Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman TV Poster Image
Endearing historical drama is a classic for families.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational value

The show’s historical setting reflects the post-Civil War American West, complete with rudimentary medical practices, racial tensions, gender roles, and financial uncertainty. Occasionally storylines incorporate recognizable figures like Walt Whitman or political changes of the time, so viewers get a sense of these events through the eyes of the characters.

Positive messages

The show’s primary plot -- a female doctor’s efforts to win the trust of the townspeople -- battles traditional gender roles. A variety of storylines promote strong family values, with themes like honesty, responsibility, kindness, and respect. Characters’ missteps always have realistic consequences, and although most problems come to some kind of resolution by the episode’s end, no solution is ever come by easily. The show touches on delicate issues like race relations, treatment of Native Americans, and homosexuality, but the topics are handled in a thoughtful manner.

Positive role models & representations

Dr. Mike is a model of courage and determination, striving to change her neighbors’ preconceptions of a woman’s abilities with her skill as a doctor. With few exceptions, the characters are good examples of responsible citizens who value strong community and family bonds. Sully’s friendship with neighboring Native Americans has good messages about racial tolerance and respect for differences. Characters demonstrate compassion, gratitude, and humility.

Violence & scariness

Guns and other weapons are present in a historical context. Men often carry them or have easy access in their homes, and some sequences do show characters hunting or engaging in gunfire with enemies. Scenes involving Native Americans are similar in content, although their weapons are axes or bows and arrows.

Sexy stuff

Content is very chaste, and kissing is as far as things go. Teen relationships and crushes are handled in traditional, conservative tones.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is family entertainment at its finest. The show’s historical setting (post-Civil War Colorado) lets viewers step back in time to see how issues like politics, gender roles, and race relations were handled then, and there are plenty of opportunities to relate what you observe in the show to how those same issues stand today. Personal empowerment is central to the show, as are strong family values like responsibility, honesty, compassion, and respect. Changing gender and family roles are examined in a thoughtful manner. This series is suitable for most of the family, although young kids may need some explanations about the discrepancies between what they see and what they’re used to life being like.

User Reviews

Adult Written byGERARD KENNELLY January 20, 2013

GREAT SHOW

amazing show will fill kids with positive ideas it is entertaining too never feels like a lecture
Educator Written byCommonSenseChristian December 31, 2012

This is One Doctor You'll Want an Appointment With

This is another great family show, especially for girls, who will find a strong, smart, yet feminine role model in Dr. Mike. What's interesting and compell... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byluvpink December 26, 2011

Great Series

This is a great series that has many good role models and educational value. There is some violence including in one episode in season 4 a hanging which may sca... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bycalimusicgirl May 8, 2017

Dr. Quinn

I loved Dr. Quinn, but was disappointed by some of the content. I am 14 years old. My family and I watched this series on dvd, when I was about 12 or so. The... Continue reading

What's the story?

DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN is set in the 1860s, with adventurous female physician Michaela “Mike” Quinn (Jane Seymour) leaving her native Boston and settling in the frontier town of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she attempts to win the trust of the townspeople. Although most of them dismiss her abilities because she’s a woman, she finds friends in an outdoorsman named Byron Sully (Joe Lando) and in Charlotte Cooper (Diane Ladd), a local midwife whose sudden death makes Dr. Mike the adoptive mother of her three children, Matthew (Chad Allen), Colleen (Erika Flores and Jessica Bowman), and Brian (Shawn Toovey). Later episodes follow Dr. Mike and Sully’s developing relationship and eventual marriage.

Is it any good?

Expertly cast and beautifully scripted, this engaging historical drama deserves a spot atop families’ viewing lists. Each episode is rich in positive family values, and the characters’ problems -- although set amid the backdrop of post-Civil War America -- still are relatable today. Illness, financial uncertainty, death, political disputes, teen rebellion, changing gender roles, and racial tension are just some of the townspeople’s struggles, and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman promotes family and community ties as the base of the characters’ strength in coping with each one.

Even more noticeable than what’s included in the show is the absence of what’s not, namely crudity, sex, and violence. You’ll find none of that here, but you will see firm parenting with loving undertones, kids who respect their elders, the happy results of community-mindedness, and sweet relationships that blossom into love without the pressures of physical intimacy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the setting of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. What aspects of life were different during the 1860s? What similarities did you notice? Was anything about the characters’ lifestyles appealing to you? In what ways was that a simpler time than now?

  • How has technological progress changed how we relate to other people? How has our means of communication changed through the years? Do you think communication is better or worse now than it was before cell phones and the Internet? Why? What new concerns do these forms of communication raise?

  • One of the recurring issues in this show is the relationship between white people and Native Americans. How does that situation compare to race relations in modern society? Have we gotten better at respecting our differences? Do you think the media presents race relations -- both historically and in modern times -- with accuracy?

  • How do the characters on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman demonstrate compassion, gratitude, and humility? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

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