17 Family TV Shows That Aren’t Totally Cringeworthy (or Mind-Numbingly Boring)

Ah, it’s finally the weekend and it’s the perfect opportunity to curl up on the couch with the whole gang for some light-hearted, family-friendly screen time. The problem: You’ve either blown through all the movie night options. The solution: Our round-up of family TV shows that will delight audiences of all ages. Pick from this list and press play—we promise everyone will be eating popcorn and feeling happy as can be.

The 50 Best Family Movies of All Time

the wonder years family tv shows

1. The Wonder Years

This witty and heartfelt coming-of-age classic is sure to fill the adults in the room with nostalgia for their own childhoods and, as luck would have it, The Wonder Years is just as charming for younger generations too. To refresh your memory: Actor Fred Savage nails it as the little boy on the block and Daniel Stern, who lends his talents as narrator, has the kind of soothing voice that will put you (and any unruly offspring) at ease. The content here is pretty mild, but parents should know that drug references and sexual innuendo do crop up as the main character, Kevin Arnold, grows up. That said, in the sea of throwbacks—most of which seem downright scandalous when viewed by a modern parent—The Wonder Years stands out as a family-friendly gem.

Best for ages 11+

family tv shows british baking show 1
Courtesy of Netflix

2. the Great British Baking Show

In case you missed it, The Great British Baking Show is everybody’s favorite reality-style cooking contest: Civilized and sweet, this show is basically a crash course in good sportsmanship (i.e., just what you’d expect from a baking competition that hails from across the pond). That’s right, friends—there’s no foul language, snark or mean-spirited competition to be found in this eight season series. Instead, the contestants and the hosts (both consistently kind and supportive) rely on wit and irresistible charm to win over audiences of all ages. The end result? Ample entertainment that promises to satisfy any sweet tooth and leave the whole fam feeling good.

Best for ages 6+

nailed it family tv shows
Courtesy of Netflix

3. nailed It!

Fans of the blooper reel will have a blast watching this cooking competition which features the successes and failures (OK, just failures) of home cooks as they attempt to recreate professional desserts. The premise of the show is that the painfully unskilled contestants really never ‘nail it’ so don’t expect any inspiring moments of personal triumph or serious culinary education to come from this one. That said, all four seasons of flub-tastic content is completely kid-friendly and guaranteed to inspire uproarious laughter in viewers of all ages—and it’s worth noting that the contestants knew exactly what they signed up for, so the joke is all in good fun.

Best for ages 10+

the good witch family tv shows
Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Shane Mahood

4. good Witch

A TV series spin-off from the popular Good Witch movie franchise, this wholesome drama centers around the magnetic Cassie Nightingale—a witch who uses her charm and magic to help others in her small town. The series emphasizes the importance of empathy, responsibility and kindness—positive messages that are made relatable to young viewers by way of a storyline that includes depictions of adolescent characters navigating social pressures. This feel-good family drama is appropriate for kids of all ages (though the very youngest might be bored) and a good watch for adults, too. In fact, the only potential concern here has nothing to do with the content, but rather the lack of diversity in the cast, which is disappointing indeed (and might be a deal-breaker for some).

Best for ages 8+

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5. mythbusters

Every episode of MythBusters explores a new urban legend with an energetic and engaging approach to problem solving that’s designed to get kids interested in the scientific method...and it works. The wise-cracking duo who lead the truth-seeking missions start with a hypothesis, proceed to hands-on experiments and draw conclusions—an educational journey that they make exciting every step along the way. Some of the experiments (like ones that use animal parts) might be too intense for the littlest kids, but overall this one is enjoyable for all ages and especially appropriate for curious kids with a penchant for “what if” questions.

Best for ages 7+

askthestorybots family tv shows1
Adobe After Effects

6. ask The Storybots

Fast-paced and full of quippy humor and physical comedy, the StoryBots squad make learning wildly entertaining for the whole family. As the name of the show suggests, each episode covers a kid-posed question, the answer to which is only discovered at the very end—after the StoryBots have set off on several field trips and performed a host of educational musical numbers and skits. The content here is clean and engaging, covering fascinating topics that range from “why is the sky blue?” to “how do airplanes fly?” Still, parents should know that the rapid fire dialogue and relentlessly flashy visuals of the show many prove to be a bit too stimulating for very young or sensitive kids—and anyone who prefers a more mellow viewing experience, for that matter.

Best for ages 3+

the dark age of resistance family tv shows
Kevin Baker

7. the Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance

A prequel to Jim Henson’s 1982 cult classic fantasy film, this Netflix series serves up stunning visuals and a nuanced narrative world that’s filled with suspense and emotion. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance hits the nail on the head in terms of the striking puppetry style that made the movie so enchanting in the first place, and the gifted cast of voice actors (Simon Pegg, Andy Samberg and Awkwafina, to name a few) impart emotional depth to the characters they play—protagonists and villains alike. This adventure-packed series opens up a world of wonder, and it’s a pleasure to get lost in it. One warning, though: This one has scares a-plenty and an overall mood that’s more nightmare than daydream, so it is best enjoyed by a slightly older audience who can handle the intensity. (Think, tweens and up).

