Whether working from home or just staying in more due to the Coronavirus and ensuing shutdowns and social distancing (which I hope you’re doing so we can all be done at some point!), relaxing with the family and watching something together or hiding in your closet on your phone trying to get a five minute break, here’s a rundown of what’s worth watching.
As a Family
- Be Our Chef is the new family cooking show that has the whole family working together, and is hosted by Angela Kinsey (aka, Angela from The Office). I’ve got a budding chef, and we all enjoyed watching this together. New episodes air on Fridays.
- Stuck in the Middle has been my go-to for laundry folding. It’s fun and has positive messaging (without dopey parents, thus far), the kids can watch it with me without being scarred for life, and its about a kid inventor in a big family.
- Frozen II and Onward. I’m super grateful to Disney for making these available during school closures. Plus I’d been planning on taking the kids to see Onward in theaters over Spring Break, since we weren’t traveling, so having it available to watch at home softens the blow. (You can read my review…from when I saw it without the kids at an advanced screening, here. Please don’t tell them I saw it without them!).
- With near middle school and up, I’m loving Diary of a Future President. It does have some romantic themes, girls talking about menstruation, and other more grown up kid topics. I love the struggle the mom goes through and how open it is about grieving and how its a lifelong process. The way romance is perceived as a kid and an adult shown side by side is unique and great for showing all ages that real love doesn’t always look like a fairy tale.
- Now is a great time to introduce your kids to your beloved childhood Disney Channel Original Movies! We started with Motocrossed and A Ring of Endless Light, and I plan on introducing them to Zenon next!
- Pollyanna was a hit for me due to my childhood Hayley Mills phase (fingers crossed they add Summer Magic soon!). This movie is great for kids, as it shows Pollyanna having a wonderful effect on everyone around her, all while remaining (mostly) respectful. It’s also a good reminder for parents about what it’s like to be a kid. I do have to warn you it ends a bit surprisingly, with Pollyanna becoming injured and having to be rallied into recovering. Her accident is rather frightening and ah, I may have had to explain to my young kids what it meant to be paralyzed.
Here are some educational shows that won’t make you want to pull your eyelashes out rather than hear one more syllable. Plus they’ll keep the kids engaged while you work on your laptop for twenty minutes with only ten interruptions (instead of the usual 50). A lot of the PBS content is also available for free on the Amazon Prime Video app, even without Prime (so I’ve heard).
- Wild Kratts I love this show that teaches about nature and taking care of the earth in a non-doomsday or preachy way.
- Sesame Street letters and numbers and learning, oh my!
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood I will always defend this show, as it basically potty trained my kids. But in times like these, when we’re already stressed and anxious, Daniel and his world’s calming methods and words can only be helpful.
- Mister Rogers Neighborhood was a staple of my childhood, and after watching the documentary recently I’ve not only gotten back into it, but I’ve gotten my kids into it as well. He’s still helping me, as he’s teaching me how to explain hard things to my kids in a way that makes sense but isn’t scary. Or as scary.
- Pete the Cat is my kid’s favorite book character, and his show is great too. I love reading the books together, watching the corresponding episode, and comparing what’s the same and different.
- The Cat in the Hat balances silly and smart to teach kids to use their imagination and learn something new, all without being terribly annoying.
Just for Grown-Ups
Just because I put something in this category doesn’t mean it’s unsafe for kid’s eyes, especially since the term kid can apply to a rather large age group. My oldest kid is in first grade, so if I wouldn’t watch it with him in the room, it’s on this list. Use your parental discretion to decide what’s best for your family.
- Encore is a reality show, Disney style. A group of adults reunites to put on the same show they put on in high school, getting reacquainted with one another and dusting off their unused skills. They learn both from their current experience putting on the show and remember some lessons they’d perhaps forgotten. Oh, and Kristen Bell! It’s mostly lighthearted, but tragedy can hit anyone and that affects some of the casts. It’s mostly hopeful and uplifting. I don’t recall anything off the top of my head that would make it inappropriate for more ages, but I know my kids wouldn’t be into it so I left it in the grown-ups category.
- The Simpsons is owned by Disney and on Disney+ now. Someone at Disney+ is a genius and created a subcategory called ‘The Simpsons Predict’, which includes the episodes in which the Simpsons predicted something would happen (like Trump becoming president) and it actually did, years later. This is going to be a fun category to explore!
- SparkShorts is a collection of shorts from Pixar, but they’re not all kid friendly. I might let my kids watch Kitbull…when they’re 35. It’s intense, but beautiful. The stories are magnetic, and they’re gorgeous and interesting and thought provoking. But they’re not all kid appropriate.
- 10 Things I Hate About You was definitely one of my favorite movies in high school. I tried my darnedest to sit on my porch railing just like Julia Stiles does! Alas, our railing was meant to be decorative and not a seat. But this movie is a fun walk down nostalgia lane, and always worth a rewatch. And how did none of these kids get in serious trouble for their crazy antics?! (Ah, movie world. Where repercussions don’s exist.)
- Tiger King is sweeping the nation, and with good reason. It’s astonishing. It’s about two crazy polygamist cults, this nutcase who clearly killed her husband, a drug kingpin, and murder for hire. Oh, and they’re all obsessed with big cats (aka, tigers and lions). It’s full of foul language, a mysterious disappearance, and a few gruesome feeding scenes, so watch at your own risk.
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and its sequel: I read these books years ago and was thoroughly obsessed. Netflix has done a fabulous job with the films.
- Cheer had its day in the sun when everyone was talking about it, and now Tiger King has eclipsed it a little. It’s really well done and overall positive, and a great respite from reality.
- About Time is technically a romantic comedy, but it involved time travel and is set in England is just as charming as can be. It has its sad bits of course, but it’s such a beautiful film. I absolutely love it.
- Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is my current obsession. With the same team that brought us Gilmore Girls, this show is full of quick witty dialogue, killer costuming, and female protagonists discovering their own strength. Plus it’s all set in 1950s New York, which feels fun and glamorous.
- Modern Love is mostly great. There are a couple I’m a little iffy on, but it’s overall really phenomenal. Great stories, great actors, and memorable plots. They’re also shorter, clocking in at around half an hour, which is a rarity in itself these days.
- Troop Zero is the uplifting movie you’ve been waiting for. With many hilarious lines (“I don’t want to do anything with half an ass”); Viola Davis, Jim Gaffigan and Allison Janney shaping the worlds of the ragtag group of misfits and the mean girls; and a sweet but not saccharine plot of leaving your mark on the world, this movie is sure to entertain you and keep you thinking about it long after the credits have finished rolling.
- Instant Family will make you cry your eyes out and yet leave you feeling hopeful and inspired. It’s laugh out loud funny with a tender heart and plenty of conflict to keep your mind whirring.