RIP Florence Henderson

There is no one like Mom. She smells of home cooking, fresh laundry and reminds us of home.

Florence Henderson passed away yesterday. Best remembered for playing Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch (1969-1974), Florence was seen as America’s mother.

In 1969, America was changing. While The Brady Bunch was wholesome, unaffected and unabashedly simple at times, it was also charming and reminded us of the love and the chaos of family. Carol Brady is a widow with three little girls. Mike Brady is a widower with three little boys. The Brady Bunch lasted five years, but lives on in reruns. What makes The Brady Bunch interesting from a television perspective is that while it was not the domestic comedies of the early 1950’s, it was represented the changes in the world. There wouldn’t be a Cosby Show, Family Ties or Modern Family without The Brady Bunch. Inspired by the feminist movement, more women were entering the working world, marrying later, divorcing their husbands and were more educated than their mothers and grandmothers.

Betty Freidan, Carol Brady was not. But she was a single mother who saw the possibilities in her daughters. She was also a wife who was a very happily married woman with a very active sex life.

RIP Florence Henderson.

Throwback Thursday: Classic 80’s Sitcoms: Family Ties (1982-1989) & Growing Pains (1985-1992)

In the 1980’s, the family sitcoms were a blend of classic sitcoms with the then modern era.

In this Throwback Thursday post, I will be exploring two different 1980’s family sitcoms, Family Ties (1982-1989) and Growing Pains (1985-1992).

Family Ties

Elyse and Steven Keaton (Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross) are 1960’s hippie flower children. Their children are the exact opposite. Eldest daughter Mallory (Justine Bateman) is the classic teenage girl who thinks more of boys and clothes than grades. Oldest son Alex (Michael J. Fox), who has added the middle initial of P. to his name is the quintessential 1980’s Republican. Younger daughter Jennifer (Tina Yothers) is an eight year old who just wants to be a normal kid. In 1986, producers added a fourth child, a son named Andy (Brian Bonsall).

Growing Pains

Set on Long Island, Growing Pains introduced audiences to new sitcom family: The Seavers.

Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) is a psychiatrist who works out of his house. His wife, Maggie (Joanna Kerns) is a journalist. Their first-born, Mike (Kirk Cameron) is the typical under-achieving slacker teenage boy. Their eldest daughter, Carol (Tracey Gold) is the exact opposite of her elder brother: a type A perfectionist. Younger son Ben (Jeremy Miller) is the average kid. In 1990, fourth child was added to the Seaver household, Chrissy (Ashley Johnson).

In the final year of the show, future superstar Leonardo DiCaprio joined the cast as Luke Brower, a young man from a troubled home who is taken in by the Seavers.

What I like about these shows, besides being classics in their own right, they still speak to audiences. The 1980’s was an interesting decade in America. While many aspects of the culture had not changed, others had changed dramatically. This shift was reflected in the sitcoms that audiences sat down to watch every week.

Do I recommend them? Of course.

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