Family Ties

Common Sense Media says

Classic 1980s sitcom's messages still ring true today.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The importance of family and respecting other people’s points of view are underscored here.

Positive role models

The Keatons are a loving, happy, generally communicative family who share in household tasks and other responsibilities. Disagreements are frequent, but despite some sibling spats and the humorous mild name-calling and sarcastic put-downs, they try to respect each other’s views.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff

Some kissing between a husband and wife as well as teen couples. Some storylines touch on sexual topics like teen pregnancy and extramarital affairs. Mallory is obsessed with being popular and having a boyfriend, so she often talks about guys being cute.

Language

Very rare use of words like “hell” and “damn.”

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some storylines center on issues like underage drinking, alcoholism, and drug abuse, but the messages are always positive and honest.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic '80s sitcom centers on a strong family headed by loving parents who happily share domestic duties. Much of the show's humor stems from the personality differences among the family members, but despite many disagreements, the parents support their kids and encourage them to express their views. Some episodes touch on serious issues like teen pregnancy, grief, extramarital affairs, and crime, but they're all addressed in an honest, thoughtful manner.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Former hippies/leftwing activists from the '60s, Steven (Michael Gross) and Elyse Keaton (Meredith Baxter-Birney) now face the uncertainty of raising a family in the '80s. Parenthood has pitfalls enough, but toss in the added challenge of meshing diverse philosophies between generations, and it's clear why there's never a dull moment in the Keaton household. Steven and Elyse may not always see eye to eye with their brood -- ultra-conservative Alex (Michael J. Fox), popularity queen Mallory (Justine Bateman), and free spirit Jennifer (Tina Yothers) -- but they always respect their ideals and give them support and guidance to find their way in life. (In later episodes, the Keatons welcomed another son, Andy, played by Brian Bonsall.)

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

During its seven-year run in the '80s, FAMILY TIES did a lot more than just making it cool to don a calculator watch and tie like Alex. This iconic series set trends of its own, finding heartfelt entertainment in the ups and downs of one of TV's most believable TV families. The Keatons were symbols of a new kind of American household, where both parents were successful professionals and shared domestic duties. Despite the Keatons' vastly different views -- which often led to some heated discussions -- the result was a heartwarming family atmosphere where everyone had a voice and loved ones always pulled together in the end.

In addition to common teen woes like dating and applying to college, the series also tackled serious topics like racial tension, alcoholism, drug addiction, and teen pregnancy, so some of the content may be on the mature side for young kids. But through every trial, Steven and Elyse remained positive role models who offered messages of tolerance, respect, and self-awareness -- making this series still an excellent choice for families. If you can look past the shoulder pads and big hair, you'll find timeless stories and positive lessons that resonate today with the same force as they did in the '80s.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the media's messages about family life. Are the Keatons a realistic family? How do the issues they face compare to your family’s? How does this series compare to others you’ve seen that center on families? How does the fact that this series is many years old affect how you view it? Are the show’s messages still relevant?

TV details

This review of Family Ties was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 8, 9, and 11 year old Written byMike Weston August 11, 2009
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Great conversation starting TV show

I love this show. The messages are timeless (except for some of the political stuff), and the characters all have their lovable sides. I just wish I knew when they were going to talk about sex in the episodes, because that is awkward for my younger children.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written bypepsicola14 April 5, 2011
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Really good, just wach it.

I think this show is really good, very funny, it always puts a smile on my face, even on my worst days. The messages are extreamly good, always showing the truth. The role models are really great, there is no one who is, per say, a 'bad' role model. There are episodes where they talk about drug or alchoal addiction, but it far from glamorizes it. If it's about drug addiction, it shows the high, where they act wierd and stuff, but then you see the devistating crash, making it impossible to want to take the drug. Same with alchoal, and teen sex and pregnancy is also not talked about like "everyone should do this, it's great!", it really looks at it for what it is. But, don't get me wrong, it gets in some genuane laughs, even with the super annoying laugh track. So, I think you should wach it, it really helps me just end the day with a smile on my face and a good felling is my heart. Very heart warming, very good acting, wach it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bystargategeek May 5, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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