Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Ties That Bind

Architectural Digest is running a special online article this month to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the iconic 80's tv show Family Ties.  Yes, you read that correctly...THIRTY YEARS.  The focus of the article was not so much what the show meant to everyone who watched it way-back-when (and it meant A LOT and EVERYONE watched it), but rather they discussed the sets and various props that were used to be the very fabric of the Keaton family's life.  I found this fascinating, not only because I loved the show, but also because I was always enthralled with the sets.  I wanted to be a member of the Keaton family.  I wanted to live in that big, drafty Victorian house that I imagined in a cozy neighborhood filled with other houses that looked just like it.  Each one had a Volvo station wagon in the driveway, just like the one that Elyse and Steven drove.  Looking back on these photos as an adult, I am struck by a couple of things, the first of which is that this house would have been insanely expensive to heat and insure.  Elyse must have been one heck of an architect, because Steven's job as a public television station manager could not have possibly floated this family of five in this big house.  The other is how much stuff there is in this house.  There is art covering every square inch of wall space and knick knacks on every surface--most of them appear to be antiques or valuable collectibles, oriental carpets, vases, lamps, etc.  Also, WHAT is the deal with the table and chairs right in front of the entry?  Who does that?

Check out how YOUNG Tom Hanks looks in this shot.  As I recall, he was Elyse's alcohol troubled younger brother who hits a low point later in the episode when he swigs a bottle of vanilla extract in the kitchen because it's the only booze he can find in the house.  Notice Jennifer's "Mork From Ork" suspenders.
Ah, the kitchen.  Didn't everyone have a commercial grade Viking range in their kitchen?  I have no idea why, but the "Kiss the Cook" sign on the island absolutely epitomizes the show for me.  In my imagination, it was Steven who decided this needed to be here.  So sensitive and caring...  Also, the wallpaper is so perfect for this house.  You feel like you're being hugged when you're in this room.  Again, I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of objects in the kitchen; the plants, spices and all of the magnets on the fridge--remember when magnets used to stick to the refrigerator?
Ooh, tile countertops--before granite took the world by storm.  My aunt and uncle used to have a kitchen that looked very similar to this: tile counters, country wooden cabinets with ceramic drawer pulls and leaded glass windows in the upper cabinets.  I will admit that the tile was never really a good idea since keeping it clean was a full time job, but when they remodeled, it broke my heart.
And then, there was Alex P. Keaton.  Oh, there were other characters and notable they were, but none more than Alex, around whom the entire show revolved.  Alex was an old-school Republican, back when that stood more for fiscal conservatism rather than any other extreme affiliation.  The photo of William F. Buckley Jr. over his bed pretty much says it all, as well as the various references to his "Nixon rattle" that he played with as a baby and the "Little Republicans Pop Up Book" that he later reads to Andrew as a bed time story.  Elyse and Steven often stood back in befuddlement regarding their son because they could not fathom how they could possibly have created such an individual.  In one episode, Skippy the kid next door finds out that he was adopted.  He asks Alex how he would feel if he found out that HE was adopted.  Alex's response: "It would explain a lot."

I hope you enjoyed reminiscing with me.  All photos are courtesy of NBC via Architectural Digest.

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