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Every week I watched "Life Goes On" and it was the best show ever. Kellie Martin was the breakout star; she was great. Her boyfriend, Jesse McKenna, played by Chad Lowe, was wonderful. Corky was terrific. There is only positive about this show. It was great and I wish some network would rerun it now.
"Life Goes On" focused on the daily life of the Thatcher family,
particularly Corky (Chris Burke), a young man with Down's Syndrome. When
the show began in 1989, 18-year-old Corky was mainstreamed into a normal
high school as a freshman, which meant that he was in the same grade as his
younger sister Becca (Kellie Martin). At first, Becca was embarrassed about
the idea of going to school with her brother, but eventually she accepted
him as a fellow high school student (and served as his primary source of
emotional support during school). As a developmentally disabled person
trying to function in a difficult world, Corky dealt with many struggles and
hardships. The show was not all about Corky, of course: viewers also saw
the other members of the Thatcher family face their own
In my mind, the most impressive thing about Corky was his optimistic view of life, as well as his perseverance. No matter how many obstacles or drawbacks he faced, Corky always bounced back with a positive attitude. Chris Burke was very realistic in his portrayal of Corky, of course (since Burke actually has Down's Syndrome), but he also made the character very charming and likeable. There was another young person on the show (other than Burke) who showed a lot of promise from the very beginning: Kellie Martin. Even though she was only 13 when the series began, Martin immediately displayed a natural talent for acting. As the character Becca became more confident and mature, Kellie developed into an actress seemingly capable of taking on any dramatic role.
After four years, ABC canceled "Life Goes On" in 1993. The Family Channel and PAX both reran the series, but unfortunately it is not currently on cable. I would love to see reruns of this great show again, particularly on a network like ABC Family (which is the successor to the Family Channel). Also, I think the talented Kellie Martin should star on another TV series, especially since she has not done much acting over the past couple of years (since her two-year stint on "ER" ended in 2000).
Life Goes On was a wonderful show. It never failed to make me cry or laugh. The relationships between the family were heartwarming. I wish it had run longer. I'll never forget the time that Corky rescued a pig and was hiding it in the house! I wish they'd do a reunion show.
I couldn't wait to see this show every week. It was one of those things I was looking forward to every day of the week. If I had a bad day, I thought about the fact that the show would be coming on and my day would be better. A series that would make you laugh and cry, depending on the episode. Corky was my hero !!! The fact that he dealt with life the way he dealt with should be an example for everyone. You think you got a bad day ? Put yourself in Corky's shoes. Or his family's for that matter. Not too mention the fact I had a bit of a crush on Kellie Martin...... This is definitely one of those groundbreaking shows that I would watch again. We can all learn from this.
Life Goes On was pretty much about just that...LIFE. Whoever cast the
show did one whale of a job. The Thatchers are a blended family, which
includes him (Bill Smitrovich) and her (Patti Lupone), his daughter and
their son and daughter. But the Thatchers aren't Ozzie & Harriett or
Father Knows Best, they live in the real world and their son, Corky
(brillantly portrayed by Chris Burke) has Downs Syndrome. They are torn
between protecting Corky and giving him the opportunity to mainstream
and live a real life. Unfortunately, the writers weren't up to the task
after the first season and started straying from what I thought was a
brilliant concept. They turned a first rate series into a soap opera in
prime time taking the story line into the life's tragedies (fatal car
crashes and HIV), instead of keeping the focus on the day-to-day
struggles of raising a family while dealing with a child who is
challenged and the effects on each family member as Life Goes On.
But with its shortcomings, it is still better than 99% of what is being offered viewers now. Wish it were still on the air. But, unfortunately, as has been their history, ABC can't deal with a winning series.
This show ran entirely on Sunday evenings at 7:00pm(6:00 pm CST)and while its ratings always kept it on the cutting block--in fact,it seemed like the show wasn't even going to make it to a fourth season,with the network opting to let it run almost in mid-cancellation--the show's fan base and the general reaction to it was almost always positive. As a sibling to someone with a developmental disability(though not Down's Syndrome),I found it quite edifying that a warm,realistic television show that could be best described as a "dramedy" could be made around a person with a disability. The Thatchers have done well raising down syndromed Corky(the wonderful Chris Burke)into a bright,well-meaning and responsible young man. His struggles are actually often in tandem with the struggles of the parents(Bill Smitrovich and Patti Lupone)and the non-disabled but highly different daughters(Kellie MArtin and Paige Needham),rather than the central focus of. Three strong(maybe more like two-and-half)seasons,followed by a forced last season or so may've diluted the full quality of this show,but it was still a pleasure to follow this story and would be intrigued to see these shows again,probably on cable.
