Alice

Common Sense Media says

Kiss my grits! '70s sitcom serves food and fun.

Age(i)

2
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5
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8
9
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Alice is a strong woman who works hard and lives independently. The people she works with are her extended family, but her priority is her son Tommy. While the diner staff is mostly women, Mel -- who often makes sexist comments -- clearly runs the place. The cast is Caucasian, but they have occasional Latino and African-American customers. Later episodes feature Tommy drinking and struggling with growing up.

Violence

Mel often threatens to punch someone or shakes his fist, but he never carries it out. During a hold up, a gun is visible but never fired. In one episode, Alice gets scared and buys a gun.

Sex

Some sexual innuendo -- mostly courtesy of Mel and Flo -- that will probably go over the kids' head. Occasional kissing visible.

Language

Some silly insults and name calling. Mel calls Vera "dingy."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Hard alcohol and cigar/cigarette smoking sometimes visible. Characters are occasionally visibly drunk. In episodes from the show's later seasons, Tommy gets in trouble for drinking and smoking pot.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic '70s/'80s sitcom revolves around a widowed mother who wants to start a new life and pursue a singing career but gets sidetracked by a series of responsibilities and unexpected circumstances. Her choice to settle in Phoenix and raise her son is based more on need than desire. While fairly tame by today's primetime standards, the show is full of sharp humor and sexual innuendo, much of which will go over kids' heads. Some episodes late in the show's run (as Alice's son gets older) are a little racier.

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What's the story?

After her husband dies, Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin) decides to hit the road in pursuit of a singing career -- along with 12-year-old son Tommy (Philip McNichols), she sets out on a cross-country drive to Los Angeles in search of a new life. But her plans to make it big are sidetracked when their station wagon breaks down in Phoenix, Ariz. With no car and little money, Alice takes a waitress job at Mel's Diner, a local truck stop owned by insult-hurling (but big-hearted) cook Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback), where she works alongside saucy Texan waitress Florence \"Flo\" Jean Castleberry (Polly Holliday), and polite-but-rather-ditzy Vera Gorman (Beth Howland). As the series progresses, Belle Dupree (Diane Ladd), Jolene Hunnicutt (Celia Weston), and Elliott Novack (Charles Levin) join the gang.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Based on the classic 1974 film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, the just-as-classic ALICE shows us that the road of life can be full of laughs, even if we end up off course. The long days serving customers are never dull -- and over time, the folks at the diner become part of Alice and Tommy's extended family, developing a bond so strong that even Mel's constant threats of firing everyone doesn't keep them from being there for each other during the good times and the bad.

The series reflects the changes that were taking place in America in the mid-1970s, as more single mothers entered the work force to support their children and pursue their own goals. It's also an example of how television introduced the workplace as a replacement for the idealized notion of what a traditional family should look like. Alice originally ran from 1976-1985 and currently airs in syndication (select episodes are available on DVD). The series had a short-lived spin-off, Flo.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how well different styles of humor age. Which parts of this show are still funny now, a few decades after it originally aired? Which aren't? Do some sitcoms age better than others? Why? Families can also discuss what it's like to move to a new place and start a new life. What are the challenges of starting over? The advantages? How can families support each other during times of transition?

TV details

Cast:Linda Lavin, Polly Holliday, Vic Tayback
Networks:ION, Syndicated
Genre:Comedy
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

This review of Alice was written by

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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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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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; OK 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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