Steven and Elyse Keaton were two hippies with liberal viewpoints who had married during the 1960s. The young couple had hoped their children would adopt the same values. How wrong they were, especially in the case of oldest son Alex. "Family Ties," which was based in Columbus, explored the relationship between Steven (a public television station manager) and Elyse (an architect) and their three children, Alex, Mallory and Jennifer. Though all three had espoused conservative viewpoints, none was ever so more obvious than 16-year-old Alex (who usually went by his full name, Alex P. Keaton). Alex was an avid Reagan-devotee and card-carrying Young Republicans Club member who sauntered through the house in a shirt and tie and hung a picture of William F. Buckley over his bed. But as intelligent and over-achieving as Alex was, Mallory was as underachieving and slacker; she was more into shopping and cute guys. Jennifer was the precocious youngster who just wanted to be a normal kid (and excepting for her Republican-like views, was for the most part). Skippy Handleman, one of Alex's best friends, was a geeky next-door neighbor with an unrequited crush on Mallory. During the 1984-1985 season, Elyse gave birth to Andrew, her and Steven's fourth child; Alex quickly took his young brother under his wing, and before long, Andrew was reading the Wall Street Journal over his Froot Loops cereal. As the years passed, Alex graduated from high school (as saluditarian) and pursuing a financial degree from Leland College; it was there he met his first serious girlfriend, the beautiful Ellen Reed (played by Fox's future wife, Tracy Pollan). After that relationship ended, Alex met psychology major Lauren Miller. Meanwhile, Mallory (who was in serious danger of flunking out of high school) found love in the form of Rambo-wannabe and high school-dropout Nick Moore, whom Steven and Elyse (at least initially) strongly disapproved of; Alex disliked the motorcycle-riding Nick even more. Mallory, however, did graduate from high school and became a fashion design major at Grant College; Nick also obtained his general-equivalency diploma. While there was time for fun and laughs, many episodes explored serious topics, such as teen pregnancy, censorship, addiction to pills, the effects racial minority homeowners have on property values and grieving the loss of a close friend. Other episodes dealt with Steven's distant relationships with his own family, particularly his brother, Robert, while plenty of episodes presented flashbacks of either earlier episodes featuring the Keaton offspring as young children. By the time the series wrapped up, Alex accepts his dream job offer ... a job on New York's Wall Street
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