A Life in TV
The shows that shaped my world
In a recent post, Susan Brearley asked “What was your relationship with television? How has it affected your impressionable mind?”
While TV no longer plays the significant role in shaping my life that it once did, over the years it’s had a huge impact, and has helped to define phases of my life. So join me on a little meander through my life in TV.
My childhood happened in the 80s, before the luxury of remote control. Besides my beloved My Little Pony, I was a fan of Jem (who is truly outrageous, in case you’re not familiar), She-Ra (my early introduction to females kicking some ass), Mr. Dressup, and Fraggle Rock.
And sure, every generation probably thinks their childhood era was the best, but mine actually was. So there.
I’m not ashamed to admit it — I still like watching old Saved by the Bell reruns that I’ve seen a gazillion times. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I know the lyrics to this song, but at least I don’t have the choreography memorized, so that’s something.
The late 80s ushered in the era of the ABC TGIF lineup. This included Perfect Strangers (with Balkie from the sheep-alicious island of Mepos), Family Matters (with Steve Urkel’s nasal “did I do that?”), and Full House (with a pre-criminal Aunt Becky).
TGIF was a Friday night family affair. It was the only night of the week that we could have potato chips and pop. Dare I say, TGIF was almost as much of a family favourite institution as the Ed Sullivan Show decades earlier.
After ABC ruled Friday nights in my tween years, NBC had a lock on Thursday night in my teens. Friends and ER were fixtures on my tv for years, but what really impacted me was Seinfeld. It’s truly remarkable how much a show about nothing was able to leave such a lasting cultural impact.
It’s influenced the language we use (e.g. “shrinkage”, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”, “no soup for you”, “serenity now, insanity later”). We’re familiar with Del Boca Vista, and we know that a marble rye is a bread with a story. The show even created its own holiday, and Festivus is still observed to this day.
Sex and the City taught me that the slutty phase I went through in my early 20s was perfectly okay.
Speaking of slutty phases, Queer as Folk celebrated gay men who wanted to have a lot of sex. My girlfriends and I loved it. We thought Brian (the character with the dark hair) was quite possibly the hottest man ever, and we were quite pleased with the number of sex scenes he had.
The present day
TV has played much less of a role as I’ve gotten older. I’ve still never bought a TV; I used to have a hand-me-down from my parents until I upgraded to a hand-me-down from my brother. I cancelled my cable a couple of years ago, because I could watch whatever I wanted online.
My current favourites include doses of satire in the form of the Daily Show with Trevor Noah and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
But give me a good Seinfeld rerun any day.