Guide: The Best Family TV Shows

Guide: The Best Family TV Shows

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Finding family TV shows that your entire gang can watch together is tough, especially when one of your kids is much older or much younger than their siblings. And some kids’ TV shows have a special ability to drive parents up a wall.

While watching TV as a family, some characters, storylines, dialogue and settings might not be okay for younger kids. Once you find a few family friendly TV shows everyone can agree on, keep in mind the difference in screen time that’s okay for younger kids versus the older members of your clan. For kids under 6, screen time limits set by the American Academy of Pediatrics are stricter, with just an hour of TV per day recommended. After 6, kids can watch more TV (and enjoy more of other types of screen time), with regular limits set by you.

The best family TV shows will help you encourage your kids to talk about what’s going on on the screen. Discussing characters’ actions, the show’s setting and even commercials takes TV from a passive event to an active one.

This list includes family TV shows with wide appeal that you and your kids can watch together! Each show’s age-appropriateness, as rated by Common Sense Media, is listed with these great family TV series to help you gauge which TV shows are right for your family.

Does your family have a favorite show to watch together? Let us know in the comments!

All in with Cam Newton, 6+

“As with each of the kids featured on the show, it’s inspiring to see how bold and confident they are – a good reminder to us all to stay focused and determined if we want to achieve our goals. A little help from Cam Newton wouldn’t hurt, either.” – Ann Oldenburg, Parents’ Choice

Available on: Nickelodeon, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, VUDU

Annedroids, 5+

“We love the STEM-focused show for its strong role models, positive friendships, diverse cast, and the lessons to keep trying and learning from your mistakes.” – Georgette, Cool Mom Picks
Available on: Amazon Prime

Antiques Roadshow, 10+

“This isn’t nearly as fast-paced as most of network programming, but if you’re at all interested in history, waiting for the verdict on each item can be more suspenseful than the scariest thriller.” – Ellen Dendy, Common Sense Media
Available on: PBS, iTunes

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, 10+

“[Cosmos] positions science not just as a tool, not just a gee-whiz academic subject, but a cultural tradition like literature or religion–a community larger than any of its members, nurturing and defending a light that grows brighter each generation.” – James Poniewozik, TIME
Available on: Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, National Geographic, Netflix, VUDU

The Dick Van Dyke Show, 7+

“‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ rarely feels out-of-date… because its greatest humor is rooted in behavior, not one-liners, and human nature doesn’t change too much over time. Indeed, The Dick Van Dyke Show is one of the most clever, forward-thinking television programs of its time.” – Jeremiah Massengale, Pop Matters
Available on: Amazon Prime, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix

Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman, 5+

“‘Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman’ is one of my children’s favorite shows, and it’s one I certainly don’t mind letting them watch. It’s a game show and a reality show wrapped up in one, but it’s educational, too, and I really like that.” – Tristi Pinkston,
Available on: PBS Kids, Amazon Prime

Fresh Off the Boat, 12+

“‘Fresh Off the Boat’ is brightly lit… The jokes aren’t dirty and nobody gets his butt whipped. The parents—patriotic restaurant-manager dad, Louis and proudly alienated mom, Jessica—love one another. It’s a comedy the whole family can watch together…” – Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker
Available on: ABC, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, Hulu, VUDU

Friday Night Lights, 14+

“The show is set in the tiny town of Dillon, Texas, and the America presented here is a country of faith, football and firearms. Friday Night Lights neither shies away from that (characters attend church as a matter of course) nor sugarcoats it. Episodes tackle race and class, and what life is like for those who don’t embrace either God or football…” – Sarah Hughes, The Guardian
Available on: Freeform, Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play

The Haunted Hathaways, 6+

“For some light, frivolous fun that you can watch with the whole family in the room, Nick has conjured up a sitcom built on a family of jazz-loving ghosts.” – David Hinckley, NY Daily News
Available on: Nickelodeon, Amazon Prime, iTunes, VUDU

Hello World!, 8+

“These visually stunning 30-minute programs feature animals in their natural habitats, explaining the behaviors and relationships that drive them. The creativity that rockets Hello World! to the next level is that a different musical luminary narrates each episode, and a song from that artist is woven artfully into the narrative.” – Gina Catanzarite, Parents’ Choice
Available on: Discovery, Discovery GO

I Love Lucy, 6+

“It’s a classic. It’s hysterical. It’s a one-of-a-kind show for the entire family to love and laugh with.” – Erin, Family Tech
Available on: Amazon Prime, CBS All Access, Google Play, Hallmark Channel, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix DVD

