In our house, TV is often a family-friendly activity. There is voting involved, and everyone has to be on board for what we watch together. We get invested in our shows, in the characters, and we often use story lines as a jumping off place for conversations.
Over the summer we’ve enjoyed the competition style of some very creative reality shows. The physical challenges on America Ninja Warrior completely changed how my 6-year-old son approached playgrounds! The special effects of Face Off and artistry of Project Runway had us cringing and cheering. But now that we are easing into the glorious fall TV season, I’m betting the shows we will gravitate towards will be more grounded in plot.
This year there are well over 20 new network shows making their premiere during the 2015-2016 TV season. While many of the new shows look interesting, most aren’t programs made for younger viewers. However, some new shows ARE looking to welcome the entire family to their viewing demographics.
My 6-year-old son is a child with decisive entertainment taste. I decided to give him an early viewing of some of the new family shows airing this fall to see what he thought. There were a few shows I incorrectly assumed were family-friendly based on their description and show art. So I did stop some previews short based on content. He’s excited about five new shows and I’ve agreed we will give all of them a try.
What it’s about: Supergirl is the story of Kara Zor-El. Yup, the last name gives us the hint she is related to that other Super person. (How she is related is revealed in the pilot, so I won’t spoil it for you now.) Like Superman, she spent most of her life hiding her powers until an event happens where she must use them to save someone important to her. She then decides to embrace who she is and fight crime. Obviously!
He said: “Is she at school? Does she have powers? Which one is it? OH! She is flying! SHE IS HIS COUSIN! Will Batman be in this? I would watch this extra if Batman was in this.”
Mom said: “This show looks smart and fun. I like seeing Calista Flockhart on TV again as Supergirl’s no nonsense boss. (And the casting of Kara’s mom will be an awesome surprise for many children of the 80’s.) Kids who dig superheroes will enjoy getting to know this character. Parents will like the lesson of the show: be true to yourself.”
What it’s about: The gang is all back! Filmed in the now familiar docu-style, this new show will give us insight into all the Muppets involved in the creation of the fictional Up Late with Miss Piggy. It’s a show about a show. It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights!
He said: “We know these guys! Remember? We saw these guys in the movies. So this is a TV show I can see every week?”
Mom said: “This is, hands down, the best bet for new family TV shows this Fall. Most parents grew up watching The Muppet Show on TV and most of our kids discovered the Muppets when we took them to the more recent films. Being able to experience Muppet magic as a family every week is pretty special. The challenge will be to keep the show fun for kids and amusing for grownups. They managed to pull this off in the ’80s so I have high hopes!”
Best Time Ever
What it’s about: Neil Patrick Harris says this show is not just one show, but MANY shows. There will be candid camera-style pranks, celebrity guest stars (doing candid-style pranks), Neil in costume doing — you guessed it — candid pranks, but with other celebrities!
He said: “Ha ha ha — that is funny! I want him to come to our house.”
Mom said: “Neil Patrick Harris hosting a kinda-sorta variety show? What’s not to love? The previews look upbeat and positive and fun and silly. This is exactly the kind of show our family loves to wind down with at the end of the night.”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
What it’s about: This spin-off of Arrow and The Flash is about a team of heroes (and bad guys) who have been asked to play on the same side to stop the destruction of the world.
He said: “YES!!! This has all the superheroes I know. Wait. I don’t know who that is. I need to watch this so I can learn these guys’ names. And maybe Supergirl will be on this one too.”
Mom said: “Fans of the DC comic will be excited about this show on the CW. The bad news is that while this is still technically a new show of the 2015/2016 season, the first episode won’t air until 2016. Womp, womp!”
What it’s about: Nia Long and James Lesure play a couple who are in need of an emergency babysitter while they go out of town. They have reached the LAST choice — Uncle Buck. This is a show about many parents’ worst nightmare: not having childcare or having awful childcare. And yet somehow this is a comedy.
He said: “Oh no! Oh that was a mistake! He’s funny. He made a lot of mistakes. The kids are funny to him.”
Mom said: “This is certainly a show I will want to watch WITH my son, as there are themes and behaviors that I’d want to talk about. If you watched the 1989 John Candy film, which this TV series is based on, you should’t be surprised that Uncle Buck is, uh, carefree. This is a show that will certainly inspire some conversations about consequences.”
I grew up in an era of fantastic family TV shows (Family Ties and Who’s The Boss to name two) and we actually watched these shows together, as a family. It’s fascinating to me how different TV is now for our children. I know with so many dedicated channels for children’s programming, networks may not feel like there is a need to make shows for all of us to sit down and view together. But I truly wish there was a return trend to thinking about bringing families together.More On