We’re not about all screens, all the time, but we can’t deny the cozy appeal of occasionally curling up on the couch with our minis and watching some TV we can all enjoy (sorry, Peppa Pig – that precludes you). It’s not always easy, however, to find a show that’s truly appropriate for all ages. But there is one genre that has more offerings for everyone than other categories: Reality TV.
We’re not talking The Bachelor or anything with the words “real” and “housewives” paired together. If you love those shows, that’s fine – indulge away when the kiddos are asleep. We’re talking about a handful of reality TV shows that we like to watch en masse without anyone cringing. Here are our picks.
Reality TV Shows for the Whole Family
Pretty much the grand-daddy of them all – we remember watching pre-kids and life has come full circle as we watch with kids. One of our gal pals has a tried-and-true method for enjoying Survivor: watch just the challenges and Tribal Council, thus skipping any “showmance” or boring bits. During the challenges, we love to analyze teamwork, individual performance and social situations. And Tribal Council is just plain fun. We even make a friendly wager (winner gets an ice cream sundae) in which we each pick a contestant predicted to last the longest in the game to make it more fun for kids a bit older (7 and up).
The Amazing Race and The Amazing Race Canada
The kids tend to get immersed in the fast-paced travel of this one, along with some great challenges. It’s also a wonderful mini-lesson in geography and history. We love the Canadian version as well to highlight our fabulous country and to give more air time to the amazing Jon Montgomery.
We adore that this is a cooking show that features kids actually cooking real food with more skill than we personally possess. Kids love to see mini chefs just a wee bit older than them show off their stuff in the kitchen, and the occasional off-the-wall required ingredient keeps it interesting. Added bonus – this may inspire the kids to start to make more of their own food, especially the dreaded school lunch!
House Hunters International
We were rather surprised when the kids took to this one, but it’s a pretty basic formula: see three houses, do one activity in the new, exotic locale, pick a home. We engage the kids by talking about the homes – what they like, what they didn’t like. Colours, pools, neat features – they can be engaging for the kids and looking at different cities and places is captivating for the imagination.
America’s Got Talent
Kids love performances, and that’s what this show is – a series of performances, some better than others! This is a great one for showing kids that there are a range of different outlets for creativity and energy – sports do not need to be the default activity. Watch one episode, watch them all in a season – it’s easy to drift in and out.
American Ninja Warrior
The whole family enjoys this show of some pretty amazing athletes conquering – or trying to conquer – some seriously challenging obstacle courses. We love the back stories of the contestants and some of the causes and charities for which they are raising awareness. It’s also a great show for inspiring physical activity!
Ok, so this one is a bit silly but it’s also good plain fun. Teams face off in creating confectionary masterpieces within a set time frame – it’s like a family friendly version of Nailed It. We also love the element of strategy – teams can bank unused minutes for future rounds, but not at the expense of a great-tasting offering!
We love so many things about this show – the way that science is explained in a fun and educational way, the female representation, and the variety of topics – everything from marine biology to germs. We can practically see their neurons firing!
Minute to Win It
We heart these relatively simply challenges, all to be completed within – yep, you guessed it – one minute. They’re fun, they can be performed by kids, and they’re even nerve-racking at times! Plus, we’ve mined many, many of these game ideas for birthday party and rainy day fun.
A Little Help with Carol Burnett
We grew up watching Carol Burnett, so we’re pretty excited to see her in this sweet show. Adults ask a panel of kids for advice, and hilarity and sweetness ensue. Russell Peters co-hosts, and adults will enjoy the celebrity guests.