A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Jason and Maggie Seaver are compassionate parents who communicate well and always offer first-rate guidance to their kids. Every episode includes positive messages about themes like self-esteem, reliability, and finding a passion in life. Parents and kids share in all household tasks. Siblings do often argue and pick on each other, including jokes at the expense of sister Carol's weight (the actress who played here, Tracey Gold, battled eating disorders in real life).
Violence & Scariness
Playful scuffles (mostly among feuding siblings) never result in injury.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing scenes among teens, and lots of dating and relationship issues. Terms like "sexy" are used very rarely, and there are occasional jokes at the expense of bisexuality, transsexuality, and homosexuality. One of the supporting characters has the nickname "Boner."
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Very rare use of "damn" and "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Brandless soda and junk food (chips, candy).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Occasional social drinking by adults. Underage drinking, smoking, and drug use are addressed, but the message is always "don't do it," and the consequences are negative.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this '80s sitcom is about a strong nuclear family headed by loving parents who communicate well with each other and their kids. It's heavy on positive messages about self-esteem, personal responsibility, and making good choices, all of which are delivered in storylines that are relatable for tweens and teens. Most episodes deal with typical issues for families with kids who are coming of age: budding romantic relationships, popularity woes, and adolescent mischief. Some topics can be emotional, including encounters with prejudice and the death of family members and friends. Teen characters face peer pressure to drink, smoke, and do drugs, but they always make the tough choice and do the right thing.
Is It Any Good?
Though Growing Pains is a typical sitcom in many ways -- most obviously in the ability to solve problems in less than 30 minutes -- its comedy roots didn't stop it from addressing some emotional issues that are still relevant today, including bigotry, sexism, women balancing careers and family, loved ones' death, and teen drug and alcohol use. Through it all, strong messages about responsibility, self-respect, accepting others, and making good decisions come through thanks to the strong parental role models who invite communication and open relationships with their kids. While very young viewers won't be able to grasp the storylines, this is a great series to share with older kids, tweens, and young teens, who may end up liking it so much -- despite the cheesy '80s clothes and hair -- that they won't realize the life lessons they're picking up along the way.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
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