TV shows for kids

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Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

After a decade of use and about a year of saving, Steve and I finally entered the 21st century a few weeks ago when we purchased a new widescreen television and got rid of our old tube model–the one my nana bought for us right after Jonathan (now 10) was born!

This purchase was both exciting and overwhelming. We knew we could stream our Netflix membership and Amazon Prime account to the set, but with Apple TV we can also stream other channels–many of which we would not normally watch. (This is even without having cable!)

Our kids, who generally choose one show each on Saturdays and Sundays, were clamoring at their newfound options. And I knew I needed to undertake a tv research project to sort it all out and make sure we use our new screen intentionally.

I asked on my Facebook page about your favorite shows for the 8-12 age range, then went through the responses one by one. After two weeks I’ve finally finished this undertaking for our family, and I hope you’ll find it helpful for yours, too.

In the list below I’ve included shows that can be found on Amazon Prime Streaming, Discovery Education Streaming, Netflix Streaming, and Netflix DVD.

Our living room armoire, where the tv “lives” behind closed doors except for when in use

On ratings

I’ve found determining what is age appropriate for my children much easier since I discovered Common Sense Media. They give ratings and full reviews on most movies, television shows, music, websites, apps, video games, and more.

I rarely watch a movie now without going to their reviews first. Many can also be found directly on Netflix’s site. They even list any objectionable scenes so you can decide for yourself if a film/show is right for your family. (I have found, though, that sometimes I need to add a year or two to their suggested ages.)

If a show on the list below has a Common Sense Media rating, I’ve included it as “CSM” and then the recommended age. For shows that don’t have a CSM rating, I’ve tried to include their designated TV rating where possible.

Here’s an overview of standard TV ratings (find more details here):

TV-Y: children of all ages, including young ones 2-6
TV-7: age seven and up
TV-G: program may not have been made exclusively for children, but seems appropriate for most ages
TV-PG: unsuitable for younger children
TV-14: unsuitable for children under age 14
TV-MA: not designed for children (equivalent to R movie rating)

For this list I’ve stuck with programs that are TV-PG or, in most cases, below. I also want to mention that I have not viewed all the shows here, so use this as a resource to determine what is right for your own unique family.

And now, on to the list!

The kids watching Annedroids via Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Streaming

Discovery Education Streaming Plus

I mentioned this resource in my curriculum post a couple of weeks ago. We tend to watch from this option during our weekday viewing, since the shows add to our education–saving other programs for the weekend or evening.

We often stream Discovery Ed directly to my laptop when we’re all gathered around the dining table after lunch, but now with our fancy Apple TV, we can actually stream to the new television.

I bought our Discovery Education subscription through the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op at a significant discount, a deal still available until the end of the year.

I can’t link to these shows on Discovery Ed directly, so where possible I’m linking to Amazon in case you’d like to check out a description. For a full list of Discovery Ed Streaming programming, head here.

  • Building Big with David McCaulay: Not Rated
  • Days That Shook the World: Not Rated
  • Dear America: TV-Y7
  • Elementary Video Adventures: Gr 3-5
  • Great Composers and their Music: CSM 8+
  • Hero Animated Classics (one of our favs!): my rating 8+
  • Horrible Histories: CSM 10+
  • Liberty’s Kids: CSM 8+
  • Living History: Gr 6-8
  • Magic School Bus: CSM 5+
  • Rabbit Ears: K-Gr6
  • Stuff Happens with Bill Nye: CSM 8+
  • Time Warp Trio: CSM 7+
  • TLC Elementary School: Gr 3-5

Nothing like the classics!

Netflix DVD

We still have a Netflix DVD account, mainly due to the fact that so many classic TV shows are only available here!

Jonathan made signs in honor of the new television

Netflix Streaming

Want this info in a format you can print out?

Find it here–as a Word doc (so you can update it yourself) or in PDF version. I’ve put each of the four categories on separate pages so you can print off the ones that apply to you.

Happy intentional viewing!

*********

If you enjoyed this post, check out Jamie’s new book, Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy.

Further reading:

  • On how (& why) I use tv as a babysitter – for those in need of recommendations for your younger kids, I wrote this post a couple of years ago

Any shows you would add to this list for ages 8-12? Please let us know in the comments!

Originally published on October 13, 2014. I’ve done my best to update the list with new show discoveries we’ve made in the past year!

If you found this post helpful, subscribe via email here to receive Jamie’s FREE ebook, Secrets of a Successful Homeschool Mom!

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We are big into managing our kids’ screen time over here, and that’s no secret.

Though we truly value all they can learn with the help of technology, and we also know that they need a whole lot of time away from the screen to keep themselves balanced and healthy.

We also believe that kids need down-time in front of the ole television once in a while. However, we’re really careful about what we throw in front of them.

So our DVR is packed with programs that we have chosen carefully–and we continue to choose carefully.

Sure, it’s an ever-growing list, always changing with our kids’ interests and ages, but for a good 4-5 months, we stick with the same menu on the DVR.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Our Fave Programming for 6-9 year olds: Right now, with a 9, 7, and an almost 6 year old in the house, our interests have changed a bit from where they were a few short years ago. Back then, we relied heavily on Sesame Street, SuperWHY!, Dora & Diego, Dinosaur Train, Little Einsteins, and Between the Lions.

Now, here’s our list:

  • Word Girl: The whole focus here is words and word-learning. Which is why I totally heart it. And my kids love the crazy creatures and superheroes throughout. It’s big-time word-consciousness, to the max. Playing with words and learning words and celebrating words.

Sometimes, I wish they used words a little more kindly, but I may be a little hyper sensitive to those things. Where some parents don’t mind a ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’ thrown in now and again, those words make me cringe. Overall, the learning and high-interest piece outweighs that occasional (grrr!) ‘dumb’.

  • Wild Kratts: Maddy, Owen, and Cora totally love the Wild Kratts right now. And I’m over the moon about it. It’s a cartoon-real actor show, and I think they really dig that format.

The Kratts are zoologist brothers who know everything there is to know about animals, so there’s definite learning in each episode. They find themselves in crazy situations, and each high-interest adventure seems to be more exciting than the next. The random–totally cool–facts that my kids can hit you with about animals I completely attribute to Wild Kratts.

I particularly love the resources available for follow-up: PBS Kids has fab Wild Kratts resources online, available to anyone and everyone that focus on animals, learning, and fun. There are a bunch of printables and videos up there, too. The Wild Kratts app is a huge fave of ours, and they just released the first Wild Kratts Creature Power app. It’s awesome, so I’m betting there will be plenty more to follow.

  • Electric Company: I love this show so much, I’d marry it if I could. Seriously fun music, dancing, and cool shorts all incorporated into a meaningful storyline make this a fave of mine. Songs about words and word-building. Songs about language with a crazy techy-edge.

It’s a cool, natural next step to Sesame Street to me–and whenever my kids have it on, I’m glad. And similar to the Wild Kratts, the foll0w-up Electric Company resources on the PBS Kids are out of this world. Games, printables, videos, and shorts–all great and totally well done.

  • Fetch With Ruff Ruffman: Love. This. Show.

And one of the greatest things as a parent is to find cool shows for your kids that you actually don’t mind sitting down with them and watching.

Fetch With Ruff Ruffman is part cartoon, part real-life gameshow, and ever since we saw our first episode several years ago, Maddy declared it was her dream to be one of the FETCHers and hang out with Sherya and the crew. The FETCHers go on adventures and challenges that take them to the coolest spots, learning and having a blast along the way.

They have challenges–to build a bear-proof picnic basket or to bake a wedding cake for a wedding!–and they try to meet those challenges with the help of on-the-field experts. Great show, and again, great resources for follow-up.

  • Good Luck Charlie: I hesitated on this one for a while because it seemed so ‘big’ for my littles, but it’s finally been approved in my book. I met the star, the delightful and talented Bridgit Mendler during a Give With Target event I attended in Baltimore, and I loved her.

I even crowd-sourced my friends to see which ‘big kid’ shows they let their kids watch, and Good Luck Charlie came up again and again.

It’s a family show about families. A big family with mixed-age kids and a mom who is always trying to re-live her days in front of the camera, it’s silly and light-hearted. And though the teen characters sometimes say silly things or get flirty, it feels to me like a good show to bridge the kid- and tween- years for Maddy.

  • Sofia the First: Love this show. Love it.

It’s like a mini-movie wrapped up in a 30-minute animated program for little ones. And though the age recommendation is like 3 or so (shhhh!) my Maddy and Owen both enjoy watching it-and never complain.

Sofia’s mom remarried, and Sofia lands herself in royalty, complete with step-siblings and forest friends. I love the music in this one, and I love occasional visits from familiar Disney friends. Honestly, it’s a beautiful show with beautiful messages. Yes, yes, and yes.

  • Doc McStuffins: It’s on the low end age-wise, I realize that–but my Maddy and Owen will still watch this show–and willingly. It’s a super-sweet show about 6 year old Doc McStuffins who takes care of her lovies and teaches viewers about health and well-being along the way.

Cute characters and gentle storylines keep my kids coming back to this one, and I’m totally cool with it. I like especially that our main character is a female doctor because for goodness sakes it’s time.

Television. It’s tricky. It’s for some kids but not all, and one program that may work for one kid may not suit another.

Cora is still 5. But yes, she’ll be 6 next month. Don’t think I’m trying to push her little body along, forcing her to grow up too quickly, but the fact is that as many parents know, the older kids in the house tend to manage–or want to manage–the screen choices.

I’m conscious of that, believe me.

Maddy watched 30 minutes of Sesame Street while I made dinner up until the time she was 7 1/2–and I appreciated every minute of it. Though she may have complained–I’m the only first grader in the whole, wide world who has to watch Sesame Streeeeeeeeeeeet!— I was steadfast.

