Netflix has been one of the pioneering platforms for shows. From producing new content every month to using its production to rerun classic shows, the streaming giant is replete with quality shows, documentaries and movies. From chirpy themes to social commentary to incisive documentaries, the shows that we have compiled here can be easily watched by families on the streaming platform. So, without further ado, here is the list of really good family shows on Netflix that are available to stream right now:
19. Cuckoo (2012-)
Created by English writers Robin French and Kieron Quirke, ‘Cuckoo’ is a British sitcom which revolves around the exploits of the titular Cuckoo, essayed by Andy Samberg. Nominated for a BAFTA TV Award, ‘Cuckoo’ thrives on the brilliant comedic timing of English comedian Greg Davies, the patriarch of the Thompson family. While the show does suffer from a sluggish continuation, it still manages to tickle the funny bones, credited to the spontaneous performances of the cast. The show premiered on BBC Three in 2012 and now has been taken over by Netflix since 2016.
18. Fuller House (2016 – 2019)
Created by American screenwriter, producer and director Jeff Franklin, ‘Fuller House’ is an American sitcom about the titular D.J. Tanner-Fuller, essayed by American actress Candace Cameron Bure, a veterinarian and widowed mother of three sons. She lives with her sister Stephanie, played by Jodie Sweetin, her best friend Kimmy Gibbler, portrayed by Andrea Barber, and her teenage daughter, with all living together at the Tanners’ childhood home in San Francisco, California.
The show consists of more or less the same star cast and is the sequel to ‘Full House’, which aired from 1987 to 1995 on ABC channel. A Netflix original series, the show premiered in 2016 and its last season will premier in late 2019. While the first season was met with extremely negative reviews, given the poor and flunky writing, the succeeding seasons developed upon its narrative to churn out a cohesive sitcom.
17. Clangers (2015 – )
A British stop-motion children’s television series, ‘Clangers’ comprises short films about a family of shrew-like creatures who live on, and inside, a small moon-like planet. Speaking only in a whistled language and eating only green soup blue string pudding, the show explores their day to day lives.
The show has been received quite positively by critics. It started airing in 1969 and was renewed for a third series in 2015, and since then has been picked up by Netflix for streaming. It might seem completely juvenile to many, but believe me, ‘Clangers’ is a great show for both children and adults. So, just go for it!
16. Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin (2011-2016)
Originally airing on ABC from 2011 to 2016, ‘Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin’ features American biologist and wildlife conservationist, Jeff Corwin, who finds out what goes into running the largest aquarium in the world. The show presents its message of conservation, ocean research, and preserving ocean and ocean adjacent habitats with dexterity. Picked up by Netflix after its ending, ‘Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin’ is quite an interesting and fun watch for all. It is educational and informative. The show won the “Outstanding Travel Program and the program’s director” at the Daytime Emmy Awards, held in 2014.
15. Yeh Meri Family (2018-)
Originally developed for TVFPlay and YouTube, ‘Yeh Meri Family’, set in the summer of 1998, is about the conflicting emotions towards family members seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old. A part of the Indian Web Series boom, the show features some excellent writing and performances. ‘Yeh Meri Family’ develops its narrative and theme from the nostalgic elements of the 90s, but maintains relevance for all to watch without any confusion.
While the show is certainly catered towards the Indian audience, the writing by Saurabh Khanna helps break all cultural barriers. It not only caters to the nostalgia of every 90s Indian kid but also helps in giving an insight into the Indian culture. The show has received immense praise and thus has been picked up by Netflix for streaming. The team of ‘Yeh Meri Family’ has also hinted about the renewal for a second season.
14. Little Lunch (2015 – )
A mockumentary comedy, ‘Little Lunch’ features short stories which are set in the primary school playground at snack time and follows the lives of six children whose names are Atticus, Debra Jo, Rory, Melanie, Tamara and Battie, as well as their teacher Mrs Gonsha. ‘Little Lunch’ is brilliantly crafted and utilizes the talents of the children to its full potential.
