Let’s be real: Some of the very best game shows these days are kid-centered, and we love them. While these game shows prominently feature kids and may be mostly aimed at kids, that doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy them too. Take for instance the upcoming new season of Child Support, hosted by Fred Savage and featuring Ricky Gervais, wherein contestants square off against kids to answer trivia questions and win the big bucks.
You want more examples? We have them. Whether it’s Chopped Junior, Project Runway Junior or even the classic Double Dare, there’s a lot to love about the following kid-focused competition and game shows. Even better, these shows highlight what we love about shows that feature kids: No one gets super-angry. No one is super-serious and overly competitive. There’s no meanness or drama. It’s all sincere, happy, hardworking, funny and cute — great kids, just trying to have fun and do well.
With all the adult drama in the world, tuning into a kids game show or kids reality show can be way more relaxing than other viewing choices, and — bonus! — you can watch and enjoy them with your whole family. We’ve rounded up our favorite 10 kids game shows that you should put on your viewing list.
‘Project Runway: Junior’
We love Project Runway. But here's the thing: We might love Project Runway: Junior even more. The show, which started up in 2015, is a pretty exact carbon copy of the original show except that it features teens ages 13 to 17. You still get your required serving of Tim Gunn, you still get to see super-hard challenges, and you still get to be super-impressed by the fashions the contestants make. But you get less drama and even more inspiration (the winner gets a full scholarship to the amazing Fashion Institute).
There are seven seasons of Chopped Junior to watch, and honestly, it's just not enough for us yet. Like Project Runway: Junior, Chopped Junior is a spinoff of an adult show tailored to younger people. And also like Project Runway: Junior, it often feels like it takes the bests parts of the show while dumping some of the less savory parts: too much competition, too-harsh judging and, yes, we'll just say it — adults being jerks to one another.
There are a lot of great kids cooking shows on right now, and even a lot on this very list, but this is our pick for sure.
‘All New Double Dare’
Many of today's parents grew up with the original Double Dare, which aired between 1986 and 1993 on Nickelodeon and featured a half-hour of slime, obstacle courses and, of course, dares. Now, 30 years later, Nick launched the All New Double Dare this past summer with an updated look but many of the very same challenges.
We love how the reboot mixes all the best stuff about the old show — the theme song, the set design, Marc Summers — with some great modern updates — a new main host (Liza Koshy), better graphics and scoreboards and cool new physical challenges. We won't complain when our kids want to watch this after school.
‘The Toy Box’
The Toy Box is the kids version of Shark Tank, the show where inventors get to try to sell their ideas to a panel of investors. As you might guess, this show, which premiered in 2016, is focused on toys, and there are two panels of judges: professionals and kids. The winner gets their toy made by Mattel and sold by Toys R Us — though now that the toy superstore has closed, the fate of the third season of this fun and family-friendly show is unknown.
‘Top Chef Junior’
Eleven years after Bravo's extremely successful cooking competition, Top Chef, hit the air, the kids version, Top Chef Junior, kicked off in 2017 with its first season on Universal Kids. Hosted by actor Vanessa Lachey and judged by chef Curtis Stone, the show features 14 kids ages 9 to 14 going head-to-head in a variety of cooking challenges.
The competition is still stiff in the kids version, but the show is angled more toward learning and experimenting than it is about beating each other. It's also kinder than the adult version, where a few of the judges can evoke even adult tears with their criticisms.
Forget the mountain of reality shows on offer. Genius Junior returns us to the studio for an old-fashioned quiz show starring gifted kids.
Hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, who portrayed kid nerd Doogie Howser on television in the early 1990s, the show takes 12 teams of three kids through five rounds of trivia and fun culminating in the winning group's visit to The Cortex for a chance at winning big. The kids on this show are extremely smart, likable and witty, even as they come up against frighteningly hard questions regarding geography, math and spelling. We, uh, know some of the answers sometimes.
Back in 2013, MasterChef was the first of the cooking shows to think of releasing a spinoff for kids, and MasterChef Junior was born. Six seasons later, the show is still going strong, featuring kids ages 8 to 13 going head-to-head to create the most delicious dishes. Featuring notable judges from the food world like Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich, the show has all the kick of the original without the cutthroat tone.
‘Kids Baking Championship’
Yes, we love kid cooking shows. This one, on the Food Network, focuses on baking, and it is the best place to turn when we are out of Great British Baking Show episodes. Featuring actor Valerie Bertinelli and baker Duff Goldman (Ace of Cakes) as judges, the kids, ages 10 to 13, compete to make the best cake they possibly can. The winner gets $25,000 and an official cake creation at Goldman's cake shop, Charm City Cakes.
There is something almost meditative about baking shows, and replacing the adults with kids makes it even more calming and fun — almost the opposite of other reality shows.
‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’
'90s kids will remember just how thrilling it was to watch Legends of the Hidden Temple each and every week. Featuring contestants paired off into teams (Red Jaguars, Blue Barracudas, Green Monkeys, Orange Iguanas, Purple Parrots and Silver Snakes), the show was all about testing the athletic prowess of the kid contestants. Going through various obstacle courses and competing for big prizes like trips to space camp. Ah, the good old days.
‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?’
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy put all his blue-collar charm into his duties as host of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, a short-lived competition series that pitted a group of actual fifth-graders against adult contestants. Similar to Jeopardy, all competitors answered trivia questions that were all written at a fifth-grade level. Turns out adults have forgotten a lot since fifth grade — it often turned out that the answer to the titular question was no, most of us are not smarter than a fifth-grader.
Leave a Comment