Keeping up with the Keatons: 'Family Ties' in the New Depression

June 20, 2012

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Family Ties wasn't necessarily a show that defined a generation; it wholly embodied one. The Museum of Broadcast Communications describes the NBC comedy, which aired from 1982 to 1989, as one that "explored one of the intriguing cultural inversions characterizing the Reagan era: a conservative younger generation aspiring to wealth, business success, and traditional values, serves as inheritor to the politically liberal, presumably activist, culturally experimental generation of adults who had experienced the 1960s."

Writer Allen Makere argues that there's no better way to understand how modern families are doing than to make a few predictions about what kind of life the Family Ties kids would have ended up with — especially Alex, a Young Republican who often clashed with his progressive parents.

Makere's vision isn't sunny. Alex's sister Mallory would consider herself lower middle class. Sister Elyse would be even more blunt: "No, we're poor." Read an excerpt below or listen above:

An article appeared in the New York Times on June 11 by Binyamin Applebaum entitled "Family Net Worth Drops to Level of Early '90s." Kristina Peterson of the Wall Street Journal wrote a blog item on the same day, similarly titled, "Family Net Worth Fell about 40 percent between 2007-2010." 

Both Applebaum and Peterson are responding to the Federal Reserve survey of consumer finances released the same week. The data reflects the erosion of middle-class wealth. The right-wing is hyping these findings and placing the blame on the current administration, but I think we must go back nearly 40 years to gain the correct perspective on why our families are poorer and whose policies have made it so.

All our families are different and even the meaning of family has changed since the 1980s, so lets see how 40 years have affected a family we all know and love: the Keaton's of Columbus, Ohio.

Do you remember them?

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