The Politics of Family Ties and All in the Family

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#1
Anybody remember that show, with Alex P. Keaton, the arch conservative son, with the post hippie parents?

This show was set up to criticize and mock conservative principles or at least leftwing strawmen characaturess of them, in a similar fashion that All in the Family did. However the show backfired in that endeavor because of 2 things, the authority/establishment figures in the show were the liberal Leftwing post hippie parents and that Michael J. Fox was too likeable. Alex P. Keaton thus was given a platform to mock the Establishment/Authority and promote conservative principles and ideas in the face of oppressive Leftwing shiboleths. Conservatives having been on the ropes for a couple of decades if not more, identified as being the rebellious anti-Establishment counter culture....the Reagan Revolution (and later the 94 conservative wave). Conservatives loved the show and the intent blew up in the faces of the creators and writers, although they made a ton of money on a very successful show. In fact Reagan named it his favorite TV show whilst president.

Contrast that with All in the Family, which used low educated blue collar worker, and painted every conservative position in the darkest of base greed, bigotry, sexism, patriarchy, small mindedness, etc. in Archie Bunker played by Caroll OConnor....who was confronted by the enlightened highly educated tolerant hip liberal Son in Law, Rob Reiner. Archie Bunker as the Father Authority/Establishment figure...and the rebellious counter cultural son in law fighting the good fight against that ignorant xenophobic racist sexist ugliness that is European Christian Civilization.

Alex P. Keaton on the other hand was well educated, adorable, and made smart arguments in defense of Conservative principles and values....even if at the end of every episode he was always apologizing for them after getting into some mess by following them.

What say you?
 
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Orrymain

, Blogger: Orry's Orations
#2
Well -- first it's Carroll O'Connor who played Archie Bunker. :} Second, yeah, Family Ties shifted gears because Michael J. Fox became a teen favorite and just overtook the show completely. Third, I'm just not political enough to get all the left and right wing stuff except as humor. I like at TV for entertainment; politics is not entertainment to me. I hate it. lol So, when I think about Family Ties and AITF, I prefer to think of the laughs, though, yes, I'm aware of the political innuendo. I just prefer to ignore it as much as possible. I get enough of it on the news. :}
 

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#3
Thanks for the correction on Caroll OConnor....for some reason my brain shifted to SC state Governor.

Family Ties never really shifted gears.

Both shows were very political.
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#4
I was really too young to watch or understand either show. I have seen more political motivations in movies lately which I despise. The theme is always the same with how conservatives are projected. I really don't affiliate myself with one side more than the other but I do consider myself more of a republican than democrat.
 

Orrymain

, Blogger: Orry's Orations
#6
Thanks for the correction on Caroll OConnor....for some reason my brain shifted to SC state Governor.

Family Ties never really shifted gears.

Both shows were very political.
Yeah, they were definitely political. Family Ties initially, though, was going to center more on the parents. Like you said, though, it was the take off of MJF and his character that altered how things went. That's really what I meant by shifting gears -- the focus shifted from mom and dad to Alex.
 

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#7
Well I think you are definitely correct in stating that the grown up radical Left hippie parents were a focus of the show.....they were supposed to be identified with by the audience of aging radical Leftists...who were now well to do having inserted themselves in the institutions of America. That dissonance was part of the show.....they were now part of the system. It was also a reaction to the Reagan (counter) Revolution taking place.

But the central conflict in the show was always between the parents and their ultra conservative son.....and that never ceased to be the locus of the show. The formula always continued to be Alex spouting his "reactionary nonsense" and the parents dealing with it.....and the finally of each show was Alex learning a lesson about how his ideas were misguided and wrong....usually apologizing to his parents and everybody else. Alex was always at the heart of the show, he was supposed to be the strawman that got knocked down every week, however he was portrayed as very smart and the rebel to the liberal establishment authority of the parents, and very likeable....and that meant that he was idenitied with by a bunch of conservatives (which helped make the show a success) but this wasnt the intent of the writers/creators. Sure they kept knocking down the strawmen, but Alex was putting conservative arguments out there, smart ones, to a broad audience, a likeable character...EVERY WEEK, ON PRIMETIME, which was unheard of on television more or less.
 
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