Nostalgia is a powerful emotion and nothing brings us back to our childhood quicker than the shows we grew up watching. For parents, those shows are the perfect frame of reference when deciding what to let their children watch. Because if you have to watch a children’s show as an adult, why not make it one that brings back warm and fuzzy feelings? Reboots of the ’90s kids shows you loved makes the choice pretty easy, but there are also a few out there with similar themes and styles — not to mention better production values and a heck of a lot more representation — to choose from as well.
All That/All That Reboot
If you loved the Nickelodeon sketch comedy show that originally premiered in 1994, turning your kids on to the 2019 reboot, that returned on June 15, might make watching TV with them more enjoyable. Especially since All That will be executive produced by original star Kenan Thompson and feature his former co-stars Kel Mitchell (who is also an executive producer), Lori Beth Denberg and Josh Server, along with a new cast of child actors. For fans of the ’90s variety show, the rebooted skits even include oldies but goodies (including Good Burger and Loud Librarian), milking the nostalgia for all its worth for today’s parents.
Barney and Friends/Baby Shark
Anthropomorphic creatures? Check. Teaching through music and dance? Check. An earworm of a song? Double check. Is Baby Shark this generation’s answer to Barney and Friends? We don’t know, but your kids will love the catchy songs, bright colors and live-action kids dancing along with an animated family of sharks while learning to draw and craft. You know, just like you did in 1992 with PBS’s big purple dinosaur and his dinosaur friends he loved as family. Right now, Baby Shark is just a viral video on Pinkfong’s YouTube channel, but soon Baby Shark will be a full-blown animated series on Nickelodeon.
Blue’s Clues/Blue’s Clues & You
Look, reboots are all the rage and this iconic kid’s show that aired from 1996 to 2006 is no different. Though the only real changes to Blue’s Clues might be the host (Broadway actor Joshua Dela Cruz), the updated animation (which makes Blue look cuddlier and maybe even younger) and the name: Blues Clues and You are reasons to watch. You’ll still be able to introduce your kids to old friends like Mr. Salt, Mrs. Pepper, Magenta and the Thinking Chair as they spot Blue’s clues beginning in November on Nick Jr.
Bob the Builder /The Stinky and Dirty Show
Bob came from a family of builders whose vehicles helped him with renovations and construction around town. If you couldn’t get enough of the talking cars and trucks on the show that began in 1998 on the BBC (before landing on Nick Jr), queue up Amazon Prime’s The Stinky and Dirty Show about a garbage truck and backhoe who are best friends solving problems around their own neighborhood.
Boy Meets World/Andi Mack
ABC’s Boy Meets World began with Cory Matthews navigating his way through friends, family and middle school with a lot of silly humor. As the show progressed — all the way to his college years, with a reboot into his married-with-child era — it touched on an array of social topics like alcoholism, sexual harassment and interracial dating. In 2017, Andi Mack took up the comedy mantle for tweens looking for guidance on how to navigate the same minefields, but with a little less slapstick and a lot more inclusivity: Andi Mack’s central family is Chinese American; there is a character who is deaf and communicates using American Sign Language; and it is the first Disney Channel show to include a main character who is gay.
Dora the Explorer/Nina’s World
Yes, we know Dora the Explorer didn’t premiere on Nickelodeon until 2000, but we’re cheating a bit here because it’s such an iconic show that promoted bilingualism through the titular 7 year old’s quests. And 2000 is basically still the ’90s right? Jumping ahead to 2015, 6-year-old Nina’s adventures might not rely on help from viewers or her talking backpack, but they do “celebrate family, community, diversity, and wonder.” Universal Kids’ Nina’s World not only incorporates Spanish like Dora did, but American Sign Language as well.
The Powerpuff Girls/DC Super Hero Girls
Cartoon Network’s 1998 series centered on three kindergarten-aged sisters who used their superpowers to fend off evil villains, while also dealing with mundane things like having a bedtime. Of course, it was given a reboot in 2016, but kids can also get a dose of girl power from the same network’s DC Super Hero Girls. The show focuses on older superheroes —teenaged versions of Supergirl, Wonder Woman, etc. — but, like the Powerpuff Girls, they battle evil while having to go to school and deal with other normal issues that befall teens their age.
Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?/Carmen Sandiego
Regardless of what iteration you were the biggest fan of — be it the 1991 PBS game show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? or Fox’s 1994 cartoon Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? — you learned a lot about geography and historical trivia, while cheering on the villain of the series. Now, parents who grew up learning about the world via the master criminal can relive the fun with their kids in the rebooted Carmen Sandiego now streaming on Netflix. In this animated version, Carmen travels the globe taking back the V.I.L.E.-stolen artifacts and returning them to their rightful owners. The thief who only steals from other thieves also gets a backstory, further humanizing her.