The 1990s were a good time for children’s education-themed TV. For the very young, Sesame Street had just been given new life, and for those in elementary school, there were Bill Nye the Science Guy, The Magic School Bus, Wishbone, Ghostwriter, Carmen Sandiego, and Schoolhouse Rock. Science, literature and writing, geography, and math, all packaged for kids to learn in a fun way.
Kids’ edutainment fell by the wayside for most of the next 20 years, but today, as we watch the content of our school curriculums be eaten away by political decisions, they’ve gained a renewed foothold, mostly via streaming giant Netflix.
Bill Nye, who’s been an obstinate voice in the face of climate change denial, gender essentialism, and anti-vaxxers, is back with Bill Nye Saves the World, his new series on Netflix released Friday, April 21. It’s a sarcastic, nostalgic platform from which he teaches scientific literacy. It’s not a kids’ show, but it’s appropriate for all ages.
“We want everyone on earth to have a scientific view of the world,” said Nye in an interview with NPR.
Carmen Sandiego and her V.I.L.E. cohorts are back too, though not quite yet. Her 22-episode series, again commissioned by Netflix, is set to debut in 2019 and will star Gina Rodriguez and Finn Wolfhard. Viewers will accompany Player once more in chasing the super-thief around the globe, learning about countries and cultures on their way. This time, rather than a game show, it will be an animated series. Ahead of the show, a new app game for kids in grade school is already out, with mission packs for players to study history and geography facts while they play.
The Magic School Bus is third on Netflix’s lineup of revivals, with a modern version of the popular cartoon starring Kate McKinnon, who seems to have been designed for the role since birth.
No rumors yet of a Wishbone return, but we can keep hoping as long as Netflix holds true to its course of setting aside a large portion of its budget for original content on children’s programming.
Want to know about some of the great kids’ shows that are already available on Netflix? Check out this post.