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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Taxi is a 1970s sitcom set in the garage of a New York City taxi company that has a pretty gritty feel. Some of the subject matter can be inappropriate for younger viewers. There's trash talking, some sexual innuendo, and references to cigarette, alcohol, and drug use. The show's humor was cutting edge when it originally aired; some of that edge will seem dated to today's audiences. But the characters have warm relationships with each other, their dialogue is witty, and the show ultimately celebrates the value of friendship and loyalty.
What's the story?
Set primarily in the garage of a New York City cab company, TAXI is filled with an oddball mix of characters. There's the obnoxious boss, Louie (Danny DeVito), and the wise veteran cab driver, Alex (Judd Hirsch). The other cabbies have dreams of making it in another profession: Bobby (Jeff Conaway) is an actor, Elaine (Marilu Henner) is a receptionist at a swanky art gallery, Tony (Tony Danza) is a struggling boxer, and John (Randall Carver) is a naive newcomer to the city. And then there are the series' two breakout characters: Latka Gravas, the Eastern European mechanic (played by the Andy Kaufman, who invented Latka's gibberish language) and Reverend Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd), an addled but surprisingly prescient burnout-turned-cabbie. Each of them goes through ups and downs as they chase their dreams, often leading to unexpected and funny predicaments. In the end, the characters lean on one another for help getting through life's challenges.
Is it any good?
This series pioneered the mixed-nuts ensemble comedy formula that was later refined in shows like Cheers and Wings. Although many of the series' cutting-edge gags will seem dated to today's kids, the characters' pursuit of their dreams and the strong emotional bonds they forge still ring true. It's not for young viewers, but for teens whose social skills are maturing, Taxi offers lessons in how personal differences can make friendships richer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how their life is different from the time and place of Taxi.
How do you feel about the way the characters insult each other? What is each character's strength and weakness? What do they learn from each other? Are any of them intended to be role models?
What makes the characters who speak or behave differently (such as Latka and Reverend Jim) funny? Does that translate into real life?
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