After being constantly on the go with summer vacations and back to school prep, you and the family might need to relax and watch a show together. Consider it a “last chance to bond” before the hurried school year begins.
Here’s the hard part: finding a show you will all enjoy together that you haven’t already seen – one that doesn’t go into inappropriate or uncomfortable territory.
That’s why we’ve created this handy-dandy list, which includes the best series you can watch with every member of your family – as well as the ones to watch with your pre-teens and teenagers:
Watch it With: The Whole Family
El Deafo (Ages: 6+)
Based on the graphic novel by Cece Bell, El Deafo tells the story of Cece, a young girl who is dealing with hearing loss. Set at a slower pace than most cartoons, El Deafo focuses on the everyday struggles Cece faces, from not being able to read lips in the dark to having trouble understanding her family when they all speak at once. At the same time, Cece deals with the same problems most kids do: crushes, bullies, and family strife. One of her “friends” turns out to be a master manipualtor and she struggles with making new friends. However, most of her classmates don’t treat her any differently and are fascinated by her hearing aid.
What makes the series truly stand out is how the volume and sound changes depending on what Cece can hear. The audio effects help the audience understand what it really is like to live with hearing loss, which is a great conversation starter for families. The series is a great opportunity to discuss the importance of empathy with their children, and kids will learn to treat everyone with kindness regardless of how different they may be.
Stream it on: Apple TV+
Monsters at Work (Ages: 6+)
If your family has ever wondered what happened to Monsters Incorporated when the company switched from harvesting screams to laughs, then this is the show for you. You may remember that at the end of Monsters Inc, Monsters Incorporated changed their policy from harvesting screams to harvesting laughs.
That’s where Monsters at Work picks up. The series follows Tylor Tuskmon (Ben Feldman), a recent graduate of Monsters University who excelled in “scaring.” When he arrives at Monsters Inc, he’s shocked to learn that scaring is no longer caring, and that he will have to learn the ropes of comedy in order to make it onto the laugh floor. In the meantime, he gets a job working for the facility department. His new coworkers are a delightful island of misfit toys.
Adults will appreciate the series’ many jokes about office life, from Tylor’s boss’s insistence that they are a family to a coworker who thinks he’s trying to steal his jobs. Kids will appreciate the same goofball humor that was present in the original, especially from Monsters Inc lead Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), who is now teaching a comedy class.
Stream it on: Disney +
Just Add Magic (Ages: 6+)
Based on the book of the same name by Cindy Callaghan, Just Add Magic proves that good cooking is enchanting. The series follows three young tweens as they start experimenting with different recipes that end in magical results. The girls quickly learn that everything comes with a price, but no matter how rough the situation is, they always do what’s right in the end. And unlike other series, the characters actually behave like respectable pre-teens, which is a refreshing change from the way many pre-teens are portrayed in shows.
Stream it on: Amazon Prime
The Worst Witch (Ages 6+)
Before there was Harry Potter, there was The Worst Witch. Originally based on the novels by Jill Murphy (which came out before Harry went to Hogwarts), this series follows Mildred (Bella Ramsey) who gets the shock of her life when actual witch Maud (Meibh Campbell) crashes her boom into her home. Mildred helps Maud get to her magical school, where she learns she has a few tricks up her sleeve. The girls learn spells from their amazing all-female staff while also contending with a few mean witches. The series is light hearted and the girls’ friendships are where the magic truly lies. It will keep even your most stubborn family member spellbound.
Stream it on: Netflix
Watch it with: Older Kids
Dogs (Ages 10+)
This bingeable Netflix series focuses on our favorite four-legged friends: dogs! Each episode spotlights a different way dogs have an impact on our lives. From a pup who can recognize seizures so that he can help his young owner to a husky who is waiting to join his owner, who left Syria to seek asylum in Berlin. It’s a truly sweet series that reflects how dogs are more than just cute – they’re truly remarkable animals who share a special bond with humans. Since some of the episodes delve into more serious territory, such as the war in Syria and how medically challenged dogs do not always receive the help that they need. Thankfully, no pups died or were harmed during the making of the series.
Stream it on: Netflix
The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder (10+)
The Proud family is back (with most of its original voice cast) in this reboot that is better than its predecessor. The original Proud Family was a fun and diverse series that had some truly groundbreaking moments, such as an episode where the characters celebrate Kwanzaa. However, there were some questionable moments in the first run (mostly regarding race) that the new iteration does not have.
For the grownups, there are more adult jokes thrown in, but these will most likely go over kids heads. The topics the series focuses on range from dating, social media, to the strife non-traditional families can face. The overarching theme is love and acceptance.
Stream it on: Disney +
A Series of Unfortunate Events (Ages: 10+)
Also known as the amazing adaptation the Lemony Snicket book series deserved, A Series of Unfortunate Events is good campy fun. Much like its title, there is much misfortune, starting with the mysterious death of the Baudelaire children’s parents. If that sounds like a potentially upsetting inciting incident, the entire series is a tongue-in-cheek look at “miserable children in literature,” so consider it an antidote to so many other orphaned kids stories.
They are sent to live with their distant relative, the devious actor Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), who is determined to get his grubby hands on the children’s fortune. The hapless Mr. Poe never seems to realize how much danger the children are in as they go from guardian to guardian. The series keeps the same dark charm and aesthetic from the novels and has some of the most impressive art design to ever be featured in a kids series. Since some of the material is a bit more spooky, younger children may get too spooked – it’s best to watch this series with your older kids.
Stream it on: Netflix