The wind down: Best daddy/daughter pre-bedtime shows

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 6-year-old daughter Viva, who isn’t allowed to watch “Bo on the Go” after 7 p.m.

Bedtime rituals are one of the most time consuming parts of parenting, but also one of the most joyful — if you can just get into the right headspace. After all, it’s a semi-meditative ritual for your child, and it can be the same for you. Lower your strident BP, calm the tumult in your head, have a snack, enjoy some soothing media. Of course, you have to struggle not to go to sleep yourself, because for many of us, there’s emails to be returned and spreadsheets to be spread-sheeted and operas to be written (maybe that last one is just me) after the little ones turn in. Still, if you can be present for the bedtime wind down, you can spend some quality, affectionate time with your child on a work/school night and likely slow your headlong dive into the grave.

Wind down time is usually screentime in our house. Some uninterrupted, non-educational (sorry, ABC Mouse) idiot box staring, just like in the good old days of our own TV-soaked Gen X childhoods. So, if you’re going to let your bio-rhythms chill and bond with your tyke, what shows are you going to pick?  Viva and I go for the following:

Star Wars: Forces of Destiny (Disney Channel, On Demand, YouTube)

Wait, she gets to watch stories about empowered women and female friendships and I get to watch Star Wars? Yes, please. ST:FOD are collections of short cartoons about the girls of the Star Wars galaxy: Leia, Padme, Ahsoka, Jyn, Hera, Rey, etc. They look a little cheap (I think they aimed for “Samurai Jack” but landed on “Homestar Runner”), but they’re fun as all get out.  

Now, before you think Disney/Lucasfilm suddenly got woke — keep in mind this is also a Machiavellian scheme to get girl money and not just boy money, and to sell Star Wars Barbie dolls (we’ve already got two). It’s also violent and filled with blasters and lightsabers. The messages may be positive, but the stories are largely motivated by characters trying to murder one another. That having been said, Viva and I love these shows, and if we get too fired up by Jedi action, we’re calmed by Lupita Nyong’o’s narrations as Maz Kanata. (That’s basically “Girl Yoda” for those keeping score.)

The Great Food Truck Road Race (Food Network, Amazon)

This late summer show with previous seasons available for purchase is part cooking competition, part PARKING competition, and a whole lot of fun. Several teams of aspiring food truck owners race across the country trying to sell expensive paper boats of sometimes very delicious looking food to win their own truck. It’s exciting for kids and dads, even if kid or dad sometimes cry when deserving Italian teams are beaten by undeserving grilled-cheese slingers.  Watch out for wild swears (“Hells” and “Damns”), and be ready to talk about the spirit of competition and why people from the south eat such unhealthy food, but otherwise it’s a great time.

The Lion Guard (Disney Channel)

It’s “Lion King, The Next Generation.” Simba’s kid and his misfit friends keep the Pridelands safe for animals to eat one another in piece. It’s a musical show and the songs are infectious, and it’s one of the few Disney offerings that isn’t painfully mono-gender-centered. Plus Ono the bird is voiced by the kid who is Brick on “The Middle,” and who doesn’t want to hear more Brick?

Elena of Avalor (Disney Channel)

Okay, we’re Disney heavy on this list, but this was Viva’s pick to click and she wasn’t going to let me submit the post without it. Avalor is a mythical pan-Latin country ruled over by a neophyte but plucky teen princess with a magic wand and a brave and loving set of advisors including her grandparents, her best friends and a Dr. Smith-type foppish foil of a cousin. Yes, it’s princess-town, but Elena beats Sophia the First flat footed in any race you can pick: animation, music, message, action, fun. (Check out the sequence in the opening credits where Elena beats a bandit in a sword fight on top of a moving carriage then leaps onto a leopard with wings and flies away.)

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Netflix)

I’m very excited to include this one, and thrilled that my daughter loves it. Full disclosure: she’s probably two young for it. You have to determine your own child’s threshold for lasers, but this show is probably too lasery for six year olds. Remember Voltron, the ‘80s re-dubbed anime about robot lion vehicles that transform into a giant robot dude with a sword that defends the universe (or parts of it, anyway)? Well, it’s been rebooted with better animation, better voices (sorry, Peter Cullen), better stories and a powerful princess/pilot, as well as a female (or maybe trans-boy) scientist pilot. It’s hilarious, it’s adventurous, it’s gorgeous and I’d like to watch it as much as anything on TV right now. Yes, you’ll probably end up buying transforming lion toys, but the good news is … you get to have transforming lion toys in your house.  

Try one of our TV faves before you wind down tonight. Lasers and songs are everything a daddy and a daughter could want before they go to sleep or go back to writing opera.

Hey! Speaking of TV … Want to see me live on television? Tune into Windy City LIVE! next Monday, Nov. 13 on ABC 7 Chicago where I’ll be giving you some Thanksgiving meal cooking hacks you just might want to put to use this year!

You can find the dads on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and on Twitter at @thedadtest or email them at

Call The Paternity Test on their hotline: (657) BAD DADS and leave a message or a question they can play on the podcast!

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