Remember sitcoms? Situation comedies were the shows before “reality TV” took over. A few still remain, but nothing like the heyday of the 1970s and 1980s.
So what did I learn from spending my formative years with the Bradys, the Cunninghams, the Partridges, the Huxtables, the Romanos, the Bunkers, the Clampetts and all the other TV families who became an indelible part of my memories? As it turns out, quite a bit!
1. “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” Can’t you hear Jan Brady’s howl of frustration over her older, more popular, prettier sister? How many times have we looked at another business that seems to be ahead of us, has more followers on Twitter or more likes on Facebook, or that got a plum bit of PR and turned green with envy? Jan had to learn the hard way that being yourself is essential. Learn from other successful companies, but realize that you can’t just copy what other people do, you have to adapt it to be unique for you.
2. “Come on, get happy!” Six singing kids and their musical mother set out in a psychedelic school bus to rock the world. I loved the Partridge Family, and not just because of David Cassidy. It’s the show that taught me why you need an agent (although fortunately, both of mine are much better than Reuben Kincaide), and showed me that no matter how big and crazy your dream is, you can find a way to make it happen.
3. Quit before you jump the shark. Remember Fonzie from Happy Days? He was a bigger than life character who always seemed to have everything under control. In one episode, he did a daring motorcycle jump over a shark tank, a la Evil Knievel, stretching any semblance of believability. Life lesson—go big, but keep it real.
4. Don’t let “swimmin’ pools and movie stars” change who you are. Jed Clampett and his clan struck it rich with “black gold, Texas tea—oil, that is” and moved to Beverly Hills, long before the Fresh Prince or the 90210 gang. They were always out of step with the world around them, but they never lost their integrity, core values, or identity. So make it big—but don’t lose who you are or forget where you came from.
5. Working moms can be great moms. Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show, Ann Romano from One Day at a Time, Shirley Partridge and others blazed a trail for the kids who watched their weekly exploits. Watching them, we saw a role model for a new kind of future, and cheered when they didn’t let obstacles get in their way. The moral? Don’t let other people’s restrictions limit your opportunities.
6. Value the memories, but change with the times. “Those were the days,” sang the theme song to All in the Family. We watched Archie Bunker wrestle with changing times, changing roles, and a culture that didn’t look like the world in which he grew up. As Archie struggled to find his place, we went along for the ride. It was one of the first sitcoms to confront serious issues like cancer and racism, and by bringing tough subjects into our living rooms, we learned and grew along with Archie. What I learned? Change is part of life, and you can’t hang on to the way things were. And when you get past the fear, new things can be wonderful.
What did you learn from the shows you watched as a kid, and how did it influence you? I’d love to know. Want to continue the conversation and share your thoughts and questions? Connect with me on Twitter @GailMartinPR!