Television of the seventies and eighties was littered with drunk dads, pregnant teens, alcoholic stepmothers, mentally handicapped brothers, anorexic sisters, and pedophile neighbors...... and all just in time for kids to watch after school.
The mantra of the seventies was to be open about our problems, and no problem was ever too unsettling for the kiddies. It was for their benefit to hear about drug abuse, rape, child molestation, and shitty parenting. In fact, it was so important, it was on every Wednesday afternoon.
And guess what? If you hadn't had your fill of troubling messed up lives - prime time had you covered. On Family Ties, Malory gets molested by her teacher and on Diff'rent Strokes, Arnold and his friend get molested by Gordon Jump, the friendly neighborhood bicycle repairman. And let us not ever forget the mother of them all - the infamous Too Close for Comfort rape.
Whether or not the inundation with dysfunction did us all any good is up for debate. I have my opinions on the matter, but let's suffice it to say I am very skeptical.
These were the 70s-80s equivalent of those "guidance" films they used to show in schools during the 50s-60s. You know the ones I'm talking about - "Are You Popular?" and "Perversion for Profit". I have my doubts that these were particularly effective either.
I should mention that many of them were fairly benign. They taught lessons about "going steady", getting teased, junior high crushes, etc. But every so often things got dark.
Anyway, here's some ads I've collected. Put an After School Special memory in a comment. I'd love to read it.
I know a lot of you are retrophiles like myself and would be interested to see the entire TV Guide page for some of these - just to check out what was playing on the ole boob tube back in the day. Here ya go.