F is for “Family Ties”

“Family Ties” was an American sitcom series that aired on NBC for seven seasons, premiering on September 22, 1982, and concluding on May 14, 1989. The series, created by Gary David Goldberg, reflected the move in the United States from the cultural liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s to the conservatism of the 1980s.Steven Keating (Michael Gross) and his wife, Elyse (Meredith Baxter), once 1960s hippies, found themselves in Reagan-era America trying to raise a traditional family in suburban Columbus, Ohio. Steven and Elyse were baby boomers, liberals, and former hippies, raising their children and dealing with a clash of cultures between them and their kids.

Married in 1964, Elyse was an independent architect and Steven, a native of Buffalo, New York, was the station manager of WKS, a local public television station. Their son Alex (Michael J. Fox) was an ambitious young Republican. Their older daughter Mallory (Justine Bateman) was music obsessed, fashion-conscious, boy-crazy, and gossipy. Jennifer (Tina Yorkers), the “normal one,” was a bit of a tomboy. In later seasons, the Keatons add a fourth child, Andy (Brian Bonsall).

Much of the humor of the series focused on the cultural divide during the 1980s when younger generations rejected the counterculture of the 1960s and embraced the materialism and conservative politics which came to define the 1980s. Alex, the oldest, embraced Reaganomics and exhibited strong conservative attitudes. Mallory was apolitical and a materialistic young woman in contrast to her feminist mother. She was also a bit of an airhead, fodder for jokes and teasing from her older brother. Jennifer, an athletic tomboy and the second youngest child, shared more of the values of her parents and just wanted to be a normal kid. Alex doted on his young brother Andy and tried to mold him in his conservative image.

It was “Family Ties” that launched Michael J. Fox’s acting career.

One of the reasons I chose this show, other than it was a fun, topical sitcom, is that during its seven year run on TV in the 80s, people kept telling me that I looked like a doppelgänger of Michael Gross, the father. I actually wrote about it in my “D is for Doppelgänger” post for the 2018 A to Z challenge. Some of my friends went so far as to encourage me to reach out to NBC and volunteer to play the role of a brother or cousin to Steven Keaton. I didn’t follow through.

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39 thoughts on “F is for “Family Ties”

    • Fandango April 7, 2021 / 11:36 am

      Some might say that I’m stuck in the late 60s to the early 80s.


  1. newepicauthor April 7, 2021 / 11:08 am

    I can clearly see the resemblance but it might be easier to tell if you weren’t wearing that bag on your head.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Marleen April 7, 2021 / 11:48 am

    I always or often have to try and make sense of the “generations” — when my parents were married in 1962 (just out of college) but were not boomers. I’m a boomer in most “models” but genX “sometimes.” And I was fooled into being a conservative (not that the values I perceived as conservative were bad… but I was fooled by disingenuous leaders and hadn’t yet caught on to what the real “values” of those jerks were and are). I identified more with the kids (in terms of age, or Alex’s and Mallory’s age [although I don’t know what their ages were], and societal position, while my attitude wasn’t like either of them). I feel that my dad sort of fit the dad because of open-mindedness and an artsy attitude (but not really as a hippie). [Meanwhile, once I was out of high school, people sometimes commented on my being a hippie (which surprised me then). I didn’t spend time making my hair into any eighties look, so I can see it. But my hair fit a few styles that worked at the time — long and wavy, long and wavy with bangs (rarely), or long and wavy with accents of braiding. A fourth; sometimes I changed the way the waves looked by braiding all of the hair while it was wet and then taking the braids out when it was dry. I was also more nutritionally aware than most people… oh😏, and worked at an independent health food store.]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen April 7, 2021 / 1:03 pm

      I guess it would be hard not to see a long-haired somebody driving a second-hand yellow Camaro while listening to eight tracks of Yes and delivering alfalfa sprouts (and taking art, psychology, geography, and computer programming classes) as a hippie.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. msjadeli April 7, 2021 / 12:58 pm

    This is a show I used to watch and like. I remember the parents, MJF, who I adore, and Mallory but the other 2 kids? Total blank on them. So you look like that dad? You must be hot ::insert devil emoji::

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carol anne April 7, 2021 / 1:42 pm

    I didnt know michael J. fox was in family ties! Its a great show!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 7, 2021 / 2:41 pm

      Yep. It was his first big role.


  5. Taswegian1957 April 7, 2021 / 10:27 pm

    I watched it occasionally and quite liked it but the Alex character I found annoying. I do admire Michael J Fox though which is lucky as David loved the “Back To The Future” franchise and watched those movies often.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. leigha66 April 11, 2021 / 6:20 pm

    Just saw Michael Gross in one of his Tremors movies (I think there was like 7 different ones)… or was that really you?

    Liked by 1 person

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