5 TV Shows That Are Surprisingly Popular Among Children

Between traditional networks, cable television, and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, there’s basically a show for every taste out there somewhere (yes, even for you and your significant other). In keeping with this incredible assortment of available content, today’s children have way more options than previous generations, including the ability to view virtually any series they desire with just a few clicks. Yet, even with the accessibility of popular children’s TV shows like Spongebob Squarepants and Steven Universe, sometimes younger viewers end up developing an appreciation for shows that parents and other adults simply wouldn’t expect.

We’re taking a look at some of the most surprising shows that have amassed significant audiences of younger viewers. Whether or not the shows in question are aimed at kids, the fact that modern children have taken such a liking to them is an interesting phenomenon to ponder and one that parents no doubt pay attention to when their little ones curl up to take in the next episode of these popular series.

1. Full House (1987-1995)

Full House

Full House | ABC

Believe it or not, today’s children have apparently been busy catching up to this sentimental sitcom about Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) and the eight seasons he spent raising his three daughters with brother-in-law Jesse (John Stamos) and best friend Joey (Dave Coulier).

During its current run as part of Nickelodeon’s nostalgic nighttime lineup, Nick At Nite, the series — which ran on ABC from 1987 to 1995 — has proven that it holds a place in the hearts of viewers who grew up with its particular brand of wholesome humor. But the fact that today’s children have embraced it is something of a surprise, especially considering that its style hews so heavily to the 1990s sitcom mold. Now we finally get why Fuller House happened.

2. American Idol (2002-2016)

American Idol Finale | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

American Idol | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Perhaps it’s the competitive spirit that is inherent in most children, but for whatever reason, American Idol — which recently ended its run on Fox — has connected strongly with kids. Given the show’s responsibility for popularizing the latest incarnation of the singing competition series, it’s not to hard to see why younger viewers might get swept up in the embarrassing auditions, biting commentary, and genuine talent of some of the contestants. Now that it’s off the air, we can only assume that The Voice is poised to pick up the slack and provide a home for viewers thirsty for a show to pick up American Idol‘s mantle.

3. Dancing with the Stars (2005-present)

Dancing with the Stars

Dancing with the Stars | ABC

Since music is a universally popular form of entertainment, we can imagine that children might get swept up in the personal stories and professional aspirations of the singers on American Idol. Somewhat more puzzling is the success of this dancing competition series with children, especially since many of the celebrities that appear on the show are nostalgic favorites that might appeal more to parents. Maybe we’re underestimating the appeal of seeing pairs of dancing partners compete for a title, but the fact that so many kids are into Dancing with the Stars kind of throws us for a loop.

4. The Big Bang Theory (2007-present)

Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory | CBS

Comic books, science fiction, and geek culture in general have never been as popular (or mainstream) as they are now. So that popularity must be to blame for this CBS sitcom’s continuing success with children. The more mature themes of the show certainly aren’t relatable to younger viewers, but apparently, The Big Bang Theory has managed to provide the perfect cross-section of personal and professional drama with broad enough laughs to draw in both adults as well as their children. Now that How I Met Your Mother is over, The Big Bang Theory is keeping the Friends-style comedy alive.

5. The Walking Dead (2010-present)

Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead

Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead | AMC

Believe us, we don’t think this AMC hit — based on the Robert Kirkman comic books — is appropriate for younger viewers either. However, the show’s numbers are so remarkably high that we’re honestly not too surprised to see that kids are taking in the zombie mayhem Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus), and company face on a weekly basis.

The show has exactly the kind of watercooler vibe that would appeal to viewers on the lookout for action, horror, and general thrills. Plus, there’s the shock value that kids crave. OK, I guess we get it. Just don’t let your parents find out.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

Check out Entertainment Cheat Sheet on Facebook!

More from Entertainment Cheat Sheet: