Here are some shows that hold strong memories for me.Maybe there are shows like these out there today but they're drowned out by reality shows and vocal/dance competitions.
Designing Women: This show had funny and likeable characters, but also addressed big issues like sexism, racism, homophobia and AIDS. The episode I caught last week was about Mary Jo's significant other losing his job and she has to be sole supporter. It was a discussion on men and women's roles and how she couldn't handle that burden. Each of the characters voiced a different opinion on the issue, but with humor. You had Suzanne's "Southern old-fashioned" ideas parallel Julia's progressive ideas. I loved Dixie Carter! Elegant, composed, witty and charming. Actually, I liked all the women on the show.
Murphy Brown: Candace Bergen rocked! Murphy gave Republicans something to talk about when she had a baby as a single mother. She was strong, smart and fragile at the same time. I loved Faith Ford's character who played the optimistic, pretty young anchor and you could see her change over the 10 years.Murphy is a nod to Mary Tyler Moore - another show we loved in the 70's. Again, an independent female journalist facing a male dominated and opinionated forum. Murphy Brown was produced by the same team as Designing Women, so they weren't going to back down from controversial topics. Did I ever mention that journalism was my path not taken? I was grooming myself for it in high school, then cowed away from it in college. I have such admiration for all journalists.
Moonlighting: This was one of my favorite shows and probably the only time I really liked Bruce Willis (until "The Sixth Sense"). I wasn't that thrilled with Maddie Hayes as a role model nor with her shoulder pads. However, I liked her spunk. I remember it being really well-written and the dialogue was sharp. They were also one of the shows that addressed the camera directly, acknowledging the audience. That's always really cool writing style. Thanks to the age of Youtube, Maddie and David are still arguing. My all time favorite was their version of Taming of the Shrew where they wore Shakespearean costumes and paralleled their lives. Don't know why Bruce Willis went the path of action movies, when he could really act and we loved the quirky smirk.
Thirtysomething: This was on 1987 to 1991, and then played in reruns the years after I graduated from college. My friends and I loved this show and we were so upset when Gary died! I started watching this show when I heard that the two leads were in advertising. Did I ever mention that advertising was my other path not taken? I groomed myself for it in college with an internship, but never got a job in the industry. Anyway, they were a small circle of friends in the suburbs trying to raise kids, sustain relationships and career. Again, it was well-written and very realistic.I fell for the characters since I could identify with each of them - the moms, the single women, the artists, the career women, the friends. I'd love to watch this show now, 20 years later and see how my perspective has changed with this.
At the time I was watching all these shows, I was not sure where I wanted to be in my life. I could not think 20 years forward to where I am now -- juggling family with a demanding career and artistic pursuits. I definitely never imagined myself working in a predominantly male field of IT. My early paths were working side by side with strong females, so I know I have a right to be heard when I'm the only woman at the meeting table. Murphy Brown and Mary Tyler Moore did it, and Julia Sugarbaker taught me to remember to do with class. I learned from Hope Steadman and Nancy Weston that your children and family come first. I learned from Eliot and Michael that I don't really like what they're doing in advertising after all and I need to follow opportunities that reveal themselves to me.
It'd be great if there were shows like this today to show young people that you don't need people to judge or vote for you to be a success in your own life. We've redefined what success means (a viral youtube video seems to be the route to celebritydom).