When my kids were small and I was spending my time watching the likes of Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, I dreamed of the day when we’d be able to snuggle up on the sofa and watch family TV shows together. Now that my children are older, we do just that and I absolutely love it. Here are some good family shows on Netflix you can watch with your children.
What Constitutes a Good Family Show?
The Netflix shows I’ve included in this post are a mix of family friendly dramas, comedy shows, information shows and documentaries along with TV shows for older children that adults can enjoy too. The majority are rated PG but some are rated 12 in the UK, PG-13 in the US. Were I haven’t stated a rating, they are general/Universal.
We all have different views on what’s appropriate for family viewing so you’ll need to check you’re happy with the shows before you view them as a family. I highly recommend Common Sense Media for doing this.
Good Family Friendly Dramas on Netflix
This section covers the best family shows on Netflix that have been made specifically with family viewing in mind and a few more adult dramas that older children might enjoy.
The Letter for the King – PG
This is a fantasy drama about a young outcast on a quest. It’s a bit like Game of Thrones for younger audiences. It explores some topical issues so can raise some interesting family conversations.
Lost in Space – 12
This remake of Lost in Space is my favourite family show on Netflix. Both the adults and the children love the mixture of humour and action. The central family are often in dire straits but always find a way through by working together.
The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance – PG
This is a prequel to the classic film, The dark Crystal. The show uses puppetry along with modern animation techniques to tell the story and these can make it quite intense. That, along with the death and injury of characters, mean it’s not for sensitive children.
Merlin – UK: 12, US: PG-13
This version doesn’t follow the usual Merlin story and some of the characters aren’t as you’d expect. It’s an enjoyable watch if you embrace the changes but you might not want it to be your children’s first exposure to the Merlin story.
The Gilmore Girls – UK: 12, US: PG-13
The Gilmore Girls is a classic feel good comedy drama that follows a single mother and her daughter through the daughter’s adolescent years. It covers some heavier topics like drinking and divorce and there is some bad language but it’s funny and touching and a great watch for mothers and daughters.
Anne with an “E” – UK: 12, US: PG-13
This modern take on the Anne of Green Gables book is very different from the original. It reflects its 19th century setting and portrays realistically what life would have been like for a girl in Anne’s situation. Despite this, the lead character is still a great role model for tween girls.
Ackley Bridge – UK:12
This show is set in a secondary school in a very diverse and not particularly well off part of England. It won’t be family viewing for everyone as it covers topics like underage sex, discrimination, sexual orientation, drinking and drugs however they are handled sensitively. If you’re looking for an opening to discuss these topics with your child then this could be a great choice.
Good Family Comedy Shows on Netflix
These are family friendly comedy shows that you can enjoy with your children. Some of them are better for older tweens and teens but there are options for younger age groups too.
I have to be honest, I’m not a big fan of Mr Bean, however my husband and children love it. Something about the humour seems to really appeal to children (and my husband, not sure what that says about him!) and it’s a safe bet for funny family viewing.
Fuller House – PG
This is a sequel to the 80s sitcom, Full House, featuring one of the grown up kids raising her own children. There’s no need to watch the ordinal show first (it’s likely the kids will find it a bit dated), you can enjoy this slightly corny family comedy for itself.
Gogglesprogs – PG
This is a spin off of the UK show Gogglebox which essentially films families watching TV at home, sounds dull but is actually brilliant. This version involves watching children, watching TV and the results are even funnier than the adult one.
Moesha – PG
Pretty dated, but still funny. Moesha follows the adolescence of the lead character as she comes of age. It deals with some mature topics like teenage pregnancy so may be better for older tweens. For younger children you could check out Sisiter, Sister which is from the same era and about separated twins being reunited.
Friends – UK: 12, US: PG-13
It’s likely you already know all about friends so I won’t summarise the plot! A whole new generation is now experiencing it for the first time and it can be fun to rewatch it yourself. It does include sex and relationship issues, some of which will go over children’s heads, others may lead to questions.
How I Met your Mother – UK: 12, US: PG-13
Similar to Friends, How I Met your Mother is an American sitcom about a group of friends. The premise is that one character is telling his children how he met their mother but there is some bad language and discussion of sex that you may feel is inappropriate.
Modern Family – UK: 12, US: PG-13
Modern family is a mockumentary style sitcom following three families, all related, in their daily life. Much of the content is likely to feel familiar to kids from their own life. There is some discussion of sex and drinking happens, my 11 year old enjoys it but I don’t feel my 9 year old is ready for it yet.
Good Documentaries for families to Watch on Netflix
In this section there are documentaries to watch as a family as well as information shows and reality shows.
If your children are even the least bit interested in animals then they’ll enjoy Our planet with David Attenbourgh. Animals eating other animals do occasionally feature so bear that in mind if your child is sensitive. They may also enjoy Night on Earth.
Brainchild is a children’s information series that explains science concepts in a fun way. As an adult with no science background I learnt as much as the kids from it. There is some nudity in one episode (Dreams) which some parents might not be comfortable with.
