Doogie Howser, M.D.

TV review by
Matt Springer, Common Sense Media
Doogie Howser, M.D. TV Poster Image
Prodigy juggles a career as a doctor with teenage issues.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

While the teenage lead characters make many mistakes, each episode typically ends with a positive lesson learned.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Doogie sets an example for learning as a path to success, but he also demonstrates questionable behavior as he balances his adolescent learning curve with his mature intellectual development.


The show deals frankly with sexuality for its teenage leads within the standards of network television. While there's little explicit visually, conversations frequently deal with the topics of women, dating, and physical attraction.


Words like "damn" and "crap" are used commonlly by both adults and teens.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasional consumption of alcohol by main character (who's underage) and others in a casual social manner, never overconsumed.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this sitcom from the late 1980s deals frankly with many of the typical moral, emotional, and physical issues faced by the average teenage boy ... although this boy happens to also be a working doctor. This means that many storylines and interactions deal with the ups and downs of male-female relationships. Kids in their early teens and up may find themselves relating to the experiences of the lead characters, and with a healthy and supportive family structure and positive lessons learned in almost every episode, this is a fine (if retro) choice for late tweens and up.

User Reviews

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Kid, 10 years old December 21, 2020


good show but has medical content that young children might not like
Teen, 13 years old Written byDeetz August 16, 2020

Late tween/teen

The show is awesome. Just remember, it is about a hospital so there can be some TMI. Some patients, are portrayed with mental health problems or physical health... Continue reading

What's the story?

A child prodigy from an early age, Doogie Howser (Neil Patrick Harris) has followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a doctor ... but at age 16. As he works on his residency at a local hospital, he also engages in typical teenage misadventures with his best friend, Vinnie (Max Casella), and learns about affairs of the heart from his steady girlfriend, Wanda.

Is it any good?

From its plunking synthesizer opening theme to the characters' hairstyles and clothing choices, DOOGIE HOWSER, M.D., is a true product of its time, the late '80s and early '90s. It's easy to be distracted by the show's dated look and feel, but Doogie was actually ahead of its time when it came to dealing with issues important to teens with humor and honesty.

Star Harris is better known today as the lecherous Barney on How I Met Your Mother, but this was his breakout performance, walking the fine line along Doogie's vast intellectual intelligence and still-developing emotional maturity. The show may not stack up favorably against some of today's strongest TV comedies, especially when it comes to developing a moral question and resolving the issue within 22 minutes. It can frequently feel heavy-handed in the way that many sitcoms from this era do -- episodes all too often end with the family gathered together and Doogie having learned an important lesson, a concluding moment familiar to TV viewers since the days of Leave It to Beaver. Still, there's no denying the show's good humor and strong performances, which make it eminently watchable even decades later.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the show deals frankly with topics of sexuality. How did you think the way it covers these issues relates to your experiences?

  • Did you find the story of a teenager who becomes a doctor to be believable? Do you relate to the characters and what they're going through?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love retro TV

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