Parents' Guide to

Father Knows Best

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Classic family sitcom features 1950s social values.

TV Syndicated Comedy 1954
Father Knows Best Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 8+

Family Values

I am 71yrs old so I clearly remember this program.This was on tv 66 yr ago, so I did not remember the specifics of the show til I recently bought the DVD’s.Maybe I am so loving this show because it brings back a simpler time and more innocent time in my life,but the show always taught a moral or a value and focused on the family unit.Remember that society 66yrs ago is vastly different then now.Those differences can and should be discussed with children and so this can be a learning tool for today’s kids concerning woman’s changing role which is still on going.I do not see evidence of racial profiling.The episode with a Hispanic gardener had the Anderson’s helping him and recognizing certain hardships for him especially with language.Again there is always kindness displayed.All in all this is worth watching all 6 seasons.Far better then the junk on tv today.
age 10+

Not too bad, but with some serious shortcomings.

In general the show seems fine. However, the few times that I've seen this show some episodes have failed me. For example, in the episode where Betty tries out to be an engineer for career week during the school's spring break her boss tells her that it isn't a woman's job, even though engineering doesn't have the physical risks that kept women out of other jobs at the time. Earlier in the episode another girl in Betty's class was told- GASP!- that a movie theater usher isn't for girls! Later in the episode Betty's supervisor asked questions that weren't any of his business, such as if she was having problems with her boyfriend, as if to imply that that was the only reason why she wanted to be in what was seen at the time as a man's job. Rightly feeling insulted, Betty quit and learned her proper place. By episode's end the issue was resolved, but Betty did not go back to that job. Instead she accepted an offer from her ex-supervisor for a date. This show is sexist even by 50s standards. This level of misogyny goes far beyond the notion that women should stay home after marriage. (Now you know why I put the green light at 10 rather than a younger age.) The artistic quality isn't good either. It's like a big kid's version of ROMPER ROOM. The way nonwhites are treated leave something to be desired as well.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Like most 1950s sitcoms, Father Knows Best reflects the norms and values that were deemed socially acceptable at the time. It stays away from topics that were deemed too controversial, and focuses on lighthearted and mostly positive stories about growing up and traditional rites of passage. It offers lots of teachable moments, too -- especially when it comes to behaving responsibly and facing the consequences of ones' actions when one does not.

However, the few secondary characters of non-white racial/ethnic backgrounds are often characterized as outsiders and/or untrustworthy. Meanwhile, girls are taught life lessons about being ladies, which includes preparing for marriage, and accepting the inappropriateness of pursuing careers outside of teaching and/or secretarial jobs. But when understood within the context of the time, it is also possible to appreciate the positive messages it offers about love and respect, especially when it comes to family.

TV Details

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