Winter brings frigid temperatures, early sunsets, and long breaks from school for the kids. I love to spend those cold winter evenings curled up on the couch with my little geeks watching television and drinking hot chocolate. However, watching kids shows can be like slow, repetitive, grating water torture – except with singing and dancing. As a parent of two school-aged kids, I have done countless hours of research watching Dora, Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, and other shows. Below is a list of shows that my kids loved and I thoroughly enjoyed.
There still might be singing and dancing…no promises:
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (Netflix)
I was skeptical when my five-year-old wanted to watch My Little Pony but I gave in, and my kid was obsessed. It took some time for me to get past the high-pitched voices, but once I did I was emotionally invested in Twilight Sparkle, Apple Jack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash (known as the Mane Six) and all of their friends. I even cried when *spoiler alert* the Cutie Mark Crusaders got their cutie marks. The show has a good balance of larger character and story arcs spread throughout individual 30 minute self-contained episodes; as well as ponies, unicorns, pegasi, and other magical and non-magical creatures. Season 8 just debuted on Netflix, so now is a great time to catch up.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Netflix)
A remake of the mid-80's He-Man spin-off, She-Ra is a big winner in my house. I watched some of the original She-Ra episodes when I was a kid, but I don't remember much so I get to experience it for the first time along with my kids. The characters are charming, the stories are engaging, and the animation is adorable. The day after starting the show, my younger child was already playing She-Ra with friends at school, and since there is only one male main character, some of the boys played as Princesses of Power. As a girl who spent a lot of time forced to play April when I wanted to be Leonardo, the large number of powerful, intelligent female characters is a selling point for me.
Teen Titans Go! (Hulu)
While this is technically a show for younger audiences, I know many teens and adults who love this show too. Teen Titans Go! is The Real World if it were animated – and the house was full of adolescent superheroes. The show has a nice balance of funny, serious, ridiculous, and fight scenes. My six-year-old is just old enough now to get into it, as previously the plots were a little too complicated. Like Disney movies, the kids get something different out of the humor than the adults do, which translates to fun for both groups. Additionally, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, a feature-length kid-appropriate film, was released this summer and makes for a perfect for movie night. The original Teen Titans is better for slightly older kids and is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Classic Doctor Who (BritBox)
Doctor Who started its initial run as a children's show, airing at the teatime on Saturdays. With BritBox, which is the BBC's streaming service, all available classic Doctor Who is now streaming on a common platform (though some episodes did not survive the ravages of time). And if like me, you didn't grow up watching Doctor Who then you have a fabulous opportunity to explore it with your little geeks. I recommend pre-screening the first few episodes yourself, as some kids get more scared than others. My sixyear-old has even seen a few episodes of new Who…and begged for more.
Tangled: The Series (Amazon)
I debated whether to add this one to the list because of the cost of buying it, but it is so great that I had to include it. Confession: Tangled: The Series was the first kids show that I ever secretly binged when my kids weren't around because I wanted to see what happens. It follows Rapunzel and Eugene as they navigate the period between the end of the Tangled film and their marriage in the Tangled Ever After short. It also includes a mad alchemist and a lady-in-waiting who wants to be a palace guard. Full disclosure: there is singing and dancing…but also sophisticated storylines having to do with Rapunzel settling in to a life with parents she's just getting to know while recovering from her incredibly sheltered childhood.
For Toddlers: Curious George (Hulu)
The classic Curious George books and stories are now an animated television series – and this is the cream of the crop when you are talking about shows for kids under three. Through George's adventures, kids learn about the scientific method, gravity, friendship, and the various animals he meets. It is not exactly riveting, and you likely won't be streaming it when your kiddo isn't around – but it is light-years better and more educational than Bubble Guppies or Caillou.