The geeklings of yesterday, rocking out to TMNT and The Superfriends, are the adult nerds of today. They've grown up, found each other, formed families, and raised kids. They used to share favorite shows and games with their buddies, and now it's their kids they're looking to form that connection with.
Great news! Streaming makes it easier to find that perfect show to share with incipient nerds. Gateways to all forms of geekery—science fiction, fantasy, superheroes, giant monsters—are available to view, discuss, and treasure. But alas! The Vast Wasteland is still growing. Shows that look promising at a glance may tax adult sanity when they make it onto a child's Favorites list. Beware ye the...
10 Glitter Force (Terrible Show)
Available on Netflix, Glitter Force is the saga of 5 pre-adolescent Sailor Moon knockoffs-- Glitter Lucky and her friends. They come complete with short skirts, giant bows, and absurd hair. They do have the decency to put on biker shorts under their outfits. Their powers come from magic charms and powder puffs they collect by defeating the fairy tale villains that threaten two worlds. Represented villainous archetypes include the Big Bad Wolf, the Wicked Witch, the Ogre, and... the... Vampire Jester?
This show's internal logic is a mess. In blatant video game logic, the villains won't fight the heroes directly. They summon clown-golem things called Buffoons that drop power ups when defeated. The fights themselves are 20% canned transformation sequences from episode one. Two more power up sequences are added to each episode before series end and every episode ends with an animated J-Pop video.
Sailor Moon is streaming on Hulu. Just sayin'.
9 The Dragon Prince (Great Show)
A Netflix series, this brilliant high fantasy is by the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's funny and fast-paced with a great collection of heroes and anti-villains. Set in a world divided by a Cold War between humans and magical creatures, the plot opens with a group of Moonshadow Elves answering the Dragon King's assassination by killing the human king responsible.
It's a world where both sides think they're right and always find ways to justify their actions. Forming a third side are the heroes, the king' surviving sons, and the Elf-girl sent to murder them. They see a chance for peace in a stolen dragon's egg, the heir to the Dragon King's throne.
8 Miraculous: Tales Of Ladybug & Cat Noir (Terrible Show)
This show about Parisian superteens has a weird appeal. The heroes are a little funny, the villain is trying for a "Doctor Claw" vibe. The mythology of the "Miraculous" magic gems/cute fluffy animals that grant them their power is surprisingly deep. A confusing not-quite romance hangs over the whole thing like smog over a summer day. Too bad the show is virtually unwatchable.
This is another series that relies on lengthy transformation sequences to fill out each episode. The heroine, Marinette, has "the power of creation" which sounds amazing but means that once an episode she creates something useless like an oven mitt and somehow defeats the villain. She also has a magic yo-yo. The villains are all pawns of master villain Hawk Moth, who uses butterflies to amplify their character flaws and give them dramatically-appropriate powers. It's on Netflix.
7 DC Superhero Girls (Great Show)
Available on Netflix, this Cartoon Network show shouldn't be confused with the animated web series of the same name. A toyline-based show developed by Lauren Faust, she who made My Little Pony great again, this represents a terrific introduction to DC's heroes. 10-minute episodes make it an easy watch.
The cast is diverse, featuring teenage versions of stalwarts like Batgirl and Wonder Woman as well as less well-known heroes like Bumblebee and Zatanna. With character-driven writing that emphasizes humor and the weaknesses of its unique heroes, this should be a winner for boys and girls.
6 Monster High (Terrible Show)
Admittedly more of a series of movies than a coherent show, Monster High has been around since 2010. It's gotten a lot of flack for it's too-short skirts and Frankenhooker character designs. A bigger problem in this heroine-centric series is its lazy lip service to individuality mouthed by characters with identical facial features, personalities, and bodies.
The films are all over the place-- some in decent traditional animation, some in cheap computer animation, some coherent, most not. Continuity is nonexistent, with characters having different powers and motives in different films, a move bound to drive nerds cray-cray.
5 Lost In Oz (Great Show)
Not many 21st century geeks obsess over L. Frank Baum's books but this is the show to change that. A contemporary Dorothy Gale accidentally summons a tornado that takes her house to the Emerald City. There she befriends a troubled young witch named West, a giant Munchkin named Ojo and takes on villains like the Crooked Magician Pipt, the brilliant Langwidere, and Roquat the Nome King.
The writers show an impressive knowledge of the original novels, taking characters like the Lion and Scarecrow and making them their own. It's funny, adventurous, and sharp enough to cut the unwary. This series is on Amazon Prime.
4 Super Monsters (Terrible Show)
Picking on pre-schoolers feels bad, but this is a show that promises more than it delivers. It sounds like it will have at least PJ Masks levels of superheroic action, but fails to clear even that low bar. Instead a collection of 5-6 year-olds turn into monsters after dark.
They have powers, but no personalities. The series is so conflict-adverse that they use their special abilities to do things like teach each other to share. Sometimes a power like super speed-- werewolves are basically The Flash, right?-- get the characters into trouble, but that's the closest it comes to being interesting.
Also, why do zombies have x-ray vision? Why? This pile of nonsense/boredom is on Netflix.
3 Steven Universe (Great Show)
One of the most highly praised cartoons of the decade, Steven Universe still needs an introduction. Steven is a sensitive boy who loves food being raised by four magical warrior women, The Crystal Gems. The Gems struggle to understand their protege's needs, while Steven grapples with a magical destiny he doesn't understand.
The art is beautiful, the characters strong, the voice acting top-notch, musical numbers fantastic and laughs are everywhere. Better yet, the characters are always growing. The first 5 seasons are streaming on Hulu, in 10 minute commercial-free chunks. Yum!
2 Chop Socky Chooks (Terrible Show)
Cartoon Network's Chop Socky Chooks is 11 years gone, but a ton of episodes are available in the depths of YouTube. It promises some laughs and nerd appeal in the form of kung fu chickens, but delivers only racial stereotypes and egg puns.
The crude computer animation means action sequences are wooden, the plots are somewhere between hackneyed and nonexistent. Instead of watching this unfunny awkwardness, try Jackie Chan Adventures. The kung fu action isn't bad, the comedy is competent, and it's free on Crackle.
1 Twelve Forever (Great Show)
On the cusp of adolescence, a girl named Reggie creates a magic key that unlocks the gate to Endless Island. There she becomes Twelve, the strongest and all-around best at everything! She shares this world with her small circle of friends, but as the children explore Endless, the island and its inhabitants show ominous tendencies...
A Netflix original, this series reads like a more serious Adventure Time. Reggie is a sympathetic kid, but prone to petty mistakes that change her island in small but important ways. She accidentally creates her own nemesis, The Butt Witch, who's a lot scarier than she sounds. As the heroic trio of friends at the series' center hurtle towards adulthood, Endless becomes a less welcoming place.