22 November 2017

Ride-along Cassidys

By now, you've heard that David Cassidy is gone.

Now, I am not going to idolize him.  Plenty of teen and pre-teen girls (and more boys than would care to admit it) did that back in the day, as we say.  And, as too often happens to young people who become famous literally overnight, it was--at least in some ways--his undoing.  Like Michael Jackson and others, he simply couldn't live up to the fame he achieved so young.  I don't think anybody could have.

I will admit that I watched The Partridge Family.  Everybody did.  At least, everybody I knew did.  Our Friday Night Lights, if you will, were TPF, The Brady Bunch, Room 222, The Odd Couple (still one of my favorites) and Love, American StyleMy parents, like many others, didn't really want their kids to watch that last show, but relented because it was, well, Friday night.

But no parent I know of ever tried to stop his or her kid from watching The Partridge Family.  I suspect that not all females who fawned, overtly or covertly, over him were under the legal voting age (which had gone from 21 to 18 during the time the show aired).  I also suspect the same could be said for his female fans--or his soeur d'ecran Susan Dey, a.k.a. Laurie Partridge.  She was, and is, pretty, though I liked her better years later, when she was on L.A. Law.

The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch made their debuts the same month--September 1970--as All In The Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show precisely because they weren't AITF and TMTMS.  If you were around then--or, even if you weren't--you know it was a tumultuous time.  The Kent State students were gunned down only a few months earlier; the Vietnam War raged on with no end in sight, like the protests it sparked.  The energy of the Civil Rights Movement inspired, in many ways, the Women's and Gay Rights Movements, which changed people's (particularly young people's) ideas about families and society.

All In The Family and The Mary Tyler Moore show reflected those changes.  The Brady Bunch did, in a different and less-threatening way:  Mike is widowed. (Carol is divorced, but that was downplayed.)  Moreover, Mike has boys and Carol has girls; the females take on the Brady surname when Mike and Carol wed.  Shirley Partridge, played by Shirley Jones, is also widowed.  And her kids, like the Bradys, are about as wholesome as can be:  Their hair might be long, but it is straighter than I ever could have been, and shiny.

That might have been the reason I never had a "crush" on David Cassidy--or, for that matter, Susan Dey (at least when she was on that show):  They were just a little too good, a little too cute, for my tastes, even in my jejune fantasies.  That, by the way is how I also felt about Paul McCartney, as much as I've always loved the Beatles.

Speaking of whom:  In the Partridge Family's heyday, David Cassidy's fan club had more members than the Beatles' and Elvis Presley's fan clubs combined.  I'm sure that none of the members cared that the show or the music (a bit about that later) were cheesy:  They, like much of the show's and "band's" audience, wanted to indulge in simplicity and innocence--or, at least, a fantasy of it.

I'll admit:  I can't hate someone who looks the way he does on an old three-speed (which, actually, wasn't so old back then).  Most of all, I can't hate someone who had Shaun Cassidy for a half-brother.

You might recognize that image even if you didn't see what it came from:  the ill-fated Breaking Away television series.  In it, Shaun takes on the role Dennis Christopher played in the film:  Dave Stohler, the young man who's marooned in Indiana with his obsession for bicycle racing and all things Italian.

I actually saw the TV series years after it aired.  It didn't take long, for only eight episodes were made.  The show had the misfortune of making its debut during the 1980-81 television writers' strike.  It normally takes a TV series at least a season--normally 24 or 26 episodes--or two or three to develop a following, even if it is based on a movie as loved by both critics and audiences as Breaking Away was.

So, a show featuring Shaun Cassidy never got the chance to  live up to the promise its predecessor generated--just as his half brother, as a thirty-something and middle-aged man, never could shine as brightly as his predecessor, if you will--the younger David Cassidy, a.k.a., Keith Partridge, did.


  1. i never forgave the network for cancelling Breaking Away.

  2. Ah the memories; I'm close to your age Justine, remember?
    Anyway, did you ever notice that the Brady kids were always working on their bikes? They would have them upside down in the backyard "fixing" shit I guess. I have joked about this for years with my younger sister.

  3. Mike--That is an unforgivable sin, isn't it?

    Chris--Thank you for pointing that out. How did I forget about that?

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!