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 classic 1980s bar-set sitcom is chock-full of sexual innuendo and sarcastic put-downs. The main character is a womanizer who talks constantly about getting women into bed, albeit through euphemisms only. The central joke is that he wants sex but doesn't want a commitment. Characters drink constantly, though rarely get drunk (Sam is a recovering alcoholic). All characters, though women a bit more frequently, are on the receiving end of biting insults.
What's the story?
Set in a Boston bar, CHEERS is one of the 1980s' best-loved sitcoms. Well-drawn characters and funny writing made the show a huge hit, and it spawned several spin-offs, most notably Frasier. Bar owner Sam "Mayday" Malone (Ted Danson), a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, is a good-hearted womanizer who's a little on the dim side. Through the first half of the series' 11-year run, Sam and Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) engage in a love-hate relationship bolstered by snippy remarks and short-lived tender moments. When Long left the cast, Kirstie Alley stepped in as Rebecca Howe, the bar's new manager and Sam's new female sparring partner. The ensemble cast includes several memorable and much-loved characters, like Norm (George Wendt) the hen-pecked, mostly unemployed accountant who regularly occupies the corner bar stool; Cliff (John Ratzenberger), the mailman and bar know-it-all; Woody (Woody Harrelson), the innocent, dull-witted bartender from the Midwest; and Carla (Rhea Perlman) the caustic, kid-saddled waitress.
Is it any good?
Cheers' humor, while expertly executed, is aimed squarely at adults. Not only does almost all of the action take place in a bar, with characters who drink constantly (though they never seem drunk), but sexual innuendo and sarcastic put-downs make up the bulk of the jokes. For example, Sam, talking about his hard-earned date for the evening, says she's "a tough nut to crack," and says she'll be going on "all the rides in Sammy's Magic Kingdom" later that night.
Jokes at the expense of women are common, from Norm's constant complaints about his unseen wife, Vera, to comments about Cliff's mother ("a hyena on bennies"). And Woody and Coach (Nicholas Colasanto) get their share of ribbing for being less than bright. Some viewers may find some of the humor offensive, like when Sam talks about a waiter at an Indian restaurant as a "300 pound Hindu with a goiter," but most of the jokes fly by so quickly that it's hard to stay focused on a single incident.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about alcohol. How would the scenes be different if the customers were drinking real alcohol? Or if they were set somewhere besides a bar? Would Cheers be as funny in an office setting? Do you think Norm and Cliff are alcoholics? What's your family's relationship with alcohol? Also, why is Diane interested in Sam? Do you think opposites attract? When they do, is the relationship viable in the long run?