When I saw Chris Burke's smiling face on the screen for the very first
I knew that I was seeing a barrier being broken down. At last someone had
gotten the great idea of portraying the life of the Developmentally
on screen and the sacrifices that parents all over the world make daily to
keep children in their families and try to give them as normal a life as
The only thing that I didn't like as the series moved on was that it left the focus of life with Corky Thatcher to life with Becca Thatcher, portrayed by the more popular actor. It lost out on what could have been some very interesting story lines by doing that. The only thing that rather redeemed that switch was the storyline that dealt with Corky getting married.
Otherwise, the producers of this show are to be congratulated. Without this series there may not have been movies like "The Other Sister" or a hero for so many of the Developmentally Disabled named Chris Burke, who proved that what so many of them want could be done.
I remember watching my first prime time drama at the age of six years old with my mother and younger brother. My mother was a huge fan of "Life Goes On", the show which focuses on the Thatcher Family. She somehow got me so interested in the show that it became the first program I watched on a regularl basis. The story revolves around the two parents who guide their wayward daughter Paige, the blossoming Becca, and Charles, or Corky, their first and only downs-syndrome child. The breakout star of the show became Kellie Martin, whose portrayal of Becca captured the hearts of many awe-struck spectators every Sunday night on ABC. Her first boyfriend, Tyler, dies in a car crash and her second boyfriend was HIV positive. Words (and especially not mine) can not do this show justice. The emotion is just to pure and real that you feel Becca's pain over Jesse and vice versa. It was an incredible show. ABC, of course cancelled it in it's fourth season. "Life Goes On" and "My So-Called Life" will always be my favorite dramas for the 90's and I suppose I will always hate ABC for cutting them down in their prime. You can check out re-runs of the show if you get PAX and see a very different (and blond) Kellie Martin scrubbing for surgery on ER.
This show debuted when I was in the 6th grade, and it quickly became
one of my favorite TV shows. I remember feeling bowled-over when seeing
the opening credits and theme song for the first time - it was one of
the funniest, most realistic portrayals of a regular family I had ever
seen. The same can be said for the rest of the show. Being only a few
years younger than Becca, and nerdy like her, I completely related to
her trials and tribulations. At the time I didn't think the inclusion
of a Down Syndrome character was that big of a deal, but looking back I
realize how groundbreaking it was for a family show to portray a main
character with a mental disability. I enjoyed Corky just as much as
The first three seasons were great, and it stayed on track as a unique family show that focused on Corky and his challenges going to a regular school and trying to live a regular life. However, the fourth season took a sharp turn as it focused 90% of its time on Becca's boyfriend Jesse, who had AIDS. At the time, AIDS was just starting to become a mainstream cause, though there were still many misconceptions about the disease. I'm glad the show, never afraid of being edgy, portrayed a character with AIDS, but I wish he wasn't the focus. I actually grew tired of Becca and Jesse's constant dramas every week, and wasn't surprised when the show ended. It was kind of depressing for me to see Becca's life constantly consumed by Jesse and his AIDS status, and I wish the writers let her have a bit more fun during the last days of her high school years. The final episode, which wrapped up the Becca/Jesse storyline, was particularly strange and I wish they had went full circle and focused on Corky instead.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This show was a GREAT show, it was about a middle class American family
who had to deal with a great deal of different "drama's" that life
threw at them to include everything from business problems (they owned
a restaurant) to marital problems, to coping with mainstreaming their
son w/ down syndrome, to their daughter being in love with a man who
has HIV / AIDS and then eventually what he had to deal with and what
they as a couple had to deal with.
It was a great show, i was just a kid when it was on, but i just loved it and my family greatly related to it in many ways, my father having a sister who has down syndrome, and us coming from a regular middle class American family who've seen the ups and downs this glorious ever evolving and continuing life has brought us.
It wasn't always easy to watch. It wasn't always hard. But it was always consistently a caring, warm, relatively honest depiction of middle class American life at that time.
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