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 in this series, two single parents, their kids, and a lively, man-crazy grandmother live together in a non-traditional family. By making the main male character a housekeeper, the show offers a good twist on traditional gender roles. The evolving relationship between Tony and Angela -- along with subtle sexual tension between them -- is a central theme. Other issues explored include teen dating, parents dating, and jealousy. The series is particularly good for kids who understand the dynamics of non-traditional families.
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What's the story?
In this classic 1980s sitcom, Judith Light plays Angela Bower, a divorced, uptight, career-driven single mother. She hires Tony Micelli (Tony Danza), a handsome Italian widowed father who used to play for the St. Louis Cardinals but moved to upscale Connecticut to find a job that allows him to spend more time with his daughter Samantha (Alyssa Milano), to manage the household and help raise her son Jonathan (Danny Pintauro). Angela's spirited, man-crazy mother Mona (Katherine Helmond) completes the unusual family. Mona is present for all of the important moments and has the best "tells 'em like she sees 'em" one-liners.
Is it any good?
This long-running sitcom (1984-1992) was one of the first to turn traditional family and gender roles upside down. Even though its stereotypical characters border on corny, WHO'S THE BOSS? manages to be loveable and charming for today's audience, thanks largely to the chemistry of the talented ensemble cast. The show provides a glance back at how television has evolved along with social roles, hairstyles, and clothing. Its charm is in watching macho Italian male Tony manage emotional challenges and domestic chores with integrity and finesse.
The evolution of Tony and Angela's relationship and the growth of the children over the course of the series add depth to the storyline -- we see tomboy Samantha grow up and start dating and eventually get married. And Tony's sensitive, self-deprecating wit balances Angela's intensity as they work together to raise a family. Watching the subtleties of their relationship evolve becomes a central theme of the show. Sure, some of the jokes fall flat, but this classic sitcom is enjoyable family television with a clear message: Families come in many varieties.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what constitutes a family and how this program (from the early 1980s) was one of the first to highlight a single, career-driven woman relying on a domestic male figure to run the household. What would it be like to have a man other than your dad in charge of the cooking and cleaning? How do you think you'd deal with a situation like Tony and Sam's?