If you don’t want to watch it, you absolutely do not have to, I’d tell her. Go upstairs and play while I make dinner and Cora and Owen watch the show. It’s a great show–and it’s part of the reason you’re as smart as you are–because I refused to let you let you sit in front of the tv watching junk for your brain. Your choice, my friend.

I never felt bad about it. Never. Because I could–and still do–see the value in Sesame Street programming. But I did realize that when Cora hit 5 years old, she could handle the next step in programming for kids. I took a leap of faith (not a big one), asked my smart friends, did my research, and stuck with some names I could rely on: PBS and Disney.

I also lean heavily on Common Sense Media for any and all programming questions I may have. It’s incredible. And it’s there to support families. And it’s free. And there’s an app. So it’s pretty much like a dream.

And sure, we stray now and again, and the kids love an occasional Wheel of Fortune or Cupcake Wars, but for the most part? This is where we are, what we’re doing.

Any other faves? Please let me know–I’m always willing to learn!

fyi: Like I said, I rely heavily on Common Sense Media for all of my programming choices for Maddy, Owen, and Cora. Please do check them out: — and THANK YOU! to my friends at Common Sense Media! And in full disclosure, I am part of the PBSKids VIPS, but I was a longtime PBS fan well before I jumped on board as a VIP!

15 Best Netflix Shows For Kids

Navigating Netflix’s ever-expanding television library in search of a show your kids will not only enjoy, but benefit from can be a daunting task. After fiddling with strategic search phrases and trying to decode hyper-specific categories like “coming-of-age animal tales” or “race against time”, you’re likely to grow flustered and succumb to the whines and whims of your impatient little one. Though Disney+ has been competing with Netflix for all the streaming attention, we know families still rely on Netflix for good kids’ shows.

So, We looked at a few ingredients for shows your kids will find nutritious and delicious. First off, a great children’s show should be intellectually nutritional. Kids are walking sponges and every content interaction is an opportunity to expand their understanding of our world. Because there is so much drek out there designed to sell us another branded piece of plastic, sniffing out integrity can be challenging, too. Lastly, a great kids’ series should avoid risqué themes, that way you don’t have to worry about having conversations you’re not ready to have. Sex-ed is better left to the parents, right? (There’s no stopping our little flower buds from blooming eventually, so until then let’s keep it clean, right?)

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We sifted through reams of kids’ titles on the world’s longest-running streaming platform to bring you, in age-appropriate order, starting at around 3-years-old and ending in the tweens.

15. Ask the StoryBots

While a ton of children’s programming is connected to social-emotional themes (read: Daniel Tiger) the brilliance of Ask the StoryBots is that it’s all about curiosity about the actual world. Children ask questions like “what is gravity?” or “what is DNA?” and the StoryBots answer those questions. The creators of the series set out to make a show that they themselves would want to watch with their kids. And, the efforts hows. StoryBots is fun, funny and smart.

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14. Sofia the First (3+)

Picking up where the Disney Channel movie left off, Sofia the First follows a courageous and determined young girl whose recently discovered she’s royalty. While describing it as The Princess Diaries for toddlers wouldn’t be inaccurate, it would shortchange this affirmative, character-building show. Sophia learns and relearns that being a princess means caring for others, developing principles and taking responsibility. The show also serves as a healthy gateway drug to other Disney darlings via cute cameos by the who’s who of princesses. Jasmine, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle and Aurora, whose movies may still be too edgy for your little one, all make an appearance.

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13. Charlie’s Colorforms City (3+)

In what might be the longest gestating toy-to-screen adaptation since the Ouija Board, the iconic Colorforms toys that debuted in the early ’50s and developed into a toy category all their own have inspired Charlie’s Colorforms City, a show geared towards early childhood development with a refreshingly organic integration of the classic vinyl clingers. Charlie, cleverly depicted as an anthropomorphized Colorforms logo, is a boy that utilizes his world of simple interchangeable shapes to solve life’s little problems by slapping them together to build what he needs. Whether that’s a rocket ship to deliver his birthday invitations or a rainbow-colored afro to make a baby giggle, Charlie teaches us that with a little brainstorming and a lot of imagination you can materialize any idea, no matter how hare-brained it may be.

12. PJ Masks (4+)

With superheroes having all but conquered American pop culture over the last decade or so, it was only a matter of time before we started marketing capes and tights to toddlers. The catchphrase-heavy PJ Masks follows a trio of friends that fight crime in their animal-themed jammies come nighttime. Because the show skews so young, the stakes are kept hilariously low with the recurring troupe of villains generally out to just ruin people’s days. When “Greg becomes Gekko, Connor becomes Catboy, and Amaya becomes Owlette” to foil the annoying schemes of scientist Romeo or Luna Girl, who’s really into moths, we’re treated to surprisingly poignant lessons on true friendship and the need for cooperation.

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11. The Magic School Bus Rides Again (5+)

When The Magic School Bus first rolled through the grey box in our living room 25 years ago to the sweet sounds of Little Richard’s opening theme song, we exalted at the highlight of our elementary school storytime coming to life. Now you can relive the magic with your own kids and the Friz’s little sister Fiona at the wheel, voiced by Kate McKinnon. Everything special about the original is still intact, with delightful guest stars and zany field trips through the microscopic, galactic, Cretaceous and mostly overlooked parts of our time-space continuum providing a solid STEM overview for any age group. Plus, this time around Lin-Manuel Miranda serenades us through the opening titles. Seat belts, everyone!

10. Free Reign (6+)

Reminding us that Brits will always be more elegant and easier on the ears than Americans, Free Reign transplants the high-spirited Zoe, one of television’s strongest teenage role-models, from Los Angeles to the coast of England on a visit to her lovely mother’s ranch for the summer. In a nod to The Horse Whisperer, Zoe demonstrates the importance of heartfelt communication as she bonds with her majestic new steed Raven and grows closer with mom and grandpappy. Now in its third season, the show teaches us that spending time with parents and extended family can actually be enjoyable. It’s a double win if your kid is a horse lover, as there’s plenty of posh equine action to hold them over between the drama and class issues thrown at Zoe.

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9. Brainchild (7+)

Simply put, Brainchild is Bill Nye for Gen-Y. An energetic young host walks us through the fundamental but no less fascinating building blocks of scientific thought using SNL-style sets, CGI, her magician friend and a puppet that took a wrong turn off Sesame Street. While the show places brain-racking questions we’ve all asked but have no answers to front and center (just how big is the universe?), the best thing about Brainchild might be in its subtext. Two out of the three co-hosts are young ladies and many of the scientific explorations veer into their social implications, such as self-esteem and positive identity that are so important to the tween set.

8. Project Mc2 (7+)

Project Mc2 is a stereotype-busting, STEM field boosting series that’s best summed up with a pilot-episode exchange describing its leading lady: “McKayla, that girl is definitely IAWATST” “Yeah, she is interesting and weird at the same time…” McKayla and her three teen girlfriends, each whizzes in their respective fields of physics, programming, and chemistry, are recruited by NVO8 – that’s pronounced “innovate” – a shadow organization of all-female secret agents. In this campy but self-aware show, it turns out girls really do run the world and they’re charged with protecting it using their brains and creative prowess. It’s a sorely needed message for any young lady finding her place in all this while trying to enjoy the ride – as new NVO8 agent Devon D’Marco says, “I’m putting the art, in smart.”

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7. The Worst Witch (8+)

Based on an iconic British book series of the same name, and starring awkward Mildred Hubble, the action takes place in a boarding school complete with broom flights, and mischief. Student-professor tensions didn’t hurt its appeal. The Worst Witch is a lighthearted adventure soap set in Cackle Academy that’ll give schoolchildren with a flair for the occult a colorful mix of fringe role models and grand setpieces. As the show’s budding witches grasp at their newfound powers and navigate the complexities of pre-teen life, your kids will laugh and cry alongside Mildred’s missteps.

6. The Who Was? Show (8+)

Since 2002, the Who Was…? book series has effectively chronicled the life of every notable historical figure and their oversized head for students across the country whose elementary schools must have blocked phone reception. The television adaptation goes above and beyond Wikipedia, retaining the educational and celebratory vibe of the books but departing in deliciously campy ways. Part sketch-show, part animated-musical, the show has assembled an impressive roster of bright young performers who leave plenty of room to poke fun at the personalities behind their bulbous effigy while framing their historical achievements in straightforward, and pretty darn catchy tunes.

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5. Total Drama (10+)

Piggybacking on the guilty pleasure of hate-watching mindless reality shows is Total Drama, an animated series of faux competition shows that nails the absurd trials and cringeworthy personalities that make it onto and are ultimately voted off these programs. Older kids whom you’ve regrettably allowed to watch reality TV will appreciate the concept, otherwise, the jokes might go over their heads. While it’s hard to make a compelling case for Total Drama as educational or values-oriented in any overt or earnest way, its power as a safe and savvy introduction to satire for the sophisticated little guy or gal with an edgier sensibility is unmatched.

4. Nailed It! (10+)

Nailed It! is sort of a second-wave reality show that teaches kids (and adults for that matter) to laugh in the face of failure by pitting amateur bakers against one another in an attempt to recreate dazzling confectionary under a ticking clock. The results are horrific desserts that resemble a Salvador Dali painting more than a cake you’d ever want to eat, but the hosts and contestants are all in on the joke, which relieves the pressure and demonstrates the fun inherent to any creative endeavor.

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3. Fuller House (10+)

Hands down, Fuller House wins the award for most-nostalgic series reboot on Netflix. Picking up in real time, DJ Tanner has effectively taken over Bob Saget’s position as matriarch of the house all-too-often confused for one of San Francisco’s iconic Painted Ladies. A widowed veterinarian with three kids of her own (boys, this time), Deej lives with her sister Stephanie and of course Kimmy Gibler, who’s now a party planner but still silly as ever. If nostalgia alone won’t do it for you, the show is remarkable for its over-the-top corniness that will get your child thinking about how important a healthy family dynamic really is. Sadly, the Olsen Twins are nowhere to be found.

