Watch These Timeless TV Shows With Your Kids
Most of the old kids’ TV shows are like drained champagne bottles. Once the pop culture fizz is gone, it’s just vinegar that you pour down the drain. But not always. Some shows go beyond their moment, by accident or on purpose, and manage to become timeless. The 10 programs listed below are my pick for a TV show for older kids and teens that even the most jaded kid of today will love.
Mr Rogers’ area
The world is steadily sinking into a nightmare, and the laid back, cardigan-clad Fred Rogers has been enjoying a pop-culture renaissance lately. It’s easy to see why. His gentle presentation and insistent demands for politeness and respect are like counter-programming to everything else on earth. Mr Rogers’ neighborhood acts slowly, deliberately and always respectfully towards its audience. It seems like the opposite of what overly excited kids want to watch, but kids haven’t really changed and they will love Mr. Rogers as much as you do. Where to watch it now: Amazon Prime Video
It’s the perfect entertainment after a hard day at preschool. Young children speak of vibrant colors, massive physical comedy, and incredible stories about Gilligan ‘s Island , but they love Gilligan. Bob Denver’s gentle nonsense always has the best intentions, but still spoils everything – children understand this way of life all too well. Bonus: from an adult perspective, Gilligan’s Island has a mocking atmosphere, crazy, pointless plots and a number of solid supporting comedians, so watching with kids is not tiring. Where to watch it now: On DVD
Leave it to Beaver
The crisp, post-war suburban backdrop of this 1950s sitcom is so alien to modern perception that it might as well be set on a distant planet, but that’s partly why it’s so amazing. The first television show told from a child’s perspective, Leave It to Beaver, takes us into a wonderful and confusing world of growing up. Despite the country dream, the stories are real. No 30 year olds playing 16 year olds. Nobody’s kidding. Davy Jones doesn’t come to the ball with anyone. Leave it to Beaver as he tells gentle, connected stories that have a grain of high school truth and never go out of date. Where to watch it now: iTunes, Amazon Prime Video
Warner Brothers Cartoons 1940s (and 1990s)
Every decent person on earth loves the Warner Brothers cartoon canon: it’s a scientific fact. The Greatest Generation is really good at making cartoons … and now we can condemn racist cartoons. The post-1950s WB cartoons featuring Bugs, Duffy, and others were random until Animaniacs was released in the early 1990s, a series that captures the best of the old school and gives it a modern look. Where to watch it now: On DVD
Scooby-Doo, created in the era of “cheap repulsion,” obsessive caricatures of children with no choice, really shouldn’t work. The animation is terrible. The letter is even worse. But Scooby somehow finds a timeless formula that rival cartoons of the time like Jabber Joe and Captain Caveman could only dream of. Kids still love the friendship between Shaggy and Scooby, creepy places and stories (but never too creepy) and the show’s soothing rhythm. Plus the main theme of Scooby – there are actually no ghosts. There are only rich assholes trying to steal things – and this is a timeless message that all kids must learn. Where to watch it now: On DVD
I’m not really sure why, but kids love Full House as hell. For me, this is one of those things, “you have to put up with it until they grow out of it.” Full House, which lasted eight years from the late 1980s to the mid 90s, epitomizes the era of family comedy, where all kids are adorable assholes, adults are thugs, and the laughter is always too loud. Full House’s plots are sitcom clichés (you’ll learn many of them from Leave It to the Beaver ), cheeky jokes and very hard to please. Maybe his heart is in the right place, or maybe Full House proves that if you indulge hard enough it really does work. Where to watch it now: Hulu, CMT
This teen soap opera franchise covers four series and continues with 1979, when there was a film “Children on Degrassi Street”. The longest running TV show in Canadian history, Degrassi has stayed true to his basic formula from the start: teenage “almost actors” portray realistic teenage problems and problems without much fuss. Degrassi has really dealt with drug use, teenage pregnancy, and hundreds of other pressing issues without prioritizing any of them. His Canadian understated awkwardness is a much more authentic picture of teenage life than the flamboyant, quick-witted teens so frequent on television, and there’s something surprising about following the same characters / actors from their childhoods in Degrassi High School. to Degrassi High School , and become teachers and parents of Degrassi: The Next Generation. In addition, you can see Drake at the age of 14 playing a child in a wheelchair. Where to watch it now: YouTube
If they can manage to tackle black and white photography and the sometimes theatrical and sluggish pace, Rod Serling’s iconic anthology series will wow your oldest child. You might be able to see the plot twists a mile away, but they’re still new to kids, so the Twilight Zone can still make them “ wooooooooo ”. Watching it online means you can choose to run the entire series, skip the lame episodes, and stick with classics like the alien cookbook or one where Burgess Meredith just wants to be left alone to read the books. Where to watch it now: Syfy
My so called life
Teens and Their Problems has been a TV staple since its early days, but most shows in this genre are terrible, especially when viewed backward. You get either the moody melodrama of Beverly Hills 90210, or something like Freaks and Geeks , which is a great show, but more about teenage memories than teenage drama. My so-called life is different. Sensitively written, beautifully executed and escaping almost all the cliches of teen drama, the artsy yet authentic show feels more like a prestigious program that you aired on HBO Go or Netflix than it did on a network show 25 years ago. It was only for one season, but its impact on every subsequent teen show. Where to watch it now: ABC
This is the perfect show for older teens who are beginning to realize that everything on earth is rotten and no one can be trusted. If you’re unfamiliar with this teenage noir drama, imagine Nancy Drew mixed with Bogart in The Big Dream . Mars is a troubled tough girl whose job as an after-school detective puts her face to face with the underprivileged from Neptune, a Californian town tainted by greed and vanity. Brave Mars intends to uncover the city’s hidden secrets and restore justice to the fallen world. It’s a classic setup, and the scripting, acting and production have remained consistently excellent throughout the three seasons of Veronica Mars and the 2014 feature film. Hulu even has a new season – news that has incredibly excited the sizable Marshmello fandom. Where to watch it now: Original TV shows on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video. New season in Hulu.