“Family Ties,” the long-running sitcom about a family headed by pair of free-spirited hippies from the ‘60s who fell in love, and–ironically enough–sired a conservative, Reagan-worshiping son, ruled the airwaves in the 1980s. Alex P. Keaton, with his love of pressed suits, the Wall Street Journal and supply-side economics, gave his tree-hugging parents plenty of reasons to cringe. Here, we present some of the eldest Keaton’s most memorable political moments.
1. Parents doth protest too much
Alex was horrified when his parents dug up their old protest signs and prepared to demonstrate against the proliferation of nuclear weapons on Thanksgiving Day. “The question you kids should be asking is why we continue to make hydrogen bombs when we already have enough to kill the Russians 40 times over,” mom Elyse declared. “Don’t be so melodramatic, mom,” said Alex, rolling his eyes. “From the beginning of time, there’s been weapons, and there’s always been a fringe element who’ve overreacted. I’m sure that even in the early days, there were bleeding-heart cavemen running around with signs that said, ‘Make love, not clubs.’” Touché, Alex.
2. Playing the market
Alex is psyched when he reopened his parents’ old stock market account and managed to parlay $500 worth of stocks into $10,000 in a matter of days. But after a typhoon in Manila made his investment almost worthless, Alex scrambled to fix the snafu. Unable to raise the $2,700 needed for a margin call, Alex confessed everything to his parents. Furious, dad Steven grounds Alex. “No movies, no dates and no TV!” Despondent, Alex whimpered, “Not even ‘Wall Street Week?’” Steven glared at Alex. “ESPECIALLY not ‘Wall Street Week!’” Always a clever businessman, Alex made one last plea, “If the stock does go up–we’re in this 50-50, right?”
3. Just say no
In a bid to successfully pull off a series of all-nighters for midterms, Alex procured some diet pills from a friend of Mallory’s. Conflicted about his illicit drug use, Alex turned to a framed portrait of President Richard Nixon by his bedside for advice. “Help me out here,” Alex pleaded. “I mean, what would you do? Pressure mounting from all sides, your entire future–your career, hangs in the balance. Would you do something that you knew was wrong?” Alex realized he may have misspoken to our 37th president, and gently turned the picture frame down.
4. Accidental feminist
Alex fell for a foxy feminist, and in an attempt to woo her, he pretended to support the Equal Rights Amendment. “Let me get this straight, you are pro ERA,” asked a dubious Deena Marx, who was helping Alex to work on the yearbook in the Keaton’s kitchen. “You say E-R-A,” said Alex, as he tied on a frilly apron. “I say Y-E-S.” But Alex’s charade went too far when he found himself in jail after a riot broke out at an ERA debate. With his supposed dedication to the cause, Alex was even nominated as leader of the Ohio Youth Movement for Passage of the ERA. Feeling guilty about his duplicity, honest Alex finally confessed his true politics. “I can’t accept this honor because I believe that a leader of a movement should believe in the movement.”
5. Non-profit, no dice
Alex was looking for a part-time job in the banking industry, but wasn’t having much luck. Mallory reminded him that their father offered him a job, working at the local PBS station. Alex wasn’t feeling it. “Mallory, I’m learning how to be a captain of industry–a power broker, a mover and shaker. Dad is a thoughtful, sensitive, caring man. I could pick up some bad habits from him.” Alex reluctantly took the job, but after realizing that working for a non-profit just wasn't his style, he resigned.
6. A kind of Declaration
Alex was up late, writing a term paper on Thomas Jefferson and fighting a cold. Alex’s cold medicine must have been pretty powerful, because not long after he dozed off at the kitchen table, he woke up on July 3, 1776. Back in the 18th century, Thomas Jefferson looked an awful lot like Alex’s dad Steven, and he also had a bad case of writer’s block. After a night Alex “helping” Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers were pleased with the results. “Well, they seem to like it,” said Jefferson. “Why shouldn’t they,” said Alex. “It’s one of the finest things ever written.”
7. Mr. Wrong
Mallory was determined to marry her not-exactly-bright but hunky boyfriend, Nick. In an attempt to foil her plans of matrimony, Alex brought home his frat brother–the equally hunky Gregg Curran. Unfortunately, Mallory was not interested. “Alex, this is the lowest you’ve ever sunk,” said a petulant Mallory. “Come on, Mallory, look, you don’t know what you’re passing up here,” said a desperate Alex. “He’s handsome, he’s well-dressed, he’s genetically incapable of make less than $50,000 a year. Mallory, if you don’t take him, I will!”
8. Take this job and...
Fresh out of Leland University, Alex gave a speech in a job interview that would make Gordon Gekko proud. “I have a vibrant, passionate, almost life-threatening love of money,” Alex told his interviewer. “A killer instinct for cash. A lust for travelers’ checks. Now sure, everyone who comes through this door loves money. But do they dream about it? Do they fantasize about it? Do they roll around naked in it? I do.” Alex got the job, but quit after he realized that his killer instinct might not be so lethal.