13. Heartland (2007)
A Canadian family drama, ‘Heartland’, set in Alberta, Canada, is a multi-generational saga following Fleming family as they go through life and support each other during the happiest and most trying times. Adapted from the 26 novel series ‘Heartland’, written by Lauren Brooke, the show sheds light on the close familial bonds which help one go through a tough time. The longest running one-hour scripted drama in Canadian history, ‘Heartland’ also lays emphasis on the nature and its effect on positivity, much like the Romantic Movement in literature. With earnest performances from the cast, ‘Heartland’ is an engaging watch.
12. The Andy Griffith Show (1960 – 1968)
Originally airing on CBS from 1960 to 1968, ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ follows Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor, who is now a Widower. With his son Opie, they live with Andy’s Aunt Bee in Mayberry, North Carolina. However, with no crimes to solve in the seemingly calm and crimeless Mayberry, most of Andy’s time is spent in philosophizing and calming down his cousin Deputy Barney Fife. The show received much criticism as it diverts from its contemporary issues of racism and segregation by selecting an all-white cast, its comedic undertones cannot be denied.
The series has a contemporary setting, i.e. the 60s, but as lead actor Griffith suggested, it invokes a sense of nostalgia. The show, while not being the most cohesive in its writing, has gone on to be regarded as a classic. Picked up by Netflix for reruns, the series is quite a delightful and light-hearted comedy which can be enjoyed by the entire family.
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11. That ’70s Show (1998 – 2006)
A period sitcom airing from 1998 to 2006, ‘That ‘70s Show’, set in 1970s Wisconsin, revolves around the lives of a group of teenage friends and follows their mishaps, and their coming of age. Co-created by Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner and Mark Brazill, the show builds its comedic tonality along the lines of the 70s, giving it a retro and jazzy feel. It was one of most beloved sitcoms and received many award nominations throughout its run, namely sixteen Primetime Emmy Awards – winning one – and two People’s Choice Awards.
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10. Fosters (2013 – 2018)
A family teen drama, ‘The Fosters’ is the story about Callie Jacob, essayed by Maia Mitchell, a teenager who is introduced to a foster home with a lesbian couple and their absurd blend of biological, adoptive, and foster children. The show is a blend of family drama and the themes of teenage and youth. The show explores the problems shared among family members and compassionately reassures viewers that it is not unnatural.
Created by American actor, director and screenwriter Peter Paige, ‘ The Fosters’ premiered in 2013 on the Freeform network. While it does touch some topics which might be considered uncomfortable for a family, ‘The Fosters’ is not distasteful and deals with such seemingly taboo topics with ease and comfort, giving all the members to the family some time to indulge in the narrative.
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9. Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986 -1990)
A children’s television program which aired originally on CBS, running from 1986 to 1990, ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse’ follows the adventures of Pee-Wee Herman, essayed by Paul Reubens, alongside his friends in his and imaginative unique playhouse. The show, while being completely juvenile on the surface, has been subject to research and debate from media theorists and commentators, who have praised its postmodern techniques of narrative.
The show has received quite a number of awards, including 15 Emmys and an induction in TV Guide’s “Top Cult Shows Ever”. The series’ success has also earned it a TV special ‘The Pee-wee Herman Show’, produced for HBO.
8. The Long, Long Holiday (2015)
‘The Long, Long, Holiday’ or ‘Les grandes Grandes Vacances’ is an animated series centred around a pair of young siblings who visit their grandparents in Normandy as the horrendous WWII breaks out in Europe. Running for just one season, the show brilliantly puts forth a dramatic and charming narrative while also churning out the seriousness of the war. The underlying drama is shown from the point of view of children and showcases the small moments with sincerity and deftness.
In addition, the show is also quite historically accurate, proving the creators’ genuineness and honesty. It is a must watch for all, with kids learning about the history of the world war and adults enjoying the re-imagination done so beautifully. The show, which premiered in 2015 on the French channel France 3, has been picked up by Netflix for streaming for a Global audience.
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7. Dogs (2018)
‘Dogs’, a Netflix documentary television series, travels through different locations around the world, examining and exploring the inexplicable bond and relationship shared between dogs and humans, through the span of different cultures. Created by Glen Zipper, the documentary is a very well crafted piece of work which resonates with both compassion for the subject matter and the perceptive research that is done. It also builds upon the narrative in a storytelling format and thus helps the viewers connect with the show on a much deeper level, emotionally.
