Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Past Deadline: What I've Been Missing on TV

Every once in a while I am reminded that pop culture is rarely part of my lexicon. And “lexicon” is a word we really don’t use often enough, don’t you think?

Anyway, I’m thinking specifically of television shows, although there are lots of other things that escape me, too. For example, who or what is a Bieber? (I now know. I looked him up because everyone was talking about him, and I fully expect my four-year-old daughter will soon be able to enlighten me on these things.)

I’ve also become quite a nerd when it comes to grown-up music. By the time I discovered “I’ve Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas they had already retired and moved to Arizona.

Since the 2000s my music and television intake has been largely dominated by the preferences of my children. Yes, I’m one of THOSE mothers who exposed her children to more than the 0.83 minutes of TV recommended per month. So far they’re not in jail, but it’s early yet.

Anyway, my glamorous lifestyle of being an at-home mother by day and work-from-home drone at night left a dearth of time for grown-up TV viewing. (“Dearth” – there’s another word that is scarcely used.) Now that both kids are in school, though, my evenings are freeing up a teeny bit.

Things in TV land have changed, though. Over time, all the dramas I used to like either ran their course and left the airwaves or were shuffled to an 8 p.m. time slot, which doesn’t bode well for those of us busy putting pre- and primary schoolers to bed, especially since I can’t be bothered to fiddle with recording them and watching later. By the time I discovered the awesomeness of House, they’d moved him to 8 p.m. You can also catch reruns at midnight somewhere, but that doesn’t always work for me.

The 10 p.m. time slot is now filled with a whole bunch of unfamiliar shows. Probably some of them are good, but forming relationships with new characters requires a solid commitment and investment of time. Sometimes I’d just rather read a book.

Groom-boy recently rejigged our viewing package, which cancelled some channels we don’t watch often and added some new ones, including a slate of retro stations. He is delighted. He loves sitcom reruns.

I don’t mind occasional reruns, but when it comes to the shows we lived with in the ’80s and ’90s, like Three’s Company and Roseanne, once I’ve stumbled on an episode for the sixth or 11th time then that’s enough – I’d rather smash my thumb with a hammer. (Back in those days we watched reruns in part because we didn’t have as many channels and options to peruse.)

Since I don’t share in this particular enthusiasm, it was a great tonic for Groom-boy when a friend of ours, Herbert, visited on the weekend. Herbert is a veritable catalogue of television trivia, so he and Groom-boy luxuriated in 20-year-old sitcoms for hours. Not only that, but they gave me a taste of that current pop culture sensation, Family Guy. I was previously only vaguely aware of its existence simply from the perspective of: “This cartoon is not suitable for primary schoolers.”

So Herbert and Groom-boy sat there and guffawed over Family Guy, with Herbert occasionally casting glances my way to gauge my reaction. I’m not saying parts weren’t funny, but I think I could carry on without ever seeing it again. I would be especially content to live without ever seeing a rerun of the episode that features the baby calling “Mama” about 100 times. Groom-boy and Herbert think it is quite amusing to imitate this episode in my presence because we all know that, like the mother in the show, I am liable to turn around and yell “WHAT!” to the kid, too.

Art imitates life….

So now we can rest assured Groom-boy’s television-viewing needs are covered, but there is a distinct possibility my efforts to stay in tune with pop culture will continue to evolve with my children.

On the other hand, nice, quiet books that don’t say “Mama” over and over again are good, too. And maybe I’ll start recording House.

Published in The Perth Courier on April 1/10.

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