I’m a child of the 80’s, I admit it. I still remember the day MTV appeared on cable television, and I remember when they used to actually play music videos. I watched the Dukes of Hazzard, The Facts of Life, The Jeffersons, and Diff’rent Strokes. (Okay, a few of those shows started in the late 1970s, but remained hits in the 1980s.) There were so many great television shows in the 1980s that the list could go on and on.
Although that decade gets ridiculed often for being a period of big hair, blue eyeshadow, and leg warmers, the TV shows in the 1980s were great. If you weren’t around in the 1980s, and for some reason haven’t seen one of the many hit shows from that era on TV Land or another channel on re-runs, then you might not get what made television in that decade so great. Not to worry. One of the biggest stars of that time explained what made television in the 1980s so great on CNN Friday morning.
Todd Bridges was one of three child actors in the hit television show Diff’rent Strokes. It was a show about an unconventional family. Arnold and Willis were two black brothers who were adopted by Phillip Drummond, a wealthy, white widower. Phillip made a promise to his housekeeper before she died that he would take care of her boys. So, he adopted them and Drummond and his daughter Kimberly went from a family of two to a family of four.
Bridges appeared on CNN with Brooke Baldwin as the network promotes their new show The Eighties. During his appearance, he shared that TV in the 1980s had shows that were about something.
“Back in those days, in the ‘80s TV shows actually meant something, and they all had like, a beginning, a middle, and an end, and they always were very helpful toward people you know, learning how to live their life and learning how to live it the right way.”
“Somewhere along the line it got muttered up and now we just have shows that, um, are about nothing. Back in the ‘80s all of our shows meant something. And it meant something to children; it meant something to adults.”
In addition to addressing the plot differences between shows today and back in the 1980s, Bridges says that shows back then were more family-friendly.
“And you could actually let your kid watch it without being in fear that something bad is going to come on or something bad is going to happen in it that a kid’s not going to understand.”
With the questionable nature of the content of today’s TV shows, an unsafe environment has been created for children. Bridges says this is also indicative of the difference in society today versus back then, with kids not being able to go down the street and play as much because society is less safe today.
Bridges is not without his share of problems in life and he believes that being a child actor, and the stressors that came with it, played a role. He suffered from a cocaine addiction in his 20s. He was not alone in his addiction. His castmate Dana Plato, who played his sister Kimberly, died from a drug overdose at the age of 34.
Todd Bridges is not finished writing the chapters in his life. He has turned his life around, gotten clean, and is now producing a TV game show, Lovers and Losers, in Las Vegas.