Fall TV Preview: 5 Top Shows for Families

Superheroes, puppets, and a family-friendly variety show highlight this season’s roster.

The traditional fall TV season is transforming now that more and more shows are released throughout the year and/or dropped digitally for binge watching. It can be challenging for families to keep up. But don’t despair: There’s still plenty to look forward to in the next few months on both network TV and streaming services.

This fall’s best bets happen to involve a lot of superheroes and puppets, but you can also follow the adventures of your favorite families in returning shows like Black-ish, Modern Family, and Fresh off the Boat. There’s also no shortage of reboots on the horizon; look for fresh versions of X-Files, Uncle Buck, Full House, and more coming in 2016.

Here are some of our top picks for families and teens in the upcoming season:

The Muppets 
Premieres Sept. 22 on ABC

ABC promises a “more adult” version of the Muppets, but it looks like our fuzzy friends will still be accessible to teens and families in this mockumentary-style series. Viewers get to follow Kermit and his crew as they work together on Miss Piggy’s late night talk show, Up Late with Miss Piggy. Life is complicated on the set: Fozzie’s dating a human, Kermit’s attached to (gasp!) another pig, and Gonzo’s still weird (some things never change). Expect lots of famous guest stars and goofy humor in this fun watch-together treat.

Best for: Tweens and teens.

Also consider: the classic Muppet Show for a milder style of behind-the-scenes hilarity.

Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris 
Premieres Sept. 15 on NBC

Many have tried — and failed — to recreate a successful update of the old-fashioned variety show, but we think that triple threat/consummate showman/all-around charmer Harris has the skills to make Best Time Ever, well, the best time ever. The show will feature musical performances, pranks, contests, and more, all performed live in front of a studio audience and hosted by Harris.

Best for: The whole family

Also consider: the returning America’s Got Talent for family-friendly hi-jinx.

Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures
Premieres Sept. 15 on Vimeo

Think Harry Potter meets Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, and you’ll start to get the vibe of YouTube star PJ Liguori’s quirky series. Young doctor Oscar ends up manning his uncle’s hotel for a very special class of visitors, most of whom definitely aren’t human. Guests will include a bevy of YouTubers, including teen faves PewDiePie, Hannah and Mamrie Hart, and Grace Helbig, joined by actors parents might recognize — like Patrick Stewart and Alfred Molina — all portraying a variety of creatures. Oh, and did we mention the monsters are designed by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop? 

Best for: Tweens and teens

Also consider: Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street for more quirky, kid-friendly adventures. 

Premieres Oct. 26 on CBS

There’s lots of buzz around this highly anticipated series about Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El. Melissa Benoist stars as the superhero who’s just discovering her powers while trying to maintain a normal life as the assistant to cranky exec Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). Jimmy (or should we say James) Olsen is around for moral support (and maybe more!), and Kara’s family, both biological and adoptive, help her along her journey. We’re expecting lots of action and some violence that may be too much for little ones, but Kara could be this year’s breakout female role model for older kids and teens.

Best for: Tweens and teens

Also consider: Arrow for more modern-day superheroes.

Heroes Reborn
Premieres Sept. 24 on NBC

New and old Heroes join forces in this event series, which brings back some favorites from the original series (including Masi Oka as Hiro) while introducing the next generation of regular folks with special abilities. Chuck’s Zachary Levi and Judith Shekoni join the cast as Luke and Joanne, heroes in hiding after a terrorist attack is blamed on their kind. Anticipate twists, turns, mysteries, and more as the characters make alliances — and tough decisions — while they come together to save the world.

Best for: Teens

Also consider: Heroes for origin stories, family drama, and even more unanswered questions. 

— By Polly Conway, Common Sense Media TV editor

Reprinted in partnership with Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that helps families make smart media choices

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