2. The Hollow (11+)

So your kid is a hair too young for Stranger Things, way too young for Hunger Games and out of the goodness of your heart, you’ll spare them the 90-hour tease that is Lost. You’ll find a smart, animated combination of all these things in The Hollow, a series that plays with genre conventions and follows Kai, Mira and Adam once they wake up in a bizarre and dangerous world. Everything in it seems to want them dead in the strangest ways and may or may not even be real. The trio is forced to solve difficult puzzles that test their character, wits and stamina for a chance at survival and encounter peculiar characters like the “Weird Guy” and a talking tree, who guide them and the first season towards a smarter conclusion than you may expect.

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1. A Series of Unfortunate Events (12+)

This somewhat macabre adaptation of the beloved book series and movie is best viewed together with your older kids. A Series of Unfortunate Events tackles death, determination, and happiness in a highly stylized, sophisticated production that offers a visual feast with downright impressive performances and the layered mystery of the Baudelaire orphans’ family history that unfolds patiently in step with its complex characters. Neil Patrick Harris steals the show as the miserly and conniving Count Olaf, and the black comedy peppered into its adult themes allows it to serve as a lesson on keeping perspective in the most trying of circumstances.

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Cartoons have changed immensely over the past years and are still changing. They are a huge part of the creative culture and hold a special place in the world of entertainment. Right from Mickey mouse to SpongeBob, there are millions of iconic characters that are loved by many across the globe. Yet there are people who look down in cartoons and see that something that is beneath them, that it is immature and is only for kids. This kind of thinking is wrong.

Cartoons are equally liked and celebrated by both the adults and children in today’s generation. Let us have a look at the most popular cartoon in the world in 2019. These cartoons have won the heart of many throughout the world and have also played a very vital role in the field of fun and entertainment.

12. Scooby Doo

Scooby Doo is widely popular animated comedy cartoon that airs worldwide. It is one among the top 13 cartoons in the world right now. It was first introduced in 1969 and is well liked till today. The series is full of adventures and mystery. There are five main characters in this series; namely Velma Dinkley, Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Shaggy Rogers and Scooby-Doo himself. They are popularly known as the “Mystery Incorporated”.

11. Looney Tunes

It is a comedy short cartoon series that is produced by Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny is the main character who is regarded as the cultural icon. This cartoon is simply loved ever since its creation and is one of the longest-running animated series in the world. Not only Children but also the adults across the globe spend their most of the time watching this classic show.

10. Family guy

It is one of the longest running cartoon Television series running in the United States. It is a comedy show that is full of laughter, creativity, and suspense. It can make anyone want to watch it again and again. The cartoon is specially created for adults and hence it does not suit kid’s interest. It was created and developed by Seth MacFarlane. The show features the family of the Griffins. Father Peter, the stubborn mother Lois, their awkward daughter, the genius Son Stewie and their pet dog Brian are the main characters of the show.

9. Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go cartoon characters include Raven, Cyborg, Robin, Starfire, and the Beast Boy. It is a superhero cartoon and hence is one of the top rated cartoons as every kid loves to watch such cartoon series. The show was created by Glen Murakami. The superheroes here are the Cyborg, Robin, Raven, Starfire and the beast boy. They all have a unique and special super power. They use their power to save the world from dangers and attackers.

8. Ninja go

Ninja go is a cartoon that every child, as well as an adult, will fall in love with from the very first day of watching. It was created and directed by Michael Hegner in the year 2011. Spinjitzu Master is the most important and legendary creator of this show. It is a very popular cartoon series that features six ninjas. They have the city to defend and protect their hometown from which is situated in an Iceland named the Ninja go.

7. Steven Universe

It is one of the widely liked animated television series which is created and developed by Rebecca Sugar in the year 2013. It has gained much popularity within a few years. The cartoon features a young boy called Steven who has acquired many super powers from his mother. The boy is a half gem and he lives in a Beach city. In this show, he trains himself to master those powers to fight more effectively with his enemies. His main work is to protect the world from monsters.

6. Arthur

It is the oldest animated educational series and the sixth top-rated cartoon series in the world. The movie was created by Marc Brown. In this show, Arthur is the main character. He is an eight-year-old boy who is best known to capture the attentions of millions of children since the year 1996. Each of his episodes is well-liked and appreciated as they also teach good values to the children as they grow up.

5. Gravity Falls

Gravity Falls is the sixth most top-rated cartoon series in the world. It was created by Alex Hirsch. It is an animated television series that features a brother and a sister named Dipper Pines and Mabel Pines. They are twins and they both spend their summer holidays at Gravity Falls, a small town, along with their uncle named Stan. There they meet many supernatural creatures. The cartoon is full of mystery, adventure, and comedy.

4. Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb are the widely celebrated animated television series. Every child loves watching this show. It features two innovative step brothers who make great inventions every now and then. Though the cartoon came to end two years back in 2015, it is really one of a kind as it teaches children that apart from sitting and watching cartoons all day long in their summer holidays, there are many more ways of spending their holidays.

3. Alvin and the Chipmunks

Alvin and the Chipmunks are the world’s third most popular cartoon in the world. It is created and directed by Janice Karman. The main characters of the series are Alvin, Simon, and Theodore who is very cute, funny as well as troublesome. It is an awesome cartoon full of adventures and suspense that make it fun to watch. They love to sing and by doing this they win the heart of the great crowds in the cartoon. The series has been renewed in 2016 for a 3rd and 4th season.

2. The amazing world of Gumball

The amazing world of Gumball was first introduced in the year 2011 and was created by Ben Bocquelet. It includes varieties of characters including Gumball Watterson, the main character of the show. Gumball is a blue cat of age 12 who stress attends a school at Elmore. It has a brother who is a goldfish named Darwin and a bunny sister named Anais. Their father and mother are Richard and Nicole respectively.

1. SpongeBob Squarepants

SpongeBob Squarepants is the most popular cartoon in the world today. It is meant for both adults and children. The show is one of a kind and is very liked by the people all over the world. It was created by Stephen Hillenburg for Nickelodeon. The main character if the show is a yellow sea sponge, Sponge Bob. The other characters include Mr krabs, squid ward, and many more. The show is full of great creativity and fun and Al’s have many moral lessons as well.

Hence, these were the top 12 most popular cartoon in the world in 2019. They are not only entertaining but also teaches many moral lessons to the growing children. So, next time you see your child crying for watching these cartoon series, do let them watch as they could help you in enhancing your child’s mental health.

The 25 Best Adult Cartoon TV Series

We’ve long since blown past the notion that cartoons are “for kids.” Not only are there animated shows that both kids and adults can enjoy together, but there are animated TV series specifically aimed at adults – ones that formative youths should stay far, far away from.

Some are long-standing institutions that have been rocking our primetime world for decades, like The Simpsons and South Park, while others are momentary marvels, like Gravity Falls and The Tick. Watch the video above for the full list – from Rocky and Bullwinkle to Rick and Morty – or check out our picks below for the 25 best adult cartoon TV series… The 25 Best Adult Cartoon TV Series 26 IMAGES 25 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Part of Adult Swim’s early insane asylum lineup, Aqua Teen (See it on Amazon) managed to create iconic characters out of a dim-witted ball of beef, a pompous container of fries and a shrieking, selfish milkshake. The series started out with the premise that the trio were actually a crime-fighting detective squad, but that quickly fell by the wayside and was replaced with adventures spanning from the mundane to the surreal to the horrifying. Throw in gruff, Foreigner-loving neighbor Carl and you had the perfect recipe for absurd mayhem and unnecessary bloodletting. 24 Daria A spinoff of MTV’s Beavis and Butt-head, Daria (See it on Amazon) centered on the irreverently banal existence of Daria Morgendorffer, as she and her BFF (an acronym Daria would hate!) Jane Lane faced pungent suburban mediocrity at every turn. No one in the town of Lawndale was safe from Daria’s aggressive apathy and on-point one-liners. 23 The Boondocks Based on a syndicated comic strip, The Boondocks (See it on Amazon) was first developed as a series for FOX before being rejected for its non-network appeal. Then it was picked up by Adult Swim with the directive that it not try to appeal to a network audience at all. What remained was a potent, poignant, sometimes controversial look at politics and race as brothers Huey and Riley Freeman (both voiced by Regina King) and their grandfather addressed hot button issues in unconventionally humorous ways. 22 The Tick Based on writer Ben Edlund’s independent comic series, The Tick (See it on Amazon) gave us a lovable hero whose bombastic rhetoric knew no bounds. Whether it was “Mucal invader! Is there no end to your oozing?” or “Evil is out there making hand-crafted mischief for the swap meet of villainy!” we got our first taste of a mighty hero who was – erm – a well-spoken doofus. Before superhero movies were a staple of every multiplex, The Tick parodied the entire genre, offering up a brigade of misfit heroes and villains fighting absurd battles in a nameless city.

21 The Ren & Stimpy Show As a precursor to the likes of Beavis and Butt-head and South Park, this controversial 1991 Nickelodeon series, featuring a disturbed chihuahua and a chowderheaded cat (See it on Amazon), wowed the college crowd with gross-out humor, sexual innuendo, and crude scenarios. And the craziest part was that it was part of a block that also featured Rugrats and Doug. So yeah, there were plenty of back and forth battles between the writers and the Standards & Practices division.
The animated style involved body distortion and grotesque close-ups while the humor ranged from whimsical to deranged, with the writers constantly refusing to create the “educational” show that the network wanted. 20 Samurai Jack Airing its fifth and final season after 12 years off the air, Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack (See it on Amazon) landed an intense, bloody, and emotionally devastating conclusion to what was already a masterwork of animation and storytelling. Genndy Tartakovsky’s superb saga of an unnamed samurai sent through time to a dystopian future garnered critical acclaim as viewers were left stunned by jaw-dropping visuals.

