Breaking Bonaduce

TV review by
Lucy Maher, Common Sense Media
Breaking Bonaduce TV Poster Image
Uncomfortable look at former child star's woes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Sends the message that trying to make amends for your faults is a good thing, as long as you don't repeat your mistakes. Danny is a (hopefully) recovering addict and has jealousy and anger-management issues.


Bonaduce ogles other women and makes sexual innuendos directed at his wife. Some discussion of Danny and Gretchen's sex life, as well as of an affair Danny had a long time ago.


"F--king cool" (with the first part bleeped) is as bad as it gets.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Bonaduce is a recovering drug addict and binge drinker; some of what he does while high/drunk (including standing on a precarious rooftop and carjacking someone) is shown, as is his time in rehab. Lots of discussion of his addiction.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that in this series, star Danny Bonaduce (a Partridge Family alum) deals with his alcohol and drug addiction, as well as other strains on his marriage and family life. He's spent time in rehab and is trying to rebuild his marriage. While his intentions are good, the message -- that partying hard and in the process hurting those you love makes for funny TV fodder -- definitely isn't. (Note: In April 2007, Bonaduce's wife filed for divorce.)

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What's the story?

In BREAKING BONADUCE, viewers follow the life and couples counseling sessions of washed-up child star Danny Bonaduce and his wife, Gretchen, as they deal with the issues that threaten to break up their relationship. Danny and Gretchen got married in 1990 after knowing each other for just a few hours, but they stuck together for more than 15 years, weathering Danny's adultery, anger issues, substance abuse, and more.

Is it any good?

Breaking Bonaduce isn't your average reality show, in that it's more like a cautionary documentary about the hazards of hard living. The show had already begun filming when Danny fell back on drugs and drinking binges. A rehab program leaves Danny more determined than ever to win back Gretchen's trust and save their marriage. He relies on the help of friends and marriage counselor Dr. Garry Corgiat to get his life back on track. But to do so, he still has to deal with the jealousy issues that continue to torment him.

While high, Danny exhibited manic behavior, and those scenes are revisited from time to time. In one scene, a tipsy Danny, in Mexico for a rooftop photo shoot, jumps onto the ledge and plays around while horrified photographers look on. During the same trip, he carjacks a vehicle while drunk. There are also scenes in which he verbally abuses his therapist. While any fans that the actor has left may enjoy it, for families looking for quality TV, it's a pass.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about drugs and alcohol. Why do some people have a problem controlling the amount they drink, while others don't? What makes someone an addict? Why do some people become addicts even when they know about the harmful effects of substance abuse? What messages does the show send about addiction? Families can also discuss counseling. Do you think their sessions are helping Danny and Gretchen? What are the benefits of therapy? The drawbacks (if any)?

TV details

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