I love television
I refuse to apologize for liking TV. I give up. I refuse to apologize for having an “indulgence”. There are enough critics out there to explain why TV is bad for you, and I am not one of them. I grew up with television. I started on a set that had a dial that you had to get up and manipulate to change the channel; and there were only 3 or 4 to choose from at the time. I was between the ages of 4 and 8 and I remember watching “Three’s Company”, not exactly the demographic they were looking for, but I liked it. It entertained me. Saturday mornings were the bomb if you were a kid in the 70’s. Parents took the opportunity to sleep in and children “had the con” with the television. And with only 3 channels competing for viewers, it was all about the kids. Until about noon, when parents had been roused, coffee drank, and the TV was turned off and children were shoved out the door for the day. Ahhhh, the good ole days.
Certain shows are like a roadmap for my life. I can think of a show and remember where I was, and who I was watching it with, and then I get stuck traveling down memory lane thinking about times and places that I thought I had forgotten. Sometimes TV is like a photo album of my life. It wasn’t my whole life, just markers for me to remember those “good ole days.” And I refuse to be ashamed. It is just one part of the roadmap of my life, and it often takes me back to some really good memories that have nothing to do with TV. Like my memories of watching “Three’s Company.” The next memory is of watching a live ABBA concert while it was simultaneously played live on a radio station. That was a big deal in the ‘70’s. Which leads me to the memories of a pretty good childhood. Yes, my parents split up when I was 8 ½ yrs. old, but you know what? They did a pretty damn good job making sure I still had parents who loved me and kept their “grown up crap” away from me. I remember very few fights between them.
So I love thinking back about all of the shows that pepper the roadmap of my youth. Shows like “M.A.S.H.”; one of the BEST. SHOWS. EVER. Even as a child I “got” that show, and enjoyed being dropped in an environment with people and situations that I was never going to meet. It was funny and it was moving, and I will never, ever forget sitting in my grandparent’s living room at the age of 12 or 13, crying my eyes out at the series finale. As I type this I can see that living room like I was sitting in it right now.
Through the years
There are certain shows that just do that to me. When I think about the shows, I think about where I was when I was watching them, and what was going on in my life and the world while I was watching them. And even if I don’t remember all of the details of that time period, I do remember that overall, I had a pretty damn good upbringing. We weren’t rich, I didn’t necessarily have an easy life, but I had parents that loved me, and did a damn good job at making sure I didn’t suffer too much and that I ended up being an adult who loves herself.
I remember growing up with shows like “The Cosby Show”, where I got to see what it would be like to have brothers and sisters. And shows like “Cheers”, where I got to see screwed up adults still form bonds and friendships, and how they made the most out of what life had handed them. And I got to laugh. A lot! I got to forget about whatever boy didn’t like me as much as I liked him. I was able to forget that I didn’t live in a house with a white picket fence, or have the most up-to-date fashions in my closet. It was an escape from reality, and it was fun.
Shows like “Beverly Hills 90210”, take me back to my time in the military and my life with my roommate, still one of my best friends. This was a show that we watched together, it was our ritual, and I made a lot of memories with her and our time together in military barracks as well as the apartment we shared together. It’s not just about the show, it’s also about the time period of my life when I watched the show, and who I watched it with.
This is a pivotal show for me. I started watching it with my Navy roommate, after we were roommates. I was out of the Navy, she had a bit more time to serve, but we would still get together and watch this show. And there are certain episodes that mimic things that we dealt with when we lived together. To this day, we will call, text, or email each other when we see the episode when Monica and Rachel have a falling out because Monica is hanging out with Julie, Ross’s girlfriend, and Rachel feels like she is being cheated on by Monica. We lived through that!
My best friend from high school watched the show as well, and when we reconnected and resumed our soul-sister relationship, we would watch “Friends” together. And when her husband dared interrupt us before the previews for the following episode . . . he would get a double dose of WTF ARE YOU DOING????!!! When I moved to another state, we would get on the phone and watch it together.