19 Gravity Falls Gravity Falls (See it on Amazon), from Alex Hirsch (Flapjack, Fish Hooks), may have closed up shop after only two beloved seasons, but the story of twins Dipper and Mabel (Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal) and their “Grunkle” Stan’s Oregonian Mystery Shack was a quirky and gently twisted heart-warmer for all ages. Smart, satirical, and sweet, Gravity Falls was a one-of-a-kind gem.

18 Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar: The Last Airbender (See it on Amazon) boasted well-crafted storytelling and crisp, beautiful animation set in a fantastic, immersive world centered around a dynamic cast of characters. It also spawned the sequel series The Legend of Korra, which should also be on this list if we had the room!

ThePuns, political humor, self-deprecation, meta moments – quite a leap for an animated “variety” show from the early ’60s. Rocky and Bullwinkle (See it on Amazon) were gloriously ahead of their time, influencing everything from The Simpsons to Supernatural (where do you think Crowley’s “Moose and Squirrel” references come from?). In between thwarting the plots and schemes of Russian spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, Rocky and Bullwinkle led us through an assortment of supporting serial segments, such as Dudley Do-Right, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and Fractured Fairy Tales.

16 Beavis and Butt-head Starting off as characters in Mike Judge’s 1992 short “Frog Baseball,” Beavis and Butt-head (See it on Amazon) were given their own MTV series in which they would loaf on their couch, dream about “scoring” with chicks, harass their neighbor (proto-Hank Hill) Mr. Anderson, ignore their teacher Mr. Van Driessen, torment Winger tee-wearing classmate Stewart, and occasionally watch snippets of music videos. It was a disarmingly smart series about two dummies. Pop culture stardom then took hold as Beavis and Butt-head eventually got their own merch and movie. They also garnered enough controversy with their fictional antics that MTV put up the following disclaimer at the top of each episode: “Beavis and Butt-Head are not role models. They’re not even human. They’re cartoons. Some of the things they do could cause a person to get hurt, expelled, arrested, possibly deported. To put it another way: Don’t try this at home.”

15 Adventure Time A wonderful, whimsical delight, Adventure Time (See it on Amazon) roared onto the scene and became, in short work, a cosplay-worthy hit. The never-ending adventures of Finn the Human (Jeremy Shada) and Jake the dog (John DiMaggio) might seem aggressively random to the untrained eye, but for those who watch, there’s a method, and sadness, to the madness. Part of it feels like a dream, the rest a nightmare – like a child trying to make the best of a post-apocalyptic world. Plus, there are Ice Kings, Bubblegum Princesses, evil gnomes, Vampire Queens, Rainicorns, and giant slugs voiced by Biz Markie.

14 SpongeBob SquarePants Most kid shows are meant for certain ages, but everyone, from age two to 10 to 20 to “going to the doctor because of back pain” can watch SpongeBob (See it on Amazon). As Nickelodeon’s highest rated show of all time, SpongeBob is a media giant. TV specials, merchandise, a big screen movie…the show’s done it all over the past two decades, with barely a change to its basic formula. SpongeBob is a naive, bright-eyed fast food cook and his friend, Patrick, is dumb and short-tempered. Together, they make SpongeBob’s pretentious co-worker, Squidward, miserable. Oh, and Mr. Krabs loves money.

The 50 Best Animated Series Of All Time

Evaluating animation can be trickier than other genres. After all, so many of our earliest TV memories are tied to an animated series, short, or special, and that impermeable nostalgia can be difficult to penetrate with typical critical tools like reason, logic, and other objective criteria. Some shows just click. They hit at the right time and capture a blossoming imagination. When it comes to ranking animated series, you’re not just analyzing TV shows. You’re critiquing childhoods.

Of course, animation is also one of the more expansive TV subsets, with dozens of different tones and styles that make comparisons often feel like apples and oranges. There are cartoons, anime, short films, short series, short films turned into short series, web series, adult-oriented animation, and that’s before digging into all the individual genres, like old school slapstick comedies (a la “The Flintstones”) all the way up to the ever-more-popular dramatic animated series (including “BoJack Horseman”).

With all that in mind, animation needs a little extra celebration. Animated series can be dismissed simply because so many viewers see the medium as less substantial than anything done in live-action, thus eliminating even the best of the bunch from discussions of TV’s elite programs. That’s a damn shame, so to help remind everyone of the genre’s extensive impact and utmost significance, the IndieWire staff has put together a list of the Top 50 animated series of all-time.

Honed from a list of more than 100 programs, the below ranking still only illustrates a sliver of the storytelling diversity animation has captured over the last century. Seek out what you haven’t seen and remember fondly those you have. Animation is a genre for all ages and all stories, no matter when you’re able to start watching.

50. “Reboot” (Gavin Blair and Ian Pearson and Phil Mitchell and John Grace, 1994-2001)

This ’90s series, originally from Canada, was the very first completely computer-animated series, and the medium became a part of the message thanks to the premise. On some level, “Reboot” was basically a cop drama following the adventures of a “Guardian” who lives inside of a computer mainframe keeping things operating safely despite evil viruses trying to destroy the system. The metaphor is relatively bonkers, but the quality of the animation is pretty impressive for the time period, anchored by some really engaging character design and meta jokes about coding and gaming which have kept the franchise active in other forms to this day. – LSM

49. “Scooby Doo, Where Are You!” (Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, 1969-1970)

“Scooby Doo”

Moviestore/REX/

Zoinks! Although this particular Hanna-Barbera title only lasted two seasons, it launched an animated franchise that continues to this day. The cowardly Great Dane with a speech impediment who solved crimes with his, like, totally groovy teen friends captured imaginations with the light horror elements, hilarious catchphrases, bonkers mysteries, elaborate Rube Goldberg-like traps, and goofy characterizations. This series launched many reboots — one that included pop culture greats such as the Harlem Globetrotters and Sonny & Cher, as animated versions of themselves — bizarre spinoffs like “Scooby’s All-Star Laff-a-Lympics,” and multiple imitations. Ranging from comics and films to pop culture references in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and a recent crossover on “Supernatural,” Scooby and his pals have become embedded in the American consciousness. And it would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids! – HN

48. “Teen Titans Go!” (Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath, 2013-present)

Keep your phone silent while watching “Teen Titans Go!” or you’re sure to miss a joke. The fast-paced animated series packs in more laughs per minute than just about any other show on TV, filled to the brim with pop-culture references, sly jabs at the DC universe, and plenty of self-deprecating gags. Born from the ashes of “Teen Titans,” the show kept the original series’ voice actors but changed up virtually everything else. The show features comedically heightened versions of Robin (Scott Menville), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Raven (Tara Strong), Starfire (Hynden Walch), and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), who are usually too busy discussing 1980s technology, political philosophies, dancing, and so much more. Perhaps the subtle joys of “Teen Titans Go!” can best be summed up by this logline from a Season 1 episode: “Robin and the Titans become annoyed when Beast Boy and Cyborg will only say the word ‘waffles.’” – MS

47. “The Flintstones” (William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, 1960-1966)

“The Flintstones”

Moviestore/REX/

Inspired by “The Honeymooners,” “The Flintstones” became the first animated series released in primetime, and remained the most successful of its kind until “The Simpsons” came along 30 years later. The secret of its charms was its satirical take on modern suburban culture using absurd, anachronistic elements in a Stone Age setting. Fred Flintstone’s bluster and his pal Barney Rubble’s easygoing nature delivered a familiar sitcom magic, whilst dinosaurs and sabertooth tigers added prehistoric exoticism. It also inspired the futuristic counterpart, “The Jetsons,” which also took a ‘60s sitcom flair to the space age. “The Flintstones” is the first primetime animated series to earn an Emmy nomination, and it’s still considered a classic more than half a century later. And that’s something to “Yabba Dabba Doo” about. – HN

46. “Superman: The Animated Series” (Alan Burnett and Paul Dini, 1996 – 2000)

Superman always sprung to life on the page, but repeatedly proved to be a challenge onscreen. How do you provoke an indestructible, goodie-two-shoes hero? Villains have to be specially engineered to pose any threat whatsoever (they can’t all have kryptonite), and Clark Kent can’t be the only identity offering the audience a human connection. Alan Burnett and Paul Dini’s WB adaptation, the first of Warner Bros. Animation’s follow-ups to “Batman: The Animated Series,” made wise choices from the get-go. First, they introduced a Superman who was extremely durable rather than totally impervious. He felt pain when he was crushed by a toppling building, even if it wouldn’t kill him, and watching him strain to save the day made his efforts that much more engaging, week after week. Making Lois Lane an active hero herself helped as well, and the realistic animation fit these updates, along with the bright tone and driving score. – BT

45. “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” (Lauren Faust, 2010-present)

“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.”

