Happy Days



Aaaaay! Classic feel-good sitcom is hokey but fun.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The Cunninghams are close and supportive of each other and their extended family (including Fonzie). Most of their problems are mild (the kind that are neatly solved within a half-hour episode). That said, the show does tend to reinforce the idealistic (and unrealistic) way we tend to view the '50s.

Violence & scariness

The friends get into benign, almost-simulated fistfights from time to time. In later seasons, Richie joins the army.

Sexy stuff

Plenty of dating and flirting, but it's all really tame.


Jeepers, these kids are clean!

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this landmark '50s-set sitcom (which originally aired from the mid-'70s to the mid-'80s) is squeaky clean, especially by today's primetime standards. Although the show is definitely still funny a few decades down the line and will appeal to adults who remember it fondly, today's kids may not be able to relate to some of the scenarios it portrays and may find the dialogue trite or cheesy.

What's the story?

Set in a sanitized, idealized version of the 1950s, HAPPY DAYS centers on the life of the middle-class Cunningham family and follows the ups and downs they weather together in Milwaukee, Wisc. One of TV's truly classic comedies, it originally aired from 1974-1984 and is responsible for several spin-offs (including Laverne & Shirley), as well as one of pop culture's most iconic characters: Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) began his TV life as a local thug, but he quickly morphed into the Cunninghams' family friend, growing particularly close to clean-cut son Richie (Ron Howard). Richie's parents -- hardware store owner Howard "Mr. C" Cunningham (Tom Bosley) and homemaker Marion "Mrs. C" Cunningham (Marion Ross) -- hold down the fort, while Richie and his younger sister, Joanie (Erin Moran) cope with growing up. Rounding out the group are Fonzie's cousin Chachi (Scott Baio) and Richie's buddies Ralph Malph (Don Most) and Potsie (Anson Williams).

Is it any good?


Among the scenes that take place at the local drive-in and diner are situations that revolve around comic confusion and misunderstanding, which is still a popular plot device in today's sitcoms. But it's all a lot more innocent that what might appear on an ensemble sitcom like Friends or Cheers. In one episode, for example, Ralph and Potsie go to great lengths to hide the fact that they left the Cunninghams' gate open, allowing Fonzie's new dog to escape.

Happy Days has always been perfect for family viewing (and always will be, despite that whole idealizing-the-'50s thing), but the dated settings and situations may conspire to have tweens and older kids leaving it off their personal must-see list.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how TV has changed over the years. How are the situations seen in shows from the '60s and '70s different from what's onscreen today? Are the underlying problems the characters deal with all that different, or it is just that viewers have gotten more accepting of crass dialogue and mature situations over the years? How does the show idealize the '50s? Is the show any less appealing because of that idealism? What might a more realistic '50s-set sitcom be like?

TV details

Cast:Henry Winkler, Ron Howard, Tom Bosley
Networks:Syndicated, Discovery Family Channel
Topics:Book characters, Friendship, High school
TV rating:TV-G
Available on:DVD

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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; OK 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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Adult Written byRockybalboa211 June 29, 2011

One of the best family shows of the 70's.

To the person who commented before me, I would like to ask a question. Why would you show your children the first season of Happy Days? The first season is defintely not for children under the age of 10 (More for teenagers). If you want to watch suitable seasons try 3 - 9. These are more classic sitcom oriented, and contain most of the classic episodes of this amazing show. It really is a very wholesome show! I mean, not as wholesome as "The Cosby Show" or "Little House of the Prarie", yet it is still a nice family show. Overall, Richie is a very good role model and Fonzie beats up the bad guys! It is a true disservice to future generations if you don't introduce them to the Fonzie Character. If you keep your children away from this amazing sitcom, then sit on it! :D
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
Happy Days is an iffy show for children under the age or 12. This show is about guys trying to get girls to go out with them. It's not a real wholesome show. My parents didn't allow me to watch untill I was 12 and even then they were still kind of iffy about it. I hope this helped!
Parent Written byMitestarossa July 1, 2010
I rented the first season to watch with my 7 and 11 year olds. It was definitely not for their age group. The boys are focused on undoing girls bras and getting hickeys and going all the way. In one episode Richie gets drunk.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models


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