This week I’ll be featuring posts about the wonderful world of 80s TV and Movies! I have two great guest posters lined up, including this excellent look at 80s sitcoms by Stephanie Caldwell!
4 Classic 80s Sitcoms That Should Make a Comeback
After seeing Bob Dylan aka Jimmy Fallon’s hilarious rendition of “Charles in Charge” this summer, I found myself feeling a bit nostalgic. We had some pretty amazing sitcoms in the 1980s. From “Charles in Charge” and “Who’s the Boss” to “Alf” and “Perfect Strangers,” the family sitcom ruled the airwaves in the ’80s. The shows taught lessons, encouraged family bonding, and made you want to be a better person. Now, our popular TV families revolve around the delusional realities of the Kardashians and “Real Housewives.”
Instead of looking forward to the the new fall television season, I escaped into my nostalgia and came up with four ’80s sitcoms that should save us all by making a comeback:
Who doesn’t want to go where everybody knows your name? The kooky cast of “Cheers” made Americans feel as if the bar was their local watering hole, too. The ensemble had someone that everyone could relate to; a womanizer (Ted Danson) a quirky academic (Kelsey Grammer) a “regular” with spousal problems (George Wendt), an aging friend (Nicholas Colasanto), young blood (Woody Harrelson), a studious yet attractive female (Shelley Long) and a fiery brunette with great curves and relationship woes (Kirstie Alley). Unlike many sitcoms today, the show didn’t try to be something it wasn’t and that is what made it so great. It was just a bunch of friends at a bar dealing with life’s many issues and giving you a friendly greeting when you showed up.
2012 comeback show: “HOWE’S” a show about a run-down local watering hole beloved by its regular clientele and run by Rebecca Howe’s younger daughter who has to deal with over-the-top Woody Junior; who’s come to town to purchase the bar and turn it into a hot spot.
“Family Ties” (1982-1989)
“Family Ties” successfully turned the tables on the typical parent vs. child relationship. No longer were we watching Cleaveresque parents trying to control their rebellious children. In the Keaton household, it was the children who were the conservatives. Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) showed adolescents everywhere that it was actually hip to be a square despite your parents’ appealing hippie attitudes. While Alex was clearly the star of the show, all the characters were so well developed that you felt like you were a part of the family whether you sided with conservative Alex, airheaded Mallory (Justine Bateman), politically neutral tomboy Jennifer (Tina Yothers) or the free spirited heads of the household (Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter-Birney.) Somehow the show managed to be political without preaching; an art now seemingly lost on American television.
2012 comeback show: “Vote for Alex.” With Michael J. Fox’s son now making headlines with his uncanny resemblance to his father the two, (along with Michael’s real-life wife and “Family Ties” on screen girlfriend Tracy Pollan), would be perfect stars for the new comeback show where Alex Sr. runs as the republican candidate for president as his libertarian son struggles to get on board with the campaign.
“Growing Pains” (1985-1992)
Sometimes watching the opening credits to see which family member hung back was just as fun as watching the show! The combination of relevant, cutting edge plot lines and fun, relatable characters made it one of the most popular sitcoms of the late ’80s. Like most ’80s sitcoms, the title rang very true to the show’s core as the audience literally watched not only the children grow but alsowatched Mr. and Mrs. Seaver struggle with growing older. Because of that, teens and adults learned valuable lessons from the show and it created a platform to discuss tough issues—like when Carol’s (Tracey Gold) well-liked boyfriend Sandy (Matthew Perry) died as a result of a drunk driving accident. Televisions turned off and serious family conversations started.
In an effort to create buzz, controversy or an overabundance of humor, the majority of American prime time television went from encouraging a strong family unit to mocking it.
2012 comeback show: Did I mention I also miss “The Golden Girls?” The “Growing Pains” comeback spin-off “Growing Solo” features Mr. Seaver, a geriatric widower, in his retirement condo in Florida living the dream much like his son Mike Seaver did back in the ’80s.But, unbeknownst to the kids, the behavior is just an act to bring his family closer to him as he is still mourning the loss of Mrs. Seaver. With Kirk Cameron’s new real-life conservative attitude, the cameo role reversal would make for some classic TV.
“The Cosby Show” (1984-1992)
Who didn’t love the Huxtables? “The Cosby Show” not only kicked-off a great night of ’80s TV but it was also one of the first shows to showcase an affluent African American family dealing with the everyday issues of a family unit—covering everything from teen pregnancy to learning disabilities. Because of Bill Cosby’s dedication to education in his personal life, the show was always teaching life lessons while still remaining light, fun, and uncontroversial. When Rudy (Keshia Knight Pulliam), the “baby” of the Huxtable clan, reached her awkward and turbulent adolescent years, the show introduced a very young Raven-Symone` as Olivia—Cosby’s quick-witted granddaughter who single-handedly brought new life and a new set of lessons to the show. If Cosby’s sweaters didn’t hook you, she was impossible to resist!
A good ’80s sitcom comeback is just what American television needs right now. I know I’d love to escape into Alex P. Keaton’s political campaign when the pending 2013 campaign mudslinging takes over.
What ’80s comebacks would you like to see?
Stephanie Caldwell is from Salt Lake City and writes for CableTV.com. She enjoys watching current TV shows, but loves the occasional jump back in time to the 80s.