Before cell phones, dvrS, the internet and especially Twitter there was family television. We had to be there on time and only run to the bathroom during commercial breaks. For me it was 1982 and already at the age of eight I was glued to the screen week by week, captivated by all the Keatons. As an only child I craved for siblings and the joyful banter they all exchanged around that kitchen island. While my parents are wonderful and loving people, somehow at the time Steven and Elyse were my champions and for thirty minutes a week I was part of their family.
A show mainly surrounded by politics should have been less engaging and yet it and was how I learned of the Republican Party and what a Brooks Brothers look meant. Second grade topics lend themselves to the knowledge of who is president but less to what his party is and what it stands for. Family Ties brought the political arena to center stage and made me want to understand the difference between liberals and right wing loons, whatever that meant. My admiration for Alex P. Keaton ran deep, but his political views could not be further from mine and it was how I first realized just how liberal I really am.
For seven years I watched Mallory being mocked not so much for her stance on the President but her ditzy behavior, from her latest hairstyle to her questionable boyfriends. I often wondered how such a strong feminine figure as Elyse put up with Mallory’s poor grades and banana clips. It was a time when Dynasty exposed true greed that was realized post the bra burning era, which was truly difficult to understand for an eight year old. With the addition of Andrew, the youngest Keaton who was born about four season after it began, Alex seemed to mellow. The ties (around his neck) became a lot looser and oxygen was flowing. We met Ellen, the true love of APK’s and MJF’s life, who eventually left him on the show but became his wife in real life (to this day). It’s also the reason why a little ditty called ‘At This Moment’ by Billy Vera still brings chills to us every time we hear it.
Sadly, Jennifer and I had nothing in common except our age and as we both grew on and off the show respectively; she made little sense to me. Alex was the bright star on that canvas and after nearly two hundred episodes we had to say good bye to the Keaton brood. Today I fondly remember their theme song and can easily fall right back into that magical time. Family Ties made us see the differences any family can have and decide to love one another in spite of them.