Ronald Reagan’s favourite television series was the '80s sitcom Family Ties. This presumably had a lot to do with the idea of conservatism appealing to youth after the cultural liberalism of the '60s and '70s. Family Ties marked a major shift, showcasing a main character aspiring to wealth, business success, and more traditional conservative values.
"When else could a boy with a briefcase become a national hero?" asked the show’s creator, Gary David Goldberg, during the program’s final season on the air.
And so it was that the “boy with a briefcase,” Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox), would vault into the public’s consciousness as a conservative actually capable of human interactions without throwing Bunkeresque fits. His relationship with his parents, hippies Steve (Michael Gross) and Elyse (Meredith Baxter-Birney), was good-natured, polite, loving, and compassionate despite disagreements in the political sphere.
While Alex was a young man very much at home in Reagan-era America, Steve and Elyse would struggle more with the cultural shift and would long for the attitude of their youth. Hanging a “Ban the Bomb” sign in the living room in “My Back Pages” would serve as the ultimate mark of rebellion, yet to Alex and shopaholic daughter Mallory (Justine Batemen) it would be an awkward cue that their parents used to care about things.
With Mallory as a superficial dupe of corporate culture ever-maligned by Alex for not being smart enough, the relationships within this byzantine clan could use a wellspring or two of normalcy. Young Jennifer (Tina Yothers) would play the “regular kid,” coming off as a bit of a tomboy, and Andrew (Brian Bonsall) would be the preschooler caught in the middle.
With Family Ties – The Fifth Season, the Keatons take on a host of issues. The season presents the television series as a convincing blend of drama and comedy. Alex struggles with the exodus of his girlfriend, Mallory struggles with being over her head in college, Andrew is introduced for the first time, and Jennifer seeks recognition.