Modern technology has enabled people to carry out all aspects of their lives from home. With a laptop and an internet connection, one can complete tasks such as banking, bill payments, grocery shopping, remote learning and remote work. After performing all these tasks, people need some entertainment.
Going outside and spending time with others is still not advised in many parts of the world due to COVID-19. And there is only so much time you can spend with your family on board games or Zoom dinners, or even trying something you’re passionate about, such as learning how to cook. In such cases, streaming movies and TV series is the cheapest and safest entertainment option available.
When it comes to streaming content on the internet, there is no streaming service better than Netflix. Of course, considering the popularity of Netflix among online consumers, there is a high chance that you have already heard about it and used it. About 208 million people around the globe are paid subscribers as of the first quarter of 2021.
More and more family-friendly shows are on Netflix as the streaming giant continues expanding its content library to reach more households.
In this post, we will look at the top 13 best family shows on Netflix in 2021. These family series are meant for the whole family—both little kids and older kids can enjoy these stories.
The Magic School Bus Rides Again
“The Magic School Bus Rides Again” is an animated TV series released in 2017. Some of our older readers might remember the original Magic School Bus TV show from the late-1990s, while the name might sound unfamiliar to the new generation. The reboot is equally good with characters such as Valerie Frizzle and Fiona Frizzle preparing for more adventures.
And if there is one thing this animated series has taught, it is that Ms. Frizzle is not an ordinary teacher. She routinely goes to great lengths to make sure that her students are learning as much as they can.
This is a Netflix original series, meaning that most of the time, you can watch it from any country in the world without having to worry about geo-restrictions and other access issues.
The Who Was?
This is the only Netflix TV show you need if you would like to not only have a great time with your family while streaming content but would also like them to learn something. The show makes use of short sketches to bring life to a traditionally boring subject: History. Most of the sketches are about famous people from history.
But that’s not all. The show has hired people like Jon Benjamin of “Archer” and “Bob’s Burgers” and Andy Daly of “Review” and “Eastbound & Down” to make sure people who like comedy stick around and watch their content. Benjamin also acts as the narrator of the show.
You may have no interest in history, yet you can still watch the show and enjoy it. As for the kids, they can learn a ton about history, and in contrast to their history classes in school, they will actually enjoy what they learn this time.
CupCake & Dino: General Services
This is another one of those shows on Netflix that appeals to both kids and adults because of the way it presents its story.
Now, this show is not exactly educational like some of the other ones mentioned in our list. It follows two brothers who live in a big city. Both are shown to work hard establishing themselves with the help of some odd jobs at a company. However, the plot gets in the way and they have to fight crime while trying to live their normal lives.
The name of the show essentially gives it away. The show is about the Earth and how this little planet is the most incredible planet that humankind currently knows of.
The cinematography is top-notch, and that makes the show pretty much a must-watch for anyone who wants to know more about our planet.
It’s also incredibly educational. If you are looking for something to watch with your family on Netflix and you’re ready for a binge session, this is the show for you.
This family-friendly show will not only provide you with interesting facts about different habitats one can find on our blue planet but also about the animals that live there.
Night on Earth
Do you ever wonder about the world and what happens when the sun goes down and the stars light the sky? If so, this is the show for you and your family. Netflix has a habit of offering content covering lesser-known topics, and this is one of them.
When you are sleeping (assuming you aren’t a night owl), the animal world is not exactly following suit. In fact, there are plenty of animals who are only able to stay alive because they start hunting at night. The animal world is alive and kicking when most of the human world is fast asleep. And since this is what “Night on Earth” is about.
While watching the show, you will undoubtedly notice that it is also completely shot after the sun has set. For those who have had terrible past experiences watching movies and documentary shows shot in the dark with night vision cameras, this one is different. There are no night vision cameras here, so you can watch the show for extended periods without straining your eyes.
Just like some of the family-friendly shows already mentioned in this post, this one is stunning when compared to what’s out there in the documentary world. The makers of the “Night on Earth” documentary spend most of their time following creatures that science classifies as nocturnal. The series explores the night-time adventures of a diverse set of animals, from frogs to Rhinos.
The entire family can enjoy this production, including older kids who might not be interested in child-centric plots.
Archibald’s Next Big Thing
A lot of the greatest shows in any form of cinema are dark and filled with characters with very few redeeming qualities. In other words, you can’t watch them with your family as they may have too much violence, gore, drugs and other forms of crime.
Whenever we are talking about TV shows and movies that you can watch with your family on Netflix, we are talking about shows that focus on the positive side of life. And this is exactly what you get with this animated series, “Archibald’s Next Big Thing.” The show was created by Tony Hale, known for his work on shows like “Veep” and “Arrested Development.”
The primary character is a chicken and his name is Archibald. He isn’t exactly an organized fellow since every time he is trying to do something the proper way, he messes things up. The show follows the trail of chaos that ensues. The scenarios Archibald has to deal with are very relatable not just for adults but also for kids, which is why it’s a great show to watch with the whole family, including older kids/siblings.
