16 reality shows that are surprisingly family friendly
I'll be the first to admit it's pretty rare that we sit around as a family and watch some television. Are we the only family that can't agree on one thing to watch? The baby can't sit still long enough, the toddler is all about the animation, the husband is all about the action and mama just wants a sappy romance — or a nap. I'll take a nap. Do you feel me?
I mean, it's hard enough getting everyone settled down to even watch some TV together. It goes a little like this for us:
- Get everyone — including the man child — a snack and situated.
- Flip aimlessly through, trying to find something to fit everyone's needs and attention span that will be clean enough for the littlest of ears.
- An unknown amount of minutes pass and all the snacks are gone — I'm beginning to get a little frazzled.
- In a rush, I randomly begin choosing, but one show is too scary, the second has toddler-unapproved language and we've seen the third a million times.
- Somebody has to pee, a diaper needs to be changed and everyone else is complaining.
- I give up.
In the afternoons, the kid shows go off and my Mr. and I try to spend a little time catching up on our shows together. But, as our kids get older, that list has really started to dwindle. I asked myself the question, "Would I be safe if my children walked in while I was watching this?" and began to reevaluate our choices of programming. So let's be for real — finding something that's both family friendly and worth watching can be pretty close to impossible, especially when we're talking reality TV.
But not anymore.
(All of the recommended shows can be found on Hulu and are in no particular order.)
Reality TV for all ages
- Master Chef Junior
If you loved Master Chef, you'll for sure love this kids miniseries! I'm a mom and a wife who's been cooking for longer than some of these kids have been alive, but they'd beat me in this competition every time. Plus, kids love watching kids. Maybe your kiddos will get a little inspiration from these junior chefs.
- America's Funniest Videos
Nobody gets tired of this collection of homemade laughs. I can remember being a child and watching this with the family, laughing till the tears streamed down our faces. We even sent in a home video when Johannah was little, but they obviously didn't think she was as funny as we did.
- Duck Dynasty
The Robertsons live in the Louisiana bayou and showcase good family fun, values and hometown folks who never hurt a soul. This bunch will be sure to have your whole family laughing!
- Little Big Shots
This show that shines a spotlight on young dancers, pianists and other kids with surprising talents is still fairly new, but I love the talent that these kids have! And with Steve Harvey as a host, you'll be crying in no time. Oh wait, I mean laughing in no time.
- Cake Boss
Buddy is the master baker of Carlo's City Hall Bake Shop, and his team includes his family, with all of the drama, the pranks and the fun. Everybody's going to love watching Carlo's family — and his business — grow!
Featuring the largest aquarium manufacturing company in the U.S., Tanked showcases some really outrageous tanks. It's so cool to watch these brothers make giant aquariums come to life right before your eyes, not to mention the hilarity of these guys!
- Sea Rescue
We watch this every Saturday morning with the kids. The host, Matt Gutman, offers a look at rescuing, rehabilitating and returning sea life back to its natural habitat. Watching people who love animals and want to help with conservation efforts is so fascinating! Maybe after my kids leave I'll join SeaWorld's team.
Save these for your tweens and teens
Most of these are safe to watch, but just won't keep the attention of younger children.
I feel like this show has been going on forever, but I'm just getting into it. We started watching this season and I'm totally hooked on watching contestants try to outmaneuver each other for the million dollar prize. Who wants to go on Survivor with me? We'll join a tribe and then vote each other off later. No biggie.
- River Monsters
This show is crazy cool. Follow Jeremy Wade, biologist and angler, as he uncovers the extraordinary fish lurking in rivers and lakes. Some of these fish seem ancient! It is really suitable for all ages, but may scare young children.
Special-effects experts take on urban legends and explain them with science. I love things like this — maybe I'm a nerd at heart.
- The Amazing Race
This is another show I want to be on (right next to Wheel of Fortune). Teams have to use their street smarts to race around the world. Think you and your friend or spouse could take on these challenges?
- DC Cupcakes
This show, based in Washington D.C., is pretty similar to Cake Boss, but probably appeals more to the mom in me than it does to the other members of my family.
- Man vs. Wild
If you're an adventurer, you'll love this show where Bear Grylls puts himself in the position of a tourist stranded in tough, remote environments. I love random facts and knowledge, and now I'll know exactly what to do if I'm ever stuck on Mount Everest with only fingernail clippers and a cell phone battery. Thanks, Bear!
- Beyond Scared Straight
Scaring young children holds a special place in my heart. Did I just say that out loud? But really though, this show isn't suitable for all ages, but you should definitely let your tween watch this series to show the consequences of bad decisions.
- The Little Couple
Bill and Jen are the cutest couple, and I love learning more about their life as little people as they raise their family.
- Chrisley Knows Best
This show has me laughing from beginning to end. Todd Chrisley, an Atlanta-based, self-made multimillionaire, is such a character, and he holds some great values too!