The Sitcoms of the 1980s Are Always in Your Heart

Taking a break from political ravings for awhile. Let’s talk about 1980s sitcoms instead! You try and try to forget, but at best, you’re just one bad acid trip away from reliving every contrived situation and laugh-tracked moment. The best way to address this hazard is to analyze the shows. Know your enemy!


Sitcom: The Cosby Show

Approval rating: One thumb up

Rationale: The Huxtables were likeable and the early years of the show were good. Then it just got more and more boring, as Theo overcame his dyslexia and just said no to the guy who gave him a free joint. (WTF, Theo?) Then Denise went off to a different world, and before you knew it, there was one Alvin episode after another.

The Huxtable kids had some fun friends. Theo knew a guy named Cockroach, and Rudy had a little friend named Kenny, who was really funny and quite possibly the best person on the show.

Kenny 01

The Cosby Show’s theme music was always changing – not a lot, just variations. And the cast would do some crazy dancing too. Let’s just say some iterations were better than others.

Cautionary factor: Clair Huxtable’s sense of style was a bit overwhelming at times. Hours after watching a Cosby Show episode, many women report experiencing severe anxiety related to an inability to find a complimentary scarf.

Sitcom: ALF

Approval rating: Thumbs down

Rationale: ALF. Alien Life Form. I think this show started way back of scratch, but the producers should have known there’s only so much material to squeeze out of a big fluffy alien living in your house.

I watched one episode of this show from beginning to end. ALF develops a crush on the daughter (who I think was in the movie Father of the Bride). Anyway, ALF makes a music video for her called “You’re the One that’s Out of this World” and it makes me mad that I still remember it, yet I cannot seem to memorize my cell phone number, even though I’ve had it for eight years.

Sitcom: Perfect Strangers  

Approval rating: Thumbs down

Rationale: Let’s start with “Cousin Larry”.  This guy totally works in every office in the United States. He’s that annoying, unavoidable guy who hangs out near the printer and tells you boring details about his clients and projects.

In real life, Larry could not have even touched one of Jennifer’s shoulder pads. But in the magical world of sitcoms, this Ideal 80s Lady finds Larry irresistible.

Balki could be kind of funny, but thanks to his terrible catchphrase (“Well of course not, don’t be ridiculous!”), I was totally okay with him being a future recipient of a Darwin Award. Incidentally, what was up with Balki’s girlfriend? It was like someone had held her underwater for a really long time, but then cruelly decided to let her back up for air.

Sitcom: Family Ties  

Approval rating: Thumbs UP!!

Rationale: Alex P. Keaton, that’s why! Actually this show had a lot of good points. It was really funny, and the humor isn’t dated if you watch the episodes now. Family Ties is my favorite 80s sitcom.

Alex P Keaton, rocking the vest

Did anyone else have a crush on Alex P. Keaton? I totally dug his vests and how smart he was. The show was great, but it did commit several sitcom sins:

Rapidly Aging Baby Syndrome: It’s not a really big deal, but Andrew Keaton ages in dog years.

Unrealistic couple: Mallory and Nick are supposed to be two simple souls in a harsh world, but come on. Nick makes garbage sculptures and Mallory studies fashion. Who’s going to support these two? What will become of them? In real life, a girl like Mallory would marry a rich guy who would keep her as a pet.

If you look closely at Andy’s face in this picture, you’ll see crow’s feet are beginning to emerge

Sitcom: Full House

Approval rating: Sever your thumbs

Rationale: Full House is a tragedy. Not one terrific tragedy, but a slow poison that runs for several seasons, much like how people live in homes with asbestos and unknowingly breathe it for years.

There’s so much I could say, but there’s actually a whole blog devoted to how terrible this show is (the blog is really funny though). So I’ll just touch a couple of things.

The catchphrases on this show were Horrible. Catchphrases were everywhere on Full House. They were the perfect standby, good for any occasion (date mix-ups, funerals, car accidents, you name it). “Have Mercy!” “Duh!” “How Rude!” “Cut.It.Out.”

Joey’s cartoon impressions make me want to kill him.

Like Larry and Jennifer, Jesse and Rebecca have a super unrealistic relationship. Jesse was hot, but there ends the plus column. He didn’t finish high school, he can’t hold down a job, and he spends all his time with Joey. Rebecca makes all the money, but because Jesse has separation anxiety, they live in his brother-in-law’s attic. Even after they have children, they live in the attic of the full house. To top it off, he has a catchphrase [“Have mercy!”] and he’s not afraid to use it. Seriously, what’s in this for Rebecca?


Well… maybe Rebecca doesn’t have it so bad

Sitcom: Cheers

Approval rating: Meh

Rationale: This show was good when Diane was on it. She and Sam had some mojo. There was some tension to work with. I liked Sam with her, too. When she left, Sam got progressively grosser. And Rebecca, the new Diane, was awful. Is it obligatory for every woman who works at Cheers to be molested by Sam?

This guy WILL give you a roofie

Cheers long-term employee is Carla Tortelli, who was determinedly referred to throughout the life of the sitcom as a “barmaid”. Carla is interesting for her zingy one-liners and having a troll-like appearance which probably saved her from being forced into an on-screen romance with Ted Danson.

Fiesty “barmaid” Carla

Not-exactly-a-Sitcom: Miami Vice

Approval rating: Thumbs down

Rationale:  The 80s pervades the atmosphere. The set looked like a giant Wham! video, and the synthesizer featured in the theme music is audio Kool-Aid.

No snappy caption necessary

I know back in the 80s all the guys had mustaches and earrings and wore leather jackets, but looking at them through the lens of 2012, they have the rugged look of bouncers at a gay nightclub. Here’s one of the less flamboyant guys on the force.


Sitcom: Growing Pains

Approval rating: Shrug

Rationale: I’ll admit I used to be into Growing Pains. Probably because teenage girls everywhere were indoctrinated via Tiger Beat magazine. But was it really a good show? All I remember now is Kirk Cameron was clearly experimenting with Ogilvy home perms, and how the dad had a peculiarly grating voice which was especially noticeable when he spoke to his family. “Miiiiike” “Maaaaaggie” “Beeeeeen”.

Important Point: You will note Growing Pains, like the infinitely cooler Family Ties, also has a Rapidly Aging child. When paired with this child’s obvious resemblance to a poodle, this becomes a double tragedy.

Sitcom: The A Team

Approval rating: Thumbs up

Why it’s awesome: Cool theme song, Hannibal’s cigar, Mr. T

Cautionary Point: You have to really suspend your disbelief to get into a story about 4 Vietnam Vets, on the run from the government, who happen to possess hearts of gold.

Sitcom: Silver Spoons

Approval rating: Thumbs down

Rationale: Terrible theme song, boring premise

The underwhelming cast of Silver Spoons

Redeeming factor 1: Alfonso Ribiera’s character is a semi-professional breakdancer. Seriously, that almost brought the show to a thumbs up status.

Redeeming factor 2: Jason Bateman was briefly a regular on the show. And as I think we can all agree, he is not terrible looking. He was just a little kid when he was on this show, though.

Sitcom: Who’s the Boss?

Approval rating: Thumbs up

Rationale: Well, the show’s premise was not that bad.

And it reinforced family values.

They covered important issues of the day.

And Tony Danza is really, really hot.

Check out Part II for a continuation of this vile topic. Highlights include the Dukes of Hazzard, Golden Girls, The Facts of Life, Happy Days, and Just the Ten of Us.

About these ads

2 thoughts on “The Sitcoms of the 1980s Are Always in Your Heart

  1. Pingback: Sitcoms of the 1980s: Part Deux | Lost in the Garden

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s