Friday, February 16, 2007

Homeless in the 80's

Did you know that Growing Pains is now on TV Land? I have been watching it a lot this week, and its sort of like doing modern anthropology. Tonight I saw an episode about Christmas (from 1986), in which Mike desperately wants a $150 CD player, Carol wants a modem, and Ben wants a whole bunch of toys. Jason (dad) tries briefly to tell them that Christmas is not about getting presents, but it doesn't stick. Later, Ben goes out and comes back with a homeless kid, whom he found in a dumpster.

Now, this is standard family sitcom fare, and we are pretty used to sitcoms focusing now and then on homelessness, alcoholism, teen sex, drinking and driving, etc. With this episode, however, I'm assuming homelessness and teen runaways were a fairly new topic to cover, because it was done in such an un-PC way.

Maggie (mom) is really freaked out, and the kids expect Ben to be punished for bringing home a stranger. Jason convinces them to let her stay, but when Maggie is doing the girl's laundry, a knife falls out of one pocket and Maggie FLIPS out. Of course, they have a nice dinner, but then that night we see the girl rounding up all the presents as if to steal them. She overhears Jason and Maggie discovering that the kids have each found a present to give the girl. When they leave the room, she starts crying and says, "Who the hell asked them?" Again, I'm guessing this is pretty harsh language for this show.

The family comes downstairs to discover the gifts gone, but then go outside and discover them all on the lawn, because the girl couldn't go through with it. The moral is that their kindness affected her, and then we see her call her dad from a phone booth, crying. I'll admit it, I cried. I sort of wish that they had realized that they didn't need their presents, and the girl was doing what she thought she had to do to survive. Then again, I imagine what they did have in this episode was pretty cool for its time.

Random quote from the episode:
Jason: I have a problem with you walking around in the cold all night on Christmas Eve.
The Girl: Oh, so you're a Democrat.
Jason: If you don't sit down, I'll call the authorities.
The Girl: Oh, Republican.

Gotta go... there's another episode on, and this one is about grieving a loved one. :-)

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9:26 AM  

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