While watching, you will quickly realize the show wants to send out a message: Always look at the bright side of things even when it becomes difficult to do so.
“Archibald’s Next Big Thing” also hints at the joy of living in the moment rather than fretting about the future or wallowing in the past. This is certainly a point of view you will come to appreciate as you get deeper into the show.
The show also does a good job of handling voice cameos from big celebrity figures such as Christine Baranski, RuPaul and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The fourth season came out this year, though it’s not clear if that will be its final season.
The Land Before Time
First released in 1988, “The Land Before Time” is finally available to Netflix users (although not all Netflix users) in 2021. Since the show was released more than 30 years ago, we are aware of the fact that many of our readers did not watch the original when it came out.
Essentially, the movie follows a group of dinosaurs. The group falls into an event that ends up separating them from the pack. And what do dinosaurs do when they get separated? They try and find their way back to the pack lest a predator catches them or they die of natural causes, both impending threats back in the day.
The primary character in the movie is Littlefoot, and his main aim throughout the movie is to find a place that is safe for his friends and family—a place where they can actually get to without having to fight monsters. But as this is a movie, you can bet they will run into plenty of them.
Even though the animation in the movie gives the impression it is for kids only, it is not. The story goes deep into serious subjects such as casual prejudice, the difficulties one faces being an outsider, and how the interaction of adults affects kids.
Overall, this family-friendly movie is a great watch with kids.
“The BFG” made its debut on the big screen back in 2016. With Steven Spielberg taking the helm behind the scenes, the BFG became one of Disney’s best animated movies based on a classic. The story is based on a book of the same name by Roald Dahl, who made his name with “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
The film focuses on two characters for the entirety of its run time. The first character is a 10-year-old girl who is an orphan named Sophie. The second is a giant or, rather, a world filled with giants. Sophie and one of the giants from the world of giants become friends as both are considered outcasts in their own communities.
As it turns out, the young girl and the giant play a very significant role in preventing a war between the world of giants and humans. The only problem: Not all giants in the world of giants are worthy of friendship; some of them like to eat humans.
If you like animated movies that also take advantage of film shots and motion capture footage, then you and your kids will enjoy “The BFG” even more.
Escape From Planet Earth
“Escape From Planet Earth” came out in 2013 and instantly became a hit for family viewing, earning praise as one of the best mystery-related family shows. And now it is one of the best shows on Netflix.
The studio behind this animated movie was the Weinstein Company. With all the capital that becomes readily available whenever a big movie studio is involved, it became rather straightforward for people working behind the scenes to make a great animated movie about an alien race that lands on Earth when it hears a distress call from the planet.
The alien race assembles a team consisting of Scorch Supernova, a hero-grade astronaut voiced by Brendan Fraser, and Gary, the head of mission control at BASA and Supernova’s nerdy, generous brother voiced by Rob Corddry.
The alien team, in its mind, is going to planet Earth, which is as dangerous a planet as they come. However, little does the alien team know that it is going right into a trap set by one of its staunchest enemies.
You’ll have to watch the movie to know more since we don’t want to ruin the whole thing for you. But, as is a typical plot line in Netflix family shows, the good guys come through: Gary, more than Scorch Supernova, helps Earth to stand against the imminent alien threat.
“Hook” hit the big screen in 1991. Again, it had the advantage of Steven Spielberg serving as the director behind the scenes. As a result, we consider “Hook” to be one of the best family shows on Netflix to watch in 2021. The film follows Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams, and his adventures with Captain Hook, played by Dustin Hoffman.
We have to warn you, though, the critics at the time did not receive the movie well. So if you research “Hook” online and read some of the reviews, you will see that it isn’t exactly considered Steven Spielberg’s best movie.
But if your kids have the explorer’s gene in them, they will definitely enjoy watching this movie. The film touches on a whole range of different topics and generates emotions matching the scenarios dealing with those topics. Generally, though, this movie can teach your kids a lot about friendship and adventures.
A Monster Calls
There aren’t a ton of great family movies on Netflix. So once you find one, you’ll be quick to bookmark it and recommend it to friends and family. That way, the movie would get the attention it deserves. “A Monster Calls” is one of those movies.
Originally released in 2016, this family-friendly movie is not the most light-hearted you’ll ever come across. While the plot is a bit sad by nature, the movie is still far away from the levels of violence, gore or adult themes in most Hollywood action movies, and it does touch upon subjects that require a bit of discussion.
After watching the movie, your kids will definitely nag you with some questions. If you prepare well enough, you should be able to answer them all.
The movie is about a 13-year-old boy named Conor who has a mother with a terminal illness. Conor is played by Lewis MacDougall while Felicity Jones plays the role of the other. As fate would have it, the boy has to go to his grandmother, played by Sigourney Weaver, so that his mother can go to a care facility for further treatment.
