Four "Kids" Shows Every College Student Should Watch

By Hsing Tseng on November 27, 2012

Got some time to kill this winter break with your family? Why not pick up a so-called “kids” show? Shows that are marketed towards children and families are no less worthy of your viewing as the latest episode of that reality TV show you guiltily enjoy, plus you can watch them with your whole family without reservations! Here are my top 4 picks for shows that every college student should watch.

Phineas and Ferb 

Perry the Platypus action figure. Photo via Flickr user JDHancock

“Phineas and Ferb” is an animated Disney Channel show by creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff Marsh, formerly of “Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” and “Spongebob Squarepants” fame. Each episode has two halves, each of which has three concurrent plots. Brothers Phineas and Ferb ambitiously accomplish amazing feats in one summer day, like building rockets or climbing up the Eiffel Tower. Meanwhile, older sister Candace tries to bust the brothers by getting their mother’s attention, always failing because family pet platypus, Perry – secretly secret Agent P – foils the plans of his arch-nemesis, theluckless German Dr. Doofenshmirtz, in the process without fail removing all traces of the boys’ project of the day immediately before their mother arrives. Simple enough, right?

Everyone can identify with living in a perpetual summer vacation and inventing absurd ways out of summer boredom. What gives “Phineas and Ferb” such an adult/family-friendly audience is the wit and story involved in each individual plot, with a new, catchy repertoire of songs per episode, a consistent, lovable cast of recurring characters and creative, repeated motifs of the moment when Phineas realizes “Hey, where’s Perry?” to the trustworthy Fireside Girls troop earning their badges. The show breaks the fourth wall consistently and isn’t afraid to satirize our society. The show is a success because there isn’t one layer of humor “just for kids” and “adult humor” sprinkled throughout, but nerdy humor for all ages to enjoy.

Avatar: The Last Airbender & The Legend of Korra

WonderCon-goer cosplays Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Photo via Flickr user PopCultureGeek.

In my honest opinion, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is one of the best “children’s” shows ever created. Creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko build an intricate world; each of the four nations has a unique culture and “bending” style to control the elements of fire, air, earth and water. The Avatar bends all four elements and serves as the medium between nations and between the human and spirit world. Though the first season or “book” starts off a bit slowly, the show as a whole tackles huge issues than many other “just for kids” TV shows can’t or wont, such as the importance of friends and family, acceptance of responsibility, and the long term effects of brutal warfare. Protagonists lose parents to war, sacrifice themselves for the greater good and stand up for themselves against abusive family members. Villains and heroes alike are both sympathetic and flawed characters.

With stunning animation featuring gorgeously choreographed fight scenes, the show follows a well written story line that plays itself out in three seasons, which, while longer and more continuous a story than most children are accustomed to, tells a full tale from the beginning to end. Because this left viewers yearning for more at the end, the creators recently spawned the successful sequel “The Legend of Korra.” For those whose interest in the series waned with M. Night Shyamalan’s poorly received adaptation, I would encourage them and everyone else to give Avatar another chance.

Young Justice 

Remember “Teen Titans”, with its humorous chibi’s and comical chase scenes? Young

Young Justice diorama at NY Comic Con. Photo via PopCultureGeek.

Justice is like that, only better. DC Universe on Cartoon Network struck superhero gold with its reimagining of a DC-verse with new, young heroes. Coinciding with successful blockbusters The Avengers and The Dark Knight, Young Justice offers a new fix for superhero lovers in which “sidekicks” Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash, rejected as too young for the Justice League, form their own team that takes on evildoers from “The Light,” recruiting more young heroes in the fight for justice.

This show makes my list because while it airs on Cartoon Network, the show packs a TON of action and adult themes. Teammates struggle with villains, family, mentors and each other. While Leaguers such as Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and Batman do make rare and valued appearances, the focus is on the new blood. Each member of the YJ crew has a personality and a personal journey.  Did I mention the action? Fight sequences are engaging, exciting and sophisticated, but not gory. A family friendly pick that any action-lover will enjoy!

Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon’s signature catchphrase. Photo via Flickr user ofernandezberrios.

If you were born in or before the ’90s, then you probably watched some “Sailor Moon” at some point in your life. The anime, based on a manga by Naoko Takeuchi, focuses on middle schooler Serena (“Usagi”) who leads a double life as Sailor Moon. Along with her friends, who represent the planets of the Solar System, Sailor Moon protects the Earth from creatures from the Dark Kingdom.

Sailor Moon filled my childhood with strong, female protagonists. The women – ditzy, smart, straight, queer, girly, tomboyish – guide the story. Serena’s boyfriend, Darien (“Mamoru”) shares a reciprocal relationship in which they take turns saving each other. The stories are fluffy, sad and everything in between. The characters each follow their own coming of age story and become the best of friends. The show was and is proof that you can be both feminine and kickbutt at the same time.

What are your favorite “kids” shows to watch? Let us know below!


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