Thursday, July 21, 2011

Alex becomes a man

#34 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.  

I file this as a 70s memory because it exists in a  prime-time sit-com universe that the Reagans would shut down in short measureIn October, 1982 -- the fourth episode of Family Ties -- 17 year old Alex P. Keaton had his first sexual encounter, and with a college senior.  It would be another 2 seasons before he became the companion to a 40 year old single mother (she's French!) and by that time, it was very clear that theirs was a purely spiritual intimacy.

The storyline:
While delivering groceries, Alex meets Stephanie, an Econ major who shares his fascination with Milton Friedman, who just so happens to speaking in town this week, and won't Alex go with her?  (Mallory is jealous that he might be going to the Barry Manilow concert.  ouch).  Elise and Stephan debate the "few years" between high school and college depending on whether the older party (Meredith Baxter pronounces it "ma-choo-er") is male or female.  Double standards?  You know who we need at this party..... 

Alex insists they are not "romanticaly involved," but after the lecture.... ooh, lala.
Remember - they met yesterday.  He is 17.
She pours the wine and tell him she senses "something special" about him.  "Really [pause pause] Special."

Alex sweetly and shamelessly explains that he has no experience.

Stephanie likes that even better.

Cut to:
Next day at home.  Alex did indeed spend the night (not that anyone noticed he didn't come home) and wastes no time establishing his manhood around the house, reminiscing about "the most pivotal night of [his] life thus far."  As he goes on and on about it, his Free Love parents don't really get it.  Meredith Baxter is no better at scolding Alex for coming home late than she was on Family, telling Timmy to pick up his toys.  (That was just a blatant plug for my Family post, and to celebrate how in under 10 years, MB-B went from wasted-her-life daughter on Family to Latent MILF on Family Ties.  What would you do, baby... without us?)

Fortunately for the TV line-up, Stephanie breaks his heart by Day 3, revealing herself to be a girl who likes boys... often.  Alex reacts with breathless Michael J Fox stammer, the most insulted delivery boy in a Penhouse Forum plot.  "I feel so cheap," he says on exit, to big canned laugh.

Later, Father and Son share a moment where Stephen finally understands what's happened.  He gives a purely 70s Feminist Man speech, with the benefit of Alan Alda's haircut, and pours the juice.  Count on the Keatons to seal the deal with their juice pitcher and matching glasses.


How you know the 70s are still hanging on:
- no talk of contraception, or condoms.
- she can bring home the bacon (nudge nudge) and her prairie shirt does not hold her back
- Elise and the girls duck out to catch R-rated Endless Love and leave the menfolk home to talk.  We have established Mallory as 15, making Jennifer between 10 and 12, but not yet "bloomed."  (You'll recall Tina Y would bloom somethin' fierce just a few years later)
- arguments about Feminism
- Stephanie's typewriter
- paper grocery bags  (don't kid yourself.  They made us use plastic, then they tried to make us feel bad about it)
- the show wasn't very funny yet.  Jump forward to 85, 86, when Justine Bateman hits her stride, and Fox finds his droll.  And new stage business for pouring juice.
That's some 80s family TV


  1. ahhhh - family ties. you're talking my language, sister. i always wanted to be mrs. alex p keaton, until i discovered i was a democrat.

  2. Hey Alex... is that a pipe in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Ah, I miss the 70's. Not.

  3. This brings back those fun memories. Loved Family Ties! I remember how our group all went to watch "Endless Love"... Thanks for sharing!


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