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Kids' TV Must-Watch List: 2016 Edition

Kids' TV Must-Watch List: 2016 Edition

New and returning shows, including a Lion King spin-off and an X-Files reboot, have lots of promise for families.

By Polly Conway

However you take your TV--streaming, on demand, mobile, or live--you've probably noticed that new shows have started popping up year round. That makes finding something that matches your kids' ages and interests easier than ever. The first half of 2016 is full of promising series--both new and returning--that cover everything from outer space to real-life issues. You'll see familiar faces (such as Scully and Mulder in the new X-Files), new faces in familiar places (Simba's son from The Lion King), and faces so new your kids will have to tell you who they are (social media stars on The Amazing Race). 

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Here are our top picks:

TV Shows for Little Kids

Ready Jet Go!, age 3+ (starts 2/15/2016 on PBS): This new animated show follows curious kids Sean and Sydney (and their neighbors, who just happen to be alien beings from Bortron 7). Lots of learning and space adventures ensue, with live-action segments featuring an astronomer from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.

The Lion Guard, age 5+ (starts 1/15/2016 on Disney Junior): The 2015 TV movie Return of the Roar gave us a taste of what the savannah's next generation of lions is up to. Simba’s story continues with his son, Kion, who, like his dad, is figuring out where he fits in; luckily he’s got lots of friends and family along for the ride.

TV Shows for Big Kids and Tweens

The Amazing Race, age 9+ (returns 2/12/2016 on CBS): Kids will be thrilled to see some of their favorite social media stars compete (although they might not be familiar to the rest of us!), including YouTuber Tyler Oakley and a handful of Viners who are up for the challenge.

Fresh Off the Boat, age 12+, (returns 2/2/2016 on ABC): The surprise midseason triumph of 2015 is hitting its stride in the second season; the lovable Huang household's ridiculous mishaps are tempered by the warmth of a family that really loves each other.

Good Witch, 10+, (returns 2/27 on Hallmark Channel): One of the best whole-family watches out there, this show stars Catherine Bell as a helpful witch who enchants her hometown with altruistic magic that doesn't always go as planned.

Marvel's Agent Carter, age 12+ (returns 1/19/2016 on ABC): Agent Carter is back for more crime-fighting; after a long hiatus in 2015, the second season finds the heroic Peggy relocating from New York to Los Angeles for a new mission, new enemies to contend with, and maybe a new romance.

The Real O’Neals, tweens and up (starts 3/2/2016 on ABC): Based on the real-life story of columnist and activist Dan Savage, this family comedy deals with the issue of coming out as a teen in a large Catholic family.

TV Shows for Teens

DC Legends of Tomorrow, teens and up (starts 1/21/2016 on the CW): With the Marvel Universe seemingly dominating the TV and movie landscape, DC is catching up. Joining The Flash and Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow brings a team of superheroes from the future into the present to (what else?) prevent an immortal bad guy from destroying the world.

The Shannara Chronicles, teens and up (starts 1/5/2016 on MTV): A fantasy show on MTV? Weirder things have happened. Terry Brooks' classic series of books comes to life complete with druids, trolls, swords, magic, and all the trimmings. We're hoping for a Drake soundtrack.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, 14+, (returns spring 2016 on Netflix): We can't wait to find out what happens after the ever-optimistic cult escapee has had even more time to get used to the harsh realities of NYC (and what songs beloved costar Tituss Burgess has up his sleeve). 

X-Files, teens and up (returns 1/21/2016 on FOX): For the past 10 years, sci-fi fans have had to make do with streaming the first 10 seasons on repeat, but the '90s nostalgia craze has brought a great gift: a six-episode event featuring more mysteries to be explored by the beloved Scully and Mulder.

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Common Sense Media


Common Sense Media is a nonprofit that helps families make smart media choices. They offer the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books, and music.  See more at

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