As a child of the free-spirited ’70s, I have many fond memories of Pop Rocks, Fonzie, invisible dogs, truckers with orangutans and the soundtrack to Grease spinning on the record player. We ate Jiffy Pop and washed it down with red Kool-Aid, our moms were in love with Burt Reynolds, and our dads all wanted CB radios in their El Caminos. The era was defined by boldness, fun and adventure, and it seemed like back then people were a lot more laid back and willing to try new things. The ’70s weren’t ideal by any means—Watergate (the scandal and the salad), a raging Cold War, gas shortages, Three Mile Island, feathered hair and streakers made sure of that. But many trends that defined the decade are well worth repeating.
Here are a few trends from the ’70s that we need to bring back immediately:
1. Quality TV Shows That Weren’t Scared of Making a Statement. With the exception of a few cable and online shows, TV programs today can’t hold a candle to the shows of the ’70s. Back then, writers, directors and producers weren’t scared to take on heavy topics, to challenge their viewers and to push the envelope. Even sitcoms made brave statements: Remember Maude’s abortion in her 40s? When James, the dad, died on Good Times? How about Mary Tyler Moore’s adventures? Then we had Archie Bunker, Fred Sanford and George Jefferson, who were all totally politically incorrect in different ways and even unlikable, but they somehow made people think and question themselves while being entertaining. That’s brilliant. We need a modern equivalent to Norman Lear, Burns and Brooks. Why have we resigned ourselves to drooling over vapid reality stars and dating shows?
2. Salad Bars. When I go out to a fancy dinner, I don’t want a $15, a la carte pile of bitter field greens topped with a zebra-striped, green and purple heirloom tomato. I want to get up and make my own darned salad, and it should include bacon bits, croutons, pickled beets, chickpeas and creamy Italian dressing. People need to be in control of their salad, and they need to walk around fine dining establishments carrying overflowing plates while they teeter on platform wedges.
3. Pubic Hair. I’m so over this Brazilian nonsense. Why can’t we all look like the illustrations in the original The Joy of Sex again? It would be so much easier.
4. Tropical Drinks With Plastic Animals. Millennials can keep their skinny margaritas and vodka diet tonics. Yuck. Give me a 2,000-calorie piña colada any day, and I want it served in a coconut with fruit slices on a sword, three maraschino cherries, at least one pink plastic flamingo and four drink monkeys perched on the edge. Oh, and don’t forget a real orchid and a little paper umbrella too. Drinks need accessories, and people in the ’70s understood that going out drinking was a celebration that called for decorations. Cocktails today are dry and austere. Let’s bring back the indulgent Harvey Wallbangers, frozen Daiquiris, Mai Tais, Zombies, Grasshoppers, Fuzzy Navels and Brandy Alexanders of the disco era.
5. Strong Female Superheroes. When I was a kid, I had so many amazing female role models to look up to: from Wonder Woman to Princess Leia, fictional girls were kicking ass left and right in the ’70s. I loved pretending to be Charlie’s Angels and the Bionic Woman, Battle of the Planets’ Princess, and even Jayna from the Wonder Twins. Growing up seeing powerful female heroes in the media taught me that girls were strong and independent, and I really worry about the little girls now who are saturated in a culture of reality shows, tiaras and 15-minute, online viral spectacles now. Where are the warrior princesses and badass, lady crime-fighters of today?
6. Fondue. It’s a pot of melted cheese and a pot of melted chocolate, and you can dip whatever you want into it. Need I say more? How did this ever fall out of favor?
7. Head Scarves. Popularized by Valerie Harper’s iconic character Rhoda, headscarves were high fashion in the ’70s. What better way to cover up a bad hair day and accessorize a wrap dress and platform boots? Headscarves are genius and totally flattering. Why aren’t we doing this today?
8. Going Out Dancing. I’m sorry, but I have no desire to shell out almost a grand to spend a weekend with 100,000 22-year-olds all competing for a small number of port-a-potties at some hot, muddy music festival. I also don’t want to wear a tutu and brandish a glow stick in a crowded club where $14 worth of vodka somehow costs $500 while I jump around surrounded by kids high on Molly to EDM (music which sounds more like the noise from a construction site than anything resembling a melody). That is not fun. Going out in the ’70s was far more elegant. I’d love to have my partner twirl me around the dance floor in my fluttery polyester dress while Barry Gibb sings.
9. The Original Fisher-Price Little People. We have Little People today, but they seem to have succumbed, like the rest of us, to the obesity epidemic: they in no way resemble their 1970s counterparts. I spent hours each day immersed in the universe of my Little People. They had a hospital, a school, an airport, a farm and more. But apparently they were choking hazards or something, and they stopped making them like they used to. The 2015 Little People are chunky, clunky and more suited for toddlers to gnaw on than they are for the imaginative play that I remember. Luckily, I saved most of my old toys, and my 4-year-old actually thanked me. She says the ’70s versions are way better than the new ones, which somehow just don’t inspire her as much. You can also get the old ones on eBay, but they cost a fortune.
10. Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific. I’m saddened that hair in the 21st century just doesn’t smell terrific anymore. It must be all that argan oil we use nowadays.
11. Harvest Gold, Burnt Orange, and Avocado Appliances and Wood Paneling. Just kidding! I swear.
We’ve come a long way in the past 40 years for sure, but in a lot of ways, we’ve also taken a few steps back. The ’70s have a lot to teach us about having fun, being a little indulgent once in a while, taking risks and speaking up, especially when it comes to entertainment.
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