Thursday, September 6, 2012

TV or not TV?

Steve knows how to use the remote

Confession: we’ve had our current remote for two years and I still don’t know how to use it. I can get the power on, but can’t get channels. I have to, sheepishly, ask Steve or Julie AGAIN to help me. It’s not that I’m a techno-idiot (well, yes, it is, but besides that)—I just hardly watch TV anymore. 

I came from a household where the set was on constantly, from Today through Tonight, with gobs of daytime gabfests and soap operas and nighttime dramas in between. I remember coming home from parochial school as a fifth grader, grabbing a snack and settling down with Mom to Another World, a world where young Missy was pregnant out-of-wedlock as I recall. Mom was very skittish about the Birds and Bees, but she needn’t have worried—young Missy and a parade of other soap characters, unwed parents or adulterous neighbors or accidentally married to their first cousins, were all the sex ed I needed. 

When Steve and I married I was still a televisonaholic. True story: on our wedding night, en route to our NYC honeymoon, we pulled off the road early at a motel, overcome, not by passion, but by a desire to watch the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  In those days, the tube was the comforting soundtrack of my life as it had been in childhood.  To be fair, it wasn’t all fluff-- we watched a heckuva lot of Masterpiece Theatre—but we watched Dallas faithfully too. 

The children came along and with them, Sesame Street and Mister Rogers (Barney, thank the Lord, hadn’t been dreamed up yet). Conscientious parents, we were quite strict in limiting their weekday viewing time to programs of educational value, one hour’s worth a day. That wasn’t always counting the Disney videos that saved our lives when a long-distance business call came in (I often wondered if the VIP on the other end of the line ever caught snippets of Bambi during pauses in the conversation). Saturday morning was intellectual junk food time, with a lineup of cartoons the big treat for the kids (and me, who could finally clean house undisturbed).  

As they grew, it was the ABC family Friday night lineup (unbelievably, those were once wholesome shows). But gradually over the years, our lives got busier, and our household TV consumption began to decline until now we mainly fire it up for sports (Steve and PJ) and one or two guilty pleasure shows for Julie (currently, Pretty Little Liars). And me? I’m on board for Olympics and political conventions and major news developments—and precious little else. 

So I stand here in the family room, useless remote in hand, realizing I’ve gone through TV detox and come out the other side. There’s time now, time for books and music and conversation and writing and blessed sleep. I think I’m cured at last. But please don’t tell me about the new season of The Office. I don’t want to know.

Mary Tyler Moore Curtain Call 

1 comment:

  1. I came home to my Mom everyday in my elementary school years, and everyday, we watched Another World, which was only 30 minutes then! Ah the memories!