There’s a lie out there suggesting that televisions are great at keeping kids quiet.
That’s only partially true. I’ve learned a couple of things over the years about kids and TV shows. For one thing, some of the programs are as hard to bear as nails on a blackboard. For another, there’s a good chance your kids will want to watch their favorite television shows with you.
Obviously, then, it’s in your best interest to steer your kids toward shows that don’t stink and toward those that you might actually enjoy.
I first became aware of all this when my daughter was about seven-years-old (she’s 11-years-old now). I stayed home with her when she was sick one day and she wanted to watch a Hannah Montana marathon on the Disney Channel.
“You can watch it on the TV in your room,” I suggested.
“Well, there’s a TV in my bedroom. You can watch it there.”
“No, daddy. I want to watch it with you.”
So, I wound up watching Hannah Montana. Hours and hours of that slop. I learned to detest Miley Cyrus, her father and everything associated with that miserable program.
That established a pattern, it seems. There are shows she likes and she wants to watch them with me. While she still watches some stinkers, I try to steer her toward the ones that won’t drive me insane.
Want to employ the same tactic? Here’s a guide that will hopefully help.
Kids’ shows you might actually enjoy
1. Phineas and Ferb (Disney) – Is this show for kids or adults? Considering the off-kilter humor and fun of it all, I suspect it was written for both. This cartoon features a couple of inventive brothers who spend their summer building everything from time machines to roller coasters that put everything at Six Flags to shame. The series also features their older sister, Candace, who is obsessed with busting her brothers to their mother and getting them in trouble (she always fails).
The true star of the production is, arguably, Perry the Platypus, a deceptively docile creature who turns into a super agent and battles the vaguely evil Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
The show is certainly “child friendly” and parents will appreciate the humor, puns and the creators’ obvious love of the 1980s. Watch the below episode to see all the elements that make this show great come together and pay particular attention to the song at the end (there’s an original song in each episode and it’s typically a gem). Warning – there’s a good chance you’ll get hooked on it and might pester your kids to watch it with you.
3. So Random (Disney) – this one is all about live action sketch comedy. Some if it is rotten and the lip-syncing musical guests will send most people over the age of 14-years-old running out of the room. Most of the bits, however, are at least mildly amusing and you’ll find one from time to time that’s an absolute hoot:
4. The Regular Show (Cartoon Network) -- I'm still not sure if the creators had kids in mind at all when they created this surrealistic cartoon. Still, there’s nothing too harmful about it and, besides, High Five Ghost is one of the greatest one-dimensional characters in ages.
The show is all about how a lazy blue jay and raccoon slack around and cause trouble. From that premise, all else follows. Have a look:
Shows to avoid
The descriptions of these shows will be somewhat brief as it’s too easy to get sucked into ranting about awful they are. Instead, I’ll just briefly mention why they all suck and stress the importance of staying away from them and distracting your children should they start to watch any of this stinkers.
1. Victorious (Nickelodeon) – this one is all about kids attending a high school of performing arts. The problem here is that the words “creative” and “obnoxious” are synonyms. The result is a bunch of characters that are supposed to artistic but are just jerks who might actually benefit from the ass-kickings they’d surely receive at a “regular” school.
2. Shake it Up (Disney) – Two junior high school girls dance on a Chicago cable show. And they dance. And dance some more. They’re probably dancing right now, in fact. The redhead is slightly stupid while the brunette isn’t. When they’re not dancing, they’re doing things that are supposed to be funny. That’s pretty much it. Yuck.
3. A.N.T. Farm (Disney) – here’s another one about genius kids. They’ve got advanced talents at various things, but the whole thing comes across as a backdrop for China Anne McClain who has an apparent talent for launching into annoying songs far too often. Don’t watch it. You’ll hate it. Your kid might watch it and enjoy it.
4. Essentially, all live-action tween comedies on Nickelodeon except iCarly are painful to watch. There’s a catch-all for you. Truthfully, iCarly is OK, but the show has really gone downhill over the past season or so (i.e., the iCarly girls are now “legal” and the producers seem uncomfortably aware of that fact from time to time).