Welcome Back, Kotter

Common Sense Media says

Classic high school hijinks from the '70s.

Age(i)

2
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8
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Students engage in some troublesome behavior -- minor stealing, truancy, etc. -- but these incidents mostly lead to moral lessons. Kotter helps the students that others treat poorly, showing that you don't have to be smart or rich to deserve respect. That said, the students' chronic underachievement and lack of smarts are often tapped for laughs.

Violence

Off-screen fighting, some physical threats -- all slapstick humor.

Sex

Mr. Kotter and his wife sometimes kiss and hug chastely. Discussion of dating and making out. Some episodes feature sexy Sweathogs with some sexual innuendo.

Language

Insults fly regularly, like "cream puff" for a weak male, and "dog" for an ugly female.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Rare episodes deal with drug and alcohol addiction, though without graphic detail.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this often-silly sitcom follows a bunch of remedial students attending an inner-city high school. Teens make fun of each other constantly, calling guys things like "cream puffs" and women "dogs," but other than that, the language is pretty clean. Race, poverty, and drug/alcohol use are occasional topics, though the treatment of the issues is always sanitized. The students are under-achievers, and their apparent stupidity is a source of humor.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In the classic 1970s sitcom WELCOME BACK, KOTTER, Gabe Kaplan stars as Gabe Kotter, a teacher who returns to his Brooklyn alma mater to teach a group of remedial high school students known as the "Sweathogs." Kotter's sense of humor and heartfelt affection for the teens make him an ideal advocate and mentor. The lighthearted sitcom follows the antics of the dumb-but-loveable students, who are led by wise-cracking Vinnie Barbarino (a young John Travolta), tough Juan Epstein (Robert Hegyes), basketball-playing Freddie "Boom-Boom" Washington (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), and goofy Arnold Horshack (Ron Palillo). Episodes usually center on a problem within the Sweathogs that Mr. Kotter helps solve.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Welcome Back, Kotter takes a comic approach to the difficult circumstances of the kids' lives, joking about things like food scarcity and race relations. While some episodes touch on drinking and drug use, Kotter rarely reflects the reality of its inner-city public school setting. But this breezy treatment allows for some memorable, if superficial, characters.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the difference between the school experience portrayed on the show and kids' own experience. Do you think the differences between the TV version and the real-life version were less notable in the '70s? How have high school and high schoolers changed since the show first aired? Does the relationship between teacher and student seem realistic? Do teens have a teacher like Mr. Kotter? What kind of trouble do kids get in at your school? How is discipline handled?

TV details

Cast:Gabriel Kaplan, John Travolta, Robert Hegyes
Networks:Syndicated, TV Land
Genre:Comedy
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

This review of Welcome Back, Kotter was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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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, okay 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 10 and 12 year old Written byJimmyH December 16, 2009
AGE
8
QUALITY
 
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 11 years old November 1, 2011
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Funny!

This is a really funny show. I like it a lot and so does my 7 year old sister!

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