ABC (ended 1980)


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Show Summary

The trials and tribulations, joyous occasions and heartbreaking moments of the Lawrence family: lawyer father Doug; housewife, student, and musician Kate; married (and quickly divorced) daughter student soon to be lawyer Nancy; teenage son Willie; and just-hitting-puberty daughter Buddy. In this critically acclaimed series, we watched various Lawrences fight, fall in love, become ill, graduate school, begin new jobs and, most of all, love each other. This show was ground breaking in its content, which include child and spousal abuse, teenage drinking, terminal illness, adoption, and marital affairs.

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  • Sada Thompson

    Sada Thompson

    Kate Skinner Lawrence

    James Broderick

    James Broderick

    Doug Lawrence

    Gary Frank

    Gary Frank

    Willie Lawrence

    Kristy McNichol

    Kristy McNichol

    Letitia "Buddy" Lawrence

    Meredith Baxter Birney

    Meredith Baxter Birney

    Nancy Lawrence (Seasons 2-5)

    Quinn Cummings

    Quinn Cummings

    Annie Cooper (Seasons 4-5)

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    • Another Mike Nichols success pre Botox and filler

      Yes, in the 70's Mike was involved in TV land and he did a great job. Very liberal and progressive family with some quasi jewish connection. Nancy was married to jeff maitland (jewish name). Buddy was the most adorable and precocious child. Taught me how to be a cool kid at 9 you need family support. Can still visualize kate cleanIng out the garbage can and so unhollywood. This series tried to be as real as possible. Early series had a great score by Jon Rubenstein (Arthur's son) I wish I could buy his music on iTunes as well as the entire seriesmoreless
    • A family television show for educated, ambitious people, the best by far of its era, and also the first

      "Family" was the best show on television during its run, better than "MASH", better than "Mary Tyler Moore", better even than "The Waltons". Why? Because it was about intelligent, serious-minded people who weren't trying to entertain an audience or each other. They were, as Zhivago remarks once, "just living", and in so doing, exploring the issues that late-1970s Californians faced daily and that the rest of America would soon deal with. "Family"'s characters were attractive, articulate, privileged, and just independent-minded enough to make their reflections interesting. Sada Thompson's Kate was terribly complex--nurturing, witty, stubbornly and often irritatingly self-possessed--and seemed to embody perfectly every internal contradiction ever experienced by women cognitively and emotionally capable of being their family's main breadwinner but lacking an avenue to do so. James Broderick's Doug, as thoughtful a TV dad as one is likely to meet in a lifetime, knew as much about women as men--probably more--and had an endearing habit of self-disparagement that gave his wife and daughters (but not his only son) room to grow in a world that had only recently acknowledged their gender's need to. Gary Frank's Willy, my favorite at the time, had taken his father's lack of ego so to heart that he wasn't sure he'd ever join the grown-up world, or even want to. And Kristy McNichol's Buddy articulated tween angst with an openness never before seen on TV. I watched the entire series a year or so ago and was struck by how well the characters had aged more than a generation later. I was only troubled by the show's almost militant defensiveness toward gender and hostility toward sexuality; the exaggerated toughness at times of Kate and Nancy seems strident now, but it was probably analogous to, for example, the defensiveness of civil rights activists during the previous decade. We are all more perceptive, as well as more appreciative, of gender differences and what might be called "everyday sexuality" than we were during that benighted pre-dawn of global telecommunication and cultural cross-pollination; viewers of "Family" may even find repeat viewings of the show mildly painful, as I did. But for depth and breadth of character analysis, antithetical to Disney-type, on-screen clowning, "Family" has no equal that I'm aware of.moreless
    • Most reviews of "Family" on this forum wander why the series was so touching as well as open. I have a tip of the answer...

      While the characters might look ordinary upper-classers, the truth is what made them special was the fact that they were actually pretty freaky. High-eyebrowed Sada Thompson's constant expression of awe, the oldie father, the generation gap between their children, and last but not least, Buddy's mind-blogging look bordering lesbianism where mesmerizing for a kid like me.

      The pace of the show was slow, and one thanked it. The protected community they lived in was a relieving bubble within the dark downward trend of the late 70´s, when darker meant better.

      I remember the first time in my life I learnt of Virginia Woolf, was through "Family": It was a book of Woolf's correspondance that Kate was reading in bed in one of the episodes. I guess I was 11 back then, and imprints of such an early age for some reason have a longlasting effect.

      Long live our childhood memories!moreless
    • An excellent example of some of the fine television which was a part of the 1970s. "Family" was a real show about real people and there was something in it to strike a chord with everyone.moreless

      Doug and Kate Lawrence (James Broderick and Sada Thompson) and their three children, Nancy, (Meredith Baxter)Willie (Gary Frank) and Buddy -real name Leticia -(Kristy McNichol) were a family with which most people could easily identify. The Lawrences were normal people, leading normal lives and dealing with realistic and important issues. The show was never over the top or melodramatic and that was one of the reasons it was so watchable and so popular with audiences during its 4-year run from 1976 - 1980.

      There were moments of light-hearted comedy of course, but mostly, the show was a drama which never strayed into the unbelievable and ridiculous. The things the Lawrences went through on a regular basis were always things that could (and do) happen to anyone. Marriage, divorce, teen crushes, menopause and many other events, written with sensitivity and realism by the writers made "Family" one of the best shows of the era and one that could be watched over and over without one ever getting sick of it.moreless
    • An "upper middle class" family in Pasadena, California (Doug and Kate Lawrence, and their children Nancy, Willie and Buddy) - their lives, trials, joys, sorrows, etc.

      I began watching this show when I was in high school. At that time, it was a real eye-opener for me, showing me more of the issues "out in the world" that I may or may not face in the future. The characters were real and multi-dimensional. They had flaws and strengths. They had the ability to bring joy and to irritate! But the actors all worked together to bring us a moving story each week. My favorite was Sada Thompson, who had so many layers, that each week could bring surprises from her. Very endearing was her ability to bring subtle humor to many situations. A truly talented actress that the American public at large was fortunate to see, after her successes on the Broadway stage.moreless

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