I recently took advantage of a free trial of PureFlix in order to review the service. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect when I logged in for the first time, but I was surprised at the number of movies, documentaries, and series available. There are categories available that include education, children’s features, classic movies, and history. A search for some old classic comedy teams reveals Abbot and Costello and the Three Stooges in the comedy lineup. There are also series of comedy specials that are family-friendly and clean. (Anyone else remember Louie Anderson and Sinbad?)
There are plenty of recent Christian movies listed, including some titles that many Catholics would recognize (October Baby and Romero are both available for streaming). Many of these films are among the usual kind of Evangelical-Christian fare (the God’s Not Dead films are there, as well as several documentaries by Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ), but much to my delight, I also discovered a treasure trove of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s series, as well as documentaries on Mother Teresa and St. Faustina.
There are also some neat shows for children available, including the adorable “Owlegories,” in which animated owls learn about nature and how to see God in His creation. (There’s even an app that goes along with the show.) Veggie Tales, old and new, are found here, as well. There are several shows about American history, including some that contain discussions about the growing separation between faith and our secular society. Some science series look like they’d be terrific for homeschooling families, including “Xploration: DIY Sci,” a show that has interesting science experiments that you can help your children do at home.
Another category that I enjoyed browsing was Geography, which contained shows about travel and cultures around the world. Here, you can travel virtually to Ireland, India, China, and more. Many of the documentaries on history and travel are, of course, done through a Christian lens, though not necessarily a Catholic one.
The only thing that Catholic parents might want to exercise caution about is the abundance of Protestant views. It’s not that we have nothing in common with – or nothing to learn from! – our separated brethren, but when we are trying to teach our children about our own Catholic faith, it’s important not to introduce contrary viewpoints until a good foundation is laid. As wonderful as it is to see biographies on Mother Teresa, St. Faustian, and Oscar Romero, there were quite a few biographies on Martin Luther that praised him for his great bravery in breaking free from Rome. Another word of caution, especially about the science materials: many of the science programs have a Young Earth focus, and might require a bit of previewing to be sure it’s not contradicting Catholic doctrine. So, though the site (and app) are generally family-friendly fare, Catholic parents should still exercise caution.
Now for some of the technical points:
PureFlix is available both online and in app form. I downloaded the app for our iPad and logged in online, as well. My 16 year-old used the iPad to browse and watch a movie while I was working one afternoon, and said she had no problems with the streaming. I, too, browsed and watched things here and there, both on the iPad and on my computer, and had no problems with streaming. I did have a few problems with my favorites list, especially in the app. Occasionally, it would be empty, then re-appear later. (I expect bugs to be squashed in future updates to the app, though.)
Browsing was about as it might be on Netflix. Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out where to find something when you’re just searching for “something to watch” rather than a specific show or movie. Clicking through pages can feel overwhelming, but, honestly, that’s no different than Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Browsing by topic helps narrow things down a bit, but I was more able to find things by simply using the search feature. (I stumbled upon Fulton Sheen and searched for his name, which revealed dozens of shows!)
If you’re looking for a streaming service that focuses on Christian entertainment, PureFlix would be a good option to add to your streaming choices. There are definitely options for homeschoolers to get history and geography in, as well as some decent science options.