Punky Brewster

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Punky Brewster TV Poster Image
Heartwarming '80s sitcom celebrates family bonds.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The show doesn’t aim to educate kids, but they will pick up on its messages of tolerance and individuality.

Positive Messages

The show celebrates the nontraditional family, exploring the heartwarming relationship between foster (and adoptive) parents and kids. Henry and Punky forge an unlikely bond and come to rely on and love each other. The show also deals with serious issues in a thoughtful way, including child abandonment, financial uncertainty, illness, and even the real-life tragedy of the Challenger Space Shuttle in 1986.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Despite his grumpy demeanor, Henry is affectionate and honest with Punky and encourages her to express herself. Punky is an imaginative free spirit, a good friend, and a stickler for fairness, and acceptance of others.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this 1980s sitcom celebrates the diverse definition of family, centering on the unique bond between a young girl and her unlikely foster (and eventual adoptive) father. Even though its style is notably outdated, kids who do tune in won’t likely miss its heartwarming messages about tolerance, kindness, and overcoming differences. The show is thoughtful in its approach to serious issues like a family member’s illness, child abandonment, and even the 1986 Space Shuttle tragedy.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygoodgirl July 6, 2015

Cute little show

Punky Brewster is about a little girl with a positive attitude , and she looks on the bright side which is cool. she also has her own fashion which makes her an... Continue reading
Adult Written byLowe's man July 7, 2014

A huge payoff for kids who take the gamble.

I used to watch this show as a teenager, when it first came on in 1984. I liked it back then. When I saw it again years later I thought that the show was ok,... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bystar97 November 28, 2010

cute show!

I like this show a lot! My mom got a DVD with the first few episodes on it, and I thought it was great and really cute!

What's the story?

When her mom abandons her at a shopping mall, young Penelope “Punky” Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) is left to fend for herself. She discovers a vacant space in an apartment building and takes up residence there with her faithful canine companion, Brandon, and quickly befriends her upstairs neighbor, Cherie (Cherie Johnson). But she’s soon discovered by the building’s curmudgeonly manager, Henry Warnimont (George Gaynes), who surprisingly hits it off with free-spirited Punky. Their mutual affection eventually inspires him to become her foster parent, giving her the stable family life she’s always craved.

Is it any good?

Modern-day girls may take one look at Punky and veto the show solely for its outdated sense of fashion (mismatched shoes, gaudy colors, and that trademark handkerchief tied around one leg), but if they’re willing to take a chance on it, there are plenty of good messages about individuality and tolerance to be gleaned.

It isn’t flashy or set to a downloadable soundtrack, but PUNKY BREWSTER tells a feel-good story about realistic characters and relatable problems, and it makes us rethink what it means to be a family. As content goes, there’s very little to worry about here, but the show does touch on some serious issues (child abandonment and a parent’s illness, for example) that might raise concerns for kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what defines a family. How has society’s definition of family changed through the years? How expansive is your family? Are there non-biological relationships that you consider to be family?

  • Talk about comedy. What makes a show funny to you? Does a show’s humor change when it’s viewed through the lens of time? Is it harder to relate to shows that are years old? If so, why?

  • Kids: How do you express your individuality? What kinds of things do you hold dear to your heart? How do you let people know what you value? What makes you special?

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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