Best for ages 11+

8. just Add Magic

Just Add Magic is just the ticket for fantasy lovers in the mood for a lighter-hearted family show. The storyline—a mystery adventure about two friends who discover an enchanted recipe book and start cooking up magic—is full of positive themes (like friendship and compassion) and the content is squeaky clean, without being cloying. Bottom line: If you’re looking for something that a kindergartener, a tween and even a parent will want to watch, Just Add Magic is the fun and wholesome show you’re looking for—and with five seasons to work through, it will keep you busy for a while.

Best for ages 6+

the munsters family tv shows
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

9. the Munsters

Hilarious, clever and quirky—this classic is as entertaining today as it when it first aired in 1964. The Munster family does reflect the traditional gender roles of the era in which it was made, but the tone is full of feel-good vibes and wholesome family dynamics—and the macabre elements are so steeped in camp that they’re unlikely to spook even the youngest viewer. The takeaway? Watch this one for family-friendly laughs and a refreshing change from the visual excess of modern shows.

Best for ages 7+

10. robin Hood

A serialized retelling of the Robin Hood story, this British drama is full of thrills and intensity. The good vs. evil narrative is as exciting as you would expect from any worthy version of the classic legend and the themes of social justice are valuable. However, the cruelty of the no-good Sheriff (and the Middle Ages in general) are hard to miss in this remake: Although there’s no gratuitous gore, there are numerous scenes in which violence and torture are not-so-subtly implied, so steer clear of this one if you’re looking for something you can watch with the under-ten set.

Best for ages 11+

11. charlie’s Angels

Go retro and include a little 70s entertainment in your family TV show rotation—we promise you won’t regret it. The original Charlie’s Angels is available for streaming and it’s oh-so fun to watch. Needless to say, the sexualization of the angels is no small part of the series (and yes, it’s very dated) but if you can get past that, there’s plenty to appreciate. For starters, the viewing experience is reliably light-hearted since the crime-busting content serves up thrills without horror or grit. It’s also action-packed, easy to watch and nostalgic—just be sure to take the opportunity to start a conversation with younger viewers about the problematic protagonists-as-sex-objects aspect.

Best for ages 10+

12. merlin

A BBC adaptation of the King Arthur legend that strays considerably from the original story without sacrificing the elements of magic and adventure. When viewers meet the young Merlin he is still very much amateur in the world of wizardry, a practice that carries the ultimate punishment in Camelot. Ultimately, this is a tween-friendly take on the beloved story and the teen Merlin angle scores points for Harry Potter-esque charm. Best of all, this one is free of cringeworthy innuendo—just be warned that the medieval violence and dark sorcery may prove too intense for younger grade schoolers.

Best for ages 10+

13. gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street

Heartwarming themes of family and friendship make an impression in this kid-friendly show about a boy who, after meeting an off-beat elderly lady in his seemingly hum-drum neighborhood, finds himself on a magical mystery-adventure—one that promises to delight viewers of all ages. Engaging, spirited and full of imagination, all three seasons of this series offer clean, quality entertainment with broad appeal. In fact, there’s a good chance it will be an instant family favorite.

Best for ages 7+

14. anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

Anthony Bourdain—the beloved and belated chef, food writer and travel enthusiast—delights audiences with his passionate, youthful energy in the award-winning travel show Parts Unknown. Bourdain is a charming host and his enthusiasm is contagious, but the “bad boy” of the culinary world isn’t performing for an underage audience per se, so parents should expect some moderate swearing, social drinking and occasional smoking. To be honest, the more adult content seems to fade into the background: The globetrotting adventures, mouthwatering meals and diverse cultural experiences steal the show. Bottom line: Parts Unknown, with its big personality and vivid visuals, promises to stir wanderlust in viewers both young and old.

Best for ages 10+

little big shots family tv shows
Flannery Underwood/NBC

15. little Big Shots

A talent show for kids that will entertain a same-aged audience and their parents to boot—Little Big Shots is a network television feature that serves up inspiring content (i.e., little people with big talent) with a side of family-friendly laughs. Interviews with the young contestants yield humorous and heartwarming material, while the talent acts themselves are as memorable as they are uplifting. (Best of all, there’s no cut-throat competition or aggressive stage parents here.) An endearing and laid-back diversion that the entire family will enjoy.

Best for ages 5+

16. doctor Who

This British sci-fi series has been around for nearly 60 years and let’s just say it has aged well. The early seasons are just as enjoyable as the newer ones (and in some cases more appropriate) but Doctor Who is an overall winner that’s suitable for viewers young and old. Every incarnation of the upbeat protagonist—a doctor who relies on time travel to defend the galaxy from external threats— is charming and the lighthearted storyline always includes positive messages, the delivery of which is effective without being heavy-handed. In other words, this is clean, classic TV fun that has stood the test of time for good reason.

Best for ages 10+

fresh off the boat family tv shows
ABC/Michael Ansell

17. fresh Off The Boat

The best-selling memoir by Eddie Huang gets a makeover as a family-friendly sitcom. Older kids will benefit from the content, which addresses issues surrounding racial identity, cultural background and class vis-a-vis the experiences of a Chinese American boy and his family members, all of whom are struggling to fit in after relocating to a new city. Important ground is covered and positive messages abound in this heartfelt and humorous show but parents should know that as with most coming-of-age narratives, this one is best for tweens and up.

Best for ages 11+

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