I got into this show shortly before I enrolled in a respiratory therapy program. I was living in Montana with my mom while I went to school. When the phone would ring I would get seriously upset, because why the hell would someone call me when ER is on?!?!? Are they nuts!!??!! I loved that show because I could relate to it, even when it wasn’t very realistic. And that brings me to why I fall in love with certain shows.
It’s about the characters
I have recently found myself on a NCIS kick/obsession. It drives my husband nuts. Almost as much as my Law & Order: SVU obsession drives him nuts. I will watch both of those shows all. Day. Long. It doesn’t matter how often I have seen a particular episode. It isn’t about the story plot for any particular episode. It’s about the characters. Sometimes things just come together on a show, and the right actor is picked and a character becomes real. They make a character on paper come to life, become someone you want to know, someone you want to love. . .or hate. Either way, you want to know what they are going to do next. You click into the chemistry of the actors and how well they work together. It’s this magical Bermuda triangle where the writing and the acting and the chemistry just work.
There is a lot of trash on TV . . . or is there?
There is a lot of crap on the airwaves, I admit that. I always feel ridiculous when I scan thru the menu and can’t find anything to watch. There are something like 1000 channels to choose from and I can’t find anything???? REALLY???? I just refuse to watch Honey Boo-Boo, Dance Moms, and Kim Kardashian. I will admit to watching some of those pseudo reality shows, kind of like binging on a bag of chips and Reese’s Cups. I can’t help myself sometimes and I feel like shit afterwards, but damn it felt good at the time.
I have found a few shows lately that I really like and I have come to appreciate the off and weird scheduling that has arose over the last few years. I grew up with a TV schedule that you could set your calendar by; Labor Day to Christmas break were all new episodes, just as from New Years to Memorial Day I knew I was in store for new and ongoing plots and storylines, as well as summer cliff-hangers. It took some time to get used to the new way networks were running their latest must watch series. I have finally accepted that it has allowed me to follow shows that I wouldn’t be able to fit in to my real life.
I found Newsroom by accident. I wanted HBO because I wanted to be able to see Christopher Meloni in True Blood. I had bought the DVD’s of the first 3 seasons to get current on the show so I could see him in the show. As I said earlier, I am a HUGE fan of SVU and he is a big reason why I love that show. I was heartbroken when he left, and I was tingling with anticipation to see what he could do as a Vampire! Really pissed at his short run on the show.
But my getting HBO exposed me to not only True Blood, I also found and fell in love with shows like Game of Thrones and Newsroom. If you haven’t watched Newsroom you really are missing out on some of the best shit to ever hit a television.
Talk about characters
It should be no surprise that I was excited to see Sam Waterston play a key character on this show. Watching him on the Law & Order shows, I always had the feeling that being on a network show held him back. What would it be like to see him play a character without so many boundaries and censors to worry about? On HBO he gets to let it rip. He was the actor that got my interest. But then I watched the first episode and got to see what an amazing group of actors Aaron Sorkin and his team brought together to show the rest of us what it’s like to put the news on our tubes.
Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr., Olivia Munn, Thomas Sadoski, and Dev Patel are brilliant in bringing these characters to life. It doesn’t matter to me how “realistic” their newsroom is, because it is the characters and their struggles with personal and professional desires and needs that keep me enthralled. This is one of those shows that has me shouting and cheering, crying and applauding, all at the same time. And laughing. Because life, whatever life you are living, has all of that, many times all at once. And they capture that reality, in a way that has me counting the days to the beginning of the next season. If you don’t have HBO then please find a friend who is willing to share their HBO-GO account with you and watch this show. It is brilliantly written. It is brilliantly directed. And more than anything it is brilliantly acted. Thank you so very much to the entire cast and staff that put this show together. You guys are worth every cent of my subscription to HBO.
Thank Goddess there is less than a month to go until The Walking Dead; it will help me forget how long I have to wait to get back to the news. . .