Friday, February 19, 2016

Rewind Television

When I look back on my own childhood, it seems like a simpler time. Maybe that’s a perception shaded by the way memory softens things, or a side effect of the internet and 24 hour news, but the world felt a little smaller and safer then, even if it wasn’t. Maybe it’s the innocence of childhood that I miss.

I want to go back to believing that Bill Cosby was a fun-loving television dad and not the scandalous subject of the evening news.

I want Al Bundy to be America’s favorite idiot again.

I want to go where people know that people are all the same, I want to go where everybody knows my name.

Okay, I’ve been watching a lot of Cheers and I’m nostalgic for the '90s.

The other day my husband and I were reminiscing about the role television played in our childhoods; how each day ended with watching sitcoms as a family and the pinnacle of each week was Saturday morning cartoons. The kids complained that there was no such thing now and I pointed out that there’s no need for it. They can watch programs made for their demographic 24 hours a day, whatever shows they want without commercial interruption, often on their own devices. There is no urgency to sit down together at a certain time to catch up on a family-friendly storyline, and when we do, I’m either bored watching kid shows or cringing through questionable content—that’s not quite going over their heads anymore at this age—as I watch the shows that are considered primetime t.v.

Television isn’t revered as a family activity these days but I have fond memories from the unintentional routine of watching familiar shows together after dinner. When I was a kid we were all staring at screens too, it just happened to be mostly the same screen at the same time. Screen time created conversation and connection.

When I heard Full House was getting a sequel called Fuller House on Netflix, my initial thought was, “…seriously?” I just couldn’t imagine why, despite loving the show for years as I grew up. Are we just totally out of ideas? I wondered.

And then I realized maybe we are and felt a sense of relief. Maybe shows like the Muppets and Fuller House are making a comeback because their humor works for kids and adults in a way that feels comfortable, and the nostalgia invites us to remember our own childhood and the things we hold dear.

(Like John Stamos. He’s aged well.)

My kids are going to have plenty of fun memories involving beach days and vacations and significant events; I also want them to enjoy the simple pleasure that comes from less exciting times like watching television together as a family after dinner. But I want to do this in a way that’s appropriate for them and not boring for me and entertaining for all, and that seems to be the hard part.

Fingers crossed that Netflix reboots all of the ’90s classics and that Cheers is next.

Long live Uncle Jesse.  


Unknown said...

The hubs and I recently cancelled our cable and now only have streaming services. I miss staying on one channel and seeing different shows - where now we just binge-watch the same show for hours at a time. blah. The upside is that I read a LOT more now :)

Unknown said...

great article and so true! When I was a kid, way back when, Sunday night was a big family night with the Disney channel and popcorn. Everyone enjoys Disney, all ages. When ever I come across "Two Broke Girls" and listen to the inappropriate things that come out of their mouths on TV, I wonder if kids are watching it!

Ashley said...

Jamie, for a while we had the Sling app and enjoyed having the TV on just whenever/whatever. But I really like quiet too and thought the price was too high when I already have Netflix and Hulu so we cancelled it. Might be a good stepping stone for you as you get used to being cable-free.