Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Teach your children well, scriptwriters


This comment caught my attention:

I have morals. I learned most of them from my parents. Others I picked up from school, from the last minute of 80s sitcoms, friends, books, etc.

80s sitcoms? Why? Because.

In 1980s America, family values were stressed strongly, and they were consequently presented on television sitcoms. Also, the idea of a nuclear family...was still held in high regard in the 1980s....A great example of a 1980s sitcom that employed traditional family values is the 1982-1989 National Broadcasting Company (NBC) half-hour series Family Ties. Family Ties revolved around an American nuclear family, the Keatons....

Since it was a sitcom, episodes of Family Ties were played mostly for laughs. The series did have its share of episodes that dealt with serious topics, topics that most families will probably have to deal with at one time or another. In 1988, there was a three-part episode that dealt with Steven's heart attack. Probably the best known episode of Family Ties is, in fact, not a comedic episode, but a deadly serious one. In 1984, a special one-hour episode of Family Ties was aired, called "A, My Name is Alex." In this episode, Alex tries to come to grips with the death of one of his close friends....

Not all TV sitcoms of the 1980s revolved around a traditional family unit, but they possessed traditional family values. An example of this type of show is the 1979-1988 NBC half-hour sitcom The Facts of Life. This series revolved around four students at an all-girls boarding school and their housemother, Edna Garrett....

Like Family Ties, The Facts of Life dealt with traditional family values, if not in as nuclear a family as the Keatons. Also like Family Ties, The Facts of Life dealt with problems that families usually encounter. Racism, hate crimes, and disability were just some of the subjects dealt with in The Facts of Life. Even sex was dealt with in one episode, as Natalie became the first of the girls to lose her virginity. It should be noted that, unlike sitcoms of the 1990s, this topic was not made into a joke and was presented seriously and with care. The Facts of Life, like Family Ties, was a show that families could watch together, without discretion.

Of course, this doesn't answer the question of why family values were popular. Were the broadcasting businesses merely catering to the demand of the public? Or were the businesses trying to keep the government off of their backs? Speaking of government, did the political climate play a part in this? (I'm not only referring to the Reagan Revolution; since Nixon's resignation, you had three presidents - Ford, Carter, and Reagan - who were in some way, shape, or form the anti-Nixon, the moral president.) Or do these things just run in cycles, and the 80s happened to be the safe decade?

It's probably coincidence that Kirk Cameron and Lisa Whelchel have emerged from 1980s television to be committed Christians. But Rachael Schepemaker believes that more than coincidence is at work.

Many of our favorite TV show celebrities from the ‘80s have made a significant change in their lives over the past 20 years. Whether it be dealing with the worldly plagues of drugs, wealth and health problems, these five TV stars have turned a new leaf. There are now expressive about their faith and are ready to star in a new role…a supporting role in God’s storybook.

Schepemaker then talks about Kirk Cameron, Mr. T, Lisa Whelchel, Willie Aames, and Todd Bridges.

Perhaps I should delve into the lessons that 80s sitcoms taught...

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