There are so many shows streaming and on cable that it’s hard to determine which ones are appropriate for family viewing. There are shows that give insight to blended families, divorce and the ups and downs of teenage angst. or maybe you prefer shows with a dose of magic or that are set in the Star Wars universe and take you on a journey to faraway galaxies.
Regardless of whether you’re in the mood to laugh, cry, rejoice or cheer on a superhero, there’s a show on this list that you can watch as a family. Here are the 42 of the best family TV shows ever, including family shows from the 90s and current family-friendly fare, shows that are appropriate for kids but still entertaining for adults.
Best family TV shows
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
It’s been 30 years since a kid from West Philly ended up at a mansion in Bel Air. The theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air tells the story of how Will got into some neighborhood beef and his mom sends him to California to live with their rich family members. The show depicted an upper-class Black family that was still in touch with the realities of the culture in America.
This Hallmark Channel drama fantasy follows the residents of Middleton, including Cassie Nightingale (Catherine Bell) and her daughter and the next-door neighbors. It’s an ongoing mystery surrounding Cassie’s family lineage and how she can magically make things happen while running her store and the local bed and breakfast. It’s a feel-good show that the entire family can enjoy because it emphasizes the importance of empathy, responsibility and being kind.
The Great British Baking Show
Do you and your kids love baking together? This show is for you. It’s filmed in the U.K. but it touches hearts and stomachs around the world. This competition series seeks to find the best of the best baker. Amateur bakers of all ages and walks of life don their aprons to compete by baking challenging pastries, cakes, breads and desserts.
This multi-generational family show is set in the foothills of the Rockies. The series is centered around the Heartland horse ranch as Amy Fleming (Amber Marshall), her older sister Lou (Michelle Morgan) and their grandfather Jack (Shaun Johnston) juggle the challenges of running the family business. The family drama is based on the middle school novel series, Heartland, by Lauren Brooke.
After cosmetics saleswoman Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) is fired from her job and dumped by her boyfriend, she unexpectedly gets a job as the nanny to the three children of a wealthy widower. Fran’s no-nonsense honesty and sharp wit bring logic and new perspective to the Sheffield family. The entire series can now be seen on HBO Max.
Black-ish premiered in 2014 and introduced a new Black family to television, the Johnsons. Dre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) is an advertising executive with a sneaker fetish and is grappling with the fact his five spoiled kids are growing up in a world he doesn’t understand. His wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) is a doctor that wants the kids to be able to express themselves and be free. The show has themes of several personal and sociopolitical issues mixed in with humor. Once you’re caught up with this series, you can turn to its spinoffs, Grown-ish, following the Johnsons’ eldest daughter to college, and Mixed-ish, a prequel that chronicles Rainbow’s childhood with her activist parents.
Anne with An E
Based on the book Anne of Green Gables, this series follows a 13-year-old orphan named Anne (Amybeth McNulty) in Avonlea in the late 19th century. It’s a heartwarming tale of her journey after she finds an unlikely home and family with a spinster and her soft-spoken bachelor brother. The series aired its last episodes in early 2020, and all three seasons are available on Netflix now.
The Andy Griffith Show
This family comedy is a throwback because of the 249 episodes, half are in black and white. Widower Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) and his son Opie (Ron Howard) live with Andy’s Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) in Mayberry, North Carolina. The show is centered around the small town and its colorful characters including Andy’s bumbling cousin Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts).
This Netflix family comedy stars Katharine McPhee as an aspiring country singer whose career comes to a halt. But she finds the band of her dreams when she takes a job as a nanny for a widower (Eddie Cibrian) and his five children.
Single mom Lorelai (Lauren Graham) raises gifted, Ivy League-bound daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) in this classic series. The show follows three generations of Gilmores, and family members of various ages can relate to the storylines of falling in love for the first time, figuring out parenting or trying to get along with family members with different viewpoints. The series streams on Netflix.
The Proud Family
The Proud Family was Disney Channel’s first original animated series about the life of a young Black girl, 14-year-old Penny Proud. The cartoon’s theme song even tapped into pop culture with vocals by Solange and Destiny’s Child. The show is about Penny’s relationship with her parents, Oscar and Trudy, and her desire to make them happy; her siblings; and her hardcore grandma Suga Mama. A revival of the cartoon is expected to air on Disney+ in 2022.
All About the Washingtons
Whose house? Run’s house! Except, this time Rev Run of Run DMC fame stars in this Netflix family comedy as hip hop icon MC Joe Speed. He retires from the spotlight and has to find a new rhythm balancing business, romance and family.