Discovery Media

The plastic equine toys from the ’80s have had a remarkable endurance among collectors, but the Hasbro franchise really hit the big time when Faust’s cartoon deepened the mythology of the ponies and created a media and merchandising phenomenon. In Ponyville, the unicorn pony Twilight Sparkle and her dragon pal Spike befriend five other ponies as part of a task given to her by mentor Princess Celestia. The show’s themes about friendship and kindness balanced with clever pop culture references appealed to a wide audience, including a rabid adult fanbase — most notoriously young and middle-aged men who style themselves as “bronies.” It’s now embedded in remix culture and has inspired countless memes, imaginative cosplay, and, of course, imitators. – HN

44. “Sealab 2021” (Adam Reed and Matt Thompson, 2000-2005)

One of Adult Swim’s initial launch of cartoons, “Sealab 2021” took a forgotten ’70s adventure cartoon and, well, crapped all over it, turning the environmentally-friendly adventure ‘toon into a profane hotbed of workplace resentments and absurd humor, which creators Adam Reed and Matt Thompson would hone in their future series. Still, “Sealab” had plenty to offer, like a bottle episode where the insane Captain Murphy gets trapped under a fallen vending machine and befriends a scorpion. Or the one where the crew was visited by their Bizarro counterparts. Or all the ones where Sealab blew up at the end, only to be perfectly fine in the next episode. It’s okay, though. Pod 6 was jerks. – JS

43. “Rocko’s Modern Life” (Joe Murray, 1993 – 1996)

“Rocko’s Modern Life.”

Nickelodeon

A wallaby, a cow, and a turtle walk into a television set, and the jokes just kept rolling from there. Joe Murray’s satirical adventures of an Australian immigrant, Rocko, his friends Heffer and Philbert, and the various deranged characters populating the fictional American “O-Town” made for wildly creative kids’ tales. Whether warning against the dangers of megacorporation Conglom-O, visiting Heck for some existential lessons from satanic overlord Pinky, or taking a poke at celebrity culture in Holl-o-Wood, the cult favorite was self-aware, sharp, and introduced the world to impeccable talents like Tom Kenny and Carlos Alazraqui. Plus, even for ‘90s Nickelodeon, “Rocko’s Modern Life” was never afraid to get super weird — a respite for children whose imaginations should, and usually do, surprise you. – BT

42. “Gargoyles” (Frank Paur and Greg Weisman and Dennis Woodyard, 1994-1997)

Magic, science fiction, and Shakespeare came together in the mid-1990s for one of the most bonkers animated series ever. The premise might have seemed relatively complicated: Mythical creatures known as gargoyles spend their days hanging out on the corners of buildings, frozen in stone, and at night, they come alive. But really it was a tale of family and romance set against a fantastical backdrop, which delivered no shortage of crazy plot elements (especially in its second season). “Gargoyes” never became as iconic as some of the other shows on this list, but the imagination it put on screen each week was hard to top. – LSM

41. “Duck Tales” (Jymn Magon, 1987-1990)

“Duck Tales.”

Moviestore/REX/

Much is made of the theme song with its signature “Woo-oo!” chorus — and for good reason. Not only is Mark Mueller’s ditty catchy as hell, but it also encapsulates the fun and adventure present from the series’ early days as a comic book to its onscreen adaptation that continued the vibrant and dynamic visual style. The wealthy Scrooge McDuck is a curmudgeonly yet charming foil for his rapscallion grand nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and along with the pilot Launchpad, they enjoy all manner of global and historical escapades worthy of Indiana Jones himself. This is zippy escapism shared between two seemingly disparate generations, something not seen in children’s cartoons that usually keep authority figures in the background. The series was so popular that it lives again in a 2017 reboot on Disney XD. – HN

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It’s all too easy to assert that things were better back in the day, but just take a look at this list of hit cartoons from the 1980s and ’90s and then try arguing that pre-teens of that era weren’t absolutely spoilt.

…to name but a few. We haven’t even mentioned Battle of the Planets. Or Dogtanian. Or Ulysses 31. Or The Mysterious Cities of Gold.

But 20-30 years on and, for the most part, these action-oriented shows aimed at pre-teens seem to have vanished.

No question, there’s still a ton of great animation coming out of the US – everything from Steven Universe to Rick and Morty to Bojack Horseman – and no shortage of material for the primary-school crowd, but far less is catering towards that very specific 8-14 age range.

It’s so, so important that kids who’ve outgrown pre-school fare have something new to move on to. Something with substance.

Remember how amazing it felt as a kid, transfixed in front of the television with a bag of Space Raiders and discovering shows like Batman and X-Men and Gargoyles that weren’t talking down to you?

Marvel

Beyond the bright colours and the rocking theme tunes, these shows served to safely expose kids to adult themes and issues, everything from racism to drug abuse.

They were slick, they were complex, they were smart – and at an uncertain and difficult age for kids, they made you feel smart and grown-up, too.

One rare – and brilliant – exception to the modern rule takes its inspiration from another ’80s favourite. Voltron: Legendary Defender – a flashy reinvention of the classic original – dropped its first 11 episodes on Netflix in June 2016, to strong reviews.

Netflix

“That audience is underserved,” executive producer Lauren Montgomery tells Digital Spy.

“It’s a strange thing, but I think there’s still that mentality that ‘animation is for kids’ that exists in America and I hope that shows like Voltron are taking steps to change that.”

There’s superb, groundbreaking animation out there for adults. There’s brilliant cartoons out there for very young kids. But what’s happened to the cartoons for older pre-teens?

Not just animated sitcoms, but serious-minded shows that respected their young audience? Cartoons with action and high stakes? Mainstream hits given proper promotion, appreciated not just by a minority of passionate fans, but by an entire generation?

Marvel Studios

There’s been much discussion as to whether the rise of the family-friendly blockbuster is killing off lower budget, character-based movies in Hollywood. But these films – Marvel’s output being one example – are now one of the few examples of entertainment designed for 8-14 year olds (that can, of course, also appeal to adults).

Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, one of the last great examples of this form in animation was also inspired by a comicbook movie: Fox’s Batman: The Animated Series, which aired 85 episodes between 1992 and 1995.

WENN

“Batman: The Animated Series spoke a more mature animated language,” Voltron’s co-showrunner Joaquim Dos Santos tells Digital Spy.

“It didn’t do anything that was egregious or overly violent, but it told stories with a real sense of drama, and stakes, and character. So that show is sort of the high watermark as far as we’re concerned, in terms of stories that you can tell animated, and that serves that audience.”

Is there any true equivalent to Batman in 2016? Has anything surpassed or even matched it in the 20 years since?

Its modern-day counterpart is probably something like Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans Go! A popular show, certainly, but, with its Powerpuff Girls influences, far more young-skewing than Batman ever was.

“I think the fact that this audience is under-served is really apparent in the fact that Anime has become so hugely popular in America,” Montgomery says. “It speaks directly to that age range, that audience, and if they can’t get that from American animation, then they’ll go to the Japanese.”

Montgomery and Dos Santos even have a theory as to why the pre-teen shows might have dried up. Unsurprisingly, it’s down to money.

Advertisers are keen to target adults, and younger children, who want toys that their parents can buy them.

8-14 year olds, though? They’re of less interest.

Netflix

“Platforms like Netflix don’t depend on toy commercials to get their revenue,” Montgomery suggests. “Hopefully it’ll start a trend in the right direction.”

“I think that’s actually a huge point,” Dos Santos agrees. “As long as that age group can somehow return the investment that it costs to make these shows, we’ll only see growth for that audience. But that equation needs to get figured out.”

Let’s hope it’s a problem that gets solved soon, because US television badly needs more shows like Voltron, shows that’ll inspire the next generation of storytellers to craft exciting, high-stakes animated shows.

Because, right now, if you’re too old for Peppa Pig and too young for Archer, then your options are seriously limited.

Related Story

Scientists Discover Some Cartoons Are Better for Kids Than Others

Watching cartoons can be developmentally beneficial for children, but not all kids’ show are created equal. Rather than focus on the vocabulary, the violence, or even the show’s subject matter, new research suggests that the structure of the stories themselves is what makes all the difference. Cartoons that follow a traditional narrative structure with a rise, peak, and fall may improve children’s ability to comprehend and remember important morals about how to treat other people.

Past studies have compared cartoons that follow a narrative form to cartoons that are more manic and less structured and found kids were better at recapping the details of narrative stories. When they watched non-narrative cartoons, their recollections were more limited to simple descriptions like “it was about fighting.” Other research indicates that children’s ability to construct their own narratives increases with age, so exposing them to the structure could be developmentally significant.

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A team of social scientists suspected this might be extra important because children’s capacity to comprehend the stories could affect what values, emotions, and morals they pick up on in the story. To test this, the researchers recruited 186 students between the ages of 7 and 13 and assessed their overall attention spans, in order to control for this when testing comprehension. Then participants were broken into two groups — one was shown the cartoon Doraemon, which had a narrative structure, and the other watched an episode of the non-narrative cartoon Code Lyoko. While narrative cartoons had the aforementioned arc, non-narrative shows relied on what researchers refer to as “clinchers,” such as loud sounds, cutaways, and disappearances and reappearances of certain characters. Then the researcher had children retell everything the cartoons were about, including certain morals and values.

The results, published in the Annals of Psychology, revealed that children understood and could recall far more of the story when they watch narrative cartoons, and this influenced comprehension more than other variables such as age, gender, attention span, and socioeconomic status. “Unlike other works of research that have studied these variables separately or partially, this work has considered all of them conjointly,” the researchers noted.

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Still, the study authors are careful to note that the data does not necessarily mean that all non-narrative cartoons are bad for kids. In fact, the non-traditional structure does allow creators to pack more information into an episode, which could be useful with a specific educational goal. Granted, the cartoons used in this study did not appear to do this, and the authors note further research is needed to explain why. The experiment was also limited by a small sample size and researchers recommend results be replicated in further research before drawing any firm conclusions.

Children generally thrive with a bit of structure, and this study would suggest this reality is reflected in the kinds of cartoons they watch. It’s important for children’s media to classify — and for parents to take note of — the different types of cartoons as narrative or not, so kids can get healthy exposure to narrative skills, even when they’re “just” watching cartoons.

“Continued exposure over time to this kind of episode may have an influence on narrative skill and the values system that the student is constructing,” the authors concluded. “So emphasizing consideration of formal aspects in fictional content for future research, as well as their educational implications, proves necessary.”

