The Waltons



Beloved '70s family classic continues to win fans.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Parents and grandparents are loving and patient and encourage their kids to express themselves and make wise decisions. The strong extended family exhibits love for each other and reliance on their community. Morals and values are high among the main characters. African-American characters are treated with respect. Men and women tend to have predictable, gender-based roles, but it's mostly accurate to the time period.

Violence & scariness

When the plot calls for it, there are shots of army training or war scenes involving weapons. For example, in one, soldiers prepare for battle by stabbing a stuffed gunnysack with a bayonet on a rifle. Other injuries are rare, but when they occur, they do result in realistic consequences (broken bones, cuts, scrapes).

Sexy stuff

Occasional very mild flirting.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Very occasionally, adults (usually males) drink beer in a social establishment.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic, long-running drama series is based on a book by Earl Hamner, Jr., who used his own upbringing in rural Virginia as inspiration for the characters and storylines. The show focuses on a large extended family living in a small community during the Depression and World War II and offers a glimpse at how people coped with the time's turbulent changes. There's little content here likely to raise eyebrows, and life lessons abound in every episode, making it a wonderful choice for family viewing with kids who can grasp the timely worldly events.

What's the story?

Created by Earl Hamner, Jr.,THE WALTONS was based on his book, Spencer's Mountain (which also inspired the same-named 1963 film starring Henry Fonda). The series follows the daily lives of the extended Walton family, led by parents John (Ralph Waite) and Olivia (Michael Learned), who live with their seven children and John's parents, Zeb (Will Geer) and Esther (Ellen Corby), in rural central Virginia during the 1930s and 1940s. Narrated from the point of view of eldest son/aspiring author John-Boy (played first by Richard Thomas, then by Robert Wightman), the show chronicles the family's determination to withstand the emotionally and physically trying times that saw the repercussions of the Depression and the devastation of World War II. While storylines often stay close to home, relating household happenings (like their first telephone) and the coming-of-age of the Walton kids, John-Boy's exodus to New York City to pursue journalism after college broadened the show's geographic scope. When he heads overseas to report on the war, the global events of the time become a larger part of home life for the Waltons, and viewers get a peek at how such far-off events can infiltrate an otherwise secluded and peaceful existence.

Is it any good?


Parents -- many of whom likely grew up watching this classic in first-run episodes and the ubiquitous reruns -- will love sharing The Waltons with their own school-age kids. There's little content here likely to cause concern, and with wonderful stories and characters who are civic-minded and hardworking, the show delivers first-rate family entertainment. Just make sure your kids can grasp the historical significance of storylines that occasionally include war battles, scenes of soldiers training with weapons, and air raid drills. (You might even want to brush up on your history lessons so you can answer any questions they have about the time period.) Serious topics like a family member's death also pop up occasionally and may require some additional discussion.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Waltons' family life. How is their living situation different from yours? How do they cope with the economic constraints of the time period? Does there seem to be a greater sense of community among their neighbors than what you're used to? What can viewers learn from the Waltons? Do you think audiences got different messages from this show when it first aired in the '70s? The show also offers parents and kids a chance to discuss world and national history on large and small scales. What historical events were going on at the time? How did the Depression and the war affect the Waltons' home life? What's happening around the world today? How are your family's lives changed by these events?

TV details

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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; OK 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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Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written byF-250 April 9, 2008

Well worth watching!

With all the questionable programs out there today, I feel very comfortable letting my children watch The Waltons. Just about every episode has an important lesson on family values and social responsibility.
Parent of a 6 and 11 year old Written byMama Olga May 1, 2011

some adult topics be careful...

I was looking for a wholesome show to watch with my 1st & 5th graders and a few of the episodes were great. But tonight we saw the one where John-boy got engaged to Daisy and at the end of it both my kids had questions I hadn't wanted to get into yet. Like how and why women can have kids without a husband and why Grandpa was putting alcohol in the lemonade...
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 17 year old Written byNewWorldTy1 February 1, 2010
This is the type of shows we need today!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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