Sanford and Son

Common Sense Media says

70s classic offers laughs -- and stereotypes.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Fred often resorts to insults and bigoted comments when talking to friends and family. The cast is diverse, but the show's working-class African-American characters exhibit characteristics of stereotypes typical to the time period. Fred and Lamont are close, but their relationship is marked by Fred's continual insults while Lamont takes care of him and the business.


Fred often threatens to hit people by giving them "five across the lip," but it's an empty promise.


Occasional references to white women being "sex maniacs."


Fred often calls Lamont "dummy" and other silly-but-insulting names.


Occasional references to Coca-Cola and other products.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Occasional consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. Hard liquor bottles visible throughout the Sanford home.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic '70s sitcom is based on the strong bond between an aging father and his adult son. While their relationship is a positive one, the son often finds himself taking on the parental role when things go wrong. Parents should also know that while the show's language and situations are mild when compared with today's sitcoms, Fred Sanford's consistent use of race-based insults and stereotypes make him a less-than-desirable role model -- and make the series better-suited for kids who can understand its original context.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Classic 1970s sitcom SANFORD AND SON follows the exploits of a father-son team of junk dealers in L.A.'s working-class Watts neighborhood. Redd Foxx stars as cantankerous widower Fred Sanford; Demond Wilson plays Fred's thirtysomething son Lamont, who lives with his father. Their circle of friends and family includes Fred's nemesis, Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page); his best friends Grady Wilson (Whitman Mayo) and Bubba Bexley (Don Bexley); his sometimes-girlfriend Donna Harris (Lynn Hamilton); and Lamont's friends Rollo Larson (Nathaniel Taylor), Julio Fuentes (Gregory Sierra), and -- later in the series -- Ah Chew (Pat Morita). Fred and Lamont's relationship provides the show with many funny moments, but it also highlights some of the issues that present themselves when parents get older. Lamont is fully capable of living alone, but he stays with his father out of loyalty; as a result, he often ends up taking charge when Fred's half-baked schemes go wrong. And while Fred loves his son, he tends to show his \"appreciation\" via frequent insults, constant complaints, and faked heart attacks when things don't go his way.

Is it any good?


Characteristically for its time, Sanford and Son consistently presents racial stereotypes as part of its comedy. Fred takes on Archie Bunker-like qualities when offering his bigoted ideas about the world around him. The show isn't a source of social commentary, per se, but it does serve as an indicator of how silly prejudice is. Kids who are too young to understand that concept may take away the wrong message; save this one for slightly older viewers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how and why some comedies use racial stereotypes as a means of bringing attention to prejudice. Is it ever OK to do that? When does it cross the line? How have stereotypes (in the media and in society in general) changed since this show first aired? Families can also discuss the nature of relationships between parents and their grown-up kids. What responsibilities do adults have toward their parents when they get older? Why does Fred always insult and belittle Lamont? Is that ever an appropriate way to communicate with someone?

TV details

Cast:Demond Wilson, LaWanda Page, Redd Foxx
Networks:Syndicated, TV Land
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

This review of Sanford and Son was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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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, okay 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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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old June 11, 2010

Sanford And Son is awesome!!

Where to begin..... Well for starters this is the awesome ist show ever! It is hilarious. Even though fred makes insults he never even follows through with them so its ok. Its really funny and shows the value of hardwork. BTW Lamont is my favorite :)!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 10 years old February 1, 2010

Great for everyone.

Best Show Ever! I,m hooked on it.
Adult Written bycaitlin414 December 10, 2009
I think that there is not any good role models and some rude messages.


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