The Patty Duke Show

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Patty Duke Show TV Poster Image
Classic sitcom's identical cousins still entertain.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The show intends to entertain rather than to educate.

Positive Messages

This mid-'60s series shows its age in gender roles especially; Patty's mom is content to keep house while her husband brings home the bacon, and most teen girls are focused on turning boys' heads and nabbing a husband. That aside, many of the show's themes are relatable still, including coming-of-age woes for Patty (and, to a lesser degree, Cathy), family dynamics, and taking responsibility for your mistakes. True to sitcom form, troubles are resolved a little too quickly and with implausibly meager fallout.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Patty is headstrong and impulsive, which gets her into trouble when she jumps into things without thinking them through. On the other hand, she speaks her mind, holds to her convictions, and owns up to the mistakes she makes. Cathy is level-headed and cautious in her endeavors. The Lane family epitomizes the values of the 1960s: Dad has a successful career, Mom is happy to stay home, and no trouble is too serious to fix in a 30-minute window.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

Lots of flirting (especially on the part of boy-crazy Patty) and some closeness between teen couples. Some kissing, but nothing more than that. Girls talk about boys' physical attributes, calling the handsome ones "dreamy."

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Patty Duke Show is a mid-'60s sitcom centering on look-alike cousins (both played by then-rising starlet Patty Duke) who navigate high school together, despite their significant differences of personality. The comedy is all very innocent; most stories concern a misunderstanding of some kind, and the characters' attempts to set things right usually result in even more chaos. There are some romantic teen relationships but not even a hint of sexuality. Even though it makes excellent family viewing, parents will enjoy the dated comedy more than kids will. If your tweens and teens tune in, they may be struck by the strict gender roles on display as well.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLowe's man March 20, 2017

clean and wholesome but formulistic

Sometimes this twin formula works. Unfortunately not this time. It's just fake and comes across that way.

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What's the story?

THE PATTY DUKE SHOW stars Patty Duke in dual roles as Patty Lane and her identical cousin, Cathy Lane. The show opens with the arrival of globe-trotting Cathy at the Brooklyn home of Patty and her family: brother Ross (Paul O'Keefe), mother Natalie (Jean Byron), and father Martin (William Schallert). Despite their amazing resemblance (explained by the fact that their fathers are identical siblings), impulsive Patty and sophisticated Cathy couldn't be more different from each other, and even with her worldly cousin's efforts to keep her grounded, happy-go-lucky Patty always manages to find herself in one mess or another. Also central to the cast is Patty's longtime boyfriend, Richard (Eddie Applegate).

Is it any good?

Dated gender roles and a black-and-white format can't dim this classic's huge appeal, mostly due to Duke's masterful toggling between starring roles. Clearly not one to be typecast, she is equally comfortable playing soft-spoken, idealistic Cathy as she is the quintessential American teen, Patty. The contrast between these two personalities is the show's most recognizable quality and yields many of its laugh-out-loud moments. (Well, that and the fact that each girl can manage a spot-on imitation of the other's voice, making for some hilarious scenes.)

Also notable, especially in light of the modern sitcom track, is the absence of concerning content such as sexuality or language. There's virtually no controversy to be found in these stories, which usually revolve around Patty (and less often, Cathy) falling victim to some kind of misunderstanding that balloons into full-scale chaos and hilarity. Yes, it's whitewashed and plenty hokey at times, and the outfits and hairdos are a hoot, but The Patty Duke Show remains excellent family viewing even decades later.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how special effects have changed since this show's time. Are split-screen scenes obvious here? How does new technology help blur the line between fantasy and reality? Is that ever a disadvantage to viewers?

  • Do you notice any stereotyping in this show? How does the passing of time make such content more obvious? In this case, are stereotypes negative, or are they merely a representation of how times were when this show was filmed?

  • How does this show portray women in particular? How has the female experience changed since this show first aired? Is true gender equality still yet to be achieved, or are we there?

TV details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love classic comedy

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