A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
While some of the content may rely on outdated stereotypes, each episode features a lesson to be learned. Most of the time, that translates to Mr. Moore teaching his students how to be more laid-back. However, there are also episodes where roles are reversed, and Mr. Moore is the one learning to take his own lessons to heart.
Positive Role Models
The students in IHP diverse and unique. Also, we often see them both excelling at their strengths in the classroom and struggling with other skills, such as socializing, in the very same episode. Though they may, in class sitcom fashion, revert back to their previous selves at the beginning of every new episode, all of the students are constantly challenged to face their fears and follow their passions outside the classroom.
Violence & Scariness
At one point, a group of jocks threaten to beat up a nerdy character after school, but we do not see this happen.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Students date and go to dances.
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Some fat-shaming language towards an overweight character.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult characters are shown with wine bottles on their dinner table, but no one drinks onscreen.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Head of the Class is a situation comedy that originally aired on ABC between 1986-1991. The show centers around a group of academically advanced students in an individualized honors program at the fictional Fillmore High School in Manhattan. Their regular routine of intensive studying for competitive Academic Olympics contests is broken when substitute teacher Charlie Moore (Howard Hesseman, WKRP in Cincinnati) enters their classroom. Mr. Moore is shocked by the students' rigidity and inflated egos, and he challenges them to try new things like attending a school dance and participating in an intramural volleyball team. It's family-friendly overall, but there are some outdated jokes about one character's weight and an insensitive portrayal of a transfer student from India.
Is It Any Good?
For everything that's changed in America since the mid-1980s, high school is an experience that remains mostly the same, and this series, though dated, speaks to that timelessness. There's renewed interest in Head of the Class now that it's being rebooted, and for all of the old shows being granted second chances in recent years, this one makes sense. Save for a few jokes that have been rightfully phased out of comedic acceptability, it holds up. Students are still expected to both excel academically and mature personally in a short amount of time, all while facing the pressures of their impending futures. They have every reason to be obsessed with grades and memorization of facts. As a result, it is still an important lesson to not only remind high-strung students to be more laid back, but for the adults in their lives to recognize the challenges they face daily.
For those who have a permanent space in their heart reserved for the classic sitcom formulas that so many of the shows we love are built on, Head of the Class feels like a warm hug. It's funny, familiar, and fast-paced, and yes, of course, there's a laugh track. Though there have been so many new shows that have broadened our understanding of what a sitcom is and what it can do, there is still a place for the cheesy, predictable shows which paved the way for all of the comedy we enjoy on TV today. That being said, this older expression of the sitcom genre just isn't for everyone anymore, and there's not anything particularly groundbreaking within Head of the Class to make it a must-watch. In addition, while some will enjoy the formulaic nature of the writing, some of the jokes just don't land anymore, particularly those having to do with one character, Dennis, and his weight. In fact, many episodes go by where Dennis has no main storylines whatsoever, and his only lines are met with mean-spirited retorts about his eating habits or body. While older kids may be able to be unaffected by the remarks, parents should be wary if they have body-conscious kids at home who may be negatively influenced by these constant quips and skip this title for something a bit more modern.
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.