If you find yourself watching modern cartoons with your kids, you might wonder what has happened to children’s programming (although if you re-watch favorite programs from your own childhood you may discover that they are less appealing now that your intellect has matured). You almost certainly want to take part in activities with your kids, but if you have to watch another boring episode of Teletubbies you might just bang your head against a wall. Luckily, there are several cartoons out there that kids and adults seem to find equally enjoyable. Here are a few you might want to look into.
- SpongeBob SquarePants. If you ask a random adult, “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” you might be surprised by how many answer with an exuberant, “SpongeBob SquarePants!” The reason is likely because this cartoon strove to strike a chord not only with children, but with their parents, as well. Also, it’s been around long enough that some of the kids who originally watched it are now adults. In any case, those who saw the show as children will find themselves catching jokes that they missed out on as part of a younger audience. And they’ll pass their love of this fun and quirky show about a well-dressed sponge on to the next generation.
- Looney Tunes. These cartoons may be old-school enough to feature some stereotypes that are no longer laughable (Little Hiawatha, for example), but most of them are still hilarious, and they’re chock full of jokes that will go over the heads of little ones and keep parents amused. And all ages will find themselves laughing during scenes where Witch Hazel hops on her broom and zooms off, leaving her hairpins hanging in the air behind her, or when Bugs Bunny puts on drag to confuse and bamboozle Elmer Fudd. There may be a lot in these cartoons that kids won’t understand, but there’s also enough simple humor and sight gags to keep them glued to the screen.
- Simpsons. Nearly everyone can relate to this dysfunctional family of yellow-skinned suburbanites, including dad Homer, mom Marge, son Bart, daughter Lisa, and baby Maggie. They may fight and annoy each other, but they also share moments of love. And with a colorful cast of supporting cartoon characters (Krusty the Clown, Mr. Burns, Apu from the Kwik-E-Mart, and more) there’s never a dull moment in every-town Springfield. Plus, their Halloween “Treehouse of Horror” episodes will appeal to any cinephiles with a love of old Hollywood macabre (although you may want to save those until the kids are a little older).
- The Muppet Show. Technically, this variety show populated by Jim Henson’s Muppet creations is not a cartoon. But it’s close enough in that it is for a younger audience. Of course, the guest stars are meant to impress an older audience, as are many of the gags. But kids will find plenty to laugh at with a variety of fanciful Muppets singing songs, getting shot out of cannons, and blowing up sets.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender. If you’re drawn to the animation style of cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (come on, you know you can spout off all the ninja turtle names and the associated color of mask they wear), you might enjoy the Japanese-influenced animation style featured in this cartoon, as well. But what you’re likely to appreciate even more are the history and the story arc, both of which are rich in detail. You’ll also see character growth throughout the series that is rare in children’s cartoons, as well as emotional elements that will keep you and your kids hooked until the astonishing finale.