Monday, February 13, 2012

Family Ties: Another "New" Discovery

Sometimes I feel like TV shows get better with age. I don't watch a lot of modern TV, and I grew up watching a lot of old shows. Ask me to name my favorite TV shows, and I'm likely to first think of I Dream of Jeannie, I Love Lucy, and Get Smart. There's something about being able to look back on a show and recognize it as a product of its era, then sit back and enjoy its good sides even when you may see its faults, as well.

For some reason or other, I stumbled on Family Ties on Netflix around the time that it started streaming. I had noted the show back when I watched Back to the Future a year or two ago (since I often click on actors' names to see if there's anything else they've done I might want to watch--of course, Michael J. Fox is the person in question here). It seemed like a show I should have heard of, but since I hadn't, my interest was only minimal. Be that as it may, when I got back from the holidays at my parents' house this year, I was a little unhappy to come back to school life, let's just say. So I turned to Netflix rather heartily that first week back, and Family Ties was one of the things I clicked on.

I supposed that the pilot was entertaining enough, so I kept on clicking on more episodes (no, not in the same sitting). Then I started to get a little addicted, counting down episodes and wondering how fast I could get through seven seasons. Yet it wasn't until the second or probably even the third season that I decided whether or not I even liked the show. I had been watching it simply because it was about a family, a family whose every member had some degree of focus and characterization, a family that was neither perfect nor one like-minded unit yet one that could ultimately come together. There were both jokes and sentiment. And at some point, as I catalogued the show's traits, perhaps, I realized that I did like it.

Some of the episodes are hilarious, like "Margin of Error" and "A Tale of Two Cities." Some aren't very great, and there were a deal too many flashback episodes, especially for someone watching all seven seasons within a month or two. But as a whole item, I enjoyed this show.

I think it taught me something. After watching Alex's hilarious antics for a couple of seasons, I began to see a part of myself in his character. Now, I may be the opposite of his out-spoken, economics-loving, political self, but it's what's underneath all that. It's the having so much going on in your mind in any given moment and the obsessive tendencies and even the insecurities hiding underneath all the outward expressions. Maybe that's why Alex is many people's favorite character: he has a complete story to his character (and of course you can also argue that the reason his character has so much story to him is because Michael J. Fox played him so well that audiences wanted to know more).

Through it all is a theme of togetherness. Alex puts himself on a high pedestal, but he always comes back down for his family. They really are one unit. They don't always know what's best or how best to get along, but human bonds are what becomes the most important thing. And that's what I responded to.

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