A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show intends to entertain rather than to educate.
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
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.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
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."
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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.
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.
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.