuse my kids even less, so the cartoon won out. I’m so glad he did. I love it. They adore him.
The animation is beautiful, the story is good, and it manages to normalize several things that are usually hard to do without sounding judgmental or condescending. What things? I’m glad you asked! Here are a few: The fact that sometimes bad looks good. For children’s shows in particular, it’s easy to paint in broad strokes of black and white, good and bad. And this show has some of that, but also? It shows a family struggling to make those choices. It shows a character who appears to be good doing evil.
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What are some of your favorite family shows? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
This article was written by Chrissy Gochnauer.
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