Family Ties was not like the more boisterous shows of its era like Three's Company or The Cosby Show. And it certainly is not like the modern day sitcoms with constant audience cat calls with the hootin' and hollerin'. Family Ties was a more quiet and intellectual series about Baby Boomers who had older Gen Xer kids. The show used intelligent witty humour instead of sight gags and slapstick comedy. I must disagree with others who say the episode with Alex grieving over his recently deceased friend. That was the WORST episode(s) of the entire series! I didn't care one bit about Alex's unseen friend that we never knew.
People may say that the creators were tying to make a statement about the greed and materialism of the 80s by having flower power children from the 1960s raising teenagers and children in the 1980s, but I always saw them portraying the liberals/Democrats in a bad light while propping up the conservatives/Republicans. The parents Steven and Elyse, are made out to be the old school way of doing things. The hip, young and cool kids Alex, Mallory and to a lesser degree Jennifer and Andy, are made out to be the new way of thought. The kids were nearly always right and the parents were seen as dim witted old fools. A reverse All in the Family, indeed. The kids here are about Republican individualisim, and the more modern hip way of doing things in the 80s, versus the crusty old bleeding heart liberal "peace corp volunteer" way of approaching life that were the ex-hippie parents. So I do not believe at all that Family Ties was anti-conservative and anti-80s.
But my God, how time flies. For instance it is interesting that Family Ties premiered in 1982, with ex-hippies raising 80s teenagers/children. If we do the math, then the frontline Gen Xers that were Alex and Mallory's age would today be in their late 30s and would be the ones raising teenagers and children! Back in the 80s the parents Steven and Elyse seemed like regular "grown ups" to me, its only now in my own adult hindsight do I realize that if they were hippies in the 1960s then they must have most likely been young parents of teenagers because they were still in their 30s (and not yet middle aged) when the show first started 1982. Regarding the kids on the show,---Alex was in college through most of the series, and looked about 16 in 1982, with Mallory probably 15 and Jennifer looked about 9 or 10 years old. So now it's obviously already 2005, over 20 years later!!! Family Ties was about generation gaps in the 80s, but those older, frontline teenagers from the 80s are already 37-40 years old today. Eh, I guess we all have to get old and Gen X wasn't going to stay cool forever! ;)