8 Simple Rules TV Poster Image

8 Simple Rules



Some sadness amid family sitcom's many smiles.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Presents positive images of family, teens, and parental guidance. Bridget, Kerry, and Rory aren't perfect kids, but they're basically good ones who respect their parents. Bridget is presented as a ditzy blond; Kerry is a social activist. Coping with the death of a parent becomes a central theme in the second season; extended family becomes central to the healing process. C.J. often provides questionable advice to the kids, but he's never harmful and clearly loves them. Not much cast diversity to speak of.


No violence, but some sadness when a major character dies.


Occasional hugging and kissing. Some sexual innuendo that will go over the head of younger viewers. Discussions about dating (both teen and adult). C.J. makes references to "booty calls." Occasional references to homosexuality.


Includes words like "damn" and "ass."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that despite a bit of iffy language ("damn," "ass") and some fairly light sexual innuendo, this sitcom offers a positive representation of family, teens, and parental guidance. The first season focuses on a father who becomes more involved with his teenagers' lives after his wife goes back to work; in later episodes, coping with the sudden death of a parent and living/coping with extended family become central themes of the show.

What's the story?

In the first season of 8 SIMPLE RULES, viewers are introduced to Paul (John Ritter) and Cate Hennessey (Katey Sagal), a Michigan couple raising teenagers Bridget (Kaley Cuoco), Kerry (Amy Davidson), and Rory (Martin Spanjers). When Cate returns to her full-time nursing career, Paul puts his sports writing career on hold to be more involved with his kids, but he finds being a hands-on dad overwhelming, especially when his daughters start dating. He manages his stress by publishing an advice column for parents who are struggling with similar challenges. And -- much to his daughters' embarrassment -- he begins imposing rules borrowed from the resulting book, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, on the young men brave enough to go out with his girls. The second season focuses more on the family's struggles to cope after Paul's sudden death (a plot twist precipitated by Ritter's unexpected death at the beginning of the show's second season).

Is it any good?


The Hennesseys' lives are full of humorous, heart-warming moments as Paul and Cate help their kids (and each other) survive the journey through puberty. But when Paul suddenly passes away, Cate is faced with the challenge of raising the kids alone. Her father, Jim (James Garner), moves in to help them cope with the loss -- and to get farther from his estranged wife. Also joining them is Cate's nephew C.J. (David Spade), whose unruly but loving personality helps the family keep its sense of humor.

While 8 Simple Rules sometimes relies on clichéd comedy devices -- such as Bridget's ditzy dumb blonde persona -- this award-winning sitcom offers a positive representation of family, teens, and strong parental guidance. It's also a heart-warming and optimistic reminder of how, in times of difficult or even traumatic change, family can provide us with the strength to keep going.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how families cope with change. What happens when one parent goes back to work after being at home full-time? What changes when a family member, like a grandparent, moves in? How does a family survive the death of a parent? Families can also talk about how death can impact a TV show. How can a popular series reinvent itself after one of its main characters suddenly leaves the show? What other shows have been affected by that type of situation?

TV details

Premiere date:September 17, 2002
Cast:John Ritter, Kaley Cuoco, Katey Sagal
Networks:Freeform, Syndicated
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

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Teen, 13 years old Written byThreeDaysGracesGirl October 28, 2010
I cried when the father died. It comes on ABC Family (so far.) I love this show!
Parent of a 14 year old Written byMovielover02 January 28, 2014

Funny Show.

Not bad in content, worst probaby drugs because of CJ
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bysanchit1 September 10, 2014


A day coming home after job, just to make myself relax I switched on TV and suddenly got to see a show coming on FX titled, "8 simple rules" I started watching it and felt with some of mines most relishing moments and after watching it I was in such a curiosity to know more about this show, after searching it on internet I just came across that I was watching this show's season 3 episode 'The Nurse' eventually I was in love with this show watched all seasons & episodes and those make cherished me all time (not when John Ritter's death episodes were broadcasted which made me feel very sad and in deep sorrow), I am19 years old and I cannot express my whole feelings about this show because it made me feel so better with my boring moments and sad time that made me with no more words to say about it. At last I will only say that now it is year of 2014 and this show was cancelled almost a decade ago but today thinking has changed and people want to see these type of family comedy more often than family drama (especially people between 13-27 years old) and don't know what critics said at the time of its running but now their is quite big change in viewers, especially in my country+(INDIA) teenagers would love and be praising to watch it. I would make a Certain request to this show's telecaster to telecast it in my reigion by every possible mean So as to make aware people that their was an big entertainer a decade ago, and I am damn sure that you will get a great response. that's all I will always admire and love the Hennessey's Family, thanks to its whole team to create such a great show.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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