Roads! Where we’re going we don’t need roads!
Where we’re going is the 1980s and we don’t need roads because it’s metaphorical nostalgia taking place inside an article...so er, there’s that.
This column’s titular magazine Teen Beat has been around a lot longer than just those glorious 90s hey-day years we’ve delved into so far. That’s right. There was a tweenage heart-throb scene alive and well in the 80s, and many “grown-up” stars of today who would, I’m sure, like to forget they were once a part of it.
No way in hell we’re letting that happen.
This week’s Teen Beat column choice stemmed from two things: 1) I saw in People Magazine that Michael J. Fox has a son my age and I experience mixed feelings and 2) I’m consistently tickled by Rob Lowe’s increasingly awesome performance as Chris Traeger on Parks and Recreation.
You guys can handle a double-whammy right? So let’s skip back to the 80s and take a look at the lives and careers of Rob Lowe and Michael J. Fox.
Some Questions You Might Have About Rob Lowe and Michael J. Fox Now
How did Rob Lowe get his start?
The handsome as hell Rob Lowe got his start after English teachers everywhere decided their classes needed to watch 1983’s masterpiece of young, cute 80s guys The Outsiders. Rob Lowe played Sodapop, and let’s just say every girl in my class wanted to drink him up. (I went there. I’m not sorry.)
How did Michael J. Fox get his start?
Michael J. Fox was born in a test tube of perfection and popped out in 1982, only when he was fully formed and ready to play everyone’s favorite young Republican Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties. (Fun fact: Fox only got the part after my third 80s boyfriend Matthew Broderick declined.)
When does Back to the Future come in?
Three years into the success of Family Ties, Michael J. Fox jumped into movies with Back to the Future. He also did Teen Wolf long before it was an MTV melodrama. And next season, Teen Wolf: Jersey Shore. It’s a full moon on Seaside Heights! Can these young teenage werewolves stop drinking and screwing long enough to battle their legendary enemies: the vampire grenades? Coming this fall!
Wasn’t it hard for Michael J. Fox to film Back to the Future and Family Ties at the same time?
It was! For two whole months, Fox would rehearse for Family Ties from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, then rehearse and shoot Back to the Future until 2:30 a.m. I can’t even will myself to sit up to eat cereal even though it usually ends up spilling on my bedspread. With that kind of work ethic, the guy’s a machine.
What was Rob Lowe up to?
Oh, so much. He filmed St. Elmo’s Fire, which came out the same year as the first Back to the Future film. St. Elmo’s Fire reunited him with Outsiders co-star Emilio Estevez and started the little nickname for their group "The Brat Pack.” Within “The Brat Pack,” Rob Lowe starred with Demi Moore, another St. Elmo’s Fire alumna in About Last Night.
Gaby, how many times did you watch About Last Night when you realized it was on Netflix Instant and you were sad about something?
I don’t want to talk about it.
A lot. I watched it a lot.
Wasn’t Rob Lowe in Tommy Boy?
He was! I think this set the groundwork for his comedic abilities in Parks and Recreation. I mean, The West Wing had some comedic elements but I’d hardly call it a comedy. (Another fun fact: Rob Lowe turned down the role of Derek Shepherd in Gray’s Anatomy which ultimately went to Patrick Dempsey. He really dodged a bullet -- that would have had to be surgically removed, ha! -- there.)
So unlike Michael J. Fox who’s been married to the same woman (Tracey Pollen) for a zillion years, Rob Lowe’s certainly dated around a bunch.
Yeaaaaah. While I’m glad Rob Lowe’s back in the spotlight, another way I knew he had comedic chops before Parks and Rec is because I saw him lambast his sex tape scandal on an old episode of Saturday Night Live. Oh, did you guys forget Rob Lowe had two sex tapes? For real. Rob Lowe was Kim Kardashian before Kim Kardashian could operate a handheld camera. He was also on a ton of painkillers at one point. All these teen stars need to bow to their king Rob Lowe, for real.
So where are Rob Lowe and Michael J. Fox now?
Well, Michael J. Fox made two more Back to the Future movies. He did some TV and then, when he was starring on Spin City, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. He became a big advocate for finding a cure, founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation and was named an officer in the Order of Canada for his outreach work. Also, as I mentioned above he’s got a 22-year-old son who is not hard on the eyes, guys. Perhaps it’s time for my affections to switch to the more age-appropriate Fox. Oh! Or what if Jaden Smith-style, they decide to remake Back to the Future starring Michael J. Fox’s son. (As if. Original Marty McFly forever.)
Rob Lowe, meanwhile, is now one of the stars of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, a hilarious Amy Poehler-helmed sitcom about a small town government in Indiana. He plays a health nut guy who is so consistently over-enthusiastic that he overuses the word “literally” to death. My personal favorite Chris Traeger quote is, “I believe the first human who will live to be 150 years old has already been born. I believe I am that human.” Finally, a role where Rob Lowe’s perfectly-sculpted face is actually a selling point in the comedy.
Gaby, which of these gentleman did you fancy most as a child?
Though I’ve mentioned a few times how crafted-by-God Rob Lowe is, I actually prefer Michael J. Fox if we’re going by both of them in their prime. I was born at the tail-end of the decade and so my chance to be in the zeitgeist with an 80s crush was...well, crushed. Not that that stopped me. By the time I’d seen Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox was a grown man starring on a sitcom called Spin City. But I didn’t know that. I thought he would somehow always remain the young man in the movies. Hence, in fifth grade, I taped up a poster of Marty McFly in my locker only to be told by some snarling kids who apparently watch TV with their parents that “that guy is old.” I’m totally over it though. (Re: I am not over it.)