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Why is there nothing good on TV anymore? Although I rarely watch it these days, yet practically everything now is meaningless garbage with a side of no talent. Is it deliberate, and why?

People watch garbage, is the primary reason. With little disposable income for forty years, working class America watches a lot of television. Because costs of recreating are skyrocketing as free greenspaces disappear, working class Americans are essentially a captive audience for television shysters.

We are not big tv people. I am 70 yrs on, and while I agree with you on “garbage”, I might not be the best judge of contemporary trash. Still, we have several tvs and one of them is usually on within hearing.

Our daytime preferences for background tv are music and weather (Trump Derangement Syndrome cause us to avoid news most of the day), but in the evening we do sometimes listen to the news, and we watch stuff like “Breaking Bad”, “Better Call Saul”, “Big Bang Theory”, and around bedtime we stream movies.

We also stream 1930s/1940s movies and sometimes ‘Perry Mason’ etc., to revisit shows popular when we were young. My point here is to note what we enjoy to provide insight into what we might avoid.

Another reason people might believe there is more garbage on tv is that as America becomes more culturally diverse, markets/buyers/customers become more diverse, so sellers, including media, tend to widen their nets tailoring more content to specific niche markets.

For example, my thinking is that reality shows are garbage, but someone watches them. Someone else might believe Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad are garbage, but we stream them from time to time because they reflect my view of the culture today.

And so on…

Maybe somewhere in Postmodern Bizarroworld tons of Americans enjoy watching car chases, fantasy heroes, or maybe, how Eskimos put Walrus fat by for winter, or they enjoy watching soccer, and so forth and so on.

Nous? Not so much. We view ‘garbage television’ the way we view self help books and social grievance books at the library; we simply avoid books that appeal to emotions rather than reason.

A third reason more people are seeing more “meaningless garbage” is that even within cultures one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Some of my friends wonder how I can watch ‘trash’ like “Breaking Bad”. Others described my secret vice (when home alone), 1930s westerns, as trash.

Having noted all that, my thinking is the biggest unavoidable problem with regular tv is commercials. One reason we use tv as background noise instead of watching more shows is commercial saturation. Sometimes we make a note of a commercial, then avoid ever buying the line of goods. In some cases we look up the mother corporation and make some effort to avoid all those brands.

Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, The Good Place… yadda yadda yadda.

If you’re looking for some new pub ammo, we recommend checking out these 10 brilliant TV shows (if you can find them – not all of them have UK broadcasters) and recommending them to all your friends. Talk up these underrated gems and everyone will think you’re super-cool – promise.

1. Counterpart

Starz

This show from US cable channel Starz is everything you hoped Channel 4’s Electric Dreams would be – an engrossing, intelligent and adult science-fiction drama. Counterpart is an espionage story told through a Philip K Dick-esque lens connecting two parallel Earths, one which took a different path post-Cold War.

With Oscar-winner JK Simmons leading an impressive cast – including British talent such as Olivia Williams, Nicholas Pinnock and Harry Lloyd – it’s no wonder that it’s scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The second season premiered in December.

Cameron K McEwan

2. Channel Zero

Syfy

This horror anthology series tackles a different “creepypasta” (basically, internet urban legend) each season and the three to date — Candle Cove, No-End House and Butcher’s Block — have all been truly unsettling and creepy viewing.

The six-episode run and anthology format give it a freedom that means you genuinely have no idea what’s coming – which, when it involves creatures who literally eat your memories, is about as scary as you can get. Channel Zero constantly delivers images that haunt you long after the season is over, making it without doubt the best horror series around.

We’re not sure we’ve ever seen anything like the tooth child in Candle Cove, and it has haunted our dreams ever since. The fourth and final season aired in October last year.

Ian Sandwell

3. American Vandal

Netflix

Available on Netflix

You might well have heard of Netflix’s American Vandal, but if you haven’t seen the eight-part series, you’ve probably dismissed it as a one-joke Making a Murderer / Serial spoof.

It does indeed start out along those lines, expertly taking off the earnest tone and narrative gimmicks employed by the current rash of true crime docu-series.

But across its first season, something happens. American Vandal – a show about a troublesome high-school slacker accused of spray-painting 27 dicks on faculty cars – digs deep into US teen culture and the struggles of adolescence.

The end result is something funny, sad and compelling. We can’t recommend it highly enough.

Season two is also now available on Netflix.

Morgan Jeffery

4. This Country

BBC

Available on BBC1, BBC3 and iPlayer

Both series of Daisy May Cooper and Charlie Cooper’s mockumentary (plus the one-off ‘The Aftermath’) are on BBC iPlayer, so there’s no better time to introduce yourself to the Mucklowes.

Likely to be almost too painful for people who grew up in a village, This Country is a sharply observed look at life in the country with all its quirks and challenges. Most importantly, it’s consistently hilarious, wringing big laughs without needing to resort to over-the-top sitcom moments, largely thanks to the engaging performances of the two creators and stars.

Add in one of the funniest characters that you never actually see in Kerry’s mum (also voiced by Daisy May Cooper), and you have the best mockumentary since The Office.

Ian Sandwell

5. Easy

Zac Hahn/Netflix

Available on Netflix

Joe Swanberg – a major figure in the cinematic mumblecore movement, which emphasises naturalistic acting and dialogue over plot – brings his very particular style to series television with Easy.

Though each episode focuses on a radically different collection of characters, the series is always set in Chicago and always, one way or another, comes back to its major themes of sex, romance and relationships in the 21st century.

Easy is of a very particular flavour and won’t be for everyone, and as with every anthology series the quality from episode to episode can be variable, but when it’s at its best, the show is smart, charming and makes you think.

Oh, and some phenomenal casting – Dave Franco, Jake Johnson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Aubrey Plaza are among those to have appeared – doesn’t hurt.

Morgan Jeffery

6. Mary Kills People

Global

Mary Kills People does exactly what it says on the tin: Hannibal’s Caroline Dhavernas plays Dr Mary Harris, who, alongside her work at Eden General Hospital’s emergency department, has a sideline in providing assisted suicide.

Dark, witty and provocative, Mary Kills People builds on a unique premise to weave in twists and turns without ever compromising the show’s reality.

There’s a lot going on here: comedy, drama, philosophy. But a stellar lead performance from Dhavernas is the glue that holds all these genres together and the end result is something a bit special.

Morgan Jeffery

7. Search Party

TBS

Available on All4

A mystery series for Generation Y, the first season of Search Party follows “lifelong doormat” Dory (Alia Shawkat) and her eclectic gang of self-absorbed friends as they hunt for the missing Chantal Winterbottom (Clare McNulty).

Each season is made to binge-watch – 10 hilarious, weird but engaging episodes, at 22 minutes a piece – with the second run daring to get even darker and becoming even more addictive in the process.

We defy you not to fall for this show’s offbeat charms.

Morgan Jeffery

8. Dark

Julia Terjung/Netflix

Available on Netflix

Hailed as the new Stranger Things when it first hit Netflix, this complex German time-travel horror series hasn’t caused the levels of buzz we might have expected.

This could be because it’s very complicated, following three different time lines involving multiple characters at different ages, but take it from us, there are serious rewards for the patient.

Once you’re hooked, Dark has you… and the good news is, a second season is incoming.

Rosie Fletcher

9. High Maintenance

HBO

Created by ex-husband and wife team Ben Sinclair (who also stars as ‘The Guy’, the show’s episode-linking drug dealer) and Katja Blichfeld, High Maintenance is slightly deeper than the high concept suggests, telling the story of NYC’s varied inhabitants through the eyes of their shared Crypt Keeper of weed.

Wrapping the New York grittiness of Girls and the surrealist humour of Party Down around Short Cuts-style vignettes is a smart move, the ‘where are we going to end up this time?’ more-ish-ness of our nameless sort-of protagonist undercut by the characters they meet, and the lives that they lead.

It’s Martin Scorsese’s After Hours through the bottom of a bong.

Matt Hill

10. Marvel’s Runaways

Hulu

Available on Syfy

On the surface, Runaways appears much the same as any other show about middle-class teenagers. You’ve got the jock, the pretty girl, the emo, the wannabe cheerleader, the nerd and the social-justice warrior, all trying to fit into the clichéd American High School Experience™.

So far, so stereotype-y. Oh, but there’s one tiny thing that sets it apart from the rest. The kids discover their parents are super-villains.

But far from being ‘Superhero Gossip Girl’, Runaways seamlessly tackles a range of themes throughout its first season that could not be more relevant to young people today; from growing up and questioning authority figures to the much darker realms of sexual assault, mental health and racism.

This is also a show that celebrates diversity. If you’re one of the people clamouring for more women, more BAME representation and LGBT+ superheroes in the MCU, well, this is Marvel’s answer and we’re giving them an A.

The first two or three episodes stick to the much-utilised Marvel formula, but once it starts digging beneath the surface stereotypes, hold tight, because this show is NOT what you think it is…

Lexi Watson

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I have a confession to make. It’s 2019, and I don’t know what television is anymore.

Oh, sure, I know what a television—the physical object, the thing you order from Amazon after checking it out at Best Buy—is. I am even reasonably comfortable with the notion of shows or series, those half-hour and one-hour productions that come in sequential, chapter-like installments, much like they did 30 or 40 years ago when a handful of broadcast networks ruled the airwaves and pay cable channels such as HBO and Cinemax were still niche services for well-off movie nuts and people too embarrassed to rent softcore porn at video stores. (Remember those?)

But television? As a concept? As a means of cultural connection, a system for mass entertainment? A way of organizing the world, or at least the weekday hours after dinner and before bedtime? I have no idea what that is. It’s too vague, too sprawling, too unwieldy, too individualized and demographic-specific. Yes, there are still broadcast stations, and if you stick an antenna on your window, you can still tune into them over the air. It’s like connecting to some ancient cellular network that only has four apps, all of which are basically the same. But when was the last time you watched something that way? Even street people and survivalists have 5G now.

