A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this animated classic is far from educational. Although it's considered a masterpiece, some of the series' content -- particularly the consequence-free cartoon violence -- is iffy for younger viewers. There's also some content that reflects the series' original 1960s' era -- such as the fact that the characters smoke in some episodes.
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What's the story?
TOM AND JERRY invented the cat-and-mouse game we all know today. The classic pair have had many incarnations, but everything dates back to the original 1940s MGM series, in which the pair chases, outsmarts, and tortures each other to the max. In each episode, Tom the cat attempts to outsmart Jerry the mouse -- although in most cases Jerry ends up turning the tables on his foe. For example, Tom builds a master mouse trap for Jerry. All is going well until Jerry escapes, leaving Tom to land in the trap himself. Parents can try to use scenarios like this to teach their kids to root for the underdog, but that's about the only positive message you'll get out of this show.
Is it any good?
Tom and Jerry is inarguably one of the most celebrated cartoons of all time. But that doesn't mean it's perfect for young viewers. In most episodes, Tom and Jerry casually smoke some form of tobacco. In the mouse trap episode, for example, Tom gives Jerry a cigarette before his supposed death, and Tom daydreams about smoking a Cuban cigar once Jerry is dead. Mild sexual innuendoes occasionally pop up, too; in one episode, Jerry uses a bra as a parachute to escape explosives.
But parents should be most concerned about the show's constant violence. Examples include Tom hitting a dog with a brick, Jerry blinding Tom with toothpaste, and Pecos the mouse (a guest character) using an ax to tear down a door. Other weapons such as guns, knives, and saws make regular appearances. (Obviously, there's a kernel of accuracy behind The Simpsons' extremely bloody Tom and Jerry parody, Itchy and Scratchy.) It's all played for laughs, but Tom and Jerry's unexplainable motives could prove confusing for younger viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it's important to respect someone else even when competing with them. When does competition become unhealthy?
Why is it inappropriate to make fun of someone else?
Why can something be funny on TV but dangerous in real life? How does the violence in this show compare to what you've seen in other series?
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