Absurd Planet – PG
This show explores some of the stranger animals on our planet. It’s fun for both adults and children. It does use quite a lot of toilet humour but is great for getting children interested in animals.
Dogs – UK: 12, US: PG-13
This series explores the human-dog relationship and will appeal to dog fans whatever their age. No dogs die in the series but it does cover rescue groups and the struggle they have to care for dogs and dogs with health issues. There is also an episode featuring Syria where the sounds of fighting can be heard.
Cat people – PG
If dogs aren’t your thing, then how about cats? This show is less about our bond with cats and more about people who have an obsession with them. The show includes some bad language and people talking about the difficulties they’ve faced in their lives, including suicide and violence so is not suitable for very young audiences.
The 72 Series – UK: 12, US: PG-13
This series has 4 different shows: Cutest Animals (suitable for everyone), Dangerous Animals Asia and Dangerous Animals America (suitable for children who aren’t worried about animal violence) and Dangerous Places to live which is about places where the environment makes it dangerous to live (not suitable for children who worry excessively about natural disaster or climate change)
You Vs Wild – PG
There are three of these great interactive shows on Netflix that are really fun to watch as a family. Bear Grylls is on a mission and you, the viewer, need to help him by making decision along the way. If you make the wrong choices, the mission fails and you can restart.
BattleBots – PG
Contestants battle remote control robots they have built in a battle arena. The battles are violent but only the robots are injured. There is the occasional bleeped out swear word. My children love watching this and are inspired to learn more about robotics by it.
We are the Champions – UK: 12, US: PG-13
You’ll probably want to pick and choose which episodes of this you watch with your children. Some (dancing dogs) are rather dull but others (Cheese rolling and chilli eating) are hugely entertaining. There is some bad language but it’s great for showing children that they can follow their passions.
Shows on Netflix that are Aimed at Kids but Adults can Enjoy Too
These are shows that have children as their primary intended audience but are good enough for adults to enjoy them too.
A Series of Unfortunate Events – PG
This is a show that could almost fit in the family drama section but I’ve included it here as it is based on books aimed at children. It has lots of action but also deals with sensitive issues like parent death and adoption. It has some fairly scary episodes later on so you may want to be careful with sensitive children.
The Healing Power of Dude – PG
The lead character in this series manages his social anxiety with his support dog, Dude. Its aim is to help children better understand their own anxiety and recognise how mental health issues can impact on people’s lives.
Greenhouse Academy – PG
This show follows two sisters going to boarding school after their mother dies where they become involved in solving a mystery. Some bullying is shown but it could be used a good starting point for conversations on a host of teen and tween topics.
The Babysitters Club – PG
If you enjoyed reading the babysitters club books or watched the original series when you were younger, you may well enjoy watching this show with your kids for nostalgia if nothing else. It’s great for younger tweens.
Dive Club- PG
Dive Club is about Australian teen beach life. The story follows the Dive Club as they get involved in rescues and try to solve a mysterious disappearance. There is some flirting and fairly chaste kisses.
Creeped Out – PG
This is an anthology show with horror, sci-fi and fantasy themes. It’s more fun than frightening to watch although each episode is different. Think of a milder version of Black Mirror for kids.
Goosebumps – PG
This is another creepy anthology series but this one is significantly more scary. Many of the classic horror tropes are explored including dolls that come to life and plants that eat people. Some of the children’s behaviour isn’t great but this can be tackled if you’re watching together.
Glee – UK: 12, US: PG-13
TV spin off of the hugely popular musical film. It is very much aimed at the teen market and deals with lots of sensitive topics like drug use, homophobia and death. There is also some bad language so definitely best for older tweens and teens.
This is really aimed at quite young children but I’ve included it here as I think it’s hilarious. It’s a mockumentary all about what a group of kids get up to at break time in an Australian school.
The Bureau of Magical Things – PG
The Bureau of Magical things is a humorous fantasy show from Australia about a girl who gets magical powers from a fairy. The story follows her as she tries to balance her powers with being a regular kid.
No Good Nick – PG
No Good Nick is about a female, teenage con artist who tricks a family into thinking she’s a hard up relative. Despite being a con artist, the character is likeable and sympathetic. There is some funny stuff but it also covers some serious topics and is quite complex.
Best Family Shows on Netflix for Under 8s
For children under 8, my top choices would be:
- The Letter for the King
- Mr Bean
- Absurd Planet
- 72 Cutest Animals
- Creeped out
- Little Lunch
- The Bureau of Magical Things
The Best Family Shows on Netflix for children 8-11
For children between the ages of 8 and 11 my top Netflix choices would be:
- Lost in Space
- The Dark Crystal
- You Vs Wild
- Fuller House
- A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Babysitters Club
The Best Family Show on Netflix for Over 12s
These are my favourite Netflix family shows for the over 12s, although my son enjoyed some of these from 10.
- The Gilmore Girls
- How I Met Your Mother
- Modern Family
- 72 Dangerous Places to Live
- We are the Champions
- No Good Nick
If you’re looking other ways to spend time together, check out these activities for family bonding.
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