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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 this '80s sitcom (which still airs in syndication) centers around two men who pretend to be women in order to live in a cheap apartment. While their donning of drag isn't sexually motivated, it is dishonest -- although the dishonesty angle is downplayed in favor of wacky hijinks. The show also demonstrates some dated gender stereotyping, and the dialogue has its share of sexual innuendo (most of which should go over the heads of young viewers). Kip and Henry's relationship is a good example of a strong, positive friendship between men.
What's the story?
In classic '80s sitcom BOSOM BUDDIES, two best friends move to New York City to pursue their dreams, only to find themselves donning wigs and dresses to get by. When their apartment building is unexpectedly demolished, aspiring ad men Kip Wilson (Tom Hanks) and Henry Desmond (Peter Scolari) find affordable living arrangements at the Susan B. Anthony house, a women-only residential hotel. In order to live there, Kip and Henry must become Buffy and Hildegard (Kip and Henry's \"sisters\"), when they enter and exit the building. The unlikely plan is successful thanks to friends who help the guys keep their secret, including co-worker Amy Cassidy (Wendy Jo Sperber). But their gender-bending antics make dating challenging -- although that doesn't stop Kip from trying to pursue a romantic relationship with pretty blonde neighbor Sonny Lumet (Donna Dixon).
Is it any good?
Bosom Buddies contains its share of dated racial and gender stereotypes, sexual innuendo, and homosexual subtexts. But despite its implausible premise and occasionally frat house-type humor, the show does have many funny moments -- looking back, it's impossible not to see Hanks' star funnyman power just waiting to be tapped.
Perhaps a bit unexpectedly, the show's humor doesn't always stem from the men's feminine attire, but rather from the tensions that emerge as the friends begin to pursue separate interests. In the end, Bosom Buddies is really about friendship's power to withstand even the most unconventional challenges.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different ways that gender is presented in the media. Why do so many shows and movies fall back on stereotypes when dealing with gender issues? Issues of honesty and ethics are also relevant. Do you think what Kip and Henry are doing is right? What other alternatives do they have? Families can also discuss the importance of friendship. Do you think you could live with your best friend? What kinds of challenges would you face?