memories of the ’80s – Family Ties

For the 1980s, one family represented the changes in society and tried to make us laugh as well as address social issues in the series Family Ties.

Created by Gary David Goldberg, Family Ties starred Meredith Baxter Birney and Michael Gross as 1960s peace-loving liberal hippies, who in the 1980s are now parents living in Columbus, Ohio raising their three kids.

Their children are young Jennifer (Tina Yothers), self-centered Mallory (Justine Bateman, and Republican capitalist teenager Alex (Michael J. Fox).

The half hour sitcom debuted in 1982 on NBC TV, showcasing the cultural and generational divide between the liberal parents and the consumer driven, money-obsessed kids.

Mallory and Alex epitomized the 1980s, with their ideals driven by the belief in Reagonomics of the time period, while the parents represented the ideals of the past and their younger sister acting as the go-between in generations.

The initial idea of the show was to focus on the parents, but test audiences reacted well to Fox’s Alex P. Keaton and the focus was shifted more to his role in the family and how he relates to his siblings and parents as the oldest child, becoming a man and embracing his conservative ideals.

By its third season, Family Ties was in the top five of television, with all the actors now bonified stars. Michael J. Fox was routinely lauded for his role as Alex, winning the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series three times in a row from 1986-1988.

The series touched on teen situations, showing the different responses of these kids versus their parents in the 1980s as society embraced excess but also dealt with old issues like aging, addiction, sexuality and relationships.

Many actors were seen on this series including Courtney Cox, Tom Hanks, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Will Wheaton, Christina Applegate, Daniel Baldwin, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Hank Azaria.

With its continued stereotypical liberal vs conservative beliefs, Family Ties was a favourite of mine and many viewers, and by the end of its seventh and last season, the series ended with the end of the decade, with the characters moving onto their next lives in real life and tv land.

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About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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