A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The series has fun with the typical superhero story, centering on an average guy who's thrown into the position against his own wishes. He likes to help people and nab the bad guys, but he doesn't care for the trappings of being a hero. Good and bad are easily identified, and the law (or the FBI, in this case) defines the two sides. Women (especially the pretty blondes) are often referred to as "bimbos" and assumed to be unintelligent.
Positive Role Models
Ralph is an all-around great guy, both personally and as a superhero. He always tries to make a difference in the lives of everyone he meets, even when it's at odds with what Bill wants him to do, and he prefers to diffuse violence with nonviolence. Pam is a strong, smart women in sharp contrast to the rest of the female characters on the show who are often depicted sexually or stereotypically.
Violence & Scariness
Plenty of shooting, guns, and some death, but the violence usually isn't very bloody or graphic. Kidnappings, death threats, and plans for hits on enemies are common, and innocent bystanders are often caught in the middle of the violence.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No sex is shown, but there are implications of it. Women make blatant passes at Ralph, insinuating they'd like to sleep with him. He's usually shy and polite about the attention but doesn't encourage it.
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Rarely "hell" and "damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults often drink and/or smoke, but it's more a sign of the times than a plot point.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Greatest American Hero's content is pretty tame by modern primetime drama standards, but you'll still see shootouts, kidnappings, death threats, and some injuries. The protagonist is a mild-mannered teacher-turned-superhero whose altruistic priorities don't always mesh with his hardened FBI boss', which makes him all the more endearing. Expect to see some drinking and smoking indicative of the times of this '80s dramedy, as well as some allusions to sex, but nothing physical.
Is It Any Good?
THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO is billed as a drama/comedy series, a dual identity that likely was closer to reality in the early '80s than it is now compared to significantly darker modern TV dramas. It's difficult to take any of the show's dramatic content at face seriously given the overall lightness of the mood (and of the violence), especially when Ralph sports his comic book-style caped body suit. Happily, though, the show doesn't even take itself too seriously, working in a lot of self-deprecating chuckles at the expense of the characters' personalities and, especially in the early stages, Ralph's ill-fated attempts to control his new powers. What's more, it boasts one of the best and most celebrated theme songs in TV history.
The flipside of The Greatest American Hero's age-related comically bad stunts and special effects is the care it gives to developing quality characters. Much of Ralph's charm stems from the fact that he's a hero out of his suit as well as in it, a teacher who goes out of his way to inspire troubled students, and someone who drops everything to help a friend in need. Likewise, Pam is far more than just a pretty face; she's a whip-smart attorney who represents a new (at that time) generation of independent women, deliberately contrasting other females in many of the stories. Given its relatively mild content and the intriguing characters at its heart, this series is a fun escape from today's heavier dramas and can be fun for families to watch together.
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.