One Day at a Time
This series is a reimagining of the 80s television classic, with a newly single Latina mother (Justina Machado) raising her teen daughter and tween son with the help of her more traditional mom (Rita Moreno). Storylines include veteran PTSD, racism, immigration and the everyday ups and downs of living together as a family. One Day at a Time may help start conversations with older kids.
Boy Meets World
This sitcom follows sixth-grader Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) alongside his brother and best friend trying to make sense of the world. As he grows up, he even falls for his classmate Topanga (Danielle Fishel). It’s a welcome throwback for parents and timeless fun for kids.
If you were an avid viewer of the TGIF lineup on ABC growing up, then Fuller House is the perfect nostalgia-fueled show to share with your kids. It’s a continuation of the sitcom Full House, and it catches up with the Tanner family as they come together to help D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure) raise her kids after her husband dies. The majority of the original cast reprises their roles in this family comedy.
Another TGIF lineup fave is the spinoff of Perfect Strangers, Family Matters. The series is centered around the Winslow family, a middle-class African American family living in Chicago dealing with pesky nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel (Jaleel White). Urkel is the breakout character and sure to have your family laughing and saying the catchphrase, “did I do that?”
Facts of Life
This spinoff of the show Different Strokes focuses on Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae), the Drummonds’ housekeeper that goes on to become a housemother at an all-girls boarding school. The girls in her care included spoiled rich girl Blair; young, gossipy Tootie; impressionable Natalie; and tomboy Jo. You’ll also spot a young George Clooney on the show. This show is for older children and touches on topics like cerebral palsy, eating disorders and peer pressure.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Lemony Snicket’s set of novels about the three Baudelaire orphans and the circumstances they find themselves in was adapted into this funny creative series that audiences of all ages can enjoy. Neil Patrick Harris stars as the evil Count Olaf, who uses different guardians of disguise while chasing after the children’s fortune.
When the McKellan family moves from Seattle to small-town Georgia, life down South and traditional grandparents challenge their big-city ways. Tia Mowry and Loretta DeVine star in this family comedy. The show tackles heavy topics such as religion, fitting in and race relations.
The Wonder Years
Another nostalgic throwback, now an adult, Kevin Arnold looks back on his childhood in the late 60’s. Real-life historic events like the Vietnam War serve as the backdrop for Kevin’s (Fred Savage) journey growing up, from his first kiss with his crush to his first job. A reboot is in the works with an African American family living in Alabama.
Tia and Tamera Mowry‘s beloved ’90s sitcom followed a similar plot as the classic film The Parent Trap. It’s about twin sisters, Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell, who were separated at birth, one raised by a single mother, the other by a single father, who reunite as teenagers and move in together with their parents to live under the same roof.
Everybody Hates Chris
Comedian Chris Rock brought his childhood in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood to television with this series. Set during the 1980s, Everybody Hates Chris chronicled Rock’s painful and often awkward fight for respect, a battle that was rooted in his own home. On the show, he’s always in the shadow of his little brother Drew, his parents are tough on him, his little sister even gives him grief. He’s bullied in his neighborhood and at school. The show tackled race and class in America through comedy.
That’s So Raven
This family comedy features a teenage girl (Raven Symone) that has brief psychic visions of the future. Trying to make the visions come true often results in a world of trouble and hilarious situations for her and her friends. After you watch the original series, catch the reboot Raven’s Home.
This is the spinoff of That’s So Raven. Raven Symone reprises her role as an adult Raven Baxter. She’s a single mother of twins who can also see into the future. When visions collide, it creates a fun family affair. Her best friend Chelsea and her son Levi also move in with Raven and her family. The show is funny and something both parents and their kids can enjoy.
The Bernie Mac Show
From Bernie Mac’s standup in The Original Kings of Comedy to television, Mac joked about taking in his sister’s kids after she entered rehab. This show featured Mac and his wife Wanda (Kellita Smith) adjusting to parenthood and raising his sister’s three kids: Jordan, Vanessa and Bryana. The weekly sitcom’s signature was breaking down the fourth wall where Bernie would talk to “America” about what he was really thinking during certain moments of the show.
Little Big Shots
It’s a talent show for kids that will entertain everyone in the house. The show features inspiring content with some family-friendly laughs, especially the interviews with the young contestants. The talent acts are also memorable but this isn’t a cutthroat competition, it’s a show that showcases little people with big talent.
This musical comedy-drama aired from 2009 to 2015 and centered around the glee club. The club competes as a show choir, but there are plenty of issues to be worked out including race, relationships and teamwork. Plus, who doesn’t love show tunes? Hold this one until the kids are in high school.
