I Guess It Really *Is* A “Family Affair”

My God, who wouldn’t want to adopt Buffy, Jody and Cissy? As a lark, I started binging Family Affair on Prime. It’s a show I vaguely remember from early-to-mid 1970s syndication, since its span (1966-1971) reaches into my zygote-to-“I’m tree-years-old” period. This New York City sitcom was so goody-goody CBS added it to the list of popular rural shows it canceled–all those segregated Mayberrys and Junctions–so the network could enter into the Norman Lear years.

I admit to thoroughly enjoying the show, but I get CBS’ point. Star Trek is more realistic than some episodes. ūüôā Viewed from a 21st-century cultural mirror, the premise could be described as almost a monochrome Diff’rent Strokes: Bill Davis (Brian Keith), a well-off Westside playboy who is Hugh Hefner’s vision personified, adjusts to his dead brother’s kids, who are dumped on him and his valet, Giles French (Sebastian Cabot, also known as the narrator of the original Winnie-the-Pooh Disney animated classics). Davis’ and French’s smoothness-ness interruptedus, the upscale, not-motley crew quickly gel as a family. Although this first season is about the children’s trauma of being orphaned, separated and emotionally abandoned (“Do you really love me? Am I really staying here?” is a common and recurring theme), the tyke’s tears are always dried, their concerns forever found and met.

One particular episode had me on a steady chuckle. Through a misunderstanding, Buffy and Jody, the 6-year-old twins, are left on their own in New York City. They walk around by themselves, Buffy holding a $20 bill visibly in her hand, and nothing bad happens to them. In fact, a nice Latino sees the little darlings and immediately helps them find their way back to Uncle Bill. I mean, who wouldn’t?

Then there is reality:

No Buffys, Jodys or Cissys in Haiti or Cameroon. Wah-wah.

When I saw Biden with this kid, I subconsciously thought, “Whew! Buffy’s no longer in danger! Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming” ūüôā

My Quick Thoughts About “In The Heights”


a) Lin-Manuel Miranda reminds me how¬†Ta-Nehisi Coates described Barack Obama: an activist, not a protester. (Nice move he made with NPR’s Maria Hinojosa to get some intellectual/activist cred!¬†:)) This is the most¬†thoroughly gentle–even if ever-present!–film portrayal of systemic white supremacy I’ve seen on film. Miranda, who loves 20th-century white popular culture at least as much as I do ūüôā , does NOT want to upset¬†Whitey, EVER. ūüôā Having said that, I enjoyed seeing the undocumented struggle included in this. It shows how, like Coates, he is VERY careful.¬†
b) This story is highly¬†cultural–very BROWN, the way¬†Hamilton¬†is (ironically!) very WHITE. (I can see Miranda on that¬†Heights¬†vacation, reading that Ron Chernow bio and going: “Yes! I can now go completely in a new and opposite direction, like an artist should!¬†Past¬†instead¬†of¬†present,¬†white¬†instead of¬†Black/Brown, historical narrative instead of love letter, naked, individual ambition instead of family/community survival, birth¬†of a¬†nation¬†instead of¬†death¬†of a¬†neighborhood!”) As a concept,¬†Hamilton¬†makes a LOT of sense to me now. You can clearly see the themes in both New York-centric, immigrant-centric musicals that attract Miranda–the¬†power¬†of personal drive and dreams with/versus sacrificial commitment to family and community, etc.
c) Whether it is culturally stereotypical I will leave for Brown people to discuss. To this outsider, it looks like he’s trying¬†to hit EVERY cultural mark.¬†
d) Because¬†Hamilton¬†was first for me, this seemed like a workshop to test out the style he would perfect with the slaveholders. ūüôā

JUNE 12th UPDATE: So now that I’ve laid my issues on the table, I will admit he’s a FREAKIN’ GENIUS!!! Have you seen the teaser (below) for his directorial debut?!? And the Oscar goes to…. ūüėČ The year 2021 is only halfway through, and he’s already its savior!! LOL!!!