One day, though, the boy has a visitor in the form of a huge tree-like monster. The monster offers the boy three stories, after which the monster requires Conor to come up with a story as well. As you go through the movie, you start to realize that the monster, voiced by Liam Neeson, is used in the film as an allegory. The monster’s stories also serve the same purpose.
The symbolism in the movie clearly points towards the experiences of Conor as a kid. Move towards the end of the movie and you will find a bit about hope and a bit about heartbreak.
In short, you can’t miss “A Monster Calls.”
The Spiderwick Chronicles
This is a good Netflix family movie that came out in 2008 but failed to gain much attraction in terms of revenue. The film did a decent job of putting out Freddie Highmore into the world as an actor who should be taken seriously. The movie is actually based on the novel by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. In the movie, Highmore plays a boy named Jared.
One day Jared comes across a strange field guide. Instead of talking about the traditional stuff, like how to survive in the wild on your own, this field guide comes packed with information that enables Jared to see mythical creatures such as the character Thimbletack. However, Jared doesn’t know that in his quest to see more mythical creatures, he has released unsightly monsters such as Mulgarath.
What makes Mulgarath such a dangerous creature is that he never comes alone and always has a goblin army with him to carry out his evil plans. And that is when the central plot of the movie really comes into the limelight, with Jared and his family trying to defend his home against evil goblins. But towards the end, Jared has to face Mulgarath to save what’s close to his heart.
You know you are looking at a good family movie on Netflix when Mark Waters is one of the directors. Waters is known for hits like “Mean Girls,” “Freaky Friday” and “Vampire Academy.”
The first thing you should know about “Hugo” is that Martin Scorsese has directed it. This alone raises Hugo above all the other mediocre family movies you’re better off leaving alone.
The movie came out in 2011. However, the book on which it was based, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” came out four years earlier in 2007. The movie follows a young boy who is homeless and trying to improve his life in the 1930s.
Asa Butterfield plays that young boy who, as we find out in the movie, lost his father at a pretty young age. His father did leave him an automaton whose mystery the boy feels compelled to solve while trying to deal with the local police.
“Hugo” won five Oscars in 2011, and all of them were in categories related to the technical side of movie-making. In other words, “Hugo” shows off the work the best technicians and engineers can do in Hollywood without ever getting in front of the camera.
Shaun the Sheep: Adventures From Mossy Bottom
This stop-motion animated movie has a bit of something for every age group. Adults should be able to appreciate the humor and how it is presented in the movie while kids can enjoy a sheep running around town (the sheep, having made its name from other shorts such as “Wallace and Gromit”).
You shouldn’t expect the movie’s main character, the sheep, to eat just grass and go “bahhh,” because Shaun is no ordinary sheep. Shaun is essentially a person when it comes to daily life activities. All the while, the person who owns Shaun does not know that the sheep has extraordinary abilities.
The two make the perfect combination for good comedy that you can enjoy with family on Netflix.
Honorable Mentions: Best Family-Friendly Shows and Movies on Netflix for the Entire Family
There are many other family-friendly movies and shows on Netflix that we have not mentioned above.
Some other family-friendly movies and binge-worthy family shows on Netflix include:
- Mckellan Family (about a family living a new life in a new city)
- Great British Baking Show
- Anne of Green Gables
- Star Trek (anything in the Star Trek franchise)
- Full House
- Anne With an E (with the soft spoken bachelor brother)
- One Day At A Time (with the Alvarez family)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (with the Baudelaire children, Neil Patrick Harris and evil count Olaf)
- Gilmore Girls
- The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
- The Last Kids on Earth
- Any Lego Movie franchise production
- InBestigators (kids form their own detective agency)
- Fuller House (with super smart girls such as sister Stephanie)
- Terrace House
- Carmen San Diego
- Raising Dion
- The Boss Baby
- Little Lunch
Conclusion: Best Family Shows and Movies on Netflix (Content for the Whole Family)
Our list of family TV shows and movies is suitable for all types of gatherings such as a family reunion, a birthday party for kids or any event for moving the family closer. We have listed coming-of-age story movies, stories for older children or middle school-aged kids, and various other family-friendly TV shows that are suitable for younger viewers.
The next generation of kids and young people tend to like family series less about New York City or middle school drama or long-held family secrets. They are more inclined towards family shows on Netflix that fall under the genre of dark comedy—content that revolves around teenage con artist shows, series about secret agents who solve mysteries or complete missions, or a story about a distant relative who has a hard time controlling a social anxiety disorder.
Older generations may appreciate the more classic titles on this list that take them down memory lane, like “Land Before Time,” “Anne of Green Gables” or “Hook.” They might also enjoy reboots like 2017’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” starring Neil Patrick Harris or the new “The Magic School Bus Rides Again” and “Full House” reboots.
After watching the recommendations mentioned above, Netflix’s algorithm will have enough information about your tastes and preferences that it will start suggesting more great movies to watch with your family and kids inside the safety and comfort of your own home.