Growing Pains

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Growing Pains TV Poster Image
'80s favorite offers laughs and life lessons.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

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.

Sexy stuff

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."


Very rare use of "damn" and "hell."


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

Adult Written byAntonKreitzer December 2, 2011

Quite the racy family sitcom, especially compared to its contemporaries

Growing Pains is one of my favourite shows, after randomly stumbling on it flicking the channels last year. Whilst a lot of episodes are fine for children to wa... Continue reading
Adult Written byComrade Barnabas April 9, 2008

Now THIS is the show for memories about growing up!

Honestly, I didn't watch the series until I was pretty much entering adulthood. But I definitely enjoyed it for the memories it brought of my own never-en... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
Kid, 10 years old November 7, 2013


My mom bought 3 seasons of the show because she used to love this show as a kid and she loved Who's the Boss too but I LOVE THIS SHOW and Robin Thicke is a... Continue reading

What's the story?

Classic '80s sitcom GROWING PAINS follows the ups and downs of family life with a full household of busy kids and two parents managing successful careers. Alan Thicke stars as Dr. Jason Seaver, a psychiatrist who, for much of the series, runs his practice out of his house so he can help out while wife Maggie (Joanna Kerns) pursues her career as a journalist. Despite their busy schedules, this dynamic parenting duo always manages to carve out bits of time for themselves and each other, and their loving, mutually considerate relationship is the foundation for the entire family. Meanwhile, oldest son Mike (Kirk Cameron) is a below-average student prone to getting into lots of good-natured mischief; middle child Carol (Tracey Gold) excels in academics and is a bit of a goody-two-shoes; and rambunctious younger son Ben (Jeremy Miller) gets into his fair share of trouble, too. In 1990, a fourth child joined the Seaver family when Maggie gave birth to Chrissy, who (through the miracle of TV) matured between seasons to become a perky youngster played by Ashley Johnson; another late addition was Leonardo DiCaprio as Luke Brower, a homeless teenager who came to live with the Seavers.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how parents and kids relate to each other. Kids: Do you find the characters in this series believable? How are their relationships with their parents different from yours? How do their relationships with their siblings compare to yours? How does this show compare to today's sitcoms? What marks it as an "'80s show"? The series also offers plenty of plot-based discussion points. What issues did the characters face in the show? Who did they turn to for help? What would you have done in their situation? Do you think the parents' advice was good? Why or why not?

TV details

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