Parents' Guide to


By Deirdre Sheppard, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 5+

Classic 'toon mixes spinach and stereotypes.

Popeye Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 5+

Based on 1 parent review

age 5+

much to point out and discuss

Popeye greatly increased the demand for spinach. When Popeye first came out in the 1930s children who had detested spinach were suddenly demanding it, as Popeye promoted spinach as being good for you (which it is). If I could compare Popeye to any U.S. President, it'd be the first President Bush (George H. W. Bush). Just as Bush tried peaceful means with Iraq as long as possible after they invaded Kuwait in August of 1990, Popeye tries peaceful methods as long as he can. But, like Bush in January of 1991, when Bush felt that we had no choice but to use force against Iraq, Popeye eventually feels that he has no choice but to use force against Bluto. Regardless of how parents feel themselves, they should tell their children that there comes a time when people feel that they have no choice but to use force. Since Popeye spans decades, cultural changes can be noticed. For example, while Olive was helpless for a long time, she was more assertive in the Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 70s and 80s. For the longest time Popeye, like many men and perhaps even some women at the time, was against women drivers, but was fine with it in the Hanna-Barbera cartoons. In the theatricals that ran from the 1930s to the 1950s Olive was a disastrous driver (which was the way some people at the time perceived women drivers, even though there was no factual basis to support that), but in one episode from Hanna-Barbera Olive drove a truck! Popeye and his father (Pappy) frequently got into arguments regarding what he should and should not do at his old age. In the Fleischer cartoons of the 1930s Popeye won, but in the Hanna-Barbera cartoons Pappy won these battles. It may have helped that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were still working full-time even though they could've been collecting Social Security. Wimpy, in my mind, was autistic. Others agree with me. In the Fleischer cartoons Wimpy had a job as an announcer, just as he did in the Hanna-Barbera cartoons. In between those eras he did not have a job. Presumably he received either welfare or SSI. This is a great opportunity for parents to introduce their children to the debate about whether or not able-bodied disabled people should be required to work. In a sequel that premiered in 1987 and lasted for a year on CBS titled POPEYE AND SON (which will hopefully come out on DVD fairly soon), Popeye and Olive finally got married and had a 9 year old boy. This shows that even people who are odd or different eventually will be accepted if they're good and good-natured. Parents can ask their children how they think Popeye finally won Olive over. (Incidentally, in this show Bluto was also married, to a woman named Lizzie, and they too had a 9 year old boy.)

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (7 ):

Popeye and Bluto's fights can get fairly violent, whether they're using their fists or picking up weapons like saws, axes, and explosives. And Bluto and Popeye's affection for Olive Oyl isn't entirely innocent, either -- they often whistle at her, and they sometimes make some mildly suggestive comments as well. Then there's Popeye's pipe, which he smokes proudly (and sometimes puts spinach in -- which could send confusing signals), and several now-dated stereotypes. The earliest Popeye cartoons date from the '30s, after all, when portrayals of women (like the annoyingly helpless Olive) and people of other ethnicities weren't exactly politically correct.

All of that said, Popeye is still lots of fun. And the old sea-dog does promote eating your veggies (sometimes he and Olive Oyl will even make his nephews eat bowls of spinach instead of hot dogs and ice cream!). And, in the end, the show succeeds in sending the message that Popeye triumphs thanks to his good deeds, rather than any bad habits.

TV Details

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