While there are some cautionary messages about marrying for money, allowing yourself to stay in an abusive relationship, and even not supporting your kids' passions, there are also positive themes. Sparkle, Stix, and Dolores all have big dreams: to make music and to become a doctor, respectively. Their journeys are filled with ups and downs, but none of them gives up, and by the end of the movie, they've all accomplished their goals.
Domestic abuse is depicted; soon after their marriage, Satin begins to hit Sister, who fights back. Satin also strikes Sparkle across the face. Characters are shown with bruises on their face and body. Two men nearly come to blows at a nightclub. During a climactic fight, a character is killed in self defense.
Sister exudes sexuality with her sultry mode of singing, her barely there clothes, and her provocative dancing (the other two sisters are considerably more demure). In a couple of marital love scenes, Sister and Satin grope and kiss each other passionately while wearing nightclothes/lingerie. Sparkle and Stix kiss and flirt, and Sparkle mentions that she's a virgin. Emma mentions teenage hormones, premarital sex, and illegitimate children.
Occasional strong language and insults, including a couple uses of "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "ass," "damn," "goddamn," "oh my God," "hell," "whore," and "jerk." Also some racial slurs, such as "Sambo" and "coon," said by African-American characters.
Mentions of Barry Gordy, Motown, Columbia Records, and Cadillacs.
In addition to drinking in nightclubs and parties, Sister's husband introduces her to cocaine and heroin and overindulging in alcohol. She becomes the cautionary-tale junkie by the end of the movie. Several characters smoke cigarettes -- from a mother to clubgoers.