When you weren’t busy watching Fraggle Rock, playing with Legos or shopping for acid washed jeans, the sitcoms of the ’80s were a great pastime.
One common denominator for many sitcoms of the ’80s was the quintessential family unit.
A mom, dad and numerous kids made television all the greater.
Family Ties, which debuted in 1982 and stayed on the airwaves until 1989, allowed America’s TV viewers to spend time with the memorable Keaton clan.
This family centered show had a character to match everyone’s personality.
Those with a keen sense of fashion idolized Mallory, while the youngest in the family could identify with Jennifer (the youngest of the Keatons until little Andy came along.)
Even those who weren’t members of the family were extremely popular.
Family friend Skippy and Nick, Mallory’s boyfriend, provided as many laughs as the Keatons.
The most memorable character of Family Ties was undoubtedly Alex P. Keaton, who was voted as one of TV Guide’s greatest television characters.
His comedic timing, as well as his conservative views, provided hours of amusement.
Another family that provided hours of laughs was the Seavers in Growing Pains.
The kids, particularly Mike, were always getting into a predicament.
With a psychiatrist for a father, you’d think they’d be well behaved, but I guess not.
At times, the entire family was in shambles.
One memorable episode involved the family scrambling to put a party together at the last minute after they forgot the date of the party.
Well, even if you don’t remember that, you’re bound to remember Mike’s friend, Boner.
The name is memorable enough.
The show provided laughs, as well as an ’80s heartthrob.
The Seaver’s oldest son, played by Kirk Cameron, became the “it” boy of the ’80s sitcoms.
“I had the biggest crush on Kirk Cameron,” said Temple University senior Tonya Felder
One show that was introduced to the American viewing audience on September 22, 1986 had an unusual family member.
There was a mom, dad, two kids and an alien life form- ALF for short.
ALF was an unexpected visitor from the planet Melmac who the Tanner family grew to love.
Every episode he was sure to be seen trying to get his hands on the family’s cat.
Although ALF was short, fury and odd looking, he seemed to captivate the American audience.
“ALF was kinda cute,” said Temple freshman April Parker.
The show lasted four seasons and ALF even appeared on the cover of TV Guide.
The Cosby Show/b>
A family consisting of a lawyer, doctor and five well-mannered children seems a bit idealistic, but such was the premise of The Cosby Show.
Criminal justice major, Josh Patton, remembered the Huxtable’s being the quintessential family.
“They were the perfect family,” he said.
The Cosby Show was number one from 1985-1988, and after that it never dropped below the top 20 in its eight year run.
The Huxtable family provided hours of laughs and memorable episodes.
In one classic episode, Denise agreed to make Theo a shirt after Cliff refused to give him $95 for a designer shirt.
Of course the homemade shirt turned out horrible.
With a doctor and lawyer in the family, I’m sure they could have spared $95.
Moving from the perfect family of the ’80s to the family that now personifies dysfunction, Different Strokes aired from 1978 to 1986.
Pint-sized Arnold had the best punch lines when retaliating against his big bro, and immortalized the phrase, “What you talkin’ ’bout Willis?”
If you can’t remember the premise, here it is: A wealthy, white businessman adopted two inner-city black kids.
They became a happy, racially harmonious family.
Before I get inundated with angry mail, I’ll give honorable mentions to the ’80s sitcoms that didn’t make my Top 5: Facts of Life, Mr. Belvedere, Who’s the Boss? and Perfect Strangers.
No matter what sitcom was your favorite, the ’80s offered memorable moments and characters who have been immortalized.
Thanks to TV Land and Nick at Nite, many of the sitcoms from the ’80s can still be enjoyed.
If you were too young to catch them the first time around, now’s your chance.
Patrice Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.