Any parent who has had the misfortune to suffer through programming that is squarely aimed at children is all too familiar with the inane and prattle and dull stories that permeate such television shows. Of course, they’re designed to interact with children on a level that they can comprehend, and often they strive to teach lessons that aid in early childhood development. So they’re not exactly meant to appeal to parents. But if you feel like you should be spending time with your kids, watching their programs, then it couldn’t hurt to find shows that entertain you, as well. And luckily, there are several cartoons that have humorous situations and dialogue that both children and adults can enjoy. Here are just a few such programs you may want to check out on TV or order on DVD.
1. Looney Tunes. Does it get any better than Bugs, Daffy, Elmer Fudd, and the whole Loony Tunes gang? Silly jokes and clever catch phrases will catch the attention of kids (“What’s up, doc?”), but there’s plenty of fare that’s just for adult entertainment. These quintessential family cartoons were some of the first created with an adult audience in mind. And while we may have adult fare like Family Guy these days, it’s not really suitable for young children. Instead, pick up a box set of Looney Tunes episodes that the whole family can watch together.
2. The Simpsons. This long-running show may be kid-friendly, but there’s a lot for parents to love in this glimpse into the dysfunctional family values that permeate the Simpson’s household. Homer is the balding, oafish husband who always seems to be one step behind. Bart is the puckish trouble-maker on a skateboard. Lisa is the over-achieving daughter who can’t wait to be shed of her small-town existence. And Marge is the glue that holds this bunch together. There’s also binky-sucking baby Maggie, not to mention a town full of colorful characters that range from the devilish millionaire Montgomery Burns, to the hapless Chief Wiggum, to the overly-friendly religious neighbor, Ned Flanders. There’s simply no end to the antics and artistry offered by this show. When Lisa tries to have an esoteric moment with Bart in one episode by asking the ages-old question, “What’s the sound of one hand clapping?” Bart replies by slapping his fingers against his palm. That pretty much says it all.
3. Peanuts. You may have been watching the Peanuts gang in specials for years, but that doesn’t mean you can’t introduce a new generation to the Snoopy dance, Linus’s Great Pumpkin, or Lucy pulling the football out from under an ever-trusting Charlie Brown.
4. Rugrats. Although this cartoon focuses on the lives of babies Tommy, Angelica, Chuckie, Phil, and Lil, parents are likely to find something magical in the storytelling style, which turns their everyday experiences into full-blown adventures in imagination. The baby voices do get a bit tiresome, but you won’t get bored with the fun and creativity that punctuate every episode.
5. The Flintstones. This modern Stone Age family from the town of Bedrock may not be as hip as your son’s latest TMNT comic, but the old-school farce about Fred, Wilma, and their family and friends can amuse kids while teaching them valuable lessons about family interactions. Of course, it won’t teach them to drive a car (unless they think they can do so with the courtesy of their two feet). But both you and your kids will no doubt enjoy fun touches like doggy stand-in Dino the dinosaur, not to mention brontosaurus burgers. And the trials and tribulations of Stone Age couples with kids will no doubt appeal to mom and dad.