Diff'rent Strokes

TV review by Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Diff'rent Strokes Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 10+

Classic series with a sense of humor tackles racial issues.

NBC, ABC Comedy 1978

Parents say

age 10+

Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 8+

Based on 2 reviews

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

Community Reviews

age 12+
Had to skip some episodes

This title has:

Great messages
age 7+

You Haven't Seen This? Whatchoo Talkin' Bout?

The last few years have seen a resurgence of classic sitcoms on various TV stations, including Diff'rent Strokes. I was introduced to this while channel-surfing as a teen and am glad to see it back. Phil Drummond is a loving dad, though he struggles with how best to raise his adopted sons Willis and Arnold. Fortunately, he has plenty of backup from daughter Kimberly and a string of housekeepers throughout the season, including the illustrious Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Garrett. The family tackles classic sitcom plots and reaffirms their love for each other often. This show was set in the '70s and '80s, so a lot of episodes are issue-driven, tackling problems and changes relevant to the time. These include racial tension, disability and accessibility, school policies, drugs, and pornography. The tough ones are handled with much more discretion than you'd see today, but some plots are still not suitable for young children. Some of the episodes dealing with race get mildly violent or contain threats thereof. A couple of episodes show kidnappings, and child sexual exploitation is alluded to once. One episode shows Kimberly struggling with bulimia. Parents may raise eyebrows at some values dissonance. For example, spanking is considered acceptable. Drummond and other adults regularly drink and justify their behavior while telling teens not to indulge. Gender roles are still very traditional, as is child-rearing. For instance, in one episode, a small boy is scolded and shamed for wetting his bed. But if your family is prepared to discuss these, and wants a mostly clean laugh, come on up to the Drummonds' apartment.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

TV Details

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