My first-grader is at an awkward TV age. She's too old for kiddie TV, but isn't ready to move into Waverly Place just yet. But I think I've found the perfect solution: Saturday Night Live.
No, I don't mean D**k in a Box or The Ambiguosly Gay Duo. (Though kids would totally love both of them if you were awful enough to let them watch. Sometimes I'm jealous of meth-addicted or neglectful parents who don't care. They've got it so much easier. Also -- fab fact! -- The Ambiguously Gay Duo was voiced by a pre-fame Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert!)
There are loads of skits and short films -- especially the digital shorts made by Andy Samberg and friends -- that are nearly kid-appropriate and provide hilarity for most ages.
Of course you have to watch clips via Hulu or DVR it, unless you like to live on the edge, keep your kids up 'til 11:30, and expose them to possible live F-bomb slips. You have to preview everything, but you should be previewing all your kids' shows anyway. You never know when someone's going to say the C-word on Backyardigans or there's going to be a nip-slip on Phineas and Ferb.
Our obsession started with this perfect little video, Get Out! with Fred Armisen and Andy Samberg as a pair of roommates who can't avoid awkward bathroom walk-ins:
I guarantee you that "Dude, I'm in here!" will become the hot catchphrase in your house from toddlers to grandpa. And be prepared to have kids waiting for you in the bathroom to shout it out when you open the door. I had one nephew camp out quietly on the can for 10 minutes waiting for me to open the door. It was the longest he ever sat still. For you whose kids have potty training or constipation issues, it's a total godsend. Plus all the kids around my house are really having to learn to knock.
Then, a few weeks ago, we were permanently sold on the show's pleasures with Zach Galifianakis' monologue, and his killer rendition of "Tomorrow." What kid doesn't understand the humor behind a chubby bearded guy in an Annie dress, with pink panties to boot? (Yes, there are references in writing to marijuana. If that bothers you, show it only to non-readers!)
Also highly recommended for the little ones, People Getting Punched While Eating. That happy dance will also sweep your house!
Okay, it's a little violent -- though no worse than what we used to watch on Roadrunner cartoons. And there are some zombies and a bit of 'murder' -- though no worse than what we used to see on Scooby-Doo. You may not want to show it to your pre-delinquent kid or you risk getting a morning fist before your Honey Bunches of Oats. But most kids will dig it.
And it's nice that my kid has me enjoying SNL once again, since for so long so much of the show has been so awful as they try to stretch out tired premises to get through 90 minutes. Maybe, like They Might Be Giants, a past-its-prime entertainment institution can find new life among the young.
Who's with me? SNL: best kids' show on TV or what?
Image via David_Shankbone/Flickr