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 CHiPs is a late-1970s action series that features two buddy cops and lots of vehicle chases, crashes, and arrests. There's some injuries with minimal blood; guns and knives, though visible, aren't frequently used. It also features some sexist behavior (cat-calling, flirting) that was viewed as acceptable at the time and the occasional bare chest (usually belonging to Erik Estrada). Drinking and drunk driving are sometimes shown, and cars of all sorts of makes and models are visible. Themes such as loyalty, friendship, and helping people are a big part of this classic show.
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What's the story?
The classic series CHIPS (1977–1983) follows the antics of two California Highway Patrol officers based in Central Los Angeles. It stars Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox as Frank "Ponch" Poncherello and Jon Baker, two motorcycle cops who patrol the freeways, curb traffic violators, and somehow manage to solve lots of mysterious crimes in the process. Things don't always go by the book, and crashes are frequent, much to the dismay of their boss, Sergeant Joseph Getraer (Robert Pine). But they willingly put their lives on the line every day to keep Southern California roadways safer.
Is it any good?
This fun action-filled series mixes drama and humor by bringing together two good-looking police officers with opposing personalities who find themselves solving mysteries as part of their daily patrols. The plot lines are pretty thin and the conversations a little hokey by today's standards. But much of the excitement comes from the endless highway chases and car crashes, which get bigger and more dramatic with every season. Ponch's stereotypical macho Latin-lover persona is often a source of humor, too.
The series is much less violent than more contemporary crime dramas, so much so that neither Ponch nor Jon drew their guns throughout the series' run. It also reflects some of the sexist culture of the time, including workplace behavior that would be considered sexual harassment according to today's standards. If you can get past this, CHiPs is a lighthearted viewing choice for folks looking for some vintage police action.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about past common behaviors that are no longer acceptable today. Are there any in CHiPs? Why have people's ideas about them changed? How has the media responded to them? Do you think the media is less sexist now than it was 40 years ago?
Is a stereotype ever appropriate to represent a person on a TV show, even if it's meant to be funny?
Classic shows such as CHiPs give viewers a chance to get a sense of what life was like when the TV show was on the air. But how accurate are they? Should we base our understanding of the culture and politics of the past on old TV shows?
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