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Series / Life Goes On

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1989-1993 teen/family drama notable for having a major character with Down's syndrome (Corky), and one with AIDS (Jesse). The whole show was kind of one big Very Special Episode. The main character, Becca, was Corky's sister and Jesse's girlfriend.

Not to be confused with Empty Nest, which aired around the same time, with a theme song entitled "Life Goes On". Nor should it be confused with the 2014 Puzzle Platformer game of the same name.

Tropes used:

  • The Alcoholic: Rhona's mother.
  • Alpha Bitch: Rhona. Not all the time, but mostly.
  • Attempted Rape: Libby interrupts a date of Becca's getting too frisky with her. In another episode, one of Becca's teachers tries to force himself on Paige during a date.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Rhona is an airheaded bitch—and a gorgeous blonde.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Corky expresses in the third season, how he'll never forget how Tyler was the only person who didn't make fun of him when he first started high school.
  • Big Brother Instinct: In "Corky Rebels", Corky falls under the influence of some questionable new "friends" and develops an attitude towards his family. However, after one of the punks gets physical with Becca, Corky immediately jumps in to defend his sister (which ultimately leads to him mending his ways).
  • Brainy Brunette: Becca.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Paige discovers that she's pregnant just as her husband resurfaces and wants another chance. She's considering it when he tells her that he doesn't want the baby. This and the miscarriage put the nail in the coffin of their marriage.
  • Cool Big Sis: Paige is this to Corky
  • Darker and Edgier / Tone Shift: Over the course of the four seasons, the show shifted from being a reasonably light-hearted family drama focusing on Corky to a rather angsty romantic drama between Jesse and Becca. The peppy opening song remains the same, however, which is jarring particularly in the episodes with a dark or upsetting opening scene.
    • A season 3 episode called "Armageddon" has Drew and Libby fighting a lot over stupid, minor things. At one point they get into a heated argument that leads to Libby hitting Drew, which was a shock after seeing them happy for so long and having just had a baby boy. (Worth noting that Patti LuPone and Bill Smitrovitch hated each other by this time.)
  • Dead Guy Junior: The finale reveals in a Flash Forward that following Jesse's death from AIDS, Becca eventually marries a man named David and their son is named Jesse.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Becca. Corky had a few moments himself.
    Becca: Why don't you take a look in the mirror, dogface?
    Corky: I would, but you cracked it!
  • Derailing Love Interests: Inverted. After years of pining away for Tyler, Becca finally gets him. . . and it's she who suddenly turns into a bitch who treats him horribly because she's falling for Jesse.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: A Hooker with a Heart of Gold who befriends Corky when he's lost in the city takes him back to her apartment and kisses him passionately. Cue a possible Sexy Discretion Shot, because it's left ambiguous if they did anything more.
  • Distant Finale: The first episode of the finale season has 40-something Becca wandering through her childhood home, and the final episode shows her married with a son, named Jesse.
  • Dumb Blonde: Rhona
  • Fantasy Sequence: Occasionally.
  • Flash Forward: Done in the first ("Bec to the Future") and last episodes of the final season, with Becca serving as narrator.
  • Good Parents: Drew and Libby are portrayed as this.
  • Hidden Depths: Supposed Jerk Jock Tyler has a brother with Down's Syndrome, thus explaining why he's nice to Corky. Meanwhile, Rhona's mother is an alcoholic, thus explaining a lot of her bitchy behavior.
  • Forget To Feed The Dog: The opening titles feature the family all getting ready for the day, with no one remembering to feed the dog, who sits forlornly with his bowl in his mouth as everyone runs by. Viewers actually wrote letters to complain, and in the series finale, a bag of dog food falls out of a nearby cabinet and Arnold finally has breakfast.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Corky at the start of the series. This changes in the later seasons when along with the shows tone shift and his reaching adulthood he develops his interests and makes his decisions despite the initial dismay of his parents. To the surprise of characters who first get to know Corky, they realize he is as flawed and human as everybody else.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Libby assumes she's beginning menopause, but she's pregnant.
  • Mistaken for Gay: A rather harsh version in "Incident on Main," when Jesse is beaten up after leaving the AIDS hospice center.
  • The Movie Buff: Corky to the point where he can reenact scenes from films like Casablanca. In the third season, he pursues and successfully lands an ushering job at a movie theater that shows classic films.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Corky and Amanda's parents try to interfere in their marriage plans, with her parents outright taking them to court to get the marriage annulled after the two elope.
  • Post-Robbery Trauma: The whole family is on edge after they're robbed, with Drew buying a gun and Corky almost shooting a friend of Paige's with it—he didn't know him and thought he was the burglar.
  • Runaway Bride: At the altar, Paige asks her fiance if he really loves her. He swears that he does, but admits that they're not right for each other. With his blessing, she goes dashing down the aisle to reunite with her true love. . .
    • Then in the next season, it's revealed that she pulled this trope again by running out on the other guy when they had no plan for anything, leading them to fight constantly and eventually split.
  • Ship Sinking: After years of buildup, Tyler and Becca break up about five minutes after getting together because she's fallen for Jesse.
  • Survivor Guilt: Becca has this after Tyler dies, feeling that if she hadn't kicked him out of her party, he'd wouldn't have been in the accident. Jesse gently but firmly tries to snap her out of it, reminding her that he was drunk and being belligerent and that she had every right to ask him to leave.
  • Trash the Set: Corky accidentally causes the destruction of his father's recently opened diner, and it remains that way for several episodes until it is rebuilt.
  • Unexpected Virgin: Becca prepares for a romantic evening with Tyler. . .and he confesses, "I've never done this before." She's shocked, as she and apparently everyone in their school had assumed that he and his previous girlfriend were having sex, especially given their Jerk Jock/Alpha Bitch personalities.
  • Vacation Episode: In the second season premiere, "Honeymoon From Hell," the family takes a trip to Hawaii. (Lost fans will recognize the Byodo-In Temple, where Sun and Jin were married.)
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Corky gives Becca the cold shoulder after she dumps Tyler for Jesse.