The Inspectors, 7+

“While the show may not have quite the quality edge of a premium show, it offers inspirational and educational messages along with a compelling story. And it’s enjoyable.” – Ann Oldenburg, Parents’ Choice
Available on: CBS, CBS All Access

Just Add Magic, 6+

“Besides the fantastic storylines with meaningful learning experiences, I really love that the girls treat each other and their families with respect and are great role models.” – Georgette, Cool Mom Picks
Available on: Amazon Prime

The Kicks, 6+

“…I realized that I wasn’t trying to love it because it’s a show about girls that isn’t about girls talking about and fighting over boys. I wasn’t just excited about a protagonist who’s a girl and a leader. I just enjoyed watching it because it’s well-written, well-produced, and well-acted.” – Jessica Jernigan, Decider
Available on: Amazon Prime

Kids Baking Championship, 6+

“Judges Valerie Bertinelli and Ace of Cakes (and Charm City Cakes) star Duff Goldman preside over and treat the kids with great respect. They make it fun and while they keep it positive, they do eliminate children from the competition. It’s so refreshing to see a show where contestants can compete and be treated in a respectful manner.” – Kari Rothstein, The He Said She Said Experience
Available on: Food Network, Amazon Prime

Little Big Shots, 5+

“It’s a talent show for children: tiny dancers, mini-singers, karate kids. There are no judges or prizes, just precocious little people showing off, preceded by a chat on the sofa… during which the kids can be relied upon to say the darndest things.” – Tim Dowling, The Guardian
Available on: NBC, Hulu

The Loud House, 6+

“This is a funny and heartwarming cartoon that your entire family will enjoy, especially the middle child who will relate to Lincoln’s ‘suffering.’” – Carey Bryson, ThoughtCo.
Available on: Nickelodeon, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, VUDU

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, 5+

“Lauren Faust’s characters like Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie explore adolescence (especially in episodes that deal with them getting their “cutie marks”) while they learn that friendship really is magic.” – Gwen Ihnat, A.V. Club
Available on: Amazon Prime, Discovery Family, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix

MythBusters, 9+

“Discovery’s ‘MythBusters,’ with its swashbuckling approach to experimental science, is not only compulsively watchable and educational, but fosters critical thinking.” – Steven D. Greydanus, Decent Films
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Science, Netflix DVD, VUDU

Nature, 7+

“While most episodes have some sort of message, it’s never heavy-handed and it’s always interesting, usually reinforcing the need for conservation. If you’re looking for a series to enjoy along with your children, Nature is waiting for you…” – Robin Galguera, Common Sense Media
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, PBS

Odd Squad, 5+

“Before being educational the show offers strong characters, great effects and gadgets and the kind of random humor that has my kids (and me) in stitches. In short, it’s a good show regardless of its educational qualities.” – Andy Robertson, Forbes
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, PBS Kids, VUDU

Phineas and Ferb, 5+

“It’s truly one of the first shows that parents and kids can enjoy in equal measure. For years now, the two brothers of the title have been attempting to get the most out of their summer by building roller coasters [and] piloting space ships… The kids will like the boys and their ambitious plans, but parents will likely gravitate toward the dastardly villain Dr. Doofenshmirtz, who longs to take over the whole “tri-state area” through the use of one of his many “-inators.” – Gwen Ihnat, A.V. Club
Available on: Amazon Prime, Disney XD, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix

Rock the Park, 6+

“Thanks to the seemingly bottomless energy levels of hosts Steward and Smith, gorgeous wildlife photography, and the eclectic park paths and activities highlighted in each episode, viewers will find this program’s 30-minute runtime flies by in the blink of an eye.” – Gina Catanzarite, Parents’ Choice
Available on: CW, Hulu, Netflix

Shark Tank, 13+

“It’s entertaining for sure, but the kids are also seeing how to present yourself and they’re learning a little about negotiating.” – Wendi Aarons, Alpha Mom
Available on: ABC, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, VUDU

Shaun the Sheep, 5+

“There are some naughty pigs, an earnest farmer, and a bull tossed into the mix, and industrious Shaun the Sheep and his friends interact to solve problems in a way that’s certain to bring a smile to young viewers’ faces – and to parents, too.” – Parents’ Choice
Available on: Amazon Prime, iTunes, Netflix DVD

When Calls the Heart, 7+

“It features characters of virtue pitted against schemers and those who are out only for themselves. Themes of faith, loyalty, and love are all intact in this wonderful family series. This remarkable series takes the viewer back to simpler times.” – The Dove Foundation
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hallmark Channel, iTunes, Netflix

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