Friday, June 11, 2010

Life Lessons: Family Ties

I was born in 1980 and raised on the family-centric American sitcoms of that decade. Naturally, my education in Reagan-era American politics began with Family Ties, which chronicled the ongoing struggle of neo-conservative, briefcase-toting, William F. Buckley-worshipping teen Alex against his hippie idealist parents, Steven and Elyse. I learned important life lessons from the Keaton family. Here, a list of pivotal episodes:

1. "No Nukes is Good Nukes"

Steven and Elyse are arrested for protesting nuclear arms on Thanksgiving and Jennifer wears some amazing overalls.

2. "Have Gun, Will Unravel"

Steven and Elyse purchase a handgun to protect their home after a break-in, calling into question their convictions about weapons. Even more unsettling than the threat of violence: the absence of Steven's beard.

3. "Speed Trap"

Alex asks for Mallory's help to obtain diet pills to help him study for exams, and asks advice from a framed photo of Richard Nixon when his habit begins to spiral out of control.

4. "Say Uncle"

Tom Hanks makes his second appearance on the show as Elyse's criminal stock brocker brother, Ned, who now has a drinking problem. During his visit, Ned swiftly consumes the Keaton family supply of vanilla extract.

5. "4 Rms Ocn Vu"

Mallory crashes the family car, and Alex devises a plan to pay for the repairs by renting out the family's bedrooms for profit. Chunk from The Goonies and a kangaroo guest star.

6. "You've Got a Friend"

Martha Plimpton guest stars as Mallory's bad-ass shoplifting co-worker Jessie. Boyfriend Nick provides the voice of reason when Mallory attempts to teach Jessie the error of her ways.