TITLE: Family Ties – New Beginnings
TAGLINE: The TV reboot you never saw coming
LOGLINE: “Alex P. Keaton is back to vex his liberal parents with stalwart conservative beliefs and embroidered sweater vests.”
You name it. Blue States. Red States. Young. Old. Working class. Billionaires. Russell Simmons. Just like the original Family Ties, there’s something here for everyone — especially if you like maudlin lowbrow sitcoms that culminate in a belabored moral lesson.
Family Ties flipped the narrative that children are less conservative than their parents. Unlike typical high school students, the lovable Alex P. Keaton disavowed his liberal upbringing with staunch republican politics. Basically, this is the same exact show adapted for today’s politically polarized audience. It’s everything you loved about the original minus the stuff that didn’t work out, like Tina Yothers.
I’m sure you’re skeptical that this is another lazy Hollywood reboot programmed to capitalize on our nostalgia. Of course, it is! You network executives love these. First, Family Ties – New Beginnings has a lot of new source material. The parents from the original series had their beliefs formed in the late ‘60s. Our new parents will be Clinton-era Democrats who met at a Davos summit in the ’90s. Also, they don’t work for public radio. They’re Silicon Valley venture capitalists who’ve never met a real person.
You see what we’re doing here? We’re simultaneously appealing to bubbled-up liberals and rabid, fulminating conservatives. This is a show for the whole country, like Anderson Cooper 360 — except it’s actually about news and current events.
You’ll be happy to know that Alex’s sister Mallory remains shallow and stereotypically ‘80s female. She still drives the B-stories by having vexing moral dilemmas that involve shopping. More interesting is her boyfriend Nick. Do you remember him from the original series? He was a fringe character who made art out of garbage. He’s the same except now he’s making millions on Etsy. Since there’s no practical reason for Mallory’s liberal parents to dislike him for this — and since we need more character conflict — he’s also an insufferable hipster who’s forced to compete with a Silicon Valley executive for Mallory’s affection.
Slow-moving montage of the funniest gags from the first season. There’s Alex putting his Trump hat on a dog, then the parents overreacting about it, then everyone laughing with that “Alex is such a character” shrug. Upbeat music. Mallory trying on designer dresses. Tina Yothers’ character’s funeral to establish she’s no longer in the picture. An unnamed nerdy neighbor we’ll introduce later in the season when we run out of storylines. Liberal parents lecturing a barista at Starbucks. Mallory chasing Alex. Slow fraying of our national identity. Group hug.
We retain the ’80s sitcom aesthetic including set, multiple fixed cameras, laugh track, and generous servings of dated stereotypes.
Alex promised to attend a Democratic fundraiser his parents spent a whole year organizing. The problem is that it falls on the same day as a Trump rally. He hatches a plan to send a look-a-like to the fundraiser, but the earpiece of his doppelgänger malfunctions so the auditorium can hear him at the Trump rally. Meanwhile, Mallory tries to cook a simple recipe but it becomes a very funny calamity because she’s dumb. Anyway, the plot twists when Alex runs into his parents in disguise at the Trump rally. They’re researching a way to exploit the movement for financial gain because, being true to their ‘90s-era progressiveness, they really love money. Nick shows up to impress Mallory with a banjo he made out of a hubcap and sold to Mumford & Sons for a million dollars. Tina’s character is still dead so she never shows up.
By now you’re wondering how and when we’ll cash in on Michael J. Fox making a cameo. Michael has a recurring part as Alex’s mentor, an independently wealthy global business magnate who rails against public education despite being Alex’s high school economics teacher.
All future material is ripped from the headlines. When Jeff Sessions restarts the war on drugs, Mallory gets busted smoking reefer outside Macy’s. When Trump bombs Canada over a mean tweet, Alex learns the value of sharing. When Facebook sends a deadly army of cyborgs to obliterate humanity, Nick grows up and becomes more responsible.
I’m sure you agree that our country needs to heal and become more unified. Perhaps you’re ready to make the first step toward reconciliation by ordering 26 episodes of my hit sitcom. I’ve included a nostalgic ’80s embroidered sweater vest with this letter. I hope you wear it proudly as a symbol of the enduring greatness that is Family Ties.