Top 10: Best TV Shows to Watch as a Family

Best Family TV

I met with Capability:Mom and DesignTrackMind the other day ostensibly to go over our Web Grader grades on our blogs.  We did eventually get around to that but we spent the first hour on random topics including our kid issues.  I have to say that I had forsworn TV since I started working and blogging … blogging being very low paying and time intensive so I had to reach deep years back.  Luckily DesignTrackMind is a TV junkie and Capability:Mom really does screen her TV shows carefully for her kids.  Here’s the list.  Please leave a comment with your suggestions, both what you love and hate for your kids.  Thanks!

p.s.  If you like this list, yo might like Top 10:  Best Family Movies with Meaning.

10.  Glee

Capability:Mom puts in Glee because she went to a talk with some kid psych. specialist who says that TV shows that portray uncomfortable topics (i.e. teenage pregnancy) is something that he recommends because it creates a forum for discussion (i.e. you need to be watching with your kids).  Capability:Mom used this opportunity while her girls were watching the agony of teenage child birth to mention that it hurts waaaay more when you are a teenager having a baby.  The baby practically slides out when you are 30 and married.  Was that a Bad Mommy moment or a Brilliant Mommy moment?  You be the judge.

9.  So You Think You Can Dance

My kids and I love this and my husband stomachs it because we love it so much.  What is not to love?  Pursuing your passion?  Working your tail off?  Trying your hardest?  All good!

8. Ace of Cakes

My kids love Food TV network as much as I do.  They particularly like the cake decorating competitions, but this is always a crowd pleaser.  What do I love about this?  Take your creativity and make it into a successful business.  The sky is the limit … and a background in structural engineering is helpful so pay attention in math!

7.  Man vs. Food

The host is just so baby-face appealing and he can eat like a champion.

6.  iCarly

Yes, I am also shocked that a Disney show has made my list but here’s why.   Carly is a good friend and a nice person.  Creating your own TV show is quite impressive.  It requires technical skills.  It requires creativity.  It requires discipline.   Nice teamwork also.  Finally, I love Sam’s self-confidence.  p.s. I hate all the other Disney TV shows they watch, particularly anyone with Zach and Cody because the adults are portrayed as idiots.  But I really can’t stand Sunny with a Chance because it’s completely inane.

5.  Wipeout

I have never even heard of this one but both DesignTrackMind and Capability:Mom highly tout it.

4. Survivor Man

Capability:Mom recommends this one.  It won tons of awards in Canada.

3.  Junkyard Wars

Thanks James for contributing this one!  It’s a Brit show about a competition to turn junkyard scrap into something.  It’s all about creativity and turning trash into treasure.  I love that message!  Everyone loves the old Brit version.

2. Mythbusters

Both moms highly recommend it.

1.  Iron Chef (original Japanese version or new one)

We used to watch the Japanese original show so obsessively when my oldest was born that her third word, I kid you not, was “I -Sheff.”  That’s bad, isn’t it?  But I love the show.  I’d never make anything they cook; it looks to hard, but if I died and went to heaven,  I’d be one of the judges.

Honorable Mentions

Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern

My kids are fascinated with this show.  My oldest is squeamish, so this show encourages her to consider foods out of her comfort zone.  My middle is an adventurous eater and challenges her friends with statements like, “Do you eat fish eyes?  I do.  How about chicken butt?”  We joke that she should have her own show.

Avatar:  The Last Airbender

My kids love this show so lately I have been watching it a lot.   They all saw it at the movies and liked it, but my husbad panned it but as a TV show, I actually do like it.  Aang, the Avatar, is sort of a Zen warrior trying to restore the balance in the universe.  He’s a kid but he’s also wise beyond his years.  My kids and I all wish we had bending skills and this show makes you feel like you should have special powers.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. James

    If you can find them, we love watching old episodes of Junkyard Wars. It’s a UK show but later done in the US too.

    Set in a junkyard, two teams compete to build crazy contraptions from salvaged debris. Lots of creativity, engineering, and dirt under the fingernails.

    Not just for boys either … the co-host is a no-nonsense babe and the contestants are often co-ed.

    • I have seen that show and I LOVED it. You have to build something, right? Very cool show and I love how they turn trash into treasure! Thank you for your suggestion!

  2. I would give Junkyard Wars more than a honorable mention,especially if you can get your hands on a British cut (where it is known by its original name of Scrapheap Challenge).

    Anyhow, take a look at this comparison between your top rated show (iron chef) and Junkyard Wars. (its even a top 10 list). To get you started, here is #10. The costumes are functional and fireproofed, not something silly made of silver lamé, by a brocade addict.

    While you are including cooking shows, why no mention of “Good Eats”?

  3. Melissa Gulley

    Ok seriously- great post,I think watching TV as a family- talking, laughing and creating comraderie (sp?) is so good for kids and adults alike.

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