A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The importance of family is a major theme. It also features values and behaviors that were considered appropriate and acceptable at the time, but that may be considered racist and/or sexist today.
Positive Role Models
Everyone gets along and tries to do the right thing. Dad is recognized as the head of the household. "Good" women are characterized as being feminine and not "like men"; the Anderson children are raised according to this standard. One episode features a dishonest "Spanish" gardener.
Violence & Scariness
Fighting and boxing is discussed, but nothing violent. Occasionally kids disagree and/or call each other names like "sissy." Arguments between Bill and Margaret are rare, but references are made to other husbands yelling and/or disciplining their wives.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Nothing sexual, but flirting and issues pertaining to dating are often discussed. As is typical for the time, parents appear to sleep in separate beds.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Occasionally hard liquor is visible. As is typical for the time, cigarette smoking is frequently shown (and usually done by men).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the classic series Father Knows Best is pretty mild when it comes to iffy topics, but reflects overtly sexist and subtly racist attitudes by today's standards. It also contains lots of positive messages about family, respect, and love. Drinking and cigarette smoking is visible. Mild sibling rivalry is featured, as well as conversations about dating, and other rites of passage.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.