Family Ties is a half-hour drama that aired on NBC throughout the 1980s, and a key component of The Greatest Two-Hour Programming Block in the History of Television. It chronicles the tragic life of Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox), a young, heroic Reagan conservative, as he struggles to cope with the fact that his parents are dirty hippies.
Alex's life is further complicated by his two sisters, both of whom grapple with severe problems stemming from their parents' rampant drug use in the Sixties. Jennifer has an abnormally large head, and seems incapable of any rational thought that isn't centered on her dream of eventually becoming a Laker Girl. Mallory (played masterfully by a young Jason Bateman) was born with Klinefelter's syndrome; though she identifies with women and is obsessed with women's fashion, she can pee standing up.
As Alex becomes increasingly frustrated with his family life, he turns from his promising future and gradually descends ever further into vice. First, he nearly succumbs to an overpowering addiction to amphetamines. Later, he enters into a twisted sadomasochistic relationship with family-friend, Skippy, that culminates in Skippy's death by autoerotic asphyxiation. Eventually, Alex begins to see an impish demon named Andy wherever he goes, tormenting Alex with teeth-gratingly "cute" behavior.
Family Ties rarely shied away from dark imagery during its seven-year run, but viewers were nonetheless unprepared for the impact of the series finale. In that historic episode, Mallory, shunned by her boyfriend Nick when he discovers that she has a penis, steals one of Alex's prized hunting rifles and mounts the bell tower at Leland University. As the family pleads from the quad for Mallory to give herself up, she picks off the family members one by one, eventually turning the weapon on herself. The final shot of Mallory landing atop the pile of bloodied Keaton corpses as a grinning Andy laughs maniacally in the background is one that haunts many viewers to this day. (Although not as much as the show's theme song, a duet between Liberace and Irene Cara.)