Once upon a time sitcoms ruled the airwaves. There were the good, the bad, and the really greaaattt! My favorites will always remain “I Love Lucy,” “All In the Family,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and the early black and white episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.” These are like comfort food for the soul, conjuring up memories of a simpler time when family life was very important. I enjoyed watching others with some regularity as well, like “Ozzie and Harriet,” “The Danny Thomas Show,” “Father Knows Best,” ”The Donna Reed Show,” “Dennis the Menace,” “Barney Miller” and “Sanford and Son.” Growing up my daughter had her favorites as well, among them, “The Bill Cosby Show.”
What was appealing for my daughter and me was the laughter the sitcoms evoked. For half an hour we lost ourselves in others’ foibles, while enjoying the family dynamics acted out on the small screen. Time flew by, leaving us eagerly awaiting the next installment. As we drifted off to do other things, echoes of laughter could still be heard as we remembered some mishap, or hilarious ”punch line.” Sitcoms left us feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
Fast forward to the present, and TV land’s domination by reality shows. I balked when Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson wanted to play husband and wife in my living room. Nuh, uh. I don’t think so. Other shows piqued my curiosity but never held my attention, like “Wife Swap,” and “Super Nanny.” I was never a fan of “Kate and John Plus Eight,” and I’m still not interested in watching her carry on without him. Though I’m glad she is; he’s such a loser. What finally “sucked” me into watching Reality TV was ”The Bachelor.”
I don’t think I watched with the thought that I’d be hooked, but one, gorgeous hunk surrounded by a bevy of beauties was intriguing. It was inconceivable that 25 women would lay bare their souls, and bodies, for millions of viewers to see, and pass judgement. I never thought of them as desperate, although some let it be known that they were. A few said they were on the show to marry the bachelor because their biological clocks were ticking away, and time was running out. Wow! Talk about honesty in front of millions of strangers. Whenever I asked my daughter if she’d audition for the show, her eyes would bulge in disbelief, “I’d never go in front of a TV audience to compete for some guy. Those women are crazy! I can’t believe they’d do such a thing.”
I’m not as faithful a fan of ”The Bachelor” as I once was. The network lost me when they began substituting it with ”The Bachelorette.” I didn’t find the shenanigans of the men in the house, as much fun as that of the women. How they can behave like divas and catty “b—s” on national TV is beyond my comprehension. But with so much competition, “Bachelor” is just one of many shows that I view sporadically.
Among the many reality shows that I’ve glimpsed, some more than others, are “Laguna Beach,” and “The Hills,” depicting the life of spoiled, rich kids. The exception was “The City’s” Whitney, who became a successful fashion designer in NYC. Celebrities whose lives I’ve watched with curious disbelief are Atlanta’s Kimora, the self- crowned “Queen of Fabulosity,” and Beverly Hills’ Kim Kardashian with her menagerie of family members, including former Olympic champion, step-father, Bruce Jenner. My daughter actually reminded me that the first reality show I probably watched was Tyra Bank’s “America’s Next Top Model.” I’ve not seen it in ages, so I guess I’d forgotten about it. What I do remember, however, is disliking that the candidates’ vulnerabilities were exploited by the show for its own benefit, and Tyra’s fashionista presence. I found both unappealing by the time I stopped tuning in to watch.
Then there were “The Housewives of…” Orange County, NYC, New Jersey, Atlanta, D.C., and soon to be aired, Beverly Hills. I watched the first in the series, the O.C. housewives, because I wanted to see how the “other half-lives.” It was difficult to believe that there were such shallow women whose lives revolved around money, and all it could buy. Underlying all the other Housewive series is the same dollar worship. Of course, some of the women are more tolerable than others. Bethenny Frankl-Hopy of NYC being one of my favorites. She is self-deprecating, realizing that the show should be viewed with more than a “grain of salt.” I must admit to still watching the “Housewives” from time to time, and I can’t wait to see how much sillier the Beverly Hills group will be.
Currently I’m a fan of “Say Yes to the Dress,” the New York version. The show is taped in Kleigsfeld, “the” bridal shop patronized by many brides-to-be. The warm, friendly staff remind me of the years I worked in the “Big Apple.” Those who have not worked, and perhaps lived, in Manhattan haven’t experienced the unique charm of New Yorkers. They can be brusque, but they also have “big hearts,” especially for those whom they befriend. So watching the bridal staff do their utmost to marry a bride with the perfect wedding gown is gratifying, even to me, an observer.
HGTV is my reset channel. I’m always up for one of its home sale or designer shows, “Get It Sold,” “Property Virgins,” “Divine Design,” “My First House,” “Color Splash,” and, of course, “House Hunters,” and “House Hunters International.” It’s so much fun to see the “befores” and the “afters.” It’s equally entertaining to guess which of 3 properties house buyers will purchase. And several of the show hosts are like old friends, Sabrina Soto, Sandra Rinomato, Janice Olsen, and David Bromstad. I know their voices, and can picture their faces with my eyes closed.
I’m not such a fan of the reality competitions like “American Idol,” and ”Dancing With The Stars.” While I may drop in to watch “America’s Got Talent,” it’s not often enough to say I’m a devotee. When “So You Think You can Dance” first aired, I watched because my daughter was tapped to be one of its first contestants. The British judge, Nigel, and a couple of others associated with the show, sat in on a company ballet class where my daughter use to dance. She was singled out, along with others, to try out for the show. But my daughter declined because she was already under contract, and didn’t relish the thought of a television competition. In some of the early shows, she did recognize contestants with whom she had danced in various summer programs, like Danny Tidwell, and Neal (blonde guy, forgot his last name).
These days reality shows dominate TV viewing. I enjoy some, and loathe some. But not even those I favor gives me the same pleasurable feelings, as did the sitcoms of bygone days. If only “I Love Lucy” could have gone on forever.
for the good old days, huge hugs…hugmamma.