In the Foo Fighter’s song The Best of You, Dave Grohl sings, “I’ve got another confession to make; I’m no fool….” Well, I’ve got a confession to make, too. It’s one that, to some of you, might make me seem like a fool. Here’s the thing, though, the beauty of getting older is that you rarely give much of a shit about anything anyone thinks of you. It’s pretty cool. So what is this deep, dark secret that could alter your opinion of me? I love television! No, I REALLY love television…and I watch A LOT of it. And I won’t apologize. So, why in the world would I consider this a “secret” that’s “confession worthy?” Well, it’s not something I am quick to mention because I simply cannot abide trying to defend a choice that is so clearly mine and mine alone to those “holier than thou” folks who “don’t even own a television” when they start running their sanctimonious mouths. “Blah, blah, blah. Television is mental junk-food.” “Television is a pastime that only the vapidest would engage in for more than a few moments on any given day.” “It’s such a waste of time.” Well, frankly, I don’t care if you think my television consumption makes me a “fool” or shallow or stupid. I don’t care if you think that my television viewing habits are part of the reason I’m fat. I don’t care if you think it makes me a “basic bitch.” I love it, and if loving television is wrong, I just don’t wanna be right.
I’ve watched tons of television all my life. Many of my earliest memories revolve around T.V. shows. Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on network television always signaled the beginning of the holiday season to me. I have nothing but fond recollections of a four-year-old me dancing around the Christmas tree and singing along to Jingle Bell Rock with Wayne Newton on his Christmas special. I have warm memories of watching post-holiday episodes of Family Affair in my fuzzy new Christmas jammies. I recall enjoying the “new” cereal Peanut Butter Captain Crunch as a bedtime snack on a T.V. tray in front of Hawaii Five-O. Watching Happy Days, Welcome Back Kotter, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Brady Bunch was a weekly family ritual. I watched Sesame Street, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and The Price Is Right on days I stayed home sick from school. Saturday morning cartoons were a given for most people of my generation. When I got a little older, summer vacation meant sunbathing slathered in baby oil for three hours in the morning and then watching my favorite soap operas Young and the Restless and The Guiding Light in the afternoon. Incidentally, I still watch Y&R…every single day. I just DVR it now. And I named my youngest daughter after a character on The Guiding Light. My teen years saw a convergence of my two most beloved media – television and music. When MTV launched in 1981, my life was complete. MTV and PBS stoked my passionate love of “all things British,” and I discovered Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Dr. Who on PBS. I was a lonely child and adolescent, for the most part. So, the characters in my favorite television shows and music videos were my steadfast friends.
You might think that getting married and having children would’ve put a damper on my relationship with the tube. It did not. If anything, it intensified. It provided a much-needed escape from the pressures of raising two kids on a working-class poor income. I was an avid fan of Friends, The X-Files, Seinfeld, and Star Trek The New Generation. I’d hurriedly plunk the kiddos into bed with a quick peck and a fast-forward speed lullaby in order to catch every moment of my shows. With that being said, here’s yet another confession. Looking back, that was the period of time for which I am regretful of my devotion to television. In hindsight, I wish I’d have lingered just a little longer at bedtime, all those many years ago, with my babies. Fuck television. They were what I should’ve cherished most. Now they are gone and one of them is grown. So, T.V. is where it’s at for me, once again.
Along with our love of music, a love of television was something my current husband and I immediately bonded over. “Oh man, you love Saturday Night Live, too? No way! Who’s your favorite cast member? Mike Myers? Me, too!!!” Though I did not share his love of any and all televised sports, by and large, our viewing habits were the same. In the few areas where we diverged, we embraced those new genres and found that we grew even closer. In exchange for him being able to watch unlimited sports, he agreed to watch Young and the Restless with me. Now he rarely misses an episode. I turned him on to Dr. Who. He loved it. He discovered The Gilmore Girls, and it became a beloved show to our entire family. I nagged him into watching Downton Abbey, and we binged watched an entire season on DVD one summer. I reluctantly came to enjoy the “adolescent boy” humor of South Park and Tosh.O. Together we inadvertently discovered the “Alaska shows” on The Discovery Channel and The National Geographic channel. I never would’ve believed I’d become obsessed with television shows about gold mining in the Yukon and subsistence living in the most remote corners of Alaska, but I am. As we’ve gotten into our 40’s/50’s, “date night” has now become cocktails from a well-stocked home bar, take-out pizza, and those Alaska shows. We also have our weekly schedule of sitcoms. The Middle, Modern Family, and American Housewife all seem like they are written based on our lives.
Yes, I love television, and, no, I am not ashamed of it. I look forward, with great anticipation, to my Saturday mornings, cuddled up on the sofa with my dog, watching The Kitchen and Valerie’s Kitchen. And yes, I can sit for hours on end watching episode after episode of House Hunters on HGTV. “Wait. What? Didn’t I see this one a few hours ago?” Yes, I am the middle-aged woman that was as giddy as a schoolgirl when she met Property Brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott a few years ago at the annual home show. And, yes, I would thoroughly LOSE MY SHIT if, somehow, I had the opportunity to meet Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper or ran into Josh Temple at Lowe’s and got picked for a home makeover on House Crashers.
Okay. So, maybe you think I’m just a loser – living the endeavors of others, real and imagined, vicariously through television. I, on the other hand, prefer to think of myself as someone who finds, in those endeavors, an inspiration for reflection on the human experience. I’m an introvert, so I’m cool with living small. I’m a writer. I don’t feel the compelled to go out and have big adventures or heavy drama or intense conflict because I can create those kinds of things inside my head and make them stories. I love television, and I’m not ashamed of it. Maybe I’ll just have to put that on a tee-shirt or something.