Wondering what to watch with your kids when the broadcast networks finally get out of the Saturday morning cartoon business for good? Fret no longer. Though the under-13 age group has traditionally been a tough one to market to, the quality of programming has arguably never been better than it is this fall.
Here are our picks for the best children’s TV shows for your kids and you to watch any day of the week – after homework, of course.
What It’s About: Mighty Magiswords follows Prohyas and Vambre, a sibling team of “warriors for hire” as they venture through the Kingdom of Rhyboflaven collecting sentient – and silly – magical swords.
Voiced By: Kyle A. Carozza, Grey DeLisle, Eric Bauza, “Weird” Al Yankovic, Jack McBrayer
Where Does It Air: Cartoon Network – series premiere Thursday, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT
Why You Should Watch: “An adult is likely to catch on to some of our smart jokes (and our wily groaners) and college-age young adults will probably get a kick out of just how weird the show is,” series creator Kyle A. Carrozza told Rotten Tomatoes. Just say “Kingdom of Rhyboflaven” out loud to get what he means. “We’re really fast and funny without talking down to kids,” Carozza said. “It doesn’t seem like there are a whole lot of shows that are this cartoony on right now. We offer as much squash and stretch as we do swords and sorcery. Even with that being the case, we work hard to make sure we keep the heart and emotional stakes a part of the story.”
Website: Mighty Magiswords at Cartoon Network
What It’s About: The classic Pre-K series is now in its 46th season of teaching kids how to spell, count, share, be healthy, and most importantly, love one another. Don’t we all need some of that right about now?
Special Guests: Usher, Ed Sheeran, Tracee Ellis Ross, Alan Cumming
Where Does It Air: HBO (new episodes air on PBS after HBO’s exclusive window)
Why You Should Watch: Beyond the amazing guest spots from celebrities your 5-year-old has never heard of, Sesame Street has delivered some dead-on parodies of grownup shows like House of Cards (Netflix) and Game of Thrones (HBO) that will keep you entertained along with your offspring. You grew up on it, and your kids should, too.
Website: Sesamestreet.org’s show page
What It’s About: It’s a surreal workplace/slacker comedy for kids, centering around best friends Rigby, a raccoon, and Mordecai, a blue jay, and their fantastical coworkers – i.e. their boss, Pops, is a giant walking lollipop.
Voiced By: Mark Hamill, J.G. Quintel, William Salyers, Linda Cardinelli
Where Does It Air: Cartoon Network
Why You Should Watch: Regular Show is entering its eighth and final season, and during its lengthy run the series was nominated for multiple Emmy Awards – winning the prize for Best Short-form Animated Series in 2012. Beyond the accolades, the show has plenty of jokes that will sail above kids’ heads and straight to you – all while they laugh at the kooky characters and absurd situations.
What It’s About: Picking up where the 2015 DreamWorks Animation film left off, Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh follows the exploits of mischievous alien Oh and fearless teen girl Tip after the otherworlder moves in with her family.
Voiced By: Rachel Crow, Mark Whitten, Ana Ortiz, Ron Funches
Where Does It Air: Netflix
Why You Should Watch: A lot of hay was made about the importance of representation when the film Home was released last year and with due cause – how many animated features with a positive young black female lead can you name? Taking this premise onto the small screen is yet another step in the right direction for young girls to be able to recognize themselves in the TV shows they watch. Plus, the show features a ton of great original pop songs by Rachel Crow!
What It’s About: Sugar, spice, and everything nice. These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little girls… you know the rest. A lonely and eccentric professor accidentally adds Chemical X to his girl stew and creates three daughters who have to battle bad guys, an inept Townsville government, and the trials and tribulations of growing up in this reboot of the ’90s classic.
Voiced By: Tom Kane, Tom Kenny, Amanda Leighton, Kristen Li, Natalie Palamides
Where Does It Air: Cartoon Network (original series available on Netflix)
Why You Should Watch: Lovers of the original series have been torn about the reboot, to say the least. But no reboot is going to give you the exact same feels as its forebearer. The reality is: Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup still kick butt in this new iteration of Powerpuff Girls, and that is just damn fun to watch. Your daughter should watch with you because little girls could always use a tough-as-nails female role model or three.
What It’s About: The animated spin-off of the TV movie spin-off of all of Disney’s fairy tale movies, Descendants: Wicked World follows the teenage kids of villains and princesses alike as they navigate high school.
Voiced By: Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, Mitchell Hope, Brenna D’Amico, Sarah Jeffery, Dianne Doan
Where Does It Air: Disney Channel – Season 2 premieres during Disney’s “Monstober”
Why You Should Watch: The 2015 movie was a smash hit, and a breath of fresh air from the tired reboots and rehashes that we normally get from existing IP. Wicked World expands that story with slick animation and plenty of razzle-dazzle to keep the kids’ attention.
What It’s About: Based on the acclaimed Australian book series, Bottersnikes & Gumbles is the classic story of sweet innocent creatures trying to get along with their crude, nasty neighbors.
Voiced By: Robbie Daymond, Erica Lindbeck, Tara Sands
Where Does It Air: Netflix
Why You Should Watch: The animation is absolutely gorgeous. The themes are universal. The potty humor is just right for a 4-year-old, and you’ll hate yourself for laughing at it too.
Website: Watch at Netflix.com