These days, television—whatever it is—is on your phone, on your PlayStation, on YouTube, on your laptop, and even, sometimes, on your actual television, the big thing you bought from Amazon. TV is increasingly indistinct from the world of big-budget Hollywood feature films and also from big tech, which now makes shows, the things you watch, in order to sell phones, watches, diapers, plush toys, and lunch boxes. On occasion, TV even seems to be melding with video games and vice versa. You can consume as much of it as you want, from virtually any place you can imagine, on anything that has a screen. TV is everything now, and everywhere, an amorphous cultural and commercial blob backed by billions in tech and media spending. Its cultural dominance is unchecked by anything except your own time, and it is increasingly tailored to your unique interests and obsessions.

Yes, I’m talking about Netflix, the streaming video goliath that introduced us to binge-watching, and Stranger Things, and binge-watching Stranger Things. But I’m also talking about the elephant stampede of high-profile streaming video services set to launch in coming months—which include Apple TV+, Disney+, Peacock, HBO Max, and something called Quibi—as well as existing services, from the recognizable (Amazon Prime Video, Hulu) to under-the-radar offerings from the likes of Vudu, Crackle, Facebook Watch, and Vizio’s WatchFree. Television, to use a reference that somehow made the leap from the days of broadcast dominance to the social media present, has not just jumped the shark. It is the shark. It is chewing up everything in its path. And the streaming era has only just begun.

ALL YOUR FRIENDS

In the olden days, before the internet, before smartphones, when a television (the object) was something you had to buy at a store, it was easy enough to understand what TV was: three networks broadcasting shows—scripted dramas about police and lawyers, laugh-track comedies about dopey dads and housewife moms, deadly earnest news programming, and only slightly less earnest comedy talk—that felt more or less the same. Television producers pandered, not necessarily to the lowest common denominator but to the widest. Airtime was limited, so their goal was to produce material that would serve everyone, or as close as they could get. Television defined the American median. It was something we could all talk about together.

There was a comforting sense of homogeneity to the TV of this era. It didn’t ask too much of you, and it was always there when you needed it, a friendly and familiar presence. It wasn’t designed to be great; it was designed to be consistently fine.

The apotheosis of this style of television was the long-running, insanely popular 1990s sitcom Friends, a show that literalized the idea of what television was in its title. Friends was a show about a bunch of attractive and mildly glamorous but essentially ordinary white people hanging out and talking about their lives. It was a show you could watch and engage with but also one that you could just have on as background noise, with the characters’ idealized, fictional, not-too-difficult lives serving as the backdrop to your own. That was television’s reason for being: to keep ordinary people company in their own homes.

All of this was, one way or another, sanctioned by the government. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), our national censor, kept tabs on broadcast content, deciding which words were acceptable and which weren’t and ensuring that your TV friends wouldn’t use foul language. The lines of acceptability shifted gradually over time, and politicians occasionally complained about the coarsening of the culture, which mostly meant griping about the plot of Murphy Brown or the presence of uncovered butt cheeks on NYPD Blue. Television was understood as a system for the transmission of common cultural values, and, as a result, it remained fairly tame.

Cable brought a new edge to the medium. Ad-supported networks like Comedy Central and A&E offered niche programming to self-selected audiences. HBO’s subscription service, freed from FCC paternalism, could show blood and bare breasts and let characters say any flippity-flappin’ words they wanted. But even as cable wormed its way into more and more homes in the 1980s and 1990s, it remained a lesser venue, a dumping ground for reruns and inexpensive programming, with high-quality originals few and far between.

And then, at the turn of the 21st century, that changed. The Shield, Nip/Tuck, The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad—even a remake of Battlestar Galactica—demonstrated not only that cable channels could compete with big broadcast networks on original programming but that they could produce elevated material that appealed to both critics and small but intensely devoted viewerships who weren’t well-served by existing shows. The new TV wasn’t designed to be fine for everyone. It was designed to be great for a targeted few.

Suddenly, everybody with a video camera and a distribution platform wanted in. Cable networks from The History Channel to TV Land to USA began devoting more resources to scripted original programming. It wasn’t too long before Netflix, a DVD-by-mail company that later launched a streaming service—think HBO in the ’80s, but on demand—joined the original content game too.

Unlike broadcast networks, which had to rely on imperfect audience surveys and Nielsen ratings, Netflix had direct access to viewership data, meaning it knew exactly what subscribers were watching, and when, and how often. The company had three major revelations.

The first was that television-style content, which on both cable and broadcast had always been delivered on a specific schedule, in a linear sequence over the space of weeks, could be divorced from time. Netflix not only allowed viewers to watch its shows whenever they wanted, it posted entire seasons online at once and then encouraged viewers to “binge-watch,” or consume the whole thing all in one go. Appointment TV, in which you regularly dated a show you liked, was no more; Netflix was TV as a series of intense one-night stands.

The second revelation was that TV could be portable. Netflix was an app, not a channel, which meant you could watch it on your computer, on your phone, in your car, and possibly even on your refrigerator. Netflix shows came to you, wherever you were. The service was platform agnostic.

Finally, Netflix realized that demand for new scripted content was practically infinite and began producing accordingly. In 2013, the year Netflix committed itself fully to originals, the total number of scripted series produced annually across all of Hollywood jumped by 17 percent.

In the 1980s and 1990s, fewer than 50 original scripted television series were produced each year. In 2008, there were more than 200. By 2018, the number was just shy of 500, and streaming networks were the biggest producers. Netflix, which will reportedly spend $15 billion on content this year, wasn’t competing with ABC and NBC and CBS. It wasn’t even really competing with HBO. It was competing with the entire rest of one’s life, with 24 hours of things to do that aren’t watching Netflix. CEO Reed Hastings said in 2017, “We actually compete with sleep.” Then he added, perhaps not entirely kidding, “And we’re winning!”

THROUGH A BLACK MIRROR

It was around this point that television began to lose its definition. After all, what was TV if not a thing that came into your home at a specific time, on a recurring schedule? What was television if not something you watched on a television? Netflix and its early competitors had broken the fundamental laws of the television universe.

The new television didn’t just mean more TV. It meant a different kind of TV. It meant shows that didn’t cater to the median viewer and that, in many cases, asked more from their audiences than casual background appreciation. That’s how Netflix ended up with shows as varied as BoJack Horseman, an animated dramedy about a talking horse dealing with depression, and The Crown, a big-budget costume drama about British monarchs, and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a 10-episode prequel to the 1982 Jim Henson cult fantasy film with an all-puppet cast. And it’s how the streamer ended up with Daybreak, a forthcoming series starring Matthew Broderick set in Glendale, California, about post-apocalyptic teen gangs that the company describes as “part samurai saga, part endearing coming-of-age story, and part Battle Royale.” It’s like Fortnite meets Ferris Bueller.

This is weird territory. The boom in scripted television has been a boon for concepts that are unusual, offbeat, and downright wacky. As Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s head of content, told New York magazine in 2018, “Nothing is too niche.”

Yet in its own way, Netflix is pursuing a median strategy—not with any one show, but with the totality of its programming. The idea isn’t to appeal to everyone all at once but to appeal to everyone in fragments and pieces, serving one narrow interest at a time. That’s why, in addition to investing heavily in scripted series, Netflix is backing feature films at nearly every budget level, from genre fare that has gone out of fashion at major studios (romantic comedies, teen sci-fi adventures) to big-budget Oscar hopefuls like Alfonso Cuarón’s Best Picture–nominated Roma and the forthcoming Martin Scorsese crime epic The Irishman, which stars Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci. The company put up $200 million for Red Notice, an action thriller featuring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds. Ten Netflix films are scheduled to debut theatrically before the end of the year.

Netflix is also experimenting with more-novel formats, as in Bandersnatch, a Black Mirror special designed as an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure story. It’s a video game disguised as a movie based on a television series owned by a tech company that makes more TV than any actual TV network. That’s what television is today.

WHY JEFF BEZOS IS SPENDING $250 MILLION ON LORD OF THE RINGS

Netflix isn’t the only one breaking rules and busting budgets. Amazon Prime Video has been churning out high-quality scripted shows for years, often splashing out huge sums for well-known properties and talent. The company lured Julia Roberts, once the biggest female movie star on the planet, onto the small screen for Homecoming, a half-hour drama based on a podcast about a military conspiracy. It spent $250 million for the rights to make a television series based on Lord of the Rings. Amazon gives the services away as part of a package deal with Amazon Prime, which entitles subscribers to free two-day shipping on many of the products the company sells.

Why is Amazon paying Julia Roberts to appear on television and making a Lord of the Rings show? Partly because Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, which means he doesn’t need a reason. Partly because he’s a nerd. (Bezos, a known sci-fi fan, also had his company acquire the rights to the intrasolar space epic The Expanse after it was canceled on its original home, the cable network SyFy.)

But mostly because Amazon wants to sell you more dog food. Or toilet paper. Or Virginia Postrel books. Or batteries or bottles of passion fruit concentrate or actual televisions (after you demo them at Best Buy). It doesn’t matter, really. Amazon, which, like Netflix, has a mass of data on its users’ habits, has long known that Prime subscribers spend far more than nonsubscribers, so it is laying out $6 billion for video content this year to make that subscription more enticing. It’s just another perk, like flat-fee grocery delivery.

