Gary Coleman died yesterday at the age of 42. He was best known from his role on the TV show “Different Strokes”. It was sad to see him go, as he never really appeared to achieve that he set out to do in life.
It is interesting to note that “Different Strokes” was one of the first TV shows to tackle video games in any real way, and as kids in the early 80’s, we craved anything on TV that portrayed things that we loved.
In the early 80’s, youth was not coveted, studied and explored to the dizzying heights as it is on TV today. In fact, it was very rare to see anything on TV that represented much less pandered to the things that kids were saying or doing. Instead, we were on the receiving end of blanket platitudes like “Just Say No”, and were supposed to follow like little robots.
If you watch any TV from the late 70’s through the mid-1980s’. you’d be hard-pressed to find a video game on TV any place. There were a few exceptions, but for the most part adults simply ignored what kids were doing.
However, “Different Strokes” was one of the TV shows that tried to speak to kids in their own language. Sure, it was simple, low-brow and earnest, but it was one of the few shows we had. The episode below is one of the first TV shows I can recall that handled the subject of video games.