A few years ago, the regional channel 45-2 began broadcasting vintage movies. The channel is called "This," and its catchphrase is "I love this," or "this is great," etc etc which is fun. Just recently, however, I noticed that channel 11-2, perhaps noticing the popularity of vintage television, decided to jump on the bandwagon, but from a different angle. Rather than show old movies, "Me" (catchphrase "watch me," etc) is airing antique classic television shows. I have to be honest: it's refreshing to watch.
I've hardly watched much of that channel at all, but when I have, it's been a breath of fresh air by comparison to modern sitcoms. It's as if the scenarios keep getting more and more ridiculous in what passes for entertainment today. What little I've seen of these shows:
Two and a Half Men
Two Broke Girls
Malcolm in the Middle
Everybody Loves Raymond
The King of Queens
Rules of Engagement
How I Met Your Mother
Mike and Molly
gives me the prevailing impression that nothing in the script relates to me at all. I can get the jokes and stuff, but it's just so absurd. And while not all of the above attempt to be as depraved as possible, some do, and it makes you wonder why they go through the effort. It's as if shock value is the new standard by which to produce entertainment television. It seems as though producers determined to take the Jerry Springer show and turn it into a scripted drama.
Allow me to draw on a few episodal themes from the above selection which DO NOT APPEAR in older shows like the ones shown on MeTV, or even the Cosby Show, for cryin' out loud.
* a child younger than 5 cussing because she learned it from her parents
* a 30-something adolescent, upon seeing his personal assistant's Skype window open (the assistant was talking to his sister), tells the girl to take her top off, assuming that she was a privately employed "cam-girl" porn actress who engages in cyber sex for money. Worse: she then goes on a date with him.
* the leading man's wife leaves or threatens to leave him because of his incompetence
* one of the main characters urinates on herself in public
* the mother of one of the characters gives a man a heart attack, of which he dies, while having sex
* one of the characters new housemates has sex with the other's mother within hours of meeting her.
* it goes on and on and on
I'm supposed to laugh at this? The fact that this is being marketed toward my age group (mid-twenties, for example most of the "Friends"-esque sitcoms feature a group of 5-8 guys and girls in a city who get into shenanigans) really bothers me. Consequently, now that I have seen just one episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show and the Mary Tyler Moore Show, I want to see more. Allow me to give a synopsis:
In the Dick Van Dyke episode I watched, Dick and his wife go to a hotel somewhere for their anniversary. His wife goes to the bathroom to freshen up and Dick waits outside. The main plot device around which the episode revolved was that Mrs. Dyke got her toe stuck in the faucet of the bathtub while the door was locked. Wow, no gratuitous sexual references or cursing or scatological humor? Not one in the episode!
In the Mary Tyler Moore episode I just saw yesterday, Mary's friend Rhonda's mother comes to visit and the latter wants to be friends with her daughter rather than just be her mother, since she doesn't like the relationship she has with her daughter. Too much knocking heads, basically. The episode concludes with Rhonda deciding that she wants her mother to be her mother again. The closest thing to a sexual reference is Mary telling Rhonda's mom that "I don't think people do that anymore," with reference to Parking (if you don't know what that means, ask someone who lived through the 60s and 70s, or better yet, just watch Grease); and later, when Rhonda comes home, she expresses her disdain over her date's behavior and Rhonda's mother goes out the door with a look of purpose to give him a stern talking-to.
By far, I enjoy these antique shows much more than what comes on tv nowadays. The stark differences between the shows of the 50s-70s and the sitcoms of the 90s and 00s goes to show you how rapidly a culture can change, and with it its appetite. Hopefully, if enough people tune in to This and Me, broadcasters will get the hint and increase the offering, so that our cultural entertainment can turn back just as quickly. Maybe I'll be able to watch t.v. again.
~ Rak Chazak