Favorite Live Action TV Shows for Teens and Adults to Enjoy Together

I have fond memories of watching TV shows with my family when I was a kid; Mork and Mindy and Happy Days were some of our favorites. Now everyone has their own device, which means that one person can be watching football, another one music videos, another one interviews of celebrities, another one DVDs of old shows like Happy Days  and Mork and Mindy, and another one videos of other kids playing with toys.

It is nice to still have things we can all watch together. It’s not always easy to find programs that appeal both to adults and to kids who are ages 11 through 17. Here are a few of our favorites.

tv shows for the whole family

Andi Mack  

(Disney Channel, Monday nights, or on the Disney Now App)

Andi Mack is from the creator of Lizzie Mcguire. It tells the story of Andi, who is navigating junior high, and its attendant boy trouble, friend trouble, and family trouble. This show has humor and heart, and explores themes such as non-traditional families and difficult parental relationships. Past episodes have highlighted Chinese New Year (Andi is part Chinese), a bar mitzvah (her friend Cyrus is Jewish), deployed parents (her friend Buffy’s mom is in the military), and anxiety disorders. Andi Mack is the first Disney channel program to feature an LGBTQ storyline. It’s also just darn funny.

tv shows for the whole family

Young Sheldon

(CBS, Thursday nights)

Young Sheldon is a spin-off of The Big Bang Theory in name only. Whereas BBT uses adult humor and pokes fun at its characters foibles, Young Sheldon is a family sitcom revolving around the title character’s formative years in Texas. Sheldon is a boy genius, but it’s the other characters with whom we can relate—his overprotective mother Mary, and his siblings of average intelligence who have an easier time navigating small town Texas. Annie Potts is hilarious as Sheldon’s “memaw.” It’s refreshing to watch a show that isn’t set in New York or Los Angeles, but also doesn’t make its setting deliberately quirky.

One Day at a Time 

(Netflix Original)

This is a reimagining of the 1970s sitcom, moved to Los Angeles and featuring a Cuban-American family. This show’s Schneider is less of a lech than the original, and more of a 21st century man. Single mom Penelope is raising her teenagers while dealing with PTSD and depression from her time as a soldier in the Middle East. She has help from the family’s Abuelita, played by the incomparable Rita Moreno, who still has “it” at the age of 87. Every episode manages to make you laugh and cry in the same few minutes. And a bonus for TV theme song lovers like myself: this one features the lyrics from the original “One Day at a Time” sung by Gloria Estefan!

tv shows for the whole family

Those are three shows our whole family enjoys together, and we’re always on the lookout for more entertainment. We have just started watching Fresh off the Boat (ABC Friday nights, or Hulu) about a Chinese-American family in the 1990s, and The Neighborhood (CBS Monday nights), a new show about two neighbors—one white family (including Max Greenfield from New Girl) and one black family (including Cedric the Entertainer) who are trying to learn about each other and how to get along.

What programs do you enjoy watching with your kids?



Sharon Falduto is a Central Iowa native who came to University of Iowa in 1991 and essentially never left the area. She is involved in local community theater, notably as one of the co-founders of Iowa City's Dreamwell Theatre. She has also directed children's plays with the Young Footliters group. Sharon works in with English Language Learners in a support position at Kirkwood Community College.. She lives in Coralville with her husband, Matt, and three daughters Rachel, Samantha, and Piper.


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