Stefanie Powers and Melissa Gilbert in Family Secrets (1984)

A bit of a Heart to Heart Going On

Following the death of her husband, Maggie Lukauer (Maureen Stapleton) is moving out of her home of the last 40 years to move in to a condo. To help her advertising exec daughter Jessie Calloway (Stefanie Powers) and granddaughter Sara (Melissa Gilbert) are coming for the weekend to help. But things between Jessie and her mother are frosty and it doesn't take long for the arguments to start as some long held resentment comes to the surface as do some secrets. But for Jessie there is also her daughter Sara who decides she wants to live with grandma especially when she gets friendly with local boy Lowell (James Spader) as she finds her own mother to controlling and interfering.

I reckon that synopsis says it all as "Family Secrets", this made for TV drama from back in 1984, is as obvious as they come. You can sum it up by saying family difficulties leads to some old secrets being revealed, some old wounds being healed, issues smoothed out and some family bonding taking place as well as some understanding. As such the minute "Family Secrets" puts are three characters are in place and we know that each has some sort of deep issue with another you can work out how this is going to play out to the point you can even picture the look of some of the scenes.

Maureen Stapleton in Family Secrets (1984)

But what "Family Secrets" has is simply "soap-opera". We have characters that would be right at home in an 80s soap, we have dialogue which would be just as much at home in an 80s soap. And we also have issues which would be equally at home in an 80s soap and as such if you loved 80s soaps the chances are you will also enjoy this. But it has to be said watched now over 30 years after it was made the soap side of it becomes a little tiring and that includes the performances no matter how much I love the trio of Maureen Stapleton, Stefanie Powers and Melissa Gilbert.

What this all boils down to is that "Family Secrets" probably is still charming for those who watched it back in the 80s but beyond the appeal of the cast and the sweet tale of family bonding it doesn't have a great deal for a new audience who come across other than that 80s soap opera feel going on.