Kids’ shows have come really far from the cheesy and morally upright drivel of yesteryear. Nowadays, it’s a whole different ball game, and shows that look and kind of are for kids – talking frogs et al – have a very real adult heart and undertone. A lot of them deal with real issues of identity and inclusivity (plus they have some dope music too). Check it.
1. Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts
Lumberjack cats, guitar solo-obsessed snakes, London gangster influenced toads – this show might sound like an ideation room on acid, but please, just give it a chance. This visually striking Netflix original is based in a post apocalyptic world where one young girl must find her dad, helped along by a few friends. I won’t ruin the show for you, but its got a gorgeously understated hip hop soundtrack, and one of the most special coming out scenes in any TV show ever.
2. Steven Universe
This is another show that really led the advent of inclusive television as you see it today. Inspired by creator Rebecca Sugar’s own journey and experiences with bisexuality, this show is about a lovable little dude called Steven with a powerful belly-button (don’t judge). He’s cared for by a group of all-female alien beings, and over the course of the show, there’s same sex marriages, explorations of polyamory, and even the usage of gender neutral terms.
3. Adventure Time
Finn, a dog who can stretch into any shape, and Jake, a human, go around partaking in shenanigans and solving people’s problems, all while making sure to have a good time. As the show progresses though, you realise that the fantastical and downright surreal settings all have some rather dark backstories – from damaged relationships between fathers and their daughters, to the ravages of Alzheimer’s – this show will slowly make you realise its created by a genius.
4. The Dragon Prince
This show has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. In fact, a lot of the shows on this list do. This specific one takes place in a world where humans capture and harvest magical beings to create dark magic. While it may exist in a world where there’s no social media or electricity, it is one where no one bats an eye at elves and their same sex partners. That’s what we need – it doesn’t always have to be a huge situation, it just needs to be normalised.
5. Gravity Falls
Okay, this one might not have any overarching theme of learning and educating the world about current issues. It does, however, have a whole lot of adult humour that will fly under the radar if you’re a kid. It mostly comes courtesy Grunkle Stan, a borderline perv with a good heart and a penchant for keeping massive secrets. This mystery show about 2 kids on summer vacation is one of the greats!
6. 3 Below: Tales of Arcadia
From the brilliant and outright creepy mind of Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), this show is a spin-off of another amazing show of his called Trollhunters. It’s about 2 royal alien siblings who are hiding out on Earth and acting as a duo of humans to evade another super-evil alien. But in the meantime, they also have to deal with xenophobia, the problems of most humans, and the trouble with being different in our world.
7. Avatar: The Last Airbender
Yes, you’ve heard that this is one of the best shows ever a 100 times. Well here comes 101. The elemental tribes are at war, and our beloved bald bending boy Aang is the hope. It’s the age-old tale of David versus goliath, except this David has a big ol’ arrow on his head and a big ol’ heart full stop. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can binge this.
Growing up is overrated – stay young at heart and watch these shows instead. They’re amazing!