8 Simple Rules

Common Sense Media says

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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

Cast:John Ritter, Kaley Cuoco, Katey Sagal
Networks:ABC Family, Syndicated
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

This review of 8 Simple Rules was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Good Show

Eight simple rules is a good show, that's funny,entertaining and cute.
Kid, 12 years old August 9, 2011

Good for youths, bad for children and adults wouldnt like it.

This show is great, I have only seen a few episodes, but Its enough to know what it is about. There is a little drama an some bad language that isn't appropriate but nothing major for youths. There is a lot of sex stuff in there, even an episode called sex ed but the sex stuff doesn't go farther then what you would learn in sex ed. Most twelve year olds would have gone through sex ed by now, Or at least would get the jokes. So for youths there really is not anything to worry about. Thats coming from a twelve year old (twelve is considered youth). You can trust twelve and up with it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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!


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