Sunday, February 25, 2007

I Complain Because I Love

In a NYTimes DVD review of "Family Ties: Season One" (a perfectly reasonable review that says the universal jokes are better than the hippie parent jokes and that Michael J. Fox is really talented), there's an odd claim:
“Family Ties” was one of the first contemporary family sitcoms, preceding both “The Cosby Show” and “Growing Pains.”
I don't know whether to say I disagree or simply that I don't understand.

What could they possibly mean by saying "Family Ties" was one of the first contemporary family sitcoms? Seriously, what could they POSSIBLY mean? Obviously, family sitcoms (parents and kids, so we won't really include "The Honeymooners" or "I Love Lucy" despite Little Ricky) have been a constant staple of television from the very beginning. Not a single week has ever gone by since TV's earliest days without a family comedy being on the air. Not a single one, starting with "Mama" (a spin-off from the movie "I Remember Mama") in 1950 and "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet" (which ran from 1952 to 1966, the year I was born) right up to today.

Without even counting workplace families like "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," the family comedy has been more of a staple than the western, the primetime soap or just about any other genre except the evening news. And even the evening news will end before the family comedy. Just to name obvious, popular shows, "Ozzie & Harriet" ended in 1966, when "The Andy Griffith Show" was on the air. "Andy Griffith" overlapped with "Family Affair," which overlapped with "My Three Sons" which overlapped with "All in the Family" which overlapped with "Happy Days" which overlapped with "One Day At A Time" which overlapped with "Family Ties" which overlapped with "The Cosby Show" which overlapped with "Roseanne" which overlapped with "Home Improvement" which overlapped with "Everybody Loves Raymond" which overlapped with "The King Of Queens" which overlapped with "The Simpsons" which apparently will be running until the end of time. I could easily make a similar list with entirely different shows, of course. But what exactly did this writer have in mind when they said "Family Ties" was the first contemporary family comedy? I honestly haven't a clue.

No comments: