2006

Writing Contest: Runner-Up

That '70's Show

Steven Illius, Columbia High School, Columbia Station, OH (Teacher: John Sheridan)

The TV series That '70s Show has been on the air for over seven years, its pilot episode having been aired on August 23, 1998. This show is based on the typical American teenager, his friends, and his family in the 1970s. This show is a comedy that depicts a stereotypical view of the era and the hardships that went along with the times. That '70s Show stands as a reminder of the good times and the bad times for many of the people who lived through the era. This show also has some serious and some comical relations with modern life. The relations vary from making decisions about boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, to budgeting money and working overtime to support the family. Kitty and Red Forman, who are the mother and father of Eric and Laurie, also provide food and shelter for a friend of Eric's named Steven Hide. Steven's mother and father left him alone when he was young, so the Forman family took him in. Red is a hard-ass who is tough on his son, but is sympathetic towards Laurie. Kitty is the opposite, and treats Eric like her baby boy most of the time. Most of the time the kids just hang out in the basement, or at the Hub, a local restaurant. Sometimes the kids participate in illegal actions, besides all of the other things that normal teenagers do. Most of the time these antics are comical and good natured. This show also shows the not-so-comical, more serious aspects of the life of the working class in the 1970s. This does not differ much from the life of the working class today. Red worked at a factory for several years, and Kitty works as a nurse to provide a second income for the family. When Red lost his job at the factory because it was sold to a foreign company, Kitty was forced to pick up an extra shift at the hospital. It hurt Red emotionally to know that he was unable to provide for his family the way he could before. The family was forced to cut back onthe things that were not absolute necessities, and Red tried to find whatever job he can. Decisions made by all households in the United States are based on the families' employment and level of income; this is also known as budgeting. It is very important that decisions are made responsibly regarding the distribution and usage of resources. One of the most important skills necessary to maintain the well-being of one's family is the ability to properly budget the money flow in and out of a household. This is important not only for those living with the bare minimum, but also those who are well off. It is impossible to know when personal disaster is going to hit, or when the U.S. economy is going to take another turn for the worse. If a family is used to a certain standard, it will be hard for them to adjust to living at a lower standard. This may be obligatory for many reasons: loss of a second income, an unexpected accident, childbirth, or injury, anything that could cause a family to lose a second or primary income. Families that experience these problems are faced with many different responsibilities. A family that is well off, and has been able to put some money aside, will not feel the effect quite as much as a family that has been living from paycheck to paycheck, struggling to get by. When the personal economic structure of a family starts to weaken, actions must be taken immediately to try to soften the blow, so to speak. The same thing must also be done for the national economy. People do not understand what can happen if a single job is lost. It is very important for our government to try to keep jobs in the country. If one family has to be put on welfare, it affects the lives of several others that have to pick up the slack. Taxpayers also have to pay for all of the people working for government agencies that support the welfare system, so only a fraction of the money every gets to the families in need. In That '70s Show, the family has two sources of income, Red works for a factory and Kitty works as a nurse. Many families both then and now have double incomes because one income is just not enough. In the show, the Formans were forced to make many cutbacks, including variety and amount of food. From an economic point of view, they did exactly what should be done in this situation. Red immediately began looking for other jobs, and Kitty picked up an extra shift at the hospital. On the show, they did not collect any type of government aid, most probably because they were still able to sufficiently provide with a single income. Single-income homes are usually affected in a much greater way. If a family depends on one person to bring in all of the money, it is very hard for them to get all of the things they need if that one person loses their job. It is in times like this that some families need to have some sort of short-term government aid. This show does a great job of depicting what it is like for a family to have to live at a lower level and make decisions that will have optimal gains, with little or no waste. That '70s Show stands as a testament to American life, both in the 1970s and today. Decisions that are made today will affect the future, so they need to be made with a great deal of discretion.