A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Becker's main character is a grumpy doctor who smokes, drinks, and uses a lot of insults to make his point -- not exactly ideal role model behavior. But he also cares about his patients and does everything he can as a medical professional to help them live healthy lives. Parents should also know that this show addresses strong issues -- such as terminal illness, racism, and terrorism -- that may be too sensitive for younger viewers.
What's the story?
BECKER revolves around the life of Dr. John Becker (Ted Danson of Cheers), an intelligent, outspoken, short-tempered physician who has a strong belief in practical medicine and little faith in anything (or anyone) else. A surprisingly loyal staff surrounds the grumpy, Harvard-educated doctor, including levelheaded office manager Margaret Wyborn (Hattie Winston) and eccentric office assistant Linda (Shawnee Smith). And when he's not in his Bronx office, Becker hangs around a local diner complaining about the many things that annoy him to friends Jake Malinak (Alex Desert) and Bob (Saverio Guerra). Twice divorced, Becker also has love-hate relationships with diner owner Reggie Kostas (Terry Farrell) and, later, with cheerful Chris Connor (Nancy Travis).
Is it any good?
This show both supports and criticizes the American health care system, introducing storylines like children who are successfully living with AIDS. There are also episodes about elderly patients unable to pay for medical treatment. It's in tricky situations like these that the usually bad tempered Becker demonstrates his softer, humanitarian side, going beyond science and reaching into his heart (and sometimes his own wallet) to provide his underserved patients with the best possible care.
Regrettably, these moments of genuine care are sometimes overshadowed by Becker's blunt and borderline-insulting commentary about issues like religion, homosexuality, race, and politics. But, political correctness aside, Becker's interpretations also serve as a platform from which controversial issues can be discussed. And it's in this way that this sitcom, like Becker himself, has something meaningful to offer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role of medical professionals in our daily lives. Do you like the way doctors treat you when you see them? Why are some people who really need medical treatment unable to afford it? Does Becker accurately portray doctors?
Families can also talk about how people go about discussing the things that bother them. What does it mean to be politically correct? When can political correctness go too far? Do you think people like Becker ever say things just to make people angry? What purpose does that serve?
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