I grew up in the world of Mash, Land of the Lost, The Brady Bunch, and Gilligan’s Island– always identifying with the intelligent, reasonable Mary Ann, despite being Ginger (name reference only!). My old television re-runs were shows like Sally Field’s Gidget, I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, I Dream of Jeannie, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. On the verge of adolescence, I was glued to Three’s Company -how I adored Jack!- Happy Days, and The Love Boat. As I emerged from childhood into the abominable teen years, cable took hold of television, and MTV became vogue. We grooved across living rooms like MC Hammer, memorized Kid N Play dance videos, and drooled over Jon Bon Jovi. To our parents’ dismay, we looked up to Madonna, donning lacy fingerless gloves and hiding our skintight skirts and halter tops under baggy cardigans. Friends and Seinfeld came with college as those shows tended to attract a more “mature” audience. Then after that, I don’t really know what I watched, if anything at all. Did I get too busy with life? Was I not entertained anymore?
It wasn’t until The Walking Dead debuted, when I was sucker punched out of my TV-less stupor, and drawn to the colorful flat screen once again like a moth to a zapper. However, after a few seasons, I noticed the television watching sensation wasn’t the same. I felt anxious, rather than relaxed, preoccupied with zombie thoughts all week in anticipation of the next show. I was never satisfied. It was taking hold of my thoughts, my conversations, my dreams even, and often times, I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking of zombie escape scenarios. I was obsessed. But then I looked around in society. I noticed, not only were people way more obsessed with The Walking Dead than I was, people were obsessed with television shows, namely reality series, in general. On acute observation, there were in fact, mini Kardashianites roaming the streets, Beverly Hills House Wives jealously vibing each other at coffee shops, and San Diegans embracing the Jersey Shore lifestyle. How did I not see this coming?
Looking back, recalling all the Archie Bunkers hobbling around, Boy George wannabes strutting sidewalks, and Raquel Welshes getting physical at the gym, I’m well aware that television influenced my generation as well. It’s just interesting to see the shift, especially the popularity of so-called reality TV, yet somehow, I missed that transition.
I’m sure there are tons of great shows well worth watching. I’m sure there are shows that won’t cause me great anxiety or great concern for societal trends- and I’m sure the Kardashians are very nice, down-to-earth people in actual reality….
All in all, I don’t lament my choice to give up television entirely. Actually, my Phillips gave up on me- it broke while moving into our new place, over a year ago. For now, I’ve become perfectly content with reading, watching some Netflix documentaries now and then, and learning about how to “do stuff” on YouTube. Nowadays, when I sit and watch something, it’s the scrub jay perched on the hop bine string looking for grubs in the garden beds, the roaring vintage bombers flying overhead, or the bright sun lighting up the faces of loved ones during conversation and laughter. The television is long forgotten, somewhere near the pallet graveyard and busted window screens underneath the bamboo, waiting to be scrapped. The days of childhood TV episodes remain as fond distant memories, and as for my chic Madonna attire- I still got it, baby!