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 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.
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?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love retro TV
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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