Amazon is also in the content business for the simple reason that it is a tech company with money. This similarly explains the existence of Facebook Watch, a service that, despite its relatively low profile, claimed 75 million daily viewers for such shows as Sorry for Your Loss, starring Elizabeth Olsen as a young widow, and Sacred Lies, about an ex-cult member. Facebook is in the spending-time-on-Facebook business, and TV shows give people a new way to spend time. Tinder, the popular dating app, recently announced Swipe Night, a four-episode, choose-your-own-adventure “series” that is part video game, part soap opera, designed to serve as a first-date activity. Why Netflix and chill when you can Tinder and hook up?

This also helps justify the existence of Apple TV+, a new service debuting in November with an array of heavyweight titles, including new shows from A-list creators Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams. The Morning Show, a glossy insider drama about a morning talk program, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, cost a reported $15 million per episode—the same as the final season of HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones.

Apple has money, and it is trying to figure out its future in a world where everyone who wants an iPhone already has one. So it’s making television…about television.

At the September event where it announced the launch date of its new service, Apple also announced a major new foray into mobile video games, including Beyond a Steel Sky, a sequel to a cult favorite 1994 adventure game featuring design work by Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons. In some loose sense this is television too, a lavishly produced, partially scripted thing you watch on a screen, the goal of which is to capture your attention (and perhaps sell you another screen).

And then there is Disney. Like Apple, it has money. And like Netflix, it’s in the business of producing entertainment for both the small and the big screens. (As of this summer, four of 2019’s top five domestic box-office hits were Disney films.) But Disney also has theme parks, and plush toys, and T-shirts, and lunch boxes, all of which are adorned with its characters. And Disney’s movies, especially those set in the world of Marvel Comics characters (Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers), have increasingly taken the form of big-budget, big-screen shows—serialized, multi-character, episodic programming about friends who hang out, work together, and just happen to have superpowers. Disney’s new streaming service will feature several series based on those same heroes, with stories that connect to the larger cinematic plotline, joining TV and movies more closely than we’ve ever seen before.

MURDER HOUSE FLIP IS A REAL SHOW

Have you heard of Quibi? You will. Launching in April 2020, it’s the brainchild of former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, who raised more than $1 billion for a channel devoted to making short-form content designed to be watched on mobile devices. Among other projects, Quibi is planning a phone-sized remake of The Fugitive, starring Kiefer Sutherland, and a “true-crime home renovation series” called Murder House Flip.

Or maybe you won’t hear about it. No one knows which of these services will become the next Netflix and which will become the next Pets.com. Indeed, among the front-runners for failure is Netflix itself. Despite a massive customer base and associated revenues, the streaming giant burns enormous amounts of cash on its content and has recently missed subscriber growth targets. And it faces stiff competition from the new services being launched by Apple and Disney, both of which will initially cost less than a typical Netflix subscription.

The problem for Netflix is that creating and selling access to shows is its core business. If you don’t subscribe, it doesn’t make money.

For Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and to some extent Disney, TV shows are a secondary product. Sure, they’ll take your money every month. But Amazon only needs you to buy trash bags, and Apple only needs you to buy iPhones, and Disney just needs you (or your child) to love Star Wars and to buy lunch boxes and theme park tickets accordingly. Since you already love Star Wars, own an iPhone, and need trash bags, Disney, Apple, and Amazon are probably going to be OK.

A BILLION DOLLARS FOR BIG BANG THEORY?

This is the reality of the streaming era: There is a lot of television. And there is going to be a lot more of it—much, much more than anyone can ever watch. It will be weirder and less constrained by time or platform or format conventions than ever before.

The benefits for consumers are obvious: an endless supply of high-quality filmed entertainment, some of it truly great, much of it pretty good, none of it subject to federal prudishness. By displacing the broadcast networks as the primary outlet for scripted series, the streaming boom takes the FCC out of the content production process, reducing its power as a censor.

At least for now, these services are not expensive. Apple TV+ will cost $5 per month and be free for the first year if you purchase any Apple device. Disney’s opening price is $6.99 per month. Even following several rounds of price increases, Netflix’s standard plan is just $12.99 per month. HBO Max, which will bundle HBO originals with other content from Warner-Media, the company that owns the cable network, is expected to be the most expensive at $15–$17 per month. That’s comparable to the cost of adding HBO to a cable subscription, while delivering an even greater wealth of content.

Speaking of cable subscriptions, the streaming boom threatens to render them obsolete—sort of. In the ’90s and ’00s, politicians and regulators regularly pushed to require cable companies to offer their services a la carte—allowing customers to buy only the channels they want. This was thought to be family-friendly (you could block channels you deem inappropriate for kids) as well as a way to save money (no more larded-up cable packages). Unbundling was a political imperative.

Streaming services accomplished this without legislation or regulation. Netflix offers a kid-friendly variant and password protection for adult accounts. Cord cutters can skip the cable TV package and pick their favorite streaming options. Yet the coming glut of services means that an ambitious unbundler who wants access to everything could end up paying, in total, about the same amount he previously did for cable, especially once prices inevitably rise. And the underlying internet service itself is still provided by a cable or phone company.

So this is what television is now: a system designed to maximize entertainment optionality, to ensure that not only is there always something you could watch, but there’s always something you—specifically, individually, uniquely you—actually want to watch. Television, that old vehicle for the transmission of common culture, has become a tool for choosing and expressing what makes each one of us singular.

The quirks of the concepts, the variety of the delivery systems, the emphasis on serving ever-tinier niche audiences, and the sheer volume of material being produced might seem overwhelming. But all this is designed to produce a world in which there is something to appeal to every obscure interest, every microdemographic, every autonomous and idiosyncratic individual. The ultimate niche audience is just one person. We’re not quite there yet. But the streaming era moves us closer.

And yet neither is the common culture dead. In September, Netflix agreed to pay $500 million for the rights to that classic of network-era television, Seinfeld. The same week, WarnerMedia agreed to pay a reported $1 billion for The Big Bang Theory, one of the longest-running and most successful network shows of the last two decades, which will air exclusively on HBO Max. Just a few months prior, the company agreed to pay $425 million to take over the rights—from Netflix—to another classic show: Friends.

Whatever television is today, and whatever it eventually becomes, it’s still what television used to be, too.

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So many readers piped in to share their children’s favorite French cartoons- we got suggestions from both native French speakers, and parents hoping to expose their kids to French! As I was searching for clips, my kids enjoyed checking out the videos- all are suitable for kids, though I frequently use children’s cartoons to teach teenage language learners. (They usually love it, especially if I would show them in class:). Here is a list of 12 favorite French cartoons (new and old, originating in France or Canada). They are more or less in order from younger children to older children, with a preview of each on youtube:

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Petit Ours Brun (Little Brown Bear), sweet French cartoons from the 1970’s, which are still popular today. There are several episodes on youtube, and you can also order as DVDs from amazon. They have with additional activities, links to their apps, coloring pages, etc.

Trotro (the donkey!), cute French cartoons recommended by 3 different families. It is also available on amazon as a DVD, and you can watch it on Netflix, or here on youtube.

Caillou is a beloved educational Canadian children’s television series about a little boy and his adventures with his friends and family. Although the original series aired in French, the DVDs sold in the US are not available with a French audio option (!?). If you search on the Canadian amazon though, you can find many Caillou DVD options labelled “bilingual.”

Babar is a character from a 1931 French children’s book Histoire de Babar by Jean de Brunhoff. Canada has produced a TV series of the famous elephant and there are many episodes of these French cartoons on-line. Babar – The Classic Series Season One is available on DVD (with English and French audio options).

T’choupi et Doudou (Charley and Mimmo in English), Canadian French cartoons from Quebec about a penguin family. It is available to watch on youtube, or to watch on DVD.

Sam Sam is a 6-year-old good superhero “in training” living with his family and playing with his friends. The sweet stories demonstrate loyalty, friendship and courage. These French cartoons are available on DVD, with clips available on youtube, and they have

Petit Potam, French cartoons of a sweet little hippopotamus who drives the river ferry and also tells lovely stories. The movie was selected at the Cannes Film Festival Junior in 2001. You can see episodes on youtube, or watch the Petit Potam film on DVD.

Oui-Oui was recommended by a friend who says their children used to watch these French cartoons every day after school. You can see many clips on youtube:

A friend- and mom to 3- who grew up in France recommended the next two educational French cartoons. First, the French animated television series Il Était une Fois… L’homme (Once Upon a Time… Man) and then Il Était une Fois… la Vie (Once Upon a Time… Life)– French cartoons which teach kids world history and then how the human body (its organs and systems) works. Though over 30 years old, they remind me a little of Magic School Bus.

I really like the animation and the multicultural characters of the French-Korean show Linus et Boom (exported as “My Giant Friend”). Kids are protecting lost aliens from an evil agency, with a giant red alien named Boom. You can get Saison 1 (épisodes 1 à 13) on DVD.

Les Mystérieuses Cités D’or (known in English as The Mysterious Cities of Gold) is an adventure story about three children who travel across the Americas in search of the Mysterious Cities of Gold- not for the gold, but to find their missing fathers. In the US, these “French cartoons” are also difficult to find in French- try Canadian amazon instead or check out some episodes on youtube:

Code Lyoko is a French animated television series that looks like Japanese anime. It’s a classic good vs evil show, with kids battling an artificial intelligence unit. This show is well-liked by kids, who should have an intermediate command of French to understand the plot. This episode on youtube has French subtitles, which is a great aid for language learners! Code Lyoko is available on DVD, and has been made into a Nintendo DS game that can be played in French!

Monde de Petits is a French web site for kids filled with songs and activities. Though created for native speakers, there is a plethora of videos and French cartoons whose bright colors and cheerful tunes will captivate young language learners. Even my kids- who know not a word of French!- asked to play another and another and another. As an added bonus there are coloring pages, games, and even a couple of recipes.

Surely I’ve missed some of your favorites? Which are your favorite French cartoons? Share them in the comments so we can check them out!