Running for nearly fifty minutes, the show beautifully showcases the wonders of the relationship shared between the canines and humans, which is unbreakable. ‘Dogs’, since its premiere, has received praise and has earned a rating of 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
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6. Anne with an E (2017 – )
Based on Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel ‘Anne of Green Gables’, ‘Anne with an E’ chronicles the adventures of a young orphan girl named Anne the late 19th century, as she learns to steer through her new life on Prince Edward Island. Releasing in 2017, the drama forms the narrative structure on a complex central character and seamlessly brings out an emotionally echoing story exploring a variety of themes through the course of the show. The show received positive reviews from many critics who appreciated its mature subversion of the novelist archetypes to adapt it within the context of a visual narrative.
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5. One Day at a Time (2017-2019)
A comedy television series, ‘One Day at a time’ is the story of a Cuban-American family who lives in the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Echo Park. The family consists of a single mom, who is an Army veteran dealing with PTSD, her kids and her Cuban mother. The show, developed by American screenwriters Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce, is an adaption of Norman Lear’s sitcom of the same name, which ran from 1975 to 1984.
‘One Day at a time’ has been received quite positively by viewers and critics alike for its mature exploration of themes of mental illness, immigration, sexism, homophobia, and racism that Latinos living in the United States face. The show has also been nominated for many awards including two Primetime Emmy Awards and one People’s Choice Award, to name a few.
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4. Jane the Virgin (2014 -)
Premiering in 2014, ‘Jane the Virgin’ follows Jane Villanueva, essayed by Gina Rodriguez, a young, working, religious young Latina virgin, who becomes pregnant after accidentally artificially inseminating herself. This absurd theme is complemented by the superb performance of the cast, led by the aforementioned Gina Rodriguez. Built on a foundation of satirising social taboos and exploring Villanueva’s religiousness, the show is a hilarious comedy. ‘Jane the Virgin’ has been poured with various accolades, including a Golden Globe for “Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy”.
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3. Hilda (2018 -)
Premiering in 2018 on Netflix, ‘Hilda’ is a British sitcom which follows the exploratory adventures of the titular Hilda, a fearless and blue-haired girl who travels to the city of Trolberg and befriends even the most dangerous monsters. Though the show is targeted towards a primarily a young audience, the innovative writing and the brilliant performances by the voice actors make it a must watch for family audience. Based on British cartoonist Luke Pearson’s award-winning graphic novel series ‘Hilda’, the show is built on the genre of fantasy, adventure and comedy.
The first season has drawn immense critical praise, with critics complementing the deft adaption from the graphic novel. The critical success and the humungous love from the viewers and fans of the graphic novel have earned it a new season, which is supposed to premiere in 2019.
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2. A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017-2019)
‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ is a black-comedy adapted from American novelist Lemony Snicket or Daniel Handler’s series of novels ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’. Developed by American writer Mark Hudis and American filmmaker Barry Sonnenfeld, the show revolves around the misadventures of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny – the three Baudelaire children – following the deaths of their parents in the destruction of their home. As the children are shuffled between various foster homes, they are pursued and stalked by Count Olaf, essayed by Neil Patrick Harris, who wants to gain control of the vast Baudelaire inheritance before the children come of age. The Baudelaires also discover their parents’ connections to an elusive and mysterious secret society.
The show is a brilliant adaptation of a classic children’s novel. From the intrinsic detailing of the aesthetics to the faithful yet innovative adaptation from the source material to the performance of Neil Patrick Harris, ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ is a must watch for all.
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1. Malcolm in the Middle (2000 – 2006)
A sitcom created by Canadian American writer and producer Linwood Boomer, ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ revolves around a dysfunctional working-class family. The show stars American actor Frankie Muniz as the titular Malcolm, a normal boy with an eidetic memory. ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ received high critical acclaim during its run, with many citing it as one of the best shows in Fox network history.
The show, with cohesive writing, features great comedic performances by American actress Jane Kaczmarek, who plays the role of Lois, the hot-headed and stubborn mother of the family and American actor Bryan Cranston, who plays the role of Hal, the benevolent and compassionate but inept and completely immature father of the family. It is a compassionate ode to all the dysfunctional families.
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