Fresh Off the Boat
The best-selling memoir by Eddie Huang is what this family-friendly sitcom is based on. Tweens are the best audience to view this show since the content includes racial identity, cultural background via the experiences of a Chinese American boy and his family members that are struggling to fit in after relocating to a new city.
The Baby-Sitter’s Club
Say hello to your friends because Ann M. Martin’s beloved book series got a modern update in this Netflix series. The Baby-Sitters Club follows Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, Stacey McGill, Dawn Schafer, Jessie Ramsey and Mallory Pike as the middle-schoolers start their babysitting business in the town of Stony Brook, Connecticut. It’s a show all ages can enjoy.
This Disney+ series is set in the Star Wars universe but years before the Star Wars movies. There’s a lot of conflict and battling, but without blood and gore. “Baby Yoda” is the emerging star of this sci-fi adventure series. This one is probably best viewed by tweens and up.
The Middle is a sitcom that follows a lower-middle-class Midwestern family. Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn played Frankie and Mike Heck. They have three children Axl (Charlie McDermott), Sue (Eden Sher) and Brick (Atticus Shaffer). The Middle is a wholesome comedy that relies on the eccentricities of the Heck family to bring the big laughs. This is a show parents can watch with kids of all ages.
Little House on the Prairie
This historical drama is an adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s best-selling book series. It’s about a family living on a farm in the 1800s in Minnesota. The show explored many different themes like adoption, faith and racism over the course of its nine seasons.
Just Add Magic
If you love fantasy with your family viewing, then this Amazon Prime show is for you. It’s a mystery adventure about two friends who discover an enchanted recipe book and start cooking up magic. It’s a show that young kids can even watch because it’s full of positive themes like friendship and compassion.
Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) has his hands full as a psychiatrist and father of a rambunctious group of kids. The family comedy tackled topics like drugs, suicide and peer pressure, but it was the child actors who took center stage. The series stared Candace Cameron Bure’s brother Kirk Cameron.
The Hardy Boys
The Hardy Boys is an action-packed mystery series based on the classic books of the same name. This modern-day reboot on Hulu follows two brothers, Frank and Joe Hardy, alongside their friends and father, trying to disclose the truth about something sinister happening in their town. This is a family-friendly show packed with serious nostalgia.
The Brady Bunch
This series revolved around a large blended family with not just a couple children, but six. Mike Brady (Robert Reed) has three sons and he marries Carol (Florence Henderson), who has three daughters, add in the live-in housekeeper and chaos ensues with adjustments on everyone’s part. This classic family show can be viewed with kids of any age.
This Netflix series is as sweet as sweet tea. Lifelong friends Maddie, Helen and Dana Sue are there for each other as they juggle relationships, breakups and careers in the small southern town of Serenity. You’ll recognize two familiar faces in Joanna Garcia Swisher, Heather Headley and Jamie Lynn Spears. This show is for older teens and is based on the Sherry Woods book series. A second season is on the way!
Party of Five
The reboot of this popular 90s teen drama follows the five Acosta children as they navigate life after their parents are deported back to Mexico. Lots of drama ensues as they try to figure out how to get their parents back into the country all while dealing with the ups and downs of growing up. This version only has one season, but it’s a good watch for the whole family, if the kids are a bit older.
This award-winning show is centered around the blended Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker family. It’s a hilarious mockumentary that gives an honest look into a twisted modern family. Consisting of 11 seasons of comically based situations that real families face in everyday life, the show is perfect to watch with the entire family.
While you probably watched these babies as a kid, it’s time to pay closer attention to the parents. And your little ones will love these little ones in the reboot of Rugrats on Paramount +. Just like the 1990s original series, Rugrats focuses on the experiences of an adventurous one-year-old baby named Tommy Pickles and his group of playmates.
Sock hops, jukeboxes and an old diner! Taking a trip to the past is always a fun family experience. This classic show revolves around teenager Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) and his family and friends, notably, the infamous Fonzie (Henry Winkler), the epitome of cool. The eleven seasons of the show track the years from 1955 to 1965. It’s a trip down memory lane for grandparents and parents, and introduces the kids to the way things used to be in this family sitcom.
If your child has ever wondered what it’s like growing up in the 80s, then this is the show to watch with them. Three siblings navigate growing up in the colorful yet loving Goldberg family in Pennsylvania. The youngest child Adam (Sean Giambrone) documents his family life with his video camera. This sitcom also references pop culture events throughout the era, so it’s a great trip down memory lane. The show was just renewed for a ninth season on ABC.
Looking for more kid-friendly content? Check out this list of the best streaming kids shows.