Remember when people who claimed that they NEVER watched television would be branded as snobs… un-American… or even Communists? Well, maybe not Communists, but you know what I mean. It’s so out of the loop to claim to not watch television that anyone claiming to do so is immediately suspect. I remember, for example, being aghast at the fact that a dear friend of mine didn’t know who Lucy was. Lucy! Everyone loved Lucy!
Well, the years have passed, and I have become one of those people who never watch television. I can’t remember the last time I actually turned on a program. I’ll admit to having been a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, and Desperate Housewives, but that was way last year. And they annoyed me after a while because they became something that I had to force myself to remember to watch, even when I wasn’t in the mood. And when they decide to change nights and times, well, that really drove me crazy. Who could keep up?
And you know how this has affected me? It seems that I am out of the cultural loop. I’ve spent considerable time in group conversations not knowing who everyone was talking about so intensely. American Idol? Dancing with the Stars? Lost? The names of the characters and stars were bandied about as if the speakers lived next door to them; I don’t even know my own Mother that well.
Reality shows really drive me up a wall; the whole voyeuristic concept seems to be scraping the bottom of the barrel of entertainment. I mean, who really cares what these people are doing? Bachelor, bachelorette… who cares? And didn’t that Paris Hilton and friend have to deal with farm animals on one reality show, acting as if only the lower classes should be destined to such drudgery? Honestly!
There was a time when I could always be found in front of the TV. Bozo the Clown, Romper Room, Chuck McCann, Sonny Foxx… Spunky and Tadpole, Davey and Goliath… Super Car… I loved them all. The Little Rascals, the Three Strooges… Donna Reed, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver, Patty Duke… there I was, following their antics day after day into teenhood, when I graduated to Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Phyllis, Maude, and the like. At least these were good, but I also grew up in an era of televised talking cars, horses, and tiny lady genii living in bottles. The Brady Bunch? How did we ever sit through that show when it was first run! And how come there was never an episode that featured the entire family inside their burning house, a crazed Alice laughing maniacally on the front lawn? And the Munsters were entertaining, if only to see cinema beauty Yvonne De Carlo presiding over her dusty mansion.
Now you can watch all the reruns you want on You Tube. Have you looked at what’s on there? You can re-live your whole TV-watching past– and all at the risk of missing out on the present day!
We went to see Kathy Griffin at Bob Carr Auditorium here in Orlando recently. (Sorry, the sound system bites, so it’s an auditorium– hardly a theatre.) I’m surprised that I caught all her references to the pathetic characters currently mucking up popular culture, but I don’t have television to thank for that– I get all my information from staring at the covers of the tabloids while sweating in the express lane at Publix supermarket.
While I do have a television in the house, it was inherited, and it’s not hooked up to cable because… well, let’s just say that I couldn’t imagine searching through dozens of channels for something to watch. It would make me very anxious. Not only would I feel that I was missing something, but I would probably sense that there might be something better on. So the television basically acts as a monitor for new and unseen (by me) movies that I rent from Netflix, or that I play from my vast collection of Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis staples.
So yes; I guess I’m officially one of those un-American snobs. I won’t be tasting the offerings of the new television season, nor will I be wondering what’s happening to Bree, Susan, Gaby, and Lynette. I’ve got too much else to do around the house, and there are books to be read and magazines to catch up with. I don’t judge anyone their choices, however; I am the last person to judge. And I’m human, so don’t be surprised if, sometime next April, I phone you in the night to ask if Drs. Mc Dreamy and Dr. Grey are on again or off again. Just remind me of this column– and then hang up.