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Cathy Lane, teen-aged daughter of a globe-trotting journalist, comes to live at the home of her uncle, a newspaper editor in New York City. Curiously, Cathy is the spitting image of her uncle's daughter, Patty. Appearances aside, however, the urbane Cathy is nothing like her cousin Patty, who is the typical American teenager. Written by
Stewart M. Clamen <email@example.com>
Cute teen series features polar opposite identical cousins
I grew up on this really cute series as a teenager myself, and only wish today's adolescents had more programs of its quality and sense of genuine fun. The Patty Duke Show is shades of Hayley Mills's Parent Trap. In fact, every young girl's heroines back then were Patty Duke, Hayley Mills, and Sally Field (star of Gidget & The Flying Nun). The teen magazines were full of this trio of stars.
The series portrays the story of two identical cousins, Patty and Cathy Lane. Cathy, the daughter of a globe trotting journalist, comes to live with her aunt & uncle, Martin & Natalie Lane. They have a daughter, Patty, who's the same age as Cathy and the absolute spitting image. However, aside from looks, these two teenage girls are completely opposite in personality, taste, and life experiences.
Patty Duke charmingly captures the dual roles of the cousins and manages to make the viewer think that there are actually two different teenagers here. There are some great special effects for that era when the 'two of a kind' cousins appear together on screen. Whether realistic or not, the show had a great story idea with a variation on the identical twins with contrasting personalities theme. Making them cousins with totally different childhood experiences, the screenwriters could make this pair of lookalikes seem really diverse.
In fact, their personality and culture clash forms the basis of the series. Since Patty and Cathy are such polar opposites, they have trouble understanding each other. The urbane, sophisticated Cathy is a quiet and serious young lady, who has been living in Scotland with her father and has traveled abroad in Europe. Patty is a typical peppy, outgoing, and very social American teenager living in Brooklyn Heights. Cathy is studious and scholastically excellent, while Patty receives average grades and is more concerned with fashions, fads, friends, fun, and sleepovers than with schoolwork. Cathy's taste in music runs to classical ('the minuet and ballet Russe') while Patty likes to bop around to the rock & roll music of that era. Even their taste in food...well, Cathy prefers gourmet cuisine such as the elegant Crepes Suzette, while Patty chooses hot dogs, ice cream, and junk food.
However, although jealousy and conflict arise (always humorously conveyed of course), it's much like a sibling relationship. Underneath it all, the cousins really do care about one other and sometimes even conspire together to pull off pranks or get themselves out of scrapes. (Typically Patty gets into the scrape and Cathy must help her out of it!) Also, the cousins are not actually that different in some important ways. Patty desires popularity and Cathy at least some sense of acceptance. And of course both young ladies are interested in BOYS. Patty would accurately be described as boy crazy, while Cathy conveys her interest a bit more subtly. The girls don't always go for the same type, but in one episode, the pair are actually rivals for the attentions of the new boy next door. I note among the episode list that once there's even a double date, have forgotten the details, but would predict some sort of switcheroo or mix up.
Patty's father, Martin Lane, is managing editor of a fictitious New York newspaper, the New York Chronicle, for which Cathy's father (Martin's brother) works as a foreign correspondent. The two brothers are identical twins, presumably explaining their daughters' close physical resemblance. Cathy's father wants her to complete high school in the States before returning to Scotland.
The father in this series really stands out in my mind these many years later. William Shallert is absolutely wonderful in the role of Patty's father, Martin Lane, the classic kind & caring American dad who's often at his wit's end over his teenage daughter's antics. This actor also plays Cathy's father in a few of the episodes. I don't remember the mother, Natalie Lane, but that isn't to say the actress wasn't competent. It's been quite a few decades!
Overall, it was wonderful programming that the teenagers of that era could relate to. No sex and drugs on screen back in the Good Old Days. However, many of the classic teen story lines are featured, including parties, dating, school football stars, teachers, baby sitting, kid brothers, and peer rivalry. Patty spars with her own younger brother, Ross, and must also cope with an annoying school rival, Sue Ellen. Probably most young viewers preferred the extroverted chatterbox, Patty, but personally, being shy and bookish myself in those days, I identified more with the introverted, academic Cathy. The Patty Duke Show was very popular among all my own school friends and quite deservedly so. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find it in re runs, but suspect that even some of